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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.

Chapter Text

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.

=No trick=

there is a pause, and Miyuki goes back to paying attention to class. Leaving class he heads to the cafeteria for lunch before his next class.  He checks his phone again, notices there is a message. Its Chris-sempai again.

~Is there more to this story?~

Only Chris would think there is a story. Miyuki smirks, maybe his sempai knows him better than he thought. Miyuki thinks what do I tell him? Yes, I wanted to make sure Sawamura is adjusting well to university life? Too sappy for me.  I wanted to have a meal for two for a change of pace? He won’t understand that.  I think Sawamura is an idiot that can’t feed himself? Chris might believe the last one, and I don’t lose any face admitting that. Win, Miyuki replies to Chris.

Putting his phone away Miyuki returns to the present as Sanada and Carlos along with some other classmates Miyuki can’t honestly remember the names of join him at a table.

 

Miyuki gets another message from Sawamura before class starts.

-when?-

Miyuki has to stop and remember what he might be asking about. Scrolling thru the messages he remembers, and stops to think. Tonight? No, we have late practice tonight. I won’t want to cook then. Miyuki considers his schedule , the end of the week is too far away, the other produce items might spoil. Coming to a conclusion of sooner is better than later he responds.

=Tomorrow night=

-Yosh!-

Miyuki rolls his eyes at the idiots’ response. Miyuki jots down the time on his calendar, so he won’t forget and goes to his next class.


 

“You’re late!” Miyuki yells at Sawamura when he gets to the bullpen that night.  Sawamura is out of breath, doubled over gulping in air and visibly flushed, but practice just started, how’d he get so worked up so quick?

Collecting himself quickly and standing up straight, still panting a bit, “Sorry sempai!” Then he makes a sour look, realizing who he is addressing, “shitty four eyes! Its your fault.”

Quirking an eyebrow he asks, “How is you being late my fault?!”

“Nevermind,” and Sawamura runs over to the other catcher, bowing deeply and loudly apologizing.  Miyuki shakes his head at the kid, then crouches back into position. Pulling his mask down he nods to Sanada, who has been patiently hanging out in the shade, drinking some water. Putting the water bottle down, he makes eye contact and commenced practice. Miyuki steals a side glance now and then towards the other pitcher between pitches, wonders what could he have meant? What is the idiot attributing to Miyuki for being late?

 

In the locker rooms after the long practice Miyuki and Carlos are just collecting their bags to leave when Sawamura, only wearing his pants and shoulder ice pack rushes up to Miyuki.

Carlos grumbles at the kid, and steps around him out the door, great going to get crap for this one Miyuki thinks, before he rolls his eyes at his kohai. “What?!” Comes out, a little gruffer than intended, but he’s not taking it back now.

Blinking rapidly, Sawamura stops staring at him with angry face Miyuki is used to, his features soften some, looking away Sawamura finally inquires, “what time?”

Miyuki once again reminded of the plans he made, thinks it over. Miyuki chews the edge of his lower lip, looks away from those brilliant eyes, responds quietly  “Are you done for the day after practice tomorrow?”

Sawamura nods repeatedly like the eager puppy he is.

“Fine meet me at the train station around 1800. Can you handle that?” The teasing tone quickly returning to his voice, confidence shaking the sudden unease that Sawamura brought with him, half dressed and all. Again all the idiot does is nod.

Miyuki is about to say something more when he hears Kanemaru from the interior of the lockers, “SAWAMURA!”

Miyuki smiles as the kid runs back that way, leaving Miyuki’s path open again to leave.  


 

Miyuki’s day goes by much like usual. Get up, drink coffee, make his way to the train station, to school and breakfast.  Classes then practice, lunch and then afternoon classes and practice. Its not till he is standing in the station looking through the crowd of commuters leaving that he starts to feel a tingly sensation awaken in him. What is this feeling? I’m just sharing a meal with a teammate, that's all, so why do i feel like this is some kind of big deal? He shakes himself out of his inner thoughts, focus on finding said idiot and making food, that’s what you’re good at focus on the facts, his mind reminds him.

Miyuki looks around again, spots a head that looks familiar, standing near the turnstiles, jostling around for space. Miyuki heads that way, hiking his bag higher onto his shoulder.  Part way there the idiot sees him too. Sawamura’s arm shoots up, waves to Miyuki, as if he hadn’t already spotted him.  Miyuki tries not to start the evening off on a snappy note, so he exhales slowly to keep from saying something to set the kohai off on a tangent.

“Oi,” Miyuki raises his hand just to his head, not all the way up like Sawamura, who is now running over to Miyuki, smile brilliant, excitement barely contained. How does he have this much energy always? “What’s that?” Miyuki gestures to the paper bag in sawamura’s hand.

“Well hello to you too!” Humff, a smirk crosses the kids face, “you’ll see soon enough.”

“Fine,” Miyuki turns and exits without another word.  Social interactions never his strong suit, but Sawamura doesn’t seem phased by it either. He smiles and follows along, mostly without incident. He was looking all around and missed the curb, Miyuki grabbed him by the bicep, hauling him back onto his feet.

“Watch where you’re going.” Miyuki says, but doesn’t have any anger in the statement, more a blase fact. Sawamura turns red but nods and says nothing. Miyuki turns and keeps walking, out through the crowded station, and past several blocks full of people until they make it far enough away from the station that the amount of people drops off drastically.  Miyuki continues his walk home, an occasional glance back to make sure he didn’t lose his guest.  No other words exchanged, and yet Sawamura still smiles the whole way, Miyuki starts to wonder, what is in the bag, and why is he so happy looking?

They get into the apartment and Miyuki slides back into an auto pilot of sorts. Dropping his bag and toeing off his shoes before walking in, while sawamura fumbles into the apartment’s genkan.  “Tadaima!” Sawamura says cheerily.

The noise in the usually silent apartment startles Miyuki, who stops mid stride to look at his guest. “No one lives here but me,” He states to Sawamura, like he’s a little kid.

Sawamura responds, “I know! But it still seems weird not to say it. Besides you’re home already.” He beams up to Miyuki, like it was a great discovery.  That strange tingling feeling starts up again in Miyuki’s gut, maybe it's just hunger , he muses and ignores it.

He continues on, into the kitchen, grabbing his apron off the hook, he gets right to work.  Pulling the veggies and spices out that he needs to make the meal.  He is cutting stuff and wisking back to the fridge for the meat when his concentration is broken by the sound of a throat clearing.

Looking up to the doorway, Miyuki sees Sawamura, again looking lost and out of place, holding that paper bag up, while averting his gaze to the floor.

Miyuki pauses, hand on the fridge handle, “What is it?”

Sawamura looks up then, makes eye contact, Miyuki suppresses a little chill running down his spine. “You asked for Udon, right?” Miyuki is surprised by the softness, it's not often he hears Sawamura speak, yell all the time sure , but actually talk at the level of normal people, not often.  

 

“Yeah, is that the udon?” Miyuki gestures to the bag, Sawamura merely nods, looking away again. This kid is an odd one . “Put it on the counter next to the cutting board then.” He does as instructed, then retreats to the table, sitting in one of the two chairs Miyuki has sparsely populated his apartment with. Turns out that most places only sell sets of chairs, so he got the two, not anticipating to ever need more than one though.  Tonight the first exception to that since he moved in.  Even when Kuramochi would visit infrequently they would usually sit on the futon or at the kotatsu in the winter.  

Miyuki shakes himself from this thoughts to reality. Belatedly realizing Sawamura is probably used to more hospitable hosts. Maybe I should get him something to drink . “Want some Tea?”  

Sawamura perks up, “Oh, uh, sure~” He looks at all the things Miyuki is doing, inquires “would you like me to do that? While you,” he makes a vague gesture to the cutting board, and the cooktop.

Miyuki smirks again, “think you can manage to boil water without setting the place on fire?”

Angry face replaces the quiet of a moment ago, “Of course I can!” He stomps over to the cooktop, grabs the tea kettle and with a huff fills it with water. Miyuki goes back to what he was doing, grabbing the meat from the fridge.  

The tea kettle whistling reminds him that he’s cooking for two people, right not just me .  Miyuki turns off the burner. Sawamura is at his elbow before he so much as turn.  “The mugs are above the fridge, Tea is above the sink.” Sawamura rushes over to one cabinet then the table, then back to the other cabinet then the table again. Only after that does he come back to the cooktop, carefully grabs a towel hanging from a drawer pull, to wrap the kettle handle, and turning away from Miyuki fills the mugs on the table.  Careful about returning the kettle to the original place Sawamura then retreats back to the table.  Miyuki wonders if the kid is bored or not.  He spares a glance over his shoulder and sees that Sawamura was sitting, scrolling through something on his phone while cooling his tea some.  

Miyuki is again surprised when he opens the paper bag. “Sawamura! Where did you get this?!”

Standing at attention, like on the baseball field, Sawamura salutes “The shop near Komiya Station Sir!”

Miyuki ponders where that is, shock showing on his face for a fraction of a second as he realizes. Then schooling his features back to neutral he asks “Why’d you go so far out of your way to get Udon noodles? I said the store bought kind were fine.”

Sawamura relaxes out of his saluting stance, looking to Miyuki instead of the ceiling. “I wanted to get you the best noodles, so I asked around school.  I couldn’t give you just plain noodles as thanks for your help…. Sempai.” The last word spoken with reverence, softer than the rest. Like it was the last breath of air escaping his lungs.
Miyuki has a chill run down his spine that he can’t suppress.

“Is something wrong Miyuki?” There is the concern again.

“No.” He shakes it off, and pulls the plastic bag of freshly made udon from the paperbag.  Careful to drain the liquid they are in, Miyuki then places them into the pot with the rest of the meal.  Sawamura grabs the empty plastic bag and throws it away without being asked. Miyuki thinks for the first time, cooking with others isn’t so bad .

He stirs it, ponders why would Sawamura go thru such lengths for udon ?  Then he remembers who it is, and know that Sawamura doesn’t do anything partly, it's with all his enthusiasm or not at all.

Miyuki pulls dishes out of the cabinet and dishes up two large bowls of the udon and soup, a small salad he pulled from the fridge, a bowl of rice and pickled ginger to garnish everything.  He sits down across from his kohai, grabs his chopsticks, “itadakimasu” when he notices Sawamura’s eyes are bugging out! “What’s wrong?”

“Huh?!” Shaking his head Sawamura grabs for his own chopsticks, “Oh nothing, this looks amazing! Itadakimasu!” He digs in slurps some noodles before pausing, “Miyuki-sempai?”

There is that feeling again, why is this kid calling me sempai so tantalizing? But he doesn’t linger on it, “Yea?” He takes another bite of food to cover his pause.

“Do you always make this much food?”

Looking at the table he chews, swallowing responds “not usually this much to myself. No, why?”

“OH! Uh, just wondering, its so good!” Sawamura digs into his food again.  

As they eat they start to talk somewhat more casually.  How the team is, what classes are like, Miyuki even imparts a few words of advice for Sawamura, who is overly exuberant grateful for the help. “Oi! Quiet down, I have neighbors you know!”

“Sorry!” He actually bows to Miyuki as he apologizes for it.

“Stop it! You’re being loud again.”

“Sorry, Miyuki-sempai.”

“Wow, I must be hearing things. That’s at least the third time you’ve called me Sempai tonight.” Self assured smirk firmly in place.

Sawamura, reliably, turns red faced.  An angry hiss, but still within normal speaking volume escaping his lips. “I thought I should be respectful, since you gave me so much food!”

“Oh its because you like my cooking?”

“I didn’t say that.”

“Oh what was that? You want dessert too?”

Sawamura’s jaw actually drops, anger and shock mixing on his face.

Miyuki pities him for once. “Relax, its nothing special.” He gets up, taking the largest bowls with him, grabs from the freezer two dishes with plastic wrap on them. Grabbing spoons he hip checks the drawer closed, placing the small dish in front of Sawamura first, dropping the spoon next to it as he sits down.  “Some left over tea sorbet I made.”

Sawamura rips the plastic off, carefully spoons a tiny bit of the frozen treat into his mouth. Ponders it before lighting up, looks down at the bowl, then back up to Miyuki, “You made this?!”

Unimpressed Miyuki replies, “yeah, it's really easy and cheap to make. Great for after a hot day on the field.”  

Miyuki is not expecting Sawamura to lean over the table and grab at his wrist, “Please! Give me the recipe!!”

“You want the recipe?! Let go, and I might give it to you.” Instantly he is released from the warm grasp. Miyuki wonders if he is this starved for human attention, that he’d let this idiot into his home.  Swallowing all those ideas down he continues as if the touch had no effect on him. “I’ll write it down for you after we finish. Its easy enough that even a clutz like you could make it.”

Sawamura scrunches his face up at the insult, but picks up his spoon again, digging into the sweet confection.  

Sawamura launches into a story about his friends from Nagano and an ice cream truck, and Miyuki soaks up the happy feelings from the food and the bright perky kid sitting with him.  Sawamura chats on as they finish the dessert, Miyuki listens, and before he knows it is at the bottom of his bowl.  Sawamura’s is only half complete, talking too much to eat as fast as Miyuki did.  Without warning Miyuki gets up, walking to the other room.

“Hey, where’re you goin?” Sawamura squeaks.

Miyuki stops, “You wanted the recipe, yea?” His kohai nods with the spoon in his mouth. “Well I have to write it down on something, unless you plan on memorizing it.”

“Oh,” Sawamura relaxes back into his chair, “makes sense.” Then continues to consume the treat. Miyuki thinks he was almost panicked at me leaving the room, why would that be? He remembers why he left the room, grabs the notebook from his desk and returns, Sawamura humming to himself as he eats. So like a little kid sometimes . Miyuki watches him for a moment before the kohai looks up, Miyuki continues walking into the room, nothing happened.

He sits down, pen and paper in hand, in his careful handwriting he jots it down, from memory, because it really is that simple.

“You have it memorized?”

“Huh? Oh yeah, like I said very simple. But I don’t expect you to memorize anything, not with that simpleton brain of yours.” He taps Sawamura’s temple to emphasize the point.

“Hey! You really are a shitty four eyes you know!”

“Hehehe,” Miyuki relaxes some, Sawamura is so easy to deal with when he gets worked up.

Miyuki goes back to writing, Sawamura gets up from his seat, drawing Miyuki’s attention. Eijun has gathered up all the rest of the plates and bowls and is balancing them all, carefully walkling to the sink. Its not till he turns the water on that Miyuki speaks up, “What are you doing?”

“Uh washing the dishes?” The kohai turns back to the sink, starts scrubbing at the food stuffs.

Miyuki, finished with his small task leaves the paper on the table, gets up grabs a pair of rubber gloves from the hook by the window.

“Here,” shoving them in Sawamura’s face. “Don’t want you drying out your hands,”

“Oh, I didn’t know you cared.” Sawamura's turn to smirk, but he takes the gloves anyway.

Miyuki pouts a little, “I don’t but if your hands dry out it could be an issue for the team.” Looking away, he puts the last of the condiments and spices away.

“Oh, didn’t think of that.” Sawamura continues to clean the dishes.  

When he finishes, they stand around awkwardly for a moment, before Miyuki can say anything Sawamura bows deeply.  “Thank you for the generous meal!” Popping up from the bow Sawamura turns on his heels, heading back out the kitchen door. Miyuki doesn’t know what to say, so just follows him, turns on the light, since the sun is setting. He stands in the doorway, watches his kohai collect his bags and put his shoes on.  Nothing comes to mind to say, nothing that sounds logical at least. A small part of him wanting to ask Sawamura to stay longer, but the meal completed, but then a thought! “Wait!” Sawamura looks up, raises an eyebrow, standing still, shoe half on.

Miyuki rushes back to the table, grabs the slip of paper with a recipe on it. Brings it back out to the hall, he holds it out for Sawamura to take. He doesn’t take it right away, finishes putting his shoe on before grasping the paper.

“Thanks again!” There it is again, a full bow.

Without anything else to say Miyuki stands a mute. Watches as Sawamura waves and leaves, Miyuki is now frozen.  Until the door clicks closed, he takes the two steps forward to lock it.

“Oyasumi” he whispers to the door.  His apartment seeming far too vast and quiet simultaneously.  

 


 

The next day Carlos catches Miyuki at lunch with a question about their biology class notes, no biggie. But before parting ways he asks Miyuki “How well do you know that new over excited pitcher?”

“Who?” Miyuki plays dumb, admit nothing until you can’t get out of it.

“The kid that stopped us in the lockers the other night? You know, with the tan?” Makes gestures to his cheeks, “the Southpaw kid!”

“Oh, him, we went to the same high school.”

“I figured that, doesn’t answer the question.”

Miyuki scratches the back of his neck, wondering what exactly he means. Miyuki’s mind supplies the idea, he means in baseball duh , “Uh, we were team mates, and battery partners for a while. Why?”

Carlos shrugs, then winks at Miyuki. Miyuki’s stomach drops, a cold feeling settling in his gut, Carlos is assuming something about Sawamura , he can tell from the smirk curling Carlos’ lips. Time stops for Miyuki, what is he insinuating? “Just curious,” Carlos gets up, waves over his shoulder adding, “see you at practice.” Miyuki’s mind has stalled and he has no response, and then Carlos is gone.

Chapter Text

Miyuki tries to forget that grin on Carlos’ face.  After another hard practice it fades from his memory, too many other things vying for his attention.  A week goes by, classes, practice home, rinse and repeat.

 

Miyuki is reminded that tomorrow is a break in his routine.  The team is planning a party for everyone on the team to mingle and interact socially, off the field.  Miyuki hates these kinds of things but it's more or less mandatory.  Everyone seems really amped and excited about it. Miyuki tries to keep his usual snarky and sarcastic comments to himself.  

 

At the party Miyuki is talking to Sanada and a pair of fielders when someone hands out cups of punch to everyone.  They all accept them graciously and continue the conversation.  Miyuki, looks around, spots Kanemaru and Sawamura over at the table of food, loading up little plates like this was the first time they’ve seen food all day.  He excuses himself from the small group to make his way over to the former Seido Players.  

“Forget dinner again boys?” Grinning like a fox.

Sawamura startles slightly, then scowls at Miyuki. Kanemaru shrugs his shoulder and looks over to Sawamura.

“Don’t you have someone else to bother right now Miyuki Kazuya??” an angry bite to his tone.

“Don’t use my full name, knucklehead!” Miyuki noogies Sawamura Lightly, “Well don’t make yourselves sick on this stuff.” He pats Kanemaru on the shoulder then walks off to refill his drink. When did I finish it? Opps, another cup and I can slip out of here.

 

Sawamura scowls at Miyuki’s back, “Mr. know it all.  Whatever.” he mumbles to himself before returning his attention to his food and then continuing the conversation with Kanemaru and some of the other first and second year fielders.  Sawamura is surrounded by people talking and eating before he can spare another thought on Miyuki.

 

The night wears on and Sawamura downs a few pieces of chicken katsu that are still laying out. As he chews his attention is drawn to another corner of the room. Someone is yelling, Sawamura scans and sees one of the third year's, beet red in the face being held back by a pair of second years.   Curious for someone to get so angry at another teammate . Then he sees a flushed faced Miyuki Kazuya bordering on laughing at the angry guy.

Sawamura reacts without a second thought, he crosses the room, snags Miyuki by the elbow and unceremoniously drags him away from the angry player.

“Pardon Us, Thanks. Come on Miyuki.” He comes readily enough, his movements aren’t crisp or calculated like Sawamura is used to. Sawamura watches as Miyuki slowly redirects his attention from the student he was just antagonizing to Eijun. Sawamura doesn’t slow down, but keeps walking, dragging Miyuki with him until they are outside. The cool night air refreshing and calming after the sudden panic that rose in his chest.   Weird, why should I panic? I wasn’t in danger.  

Releasing Miyuki’s arm finally, he turns to look at his sempai.  Turning on him he demands “What the hell Miyuki?”
“What?” Miyuki slides a half smile on his lips, his face still flush, and his eyes don’t seem to be focused on anything. “Its the truth! He’s crappy at making calls!”

Sawamura sniffs at Miyuki, then steps back and exhales. “You’re drunk!”

“No ‘m not!” Miyuki crosses his arms over his chest, but it takes him two tries to get it right.

Sawamura rolls his eyes at this guy. “Right. How about we take a walk?”

“Fine, but ‘m not drunk!”

“Right,” Grabbing Miyuki’s elbow he nods to him, “So why were you insulting your sempai?” Sawamura tries not to sound accusatory, and fails to his own ears.

 

Miyuki starts to drone on about everyone’s shortcomings, on and off the field.  Like a litany of complaints he has against everyone on the team. Sawamura guides him and nods occasionally. Miyuki continues his tirade in a quieter tone the longer they walk in the cool night air.  A smirk crosses his lips, then he side eyes Sawamura.

 

Miyuki then starts adding Sawamura’s sins to the list of complaints he has, and Sawamura pauses in his walk, about ready to let Miyuki know what he thinks of the shitty catcher.  But when he looks at Miyuki, he realizes that is exactly what he wants, he is itching to pick a fight. Drunk Miyuki is a jerk .  For once he doesn’t rise to the bait, ignoring the words thrown at him like sticks.  Sawamura picks up walking, pulling Miyuki along by his wrist now, the connection familiar in some way.  Sawamura merely nods as Miyuki tells him how stupid Sawamura is, and how his plays still need work.  

 

After walking for another few blocks Miyuki has finally run out of insults to sling at him and the world.  Sawamura turns to look at him, still holding his wrist. “You done Miyuki?” His tone flat.

 

Miyuki blinks a couple of times, focus returning to his eyes, its like he sees Sawamura for the first time tonight. “Uh,” he rubs the back of his head with his free hand, “yes?”

 

“Good. You going to behave? Or should I leave you to chill out here longer?”

Miyuki blinks a couple of times, Sawamura releases his hold on the catcher.  Without another word Miyuki reaches up and swipes a finger at Sawamura’s face. Sawamura is surprised and steps back. Miyuki looks at his finger, something on the tip of it, and he then licks it up.

 

“Umm, Katsu sauce!”

Sawamura’s turn to be surprised, blinking in befuddlement.  “Okay, well...:” a blush rises, looking around a bit lost, “looks like you’re good now.”

Sniff Sniif, “You smell that?” Miyuki asks.

“Uh,” Sniff, “yeah.”

“Smells good!” Snif snif, “Come on, lets get some,” instantly Sawamura finds Miyuki grabbing his hand and pulling him along behind the catcher. They walk another block or two, coming out on one of the smaller alleyways that has late night food stands on either side, open and smelling amazing.  

 

“Come on, Sawamura!” Miyuki drags him half way down the alley to what looks like a ramen shop.  Without asking Miyuki ducks in and pulls Sawamura along with him. Eijun is sitting on a stool next to Miyuki before he can even object. They are close enough that when Miyuki releases his hand to rest on the counter Miyuki doesn’t have to move but a few inches to nudge the younger boy in the shoulder. “If you like my cooking, you’ll love this place.” Sawamura shrinks back instantly, trying to distance himself without being rude.

 

Miyuki is ordering something before Sawamura can even complain that he doesn’t want anything. Miyuki looks over to Sawamura, smile on his lips, “Want something Eijun?”

 

Flushing from embarrassment, at being addressed by his name and for the fact that he can’t afford to buy anything he mumbles, “Tea.”

 

“That all?” Miyuki questions, and Sawamura nods looking down at his hands. Miyuki shrugs and the chef walks away to fill the order.  “What’s wrong, you’re not hungry?”

 

Not looking up he responds, “No I ate at the party remember?”

 

“Oh okay I suppose so, but this just smelled so~ good~.” Miyuki closes his eyes and inhales deeply to emphasize the point.

 

“Yeah, well I’m not hungry.”

 

“So Eijun,” Sawamura’s head snaps up, making eye contact with Miyuki, the server returns with their drinks.  Miyuki nods and takes a sip, Sawamura cups the warm mug in between his hands.

 

Turning to Sawamura Miyuki says “Why’d you pick my school without even telling me? Huh? Where’s the respect huh?”

 

Raising an eyebrow at the sudden change of topic, Sawamura relaxes. “Hah, if I had told you what would you have done?”

 

“Haha, I suppose you have a point. I might have given you entrance exam tips, but I guess you didn’t need them, huh?” Looking away from Sawamura so Eijun can’t tell what kind of face he is making.  “So how did you get in? You get a scholarship or what?”

 

Looking down to his tea Eijun speaks softly, “Yeah, I got a baseball scholarship. It helps when you go to Koshien and are the captain of a well known baseball team.” He smirks a little, watching his own reflection in the tea.

 

“You weren’t just the captain, you were the ACE!” Miyuki chirps and slaps Sawamura on the back. Startling the younger boy.  

 

Eijun wonders Why is he being so familiar with me suddenly? He side eyes his sempai, “I was only the ace for a season technically, Furuya was the ace at fall Koshien, and if he wasn’t so prone to injury I probably never would have been made the ace at all.”

 

“Oh don’t be so hard on yourself. You were the heart and soul of that team!” Sawamura looks down right shocked, stares at Miyuki. Miyuki has a far off look on his face, like he is remembering something. “Besides, you made it to a division 1 school, so if people didn’t notice you before they will soon!” Miyuki turns to face Eijun. “You obviously don’t live on campus, so did you get a living stipend with your scholarship?”

 

“A what?” Eijun blinks blank faced at Miyuki, wondering what the heck he is talking about.

 

“You mean you don’t get money for your living expenses?”

 

“No.” Sawamura refutes, finally takes a sip from his tea to diffuse the silence that is growing.

 

Suddenly the server returns sets down a big bowl of kitsune ramen. Miyuki thanks him, and grabs a pair of chopsticks from the counter.

 

“Itadakimasu!” Miyuki breaks his chopsticks, and Sawamura watches as the most honest happy smile graces the catcher's face as he digs into the ramen. “Ummmm, fthis ish Goo~!” He mumbles around a mouth full of noodles. “‘Ere! Try shome!” Miyuki shoves a piece of fried tofu into Sawamura’s face before he can complain. “Now chew!” MIyuki scowls until Sawamura does as instructed.  “Good, right?”

 

“Umm.” Sawamura nods once, then swallows, and turns back to look at his tea.  He looks up again when Miyuki is poking him in the chest with a pair of unopened chopsticks.

 

“Here, have some, I can’t eat it all by myself.” He narrows his eyes at Sawamura, daring him to refuse, “I can’t let good food go to waste.”

 

“Umm.” Sawamura hums and nods, taking hold of the chopsticks. Miyuki shoves the bowl a little closer to the center between them.

 

They make quick work of the Ramen together.

 


 

Miyuki wakes up, he is disoriented without his glasses.  His mouth feels dry, his tongue like sandpaper.  He blindly gropes around to find his glasses.  He finds them and slips them onto his face. He blearily looks around himself, Oh I’m on my couch. Why am I on the couch and not in bed? He sits up, and instantly regrets moving that quickly. As his head throbs he grabs his temples with his hands.

 

Moving more carefully he stands and shuffles to his bathroom for some pain killers and water.   What happened?  Then it hits him. It was the team social gathering.   Someone spiked the punch, and did a good job of it, I didn’t even notice until third cup in. Still, how much did I have?

He wracks his brain, some of it is fuzzy, insults were thrown.  He looks himself over in the mirror, no bruises or scrapes, no visible injuries.

 

He then remembers eating Ramen. There wasn’t any ramen at the party.  Why do I remember sharing ramen? I left the party at some point? Why?

 

An image of a smiling face crosses his mind. Sawamura? That’s right he was at the party, then... His mind tries to piece the fragments together.

... we were outside? I don’t remember where ... but I do remember sharing Ramen with him.   He tries to piece the rest of the evening back together.  He remembers Sawamura, the ramen and cool air.  The parts inbetween are a mystery. 

 

He strips down and showers before returning to his room for fresh clothes.  Looking at his pants from last night he moves his wallet to his current pants, a note falls out. Its scrap of a paper napkin, in his own rough handwriting it says “SE money? No stipend” He stares at it for a moment. Wonders what was I trying to tell myself? He looks at it a moment longer. Places it on his bedside table to ponder later.

 

He opens his phone next, there are 8 unread messages. Wow, guess I was out of it. I’ll check these once I’m on the train in. He shuts it and finishes getting ready for the day.

 


 

“How was your walk?”

“Huh?” Miyuki looks up from his textbook to see Carlos standing across the table from him.

“The other night? You left the party and I messaged you after.” Carlos sits down across from him, an eyebrow raised.

 

“Oh, uh sorry about that. I don’t know what happened.” He shrugs, trying to play it off as no big deal.

 

“Really. So its common for your kouhai to rescue you from being clobbered? No big deal huh?” Carlos sits back, eyeing Miyuki carefully.

 

He shrugs, and looks back to his book. He’s reading again until he hears someone clearing their throat, loudly.

 

“What?”

 

“Nothin’ to say for yourself?”

 

“Look, I don’t exactly remember what happened, so no, I have nothing to say for it. I didn’t get beat up which is a bonus, but I don’t have anything more to say on it, so unless you need help with chemistry, bugger off.”

 

Hands up in surrender, Carlos coos “Well scuse’ me, touchy subject. Someone woke up on the wrong side.” As Miyuki glares daggers at him Carlos gets up smoothly and walk away.

 

An idea gnaws at Miyuki. He pulls out his phone, shoots off a text.

-want to have dinner tomorrow night?-

Sawamura, as predictable as ever, shoots one back almost immediately.

=What’s the catch this time?=

-No catch-

=I can feed myself=

-Whats with the attitude?-

=??=

This kid is really an idiot sometimes. Miyuki thinks of what he can say to get under the kids skin and manipulate him into joining him, without seeming desperate or lonely.

-i’ll bargain an exchange with you-

=what could you want to bargain for?=

-information-

=on what?=

-come to dinner and find out-

Miyuki puts his phone down and starts reading again, not long until his phone buzzes.

=fine=

=what time?=

-1800-

-Oh Bring some natto too-

Belatedly Miyuki wonders when did I become so comfortable with this idiot?  Sure he’d endured the occasional phone call from Sawamura for the past year.  And yea, the kid called him more frequently then he would have considered his own patience would allow.  But somehow this kid had started to get under his skin, weave his way into Miyuki’s life.  And he just had the startling realization he didn’t mind it at all, in fact he just might welcome it.  What would he do with his time if not spend it cooking and playing baseball?  Sawamura was just a welcome distraction, a project to help along. That’s it. Yeah.


 

Sawamura shows up the time stated, but he’s fidgety and isn’t sure why he feels so uncomfortable. He’s been here before, only once but still, shouldn't be upsetting. Was it because of the other night?

 

Sawamura knocks on the door, still pondering this strange feeling.

The door opens to reveal Miyuki, but then he is gone in a flash, shouting over his shoulder  “Just finishing dinner. Did you bring the natto?” Then he is gone around the doorframe.

 

Sawamura mumbles Tadaima to himself as he takes his shoes off and drops his bag by the door.  He really has to work on his essay tonight, but he has to eat too.   Sawamura sniffs appreciatively, the savory smell of oil and meats cooking. Walking into the kitchen he puts the small bag down on the table that he brought. “uh, where do you want the natto?"

 Miyuki seems to be acting normal, Sawamura tries to relax. But still he has this tingling feeling he can’t shake, its like an anxiety he’s never felt in front of his classmates.

“Ah, perfect!  You got the 6 pack?  Wow,  hand me two.” Miyuki continues to stir the pot on the stove, grabbing spices occasionally. He teaches up and throws the natto into the microwave.  Easily going back to his other task.

 

Sawamura observes Miyuki, who seems casual.  Instead of getting anymore upset Sawamura sets the kettle out like last time, then gives Miyuki a slightly larger space, as he reaches for the mugs and tea.  That task done Sawamura retrieves his bag, pulls out his essay and the text he’d been referencing.

 Retreating to the kotatsu he puts his book down and spreads his essay pages out on the table to work on.  One last glance into the kitchen he sits down to his work.  Before the kettle boils he’s already immersed in his reading again.  

Strange how psychology manages to captivate his focus almost as well as baseball.  

 

“... got it.” Miyuki huffs

“Huh?” Sawamura looks up from his text to see Miyuki pouring the water into the mugs, a hot pot mitten on his other hand. “Oh sorry!”

“No don’t worry about it. I got it.” He doesn’t even seem mad.

Sawamura sits down from his half stand focus already lost to the pages once more.  He’s interrupted from his reading when he hears a loud stomach growl. Looking up he belated realizes it was his own stomach.

“Hungry yet?” Miyuki is smirking at him, that self assured look that always gets under Eijun’s skin.  

Standing up and stomping over to the kitchen Sawamura turns red and snorts angrily at Miyuki. “Damn Tanuki!” Only retort he makes before looking down at the plates of food. His stomach growls again, his mouth waters looking at the plates of food.  

Miyuki has made pork and celery stir fry,  with oyster sauce, in a big bowl in the center of the table.  Miyuki grabs another set of bowls from the microwave. Sawamura peers over the lip, they are individual bowls of tofu and sweet potato Miso soup.  The meal rounded out with the natto and white rice perfectly mounded into its own bowl on the side. 

“Is that a yes?” Miyuki smirks again.

Sawamura sits down grabbing his chopsticks huffs angrily once more then grabs his own portion of the stir fry, filling his plate and digs into the food.  He has stuffed his mouth full before he pauses long enough to realize that Miyuki is staring at him, that damn tanuki watching, chin leaning on his palm, a vaguely self pleased look on his face.  It worries Sawamura.  He slowly chews and swallows the food, noting the texture and flavor coating his mouth, its really good. But i can't admit that to the damn tanuki.

Still a little freaked out by the fact Miyuki is watching him so intently, he asks the first thing that pops into his head, “What? I have something on my face again?”

Miyuki shakes his head, “Huh? Oh uh,” he sounds far off, clears his throat,  “no, How is it?” Miyuki finally stops staring and picks up his own chopsticks.

Sawamura shovels some more food down before saying, “Thanks, this is good.” He does not make direct eye contact, suddenly feeling self conscious.  

 "Just good?  Not great?  I'll have to find a better recipe then, hmmm." Miyuki shifts his gaze off to nothing, his brow partially  furrowed.

"Um," Sawamura starts to interrupt, unsure how to continue without praising the food. He rolls his tongue around his teeth, tasting  the flavors  still lingering. Lying has never been his strength, he sighs.  "Its really good."

"What was that?" Miyuki cups his hand behind his ear.

"Its real tasty, happy?!" Sawamura blushes, and averts his gaze back to the food. Picks up his serving of natto and tries to stuff b his face, only to create a sticky mess. He scowls down at the offending food. Trying to free himself from the strings of the natto. 

Miyuki's light timbre of a laugh gets Sawamura to look up at his senpai. "What? Have you not had natto before?" Miyuki continues to snicker.

Sawamura grabs the tea and downs it to clean the taste and stickiness from his mouth. Glaring  over at Miyuki, points  an accusatory  finger at his senpai. "What did you do to me?! Making me buy, " flails at the bowl in question, "This STUFF!" 

After laughing at him some more,  Miyuki takes Sawamuras bowl of natto and gives the bowl of miso soup over  in exchange. 

They eat some more and Miyuki starts talking and Sawamura relaxes again. He's arguing sports psychology with Miyuki without a second thought.  Near the end of the meal there is a pause, Sawamura polishing off his last bites of food, Miyuki seems hesitant to speak.

Finally Miyukis stumbles over the words “The other night..” trailing off.

Sawamura freezes, not sure what to expect.  

Miyuki casts his eyes to the table, picking at his rice, munching some more.  A long exhale, and a huff, “What happened?”

A million questions rolled around Sawamura’s mind, but that wasn’t one of them. “Huh?”

In a very small voice, Miyuki continues to stare at his plate, “I don’t really remember what happened after leavin’...” again trailing off.

Sawamura blinks at him a couple of times, the tension uncoiling inside him. He doesn’t remember? “You were that drunk?” All he can think to say.

 

Miyuki looks up at Sawamura at that point, making eye contact.  Sawamura thinks that Miyuki looks a little bit afraid.  Afraid of what? Sawamura’s mouth preceeds his brain and he starts babbling, “You were insulting one of the fielders, and before he got free from his friends I thought it best you clear your head…” He recounts the evening, omitting the part where Miyuki insulted Sawamura, and the part where they shared noodles.  “You were much more manageable after eating, so I walked you back here.”

 

Miyuki releases a long breath, “That all?”

Looking a bit confused Sawamura nods once, “yeah?”

Miyuki finishes off his food, a small smile playing on his lips.

Sawamura, ever cautious of his sempai, “Why? What did you think happened?”

 

Grabbing the dishes off the table, Miyuki gets up fluidly. “Oh I didn’t know, I woke up with a headache on my couch. UH... Thanks....” He turns and winks at Sawamura.  

 

Sawamura relaxes and gets up to slip into the gloves and washes up the dishes.  Miyuki drys them and puts them away.  The sound of water running filling the apartment, but the lack of speaking is natural and comfortable.  Task done Sawamura stands at the sink for a moment, water off and silence prevailing for a heart beat more.  

“What?”

Sawamura chews his lower lip a moment before blurting out “Mind if I stay for a little while and work on my essay?”

 

Miyuki looks confused, but recovers quick, “Nah don’t mind at all. just keep it down.”

 

“Like I’d make a ruckus while studying!”

 

“I don’t know, you might be a toe tapper, or pencil fiddler or some other obnoxious noise.” he flails his hand at Sawamura, a sneer on his face.

 

 

Sawamura frowns over at Miyuki, he opens his mouth to retort but then thinks better of it. Snaps his mouth shut and pads back over to his book and essay.  Miyuki raises his eyebrow as he passes, but Sawamura doesn’t respond to that either.  His mind really focused on getting this psychology paper done.  

 

The next few hours pass by in a flash. Miyuki sits on the couch reading while Sawamura furiously scribbles away on his paper. At one point Sawamura looks up when Miyuki is offering him a warm cup of tea, he gladly accepts. The silence prevails, both boys working on school work.  Once Sawamura finishes his draft he sits back, exhales slowly. Falling back to rest on the floor for a moment.  He closes his eyes, When he opens them again Miyuki is standing over him.  A Muffled yelp and he sits back up.

 

“You overworking yourself again?” Miyuki sounds genuinely concerned.

 

“No! Wait?! What? Again?!!” Ending in a squeek. He hurries to stand up and collects his mug.  

He’s washed and put away his mug before Miyuki has moved.  Grabbing his backpack he bows slightly to Miyuki, “Arigatou Gozaimasu, Senpai.”  He’s retreating to the door when Miyuki appears behind him.

 

“You’re welcome.  Feel free to come over to study anytime.” A quick moment of panic crosses Miyuki’s face, he looks away quickly.  Rubbing the back of his neck, Miyuki mutters “thanks for the info and,” in a rush, “the natto." A mischevious smirk crossing his face, "I’ll see you tomorrow at practice.”

 

Sawamura steps into his shoes, one glance back to Miyuki.  “Umm, Yeah, See you tomorrow Miyuki Kazuya!” His normal enthusiasm returned.

 

Miyuki follows him to the door, and after a moment of strange silence and half gestures of going and coming Sawamura just turns and leaves, closing the door behind himself.  Once outside he releases a deep breath.  Shakes his head to clear the funny feeling that the exchange had more to it than normal.   Nah, its just Miyuki being socially weird, as usual .  Convinced of nothing more Sawamura slings his practice bag up higher and heads down the stairs.   Time to get back to my own shitty apartment. Ugh.  


Sawamura’s steps slow once he reaches the street, no desire to get back to his own apartment too quickly.  

Chapter Text

 

Miyuki watches, rapt as Sawamura sweeps his long legs low, tripping two other brawlers.  He shoots up to his feet, narrowly avoiding a punch from another big guy.  Leaning back precariously, his natural flexibility aiding him, he dodges another pair of opponents.  The pair taking each other out over Sawamura’s head.

Meanwhile Sawamura stretches his hand to grab a bento, and quickly strolls out of the ‘combat’ zone.  Smile on his face almost smug.

Miyuki still in a trance thinkin I’ll never get used to seeing these brawls in a grocery store . Then Sawamura notices him. Miyuki snaps back to the present, realizes his opportunity to leave unnoticed is gone.

“Oh Miyuki Kazuya! Fancy meeting you here.” His smile encompasses his whole face.

 

“Uh, hi.”

“What’re you doing here?”

“Shopping” Miyuki lifts his basket, some instant ramen cups and kimchi, along with a few pantry staples like rice and soy sauce. “Ran out of stuff at home. What’d you end up with?” Miyuki’s curiosity getting the better of him.

“Hm, oh I got,” he pauses to look, “oh sweet! I got the Ginger Fried Pork Bento”

“You grabbed it without knowing what it was?” Miyuki is genuinely surprised by that.  

“Well I grabbed it quickly, I might have mistaken it for the other ones!”  

“Alright, calm down.” Miyuki sticks a finger in his ear, “No need to yell at me. Tch.”

“Oh, sorry.” Sawamura actually does looks sorry as he ducks his head a little.  They walk to the checkout together. They pay for their things and head out of the store.

Just outside the markets doors Sawamura stops in front of Miyuki abruptly.

“Want to eat together Miyuki Sempai?” He smiles broadly.

Miyuki insides clench, a bit of anticipation churning in him.  “Uh, I have to go home to make mine.” he raises his bag of groceries and a question on his face.

“Oh that’s okay. Do you mind company? I’d rather not…” he trails off, mumbling.

“What was that?” Miyuki not sure he was supposed to follow all of the mutterings.

“Nothin’!” Sawamura smiles.

“Uh… sure, come over.” Miyuki says skeptically.

“Thanks Sempai!” Sawamura smiles broadly, and Miyuki isn’t sure about the little jump in his chest to see that face directed at him.  

Strangely enough Miyuki is accustomed to having Sawamura around, just like back in Seido. Sure, Sawamura isn’t the best dinner company, the way he shovels his food into his mouth like he’s starving. But for conversation and company he’s not bad to have around.  Although Miyuki has to wonder if his odd eating habit is because he really is hungry or if he was brought up with bad manners.

After eating Sawamura washes up the dishes he used and studies silently for a while longer.  before he leaves Miyuki’s apartment for the night.

 

It's becoming a habit, running into sawamura and sharing meals at Miyuki’s apartment. Miyuki’s not sure if he goes to the Hoki Mart because he can’t help but watch the violence.  He doesn’t get caught in the fights like that one time Sawamura saved him. Yet he thinks he might be sticking around just to catch a glimpse of Sawamura in action.  Somehow the kid looks like beauty and grace in motion.

 

It happens so often that Sawamura doesn’t have to ask anymore, Miyuki waits for him outside the store.  If it was a good night Sawamura leaves with a Bento. On bad nights Miyuki breaks out an ice pack and Sawamura will eat his cup noodle quietly.  

Miyuki hates those nights, he wants a smile and thrill of victory on Sawamura’s face.  Not the bruises, scratches and solemness that plagues his kouhai on the losing nights.  

 

Later that week…

Sawamura is already running on the practice fields when Miyuki arrives at Practice.  He notes it briefly and then goes about gearing up.  Sitting in the bullpen he is crouched across from Sanada when he realizes that the bullpen is rather quiet.  He looks around and the two other pitchers are there, one throwing to the net, the other warming up with Tanaka, the other catcher.  

 

He lets the thought fall away as he starts catching, Sanada’s pitches controlled but with a certain life of their own.  Not playing in a real game Miyuki lets his brain relax and focuses only on the pitcher across from him.  They take a break at some point, Miyuki’s single minded concentration falling away. He looks around the bullpen again, the other pitchers all getting ready for the rotation.  Surprised Miyuki doesn’t see the youngest pitcher, he glances around once more before approaching Sanada.

 

“Hey, where’s Bakamura?”

“Hmm, oh,” Sanada looks around again, “He was running before…. Guess he’s still at it?” shrugs his shoulders.

 

The pitchers rotate positions and Miyuki has little time to consider the pitcher that is missing.  Ito doesn’t have the control of Sanada, but he’s a sidearm pitcher with some quirky pitches.  Miyuki has to focus more on his calls and reactions to help hone the skills of this pitcher.  

 

The bullpen rotates once more before they are all called out to the field for the final portion of practice.  It's a shame to be done without catching for all the pitchers.  Miyuki’s attention is brought back to the idiot still running laps.  Despite the team running a fielding practice, he continues to make laps around the far edge of the field.  

Miyuki tries to ignore it and focus on the fielders, making calls to get the best plays possible.  Near the end of practice they have all the second string fielders take positions and the first string takes turns batting.  

 

Miyuki waits his turn, nudges Kanemaru in front of him. “Hey Kanemaru, what's up with the idiot?” He shakes his head towards outfield direction, where Sawamura is currently jogging.  

 

“Huh? Oh, he told the coach something and he sent him to run laps. Why, did he say anything to you?” Kanemaru looks Miyuki over once, like that would reveal the secret.

 

“No! Why would the idiot tell me anything?”

 

Kanemaru’s look changes, he opens his mouth to say something, but then changes his mind. Then whispers, “Oh I don’t know, thought he spent time with you…” Kanemaru turns around, he’s on deck.  

 

Miyuki is left in the dugout pondering what his kohai just said. Sure they spend time together, doesn’t mean he knows what the idiots thinking.  Or why he’s not pitching today.  He’ll have to ask the idiot himself later.

It turns out to be harder than anticipated. Sawamura manages to avoid Miyuki through the whole of practice and the locker rooms after.  Miyuki shrugs it off as the idiot being dumb about something.  He pulls out his phone instead and texts Bakamura.

-What’s up?

 

And for once he doesn’t get an instant response.  He goes to class and tries not to think about this gnawing feeling in the pit of his stomach.  He keeps checking his phone, see if the idiot responded yet.   Did he turn his phone off? Did he forget his phone at home, or in his locker, or on the train? Not likely, he is an idiot but not that forgetful of one.  Why is he not answering his phone?! All these ideas and more float through Miyuki’s head, and his chemistry class is forgotten.  

At lunch Miyuki has to bug Carlos to copy his notes later.  “Why?”

“I didn’t take any today, alright?” Miyuki starts to get churlish about it.

Carlos raises an eyebrow at him. Opens his mouth, then closes it, and digs out his note book. “Here.”

“Thanks” Miyuki says in a very clipped tone.

 

The next morning at practice his mood is even more severe.  He worried about the idiot for more time that he would like admit to anyone, and stayed up late doing his homework because of said distraction.  Now he has to catch and not vent his growing temper on everyone in his vicinity.

 

Sawamura is working with another catcher.  Miyuki is working with Ito again.  Pitcher needs the catchers’ help, and attention.  Miyuki forgets his bad mood when he sees Sawamura in the bullpen, practicing.  Just seeing the kid pitching again has relaxed him, so he focuses on the task at hand.  They take a break part way through and Miyuki watches the other pitchers as he drinks some water.

He takes particular note of Sawamura, there is something off about his wind up.  Watches another pitch and still thinks it's off, but his catcher doesn’t say anything.   Maybe I’m imagining it . His curiosity won’t let it go, he watches as the catcher throws the ball back.   Its there! Miyuki catches sight of a slight flinch as Sawamura catches it.  

Miyuki’s attention is brought back to Ito when he nudges him. “Right, let's work on that crossfire pitch some more.”

“Ugh, fine.” Ito grumbles, but keeps Miyuki’s attention as they pick up where they left off.

 

The team comes back together to finish practice with a scrimmage.  Miyuki watches Sawamura every free second he gets.  He is trying to pinpoint the issue, what is off? Is he hurt? Does he have the yips again?  

Miyuki almost misses a play in his divided attention.  He’s not even trying to hide the fact he’s staring down his Kohai by the end of practice.  

Clearly Sawamura notices and on the way to the locker rooms Miyuki gets an ear full.

“Shitty sempai! Stop staring at me, you’re being a creep!”

“Hah,” feigning his usual nonchalance Miyuki scoffs at him. “Don’t flatter yourself.”

“Well knock it off!” Sawamura sends an angry glare back at Miyuki. “Damn four eyes, staring at people!” He blusters at his sempai.

Miyuki ignores his loud blustering, a quick glance confirms that most of the team is already in the locker room, leaving Miyuki a chance to confront the idiot.  Miyuki closes the distance between them.  In a quick movement he grabs Eijun’s right wrist. Eijun is caught, he tries to back up but can’t.

For a second there is panic in the Kouhai’s eyes.  Then it is quickly covered with an angry face.   Miyuki without letting go, leans in towards Sawamura, whispers “I don't know what you’re hiding, but if you're injured you should get it looked at and not hide it.” He stares his kohai down, “remember how that works out?”

 

He grabs Sawamura's gloved hand,  the twitch is unmistakable.  Ah ha  there is something he’s hiding , sends a death glare at the kohai.  “you're not fooling me, what are you hiding?” Eijun blushes but says nothing and averts his gaze. A glance shows the coach approaching them, Miyuki releases his hand. “Don’t forget it Bakamura!” Miyuki says in a much lighter mocking tone.  He too heads into the locker rooms.

 

He is warring between angry and outraged at his kohai.  What is the idiot hiding? Is it a bruise, a sprain, perhaps a torn muscle… He is so preoccupied with his angry musings that he completely misses seeing the kohai.  Sawamura is last one in, Miyuki already showered and changed, spots him.  

 

Miyuki waits outside the locker rooms for the kid to come out. Intent on finishing the conversation, or at least getting some kind of answer.  Everyone else is gone by the time Sawamura appears again.  Miyuki bored on his phone was starting to wonder if he was ever coming out.

 

But the look on his face give Miyuki pause. It's a face very similar to the look he’d seen on Sawamura’s face when he had the yips.  A dullness to his eyes, and his posture slouched forward.  He also notices Sawamura’s hands are tucked into his hoodie pocket. Miyuki wonders again what he’s hiding.


 

Miyuki ’s expanded his culinary repertoire trying to impress his kohai with his cooking skills.  Tonight they are having a Tikka Masala, which Miyuki made from scratch.  They do dinner at least once a week now, in addition to the usual nights that Sawamura brawls for bentos, and eats with Miyuki.

 

They share casual conversation about school, baseball and life.  

"How are your classes? "

"Good, the psychology ones are easier than the others. .."

"Really?  Is it the professors or the topics? "

"Hmmm," Sawamura  ponders, "both?  Maybe. .."

the end of the meal Miyuki wonders something.  Without more thought he blurts out, “You know it costs less if we just share food.” Miyuki says, looking away from Sawamura.

 

Sawamura stops chewing instantly.  His gaze intense upon Miyuki.  They lock in this silent battle for a whole breath.  Finally Sawamura looks away and swallows.  

 

Sawamura gets up from the table and swipes the last two bites of his dinner into the trash.  Miyuki is so stunned he sits there while Sawamura seamlessly moves to the sink and washes his plate.  He finishes washing and is drying it when Miyuki recovers himself.

 

“What are you doing?!” Outrage at wasting his cooking as well as being at a loss for why Sawamura is clearly pissed off.

 

Sawamura glares, “I’m not a charity case!” His jaw clenches.

 

“I never said you were!” Miyuki drops his chopsticks onto his plate, hands flailing, “It's just a fact that we could share more meals to save money.”

 

“I can afford my own meals.” he takes a step, “Thanks for dinner.” but the tone is flat and doesn’t really sound like a thanks at all.

 

“Sawamura! What the hell is going on? What are you mad about?” Miyuki really doesn’t get it.

 

“I can take care of myself, Miyuki Kazuya!”

 

“What?! I didn’t say you couldn’t...”

 

Sawamura’s jaw clenches, but he doesn’t say anything. Anger written all over him. He starts to stride out of the kitchen to the front door.

 

“Sawamura!” No response, Miyuki jumps up and chases after the kohai, “Eijun!”

 

That gets him a response. Sawamura stops dead in his tracks. There is something else on his face.  Glaring at Miyuki he grinds out “Don’t use it like that...”

 

Miyuki is again at a loss for action. It looks like Sawamura is hurt.   Lets try honesty, his own anger rising, “Okay, I just don’t understand why you can’t just share more meals with me instead of fighting for some bentos! So I want to save money, and it's easier to cook for two than one. What’s wrong with that? God if you’re so worried about the money why not get a part time job? Even just during breaks.” Huffs angrily, more words flowing out of Miyuki’s mouth than he initially intended. “It's better if you don’t risk your health so recklessly when you have a real career ahead of you. You need to realize that one of these nights you might get more than just a bump or scrape. Something you can’t hide, and then where will you be?! Do you think Your grandfather’d like to see you throw away baseball over this?”

 

Miyuki registers the hard sound first, the pain second, as Sawamura slaps Miyuki across the face.  Tears unshed in Sawamura’s eyes, as Miyuki grabs at his offended cheek.  Shock and Anger rivaling each other in his breast.

 

“Don’t you ever, Ever throw Ojiichan in my face like that!” In a whirl of motion Sawamura grabs his bags and is out the door with a slam before Miyuki can recover.  

 

Miyuki feels unsettled, a cold feeling grips his guts.  He has to remember to breath for a moment, as he numbly locks his front door. He returns to his kitchen, cleaning up, throwing away the last of his own meal as well, his appetite gone.  He looks at his couch and kotatsu, and can’t think of studying there when he’s become accustomed to Sawamura sitting there, near him in companionable silence.  

 

Miyuki takes his books into his bedroom to finish studying for the night.  

 

Next day at practice Sawamura is all business. He doesn’t avoid or seek out Miyuki, he is formal and only answers in clipped phrases.  He’s not just stiff with Miyuki, his whole presence is off.  Kanemaru side eyes Miyuki during practice but turns his focus back to the fielding plays instantly.  Miyuki for his part, shakes it off, and lets that cold detached feeling take hold. Just like before, I don’t need to be friendly with them to play good baseball.

 

He’s even slightly relieved that the coach doesn’t have Sawamura teamed up with him in the bullpen today.  He’s sure all of Sawamura’s pitches would be wild and angry.  He’s catching for Sanada, but he glances during the break over to where Sawamura is still pitching.  Toyo, one of the other catchers, seems impressed.  Miyuki fights the desire to scowl at the idiot, but its a near thing.


The cold shoulder treatment continues to the next day as well. Miyuki tried to ignore it but failed. So he did a bit of research on part time jobs in the area.  He printed out a bunch and even cut up a few news papers.  He compiled the clippings into an envelope.

At breakfast he looks for Sawamura but can’t find him.  He does spot Kanemaru though.

“Hey Kanemaru”

“Oh hey Sempai, what’s up?”

“you have a class with bakamura yea?”

“Uh, yeah, why?”

Handing the envelope over, “Uh could you give this to him?”

“What is it?”

“Some stuff I owed him. Just get it to him, will ya?”

“Yeah yeah, will do. I’m surprised he’s not here now.”

“Yeah me too. But he really needs to read that, so make sure he gets it first thing.”

“Will do sempai” Kanemaru salutes him.

Miyuki’s conscience feels minutely better having transferred the information.

 

At afternoon practice Miyuki tries to convince himself that it's the heat that is wearing his patience thin.  The cicadas singing at the top of their lungs, letting everyone know it's an exceptionally hot day.  Getting his catching gear on only makes it worse. He swallows some more water before crouching to start pitching practice.

 

Miyuki can’t help but get irritated with Sawamura.  He’s catching for him and yet the kid has barely spoken a word to him since he stormed out of Kazuya’s apartment.  Which Kazuya can understand, but he made a peace offering, he hopes Kanemaru gave it to him. He’s too bashful to ask him himself, especially not during practice.

 

Despite all that Sawamura is sluggish, even in the bull pen, his control is crap, and there is next to no speed in any of his pitches.  Miyuki catches another practically in the dirt when he’s finally had enough. He pulls his mask off and storms over to Sawamura.  He passes out of the shade into the sunlight, Sawamura standing in the middle of scorching heat.

 

Miyuki is about ready to grab the kid’s collar when he stops to actually look at the kid.  He’s soaked through his undershirt, his cap showing the sweat through too.  His skin is a flush color, and sweat everywhere.  He’s rubbed a spot almost raw around his mouth, Sawamura rubbing the back of his glove over it as Miyuki watches.  Sawamura looks ready to fall over.  

 

Miyuki takes the last step closing the space between them, “Sawamura, are you alright?” Miyuki whispers it.

Sawamura swallows and nods gently.  As if Miyuki had just asked would he pitch another fastball.  

Miyuki’s pulse picks up, something is off with him.  “Did you want to switch hands and pitch rightie?” That should get his attention.

“Um.” another weak nod.

“Sawamura, what is up with you?” Miyuki can’t help but sound concerned. A bit of panic crawling up his spine.

“Had a paper due this morning. Stayed up finishing it.” Sawamura rubs at his lips again with his mitt, the chapped lips cracking and bleeds a little.

“Is that why you’re so out of it?” Miyuki is fighting outrage and panic, the pitcher still looks ready to fall down. “Let’s take a break, get something to drink.” He turns the pitcher around. He grabs his own water bottle forces it into Sawamura’s hand. Its still cool sitting in his bag in the shade.  

 

Sawamura takes it and swallows some, passes it back to Miyuki.  The Pitcher slumps onto the bench next to Miyuki’s bag.

Miyuki takes a big gulp of the cool water, wipes his face with a towel from his bag.  When he looks up Sawamura has his head leaning on the wall of the bullpen.  Then Miyuki notices it, Sawamura is shaking, his hands, his arms, micro spasms of his muscles.  One night without sleep has never done this to him.  Miyuki forces the bottle back into Sawamura’s hands.  Their hands brushing past, Miyuki feels the heat radiating from just the brief contact.  

 

Miyuki puts the back of his hand to Sawamura’s face, pulling away how warm he feels.  Sawamura is still drinking, his eyes looking glazed and a bit lost.  Miyuki debates what's the best course of action.  The kid is sick, his own hands seem to get clammier, tension thrumming through his body.  Forcing a calm face and voice he calls one of the managers over.  

“Hey Hitomi”

She jogs over to him. “Will you find coach for me?”

She nods, “Why what’s up?”

Miyuki points his thumb behind himself, “Think he’s sick. Gonna take em to the nurse.”

She peers around him, and looks surprised.  “Oh, yeah. Do you need help?”

“No I can manage one idiot, thanks. Just let coach know.”

“Will do!”

She leaves quietly without disrupting the rest of the pitchers.

Miyuki shakes his kohai then gestures for Sawamura to stand up.

“Come on. Let's go.”

“Where?”

“A short walk.” surprisingly he doesn’t question it, but Miyuki grabs his kohais hand and hauls him up to standing.  He looks even more unsteady now, Miyuki slips his arm under Sawamura’s and half drags, half pushes the kid forward, his steps slow and uncoordinated.  

“Uh.” sawamura makes several other small noises of protest but doesn’t complain otherwise.  

 

They make it to the school building without incident, Miyuki careful not to trip over Sawamura’s feet that seem to have a mind of their own.  They are halfway down the hallway, Sawamura’s breathing getting shallower, he’s almost gasping when the nurse pops his head out into the hall.

“Oh!” He rushes out to grab Sawamura on the other side, lifting the weight off of Miyuki.  

The nurse sets him down on one of the cots before he falls over.  

 

Miyuki stands there staring at his friend, looking lost and half asleep.  The nurse rushes over to the cabinets to grab something, and without the support Sawamura begins to tip forward off the bed. Miyuki quickly steps in and holds him sitting upright with a palm placed squarely on his chest.  Sawamura’s head lolls forward some, but he doesn’t move otherwise. Miyuki can feel the flutter of Sawamura’s heart against his palm, it beats too quickly for what they just did.  

Miyuki starts to pale, what if something really awful is wrong with him? Oh god.

 

The nurse returns, and they lay sawamura down.  He nods to Miyuki “thanks, you can go back to practice.” He has a stethoscope pressed to the same spot Miyuki just had his hand.

“Can I wait here?” his voice sounds strange to him, slightly strained.

Nurse simply nods to a chair on the other side of the curtain. Miyuki sits and waits. He takes off his catcher’s gear just to give himself something to do.   

 


 

Kuramochi is sitting at home when he gets a phone call. He checks the caller, its Miyuki, hmm this should be interesting he doesn’t usually call me.

 

“Mushi mushi”

 

“The idiot got Heat exhaustion! Can you believe it?! I leave him alone for less than a week and this is what happens!” Miyuki is practically screaming into the phone.

 

Kuramochi pulls it back from his ear, “YOw! No need to scream at me about it! Geez, who are you talkin’ about anyway?” Youichi sits up on the couch, tentatively returning the phone to his face.

 

“Bakamura!”

 

“Wait what? He got heat exhaustion? What's the full story Miyuki?”

 

Miyuki tells him how he wheedled the reasons out of Sawamura.  He’d skipped dinner finishing a paper, stayed up late. In turn woke up late and missed breakfast before practice.  It being exceptionally hot that day, he pushed himself until he couldn’t stand up anymore.  

 

“Wait did he collapse on the field?”

 

“No. Just outside the nurse's office. Huff”

 

“He actually went to the nurse willingly?”

 

“Well he was kinda out of it by the time I decided he needed to be checked out.”

 

“Wait, you decided?”

 

“Yeah, I was catching for him in the bullpen. It's a good thing I stopped when I did or he would have collapsed on the field! Given himself heat stroke probably too! Dah! How can someone be so stupid?!”

 

“I could ask that of you.”

 

“What? I never…”

 

“Bruised ribs ring any bells?! Don’t go acting all high and mighty when I know you’d’ve done the same.”

 

“That was different. This was just practice, not a game.”

 

“Oh and that makes it better? And did he realize that he needed help before or after he collapsed?” sarcasm dripping from his tone, “How is that fair? Unlike you, who knew better and hid it anyway.”

 

“Really?! Still holding that grudge huh Mochi?”

 

“Haruph! It's still valid. Did Sawamura endanger himself any more than hiding that injury?”

 

Miyuki is quiet a moment longer.  “Ah, made you think. Kyahah!”

 

“Shut up Mochi!” Miyuki is quieter than before, “I was afraid the kid was dying or something!”

 

“Huh? The great unshakable pillar that is Miyuki Kazuya was scared? That’s really why you’re calling me isn’t it?” Before Miyuki can hang up or make a rebuttal Youichi blurts out “it's okay to be upset, once in awhile you know. It's just proof that you’re human.”  

 

There is a soft humm on the other end of the line.

 

“You chew him out yet? Or am I the only one with the pleasure of your anger?” Kuramochi gets up from the couch he was slumped on, paces his apartment.

 

“I’m not going to waste my breath on him now, he’d barely register it.  But tomorrow he’s gonna get it! I’ll wring his neck.”

 

“Wouldn’t that be hurting him even more? Don’t you want to avoid that.”

 

“Yeah, well… You know what I mean.”

 

“Your welcome”

 

“Huh?”

 

“For calling you on your bullshit.  It's a service I provide free of charge only to the best of college baseball idiots.”

 

“See if I call you again.” Then hangs up.


“Huh” Youichi talks to his empty apartment, “don’t suppose he has real feelings for…” Walking into his kitchen, “Nah, that’s just wishful thinking.”  He opens his fridge to find something to eat.

Chapter Text

Carlos raises an eyebrow at Miyuki over lunch.

“What is up with you?”

“Huh, nothing.” Miyuki pokes at his food some more before taking another small bite with his chopsticks.

“I know what nothing looks like. This,” he waves a hand at Miyuki, “is not it. Something is up.”

“No, something is not up.” Miyuki holding back the snarl.

“Ah in your usual good mood again I see.” Sanada says as he sits down next to Carlos.

“Yeah right? Hehe. Something’s grinding his gears, what do you think it is Sanada?” a devilish smirk crosses Carlos’s lips.

“Hmm knowing him…” Sanada stares at Miyuki for a moment longer, chews the edge of his lip. Shrugs, “actually its hard to know, he’s good at poker faces.”

Carlos laughs at that. “Yeah,” he pokes Miyuki in the shoulder, “never know what genius pretty boy catcher is thinking. Unless he’s making ruthless plays on the field!”

Sanada laughs at that, “True, your inner demon shows then. A smile that could cut.” He smiles at Miyuki then, “I love it when you get those ideas while playing. Its always fun for me.”

“Ugh, you battery guys are so weird sometimes!” Carlos whines.

Miyuki finally looks up, forces on a half smile, ignores the nameless thing in his stomach. The feeling of dread sitting in wait, “Oh you know how I love a good challenge.” He sells it hard, with an exaggerated wink to Carlos.

And they both laugh, the tension drops and they move on to other subjects. Miyuki breathes easier not being under their direct scrutiny. He pushes his anxiety down, wait for a moment he’s alone to contemplate its source.

 


 

“You are not going to skip any other meals!” Miyuki gets into his kouhai’s face, his grip tightening on his shirt. “If you aren’t here for breakfast I will find out! You will be under surveillance.  DO I make myself clear?!” He bares his teeth.  

Sawamura, still shocked, blinks up at Miyuki before he nods repeatedly.

“I want to hear you say it.” Miyuki shakes him once more.

“Yes, senpai!” his voice cracks at the end.

“I expect to see you at lunch too. I will find you if necessary. Do you understand?” He backs off, loosening his grip on Sawamura’s shirt. A quick glance around the practice field shows they’re alone. He drops his voice. “Come over after practices, I’ll feed you until I’m satisfied you’re not going to kill yourself accidentally.” He finally drops his hand from the kouhai.

Sawamura’s eyes go wide momentarily. Then he clears his throat. Eyes cast down, “Yes, senpai.” He then pauses and whispers out “Thank you senpai.” As he bows deeply.

Miyuki is surprised by the bow. “What?”

“Thank you for looking out for this kouhai!” he still doesn’t make eye contact. “And for the jobs” the last part almost muttered.

Miyuki is struck by how sincere he sounds. Miyuki rubs the back of his neck, “Good.” With that cleared up Miyuki suddenly feels very conscious of their proximity and that they’re alone. He quickly retreats back from Sawamura, and grabs his bag off the bench near by, retreating to the locker room.

His heart hammers in his chest, he wonders why he feels this way. What about being around Sawamura destroys his carefully constructed barriers? He needs to think, but he needs space away to do that. Then a spike of fear pierces through him. His words from a moment ago catching up to him. He just put himself in charge of babysitting this pitcher in his apartment every night. He swallows down the lump in his throat. He forces himself to breath calmly.  

Its no big deal, he’s shared space and dinner with Sawamura more than once. Not like it's a big deal. But the way his heart flutters makes him think his brain is no longer in charge of that decision.

 


After the stern talking to that morning, Sawamura finds himself at Miyuki’s apartment again. Miyuki looks a bit angrier than usual.

Sawamura asks tentatively “Are you alright Miyuki Kazuya?”

Glancing over his shoulder looking rather mad, Miyuki snaps “of course I’m fine. You’re the idiot that forgets to feed himself!”

“I won’t do it again Senpai!” he bows his head to the table.

That gets Miyuki to pause in his food prep, the knife laid down on the cutting board. His hands still.

Sawamura wonder if he said the wrong thing, he tries to think of what might have upset Miyuki.

“Make sure you don’t. We need you in top form for every game.” Miyuki says it and for once sounds genuine about, no cackle after or smart face.

Sawamura blinks a moment at that. Then the sound of cutting fills the air again, Miyuki back to his task.

 

The atmosphere changed, and Sawamura relaxes as the tension ebbs away.  Sawamura starts to boil water for tea, his habit now.  He picks up some light banter.  Sawamura continues to pour out meaningless words. A story of how his lab partner was grossed out dissecting cats, or the story from his friend Nobu getting lost in the city.  Miyuki’s tense stance slowly releases some. Sawamura talks and talks to fill the quiet, but he doesn’t yell or shout, just banters on, getting a nod or a ‘hmmm’ from Miyuki now and again.

 

By the time Miyuki puts food on the table his shoulders have relaxed from being around his ears (like when Sawamura originally got there.) Miyuki even manages a couple of chuckles and an almost smile. Sawamura treasures the small moments like this, he pauses food halfway to his mouth.

Miyuki stares at him and grimaces. “Eat, Bakamura!”

Remembering himself he chows down without any more hesitation.

After dinner, they pull out textbooks, Sawamura spreads his notes out over the kotatsu.

 

End of the night Sawamura bows and quietly leaves. Miyuki spends a moment longer in his genkan, watching his kouhai disappear down the stairs.


 

Next morning Miyuki gets up earlier than usual.  He makes his way to the campus cafeteria.  He looks around and finds Sawamura. His eyes linger long enough that Sawamura looks up and makes eye contact. Miyuki’s heart skips a beat, and he nods to acknowledge the contact. He then finds a seat by himself to eat his meal from home, ignoring the pitcher.

 

He repeats this procedure at lunch time. Making eye contact before finding his usual table, Carlos and Sanada already there arguing over one of the NPB games from last night. Miyuki ignores the additional stare from Carlos as he digs into his food. Sanada keeps the conversation going, Miyuki only contributing a few sparse remarks to the conversation. Miyuki focuses on not drawing any additional attention from his teammates.  He keeps reminding himself to keep eating and not make eye contact with the kouhai again.

 

They follow this pattern of casual glances during the day and friendly talk over dinner.  Sawamura is in no danger of being malnourished.  Yet  they continue. Miyuki tells himself its just a habit, but he's only lying to himself. Sawamura contributes odds and ends to the meal as Miyuki directs.  Sometimes they eat together, sometimes Sawamura brings a cup of noodle and studies.

 

This habbit stretches from a week, to two weeks.  Before Miyuki has thought to stop it a month has passed, every night except sundays, they eat at Miyuki's little kitchen table. Again Miyuki finds himself unable to object to the intrusion on his otherwise quiet life. They're studying after dinner, Miyuki on his couch, Sawamura at the Kotatsu, books on the table.

Sawamura looks up from his text book when his phone buzzed. Miyuki spares a glance at the noise then goes back to reading his own work. He’s disturbed again when Sawamura asks “What is next week?”

“Huh? Next week is is Golden week.  Why?”

“Shit, that already?!”

“Yeah, what’s the big problem Sawamura?” Miyuki puts his hand inside the text he’s been reading, and closes it mostly.  His attention on the kouhai, that is currently glaring daggers at his phone.

Abruptly Sawamura turns around from his school work, sits into a perfect seiza and bows his forehead to the floor in front of Miyuki.  Miyuki stares at him perplexed, until Sawamura pops up, serious face, gaze intent on Miyuki.

“Miyuki Senpai! I most humbly ask a favor of you! Please let me pretend to be your roommate for next weekend!” He quickly bows his head down to the floor again.

Taking a moment to process what Sawamura just said, Miyuki is even more confused, “What?!”

Sawamura, pops his head up, still mostly bowed, pleads “Please Senpai, Wakana wants to visit, and I’m afraid my actual roommates are not…” he pauses, looking around the room, “gentlemanly enough to be able to share space. Besides,” he mumbles the last part, “my room is too small to share.” He pouts a little, then bows once more, “Please Senapi!”

Miyuki half raises himself from the couch, book still in his other hand.  He slaps Sawamura on the back of the head, and falls back into the couch heavily.

“OW! What was that for?!” Sawamura’s growl far more familiar and comfortable, Miyuki smiles at his kouhai rubbing the back of his head.

“Stop bowing to me like I’m some kind of lord! You don’t need to act so humble! Why is Wakana visiting?”

Sawamura pouts his lips, mutters “She wanted to come see me in Tokyo.  And even though we have practice most days she is insistent that she come see my, I mean, our school…”

“Hmmm,” Miyuki rubs his chin with his free hand, trying for a contemplative look on his face. I can keep a better eye on him if he’s sharing my space.

“Please Miyuki-senpai!”

“Oh!” his pulse jumps a little, he averts his face away to hid his blush, “Well since you learned how to use the right honorific, you can stay here. But you’ll owe me.” Miyuki forces a devious smile onto his lips before glaring at Sawamura.

Sawamura, blinks a few times, then turns red in the face, and looks at the floor. Just when Miyuki expects him to protest Sawamura speaks up, “Fine, but no harassing Wakana while she’s here!” He looks up at Miyuki again, serious determination on his face again.

“Oh? You don’t want me stealing your girlfriend?~” he sing songs the last word, just to get under Sawamura’s skin.

“She’s not my Girl Friend.” Sawamura growls, his jaw clenched tight, his voice sounds angry for real. Its that tone Miyuki’s heard when Sawamura is on the mound and the batter is cornering him at the end of a game.  It's a tone that draws Miyuki’s attention back to his kouhai’s face.  Sawamura is still glaring at the floor, his face turned away from Miyuki, the flush from before still descending. Miyuki wonders, what bug crawled up his but?

Miyuki shakes it off, lightens the mood and tension looking away, opens his book again. Waves his now free hand in a dismissal gesture, “Fine, but I’m not cooking for you kids.”

“Thank you Miyuki Senpai!” Sawamura swings around back to his phone left on the table, texts at rapid speed then drops the phone back into his bag. He packs up his books shortly after that.

He gives Miyuki the dates for the days he’ll be ‘rooming’ while Wakana is in town.  It's only a weekend, 3 days and 2 nights; Friday, Saturday and leaving Sunday evening.  

Miyuki adds a note to his phone calendar. “Do I need to pretend anything else while she’s around? Or is the rest of your life an open book?”

Sawamura give him a baffled look, “What else would I hide?” 

Miyuki shakes his head, "nevermind,"

Sawamura smiles, “Thanks again Miyuki Senpai!”

A warm feeling floods Miyuki’s chest at the repeated sincere appreciation.  Trying to shove it down he blusters on, “She following you around the whole time or am I going to have to entertain her at some point?”

“She’s only around for 3 days.  She might hang out here while I have work on friday night…” he chews his lower lip a second, then rushes the rest out, “Its just one class not my whole shift, so she might even come watch that too… but we’ll see. You won’t have to entertain her, she’s pretty self sufficient. I, uh, gotta go, but I’ll text you if anything changes! Uh, goodnight!” Sawamura bows deeply, his back pack almost sliding off in the process, and hastily turns around and exits before Miyuki can respond to the blustering idiot.

Looking out the peephole at the retreating figure Miyuki locks the door and exhales loudly.   Why did I feel … he’s at a loss for the exact emotion, he shrugs This kid is going to be the death of me. Then he pushes the thought and feeling down to the back of his mind, returning to his own homework.

 


 

The Thursday of Golden week Miyuki is sitting at home alternating between reading his textbooks and the latest score books on their next opponent.  There is a loud knock on the door. Surprised Miyuki gets up and grumbles at the interruption.  But he hurries to the door, not wanting to be impolite to a stranger.    Its Sawamura at the door!

“Oh hey, what's up?” Miyuki raising his eyebrow at the large bag Sawamura is carrying.

“May I come in?” He looks rather sheepish with his warm brown hair a little wet, clinging to his forehead in darker clumps.

Miyuki steps back allowing his kohai entry.

Sawamura starts to slip his shoes off in the genkan.

Miyuki asks “Did you just get off work?” The smell of shampoo and chlorine still hanging onto Sawamura’s clothes. Distracted he talks without thinking “whats all the stuff?”

“Miyuki sempai!” Sawamura whines a little bit, “You said I could pretend to be your roommate for the weekend.”

“Oh yea, that.” Miyuki’s tone falters, he clears his throat recovering “But what’s all…” he waves his hand at the bag.

“It has to look like I live here!” Sawamura rolls his eyes as he lowers the bag to the floor.

“Ah, right, well, uh, come in and make yourself at home.”  Miyuki waves his hand to gesture to the whole apartment.

Sawamura opens the bag, grabbing things from it.  First he hangs up a couple of photos. Mostly Seido pics, and the university team photo from the season opener.  Miyuki is curious about what else he’s brought. He stands in the doorway to the bedroom watching as Sawamura unpacks a pillow and comforter.

“You know I have enough linens, right?”

“Sure, but it would looks suspicious if some of the linens weren’t mine. I don’t know if she’ll notice but I’m sure my family is twisting her arm for information on me.” A strange look of anger and concentration crosses Sawamura’s face.  Then its gone.

“Fair.” Miyuki is staring, watching Sawamura’s every move.  He notices the way his muscles in his arm flex as he lays out the bedding. His damp hair falls down across his forehead, and curls around his ears.

Sawamura notices him then, eyebrow raised.

Miyuki catches himself, shrugs and leaves Sawamura to organize things in the bedroom.  He goes back out to the living room, picking up his forgotten textbook. Act normal , don’t freak out because he’s moving in , even if it is just the weekend. His brain starts to war with itself, between calm rational and momentary panic at being in close quarters with this kid that makes his pulse race.

He compartmentalizes it, thinking that Sawamura is going through all this effort for his friend, who Miyuki suspects is more than just a friend, despite Sawamura’s frequent protests. Miyuki thinks, would I bother to keep up appearances this much if I wanted to impress someone? He shrugs to himself, probably not, haven’t really ever tried to impress anyone but baseball coaches.

Miyuki wants to laugh at his friend being meticulous about random details.  He stops breathing, did I just think of the noisy kohai as a friend? Sawamura passes by Miyuki and he reminds himself to breath. Sawamura places little knick knacks in the kitchen, even unpacks some manga onto Miyuki’s rather barren book shelf.  Sawamura leaves the main room again, Miyuki hears him in the bathroom moving around.

It doesn’t take long, but when he’s done he finds Miyuki again.  He bows deeply to him, “Thank you so much Miyuki Senpai!” He turns and walks towards the door.

“Hey, where’re you going roomie?” Miyuki’s mouth twists into a grin, baiting the kohai into doing things has always been fun.  But this is Miyuki's mouth running away with him before his mind can catch up.

“Huh?” Sawamura stops, turns and his face is so open and soft that Miyuki’s breath catches again.

Miyuki coughs to cover up his momentary indecision. “Oh, I mean, have you eaten yet?”

Sawamura shakes his head negative. Looking rather perplexed, his brows furrowed and lips pressed into a thin line.

“You just got off work before you got here, right? Stay. I have enough to share, if you’re interested.”

“Oh, but I don’t have anything to contribute! Should I get something?” Sawamura is halfway to the genkan where his shoes are, when Miyuki grabs him by the elbow.

“No need, I have everything. Its some leftovers that I need to eat up before they go bad. You’d be doing me a favor, helping to eat it all.” Miyuki smiles, and releases Sawamura. He can feel the warmth in his hand from where he touched Sawamura. Is this kid a furnace or what?!

“Well don’t just stand there.” Miyuki gestures to his kouhai to come back in. Miyuki does a quick retreat to the bathroom.  He’s sure his face is flushed, all the heat he feels.  He splashes some cold water on his face and looks around his bathroom.  There is a toothbrush holder attached to the left side of the mirror, and when he opens the cabinet there is a second tube of toothpaste and dental floss.  Sawamura hasn’t flooded the apartment with his stuff, but enough that it really does feel like he might live here.  Miyuki peeks into the tub, there is a second set of shampoo and conditioner in the caddy on the floor.  

Miyuki stops in the hallway, takes a closer look at the Photo Sawamura hung next to the team photo. Its a picture from Seido, Kuramochi has both Sawamura and Miyuki in a headlock.  Miyuki thinks that Youichi must have wanted the photo taken, as he’s smiling the biggest grin.  Miyuki is wearing his sports glasses, his hair sweaty and plastered to his forehead.  Sawamura’s mouth is open, in what was probably a whining noise. Miyuki can see Sawamura has his ‘S’ cap in his hand, raised to bat at Kuramochi.  He likes the photo, but is a little surprised to see that Sawamura liked it enough to frame it. Miyuki tries to remember which game it was taken after.  When he hears a noise from the living room and his attention is back to the present.

Back in the living room Sawamura has taken up his usual spot at the kotatsu.  His book open and a crease in his brow as he reads through it.  He looks up at Miyuki’s approach. “Oh hey, hope you don’t mind.”

Miyuki cuts him off, “Nah, but mind boiling some water for tea?” nodding his head towards the kitchen.

Sawamura jumps up, “Oh not a problem, roomie~!” He smiles again, with a little wink at Miyuki.

Miyuki’s heart jumps and flutters, suddenly the thought of touching those lips crosses his mind. He must have been left staring when he hears water and snaps back to reality.

Sawamura is filling the tea kettle. He turns around, sending Miyuki a look of concern. “You alright Miyuki senpai?”

“Huh, oh yeah, fine. Right, set the rice cooker and heat up the…” he looks into the fridge, his mind gone blank about what is in his fridge.  

Sawamura stares at him a little bug eyed.

“What?” Miyuki responds the glare he is trying to ignore but can feel it burning into the side of his face.

“You didn’t react at all to me calling you senpai!”

“That's because that is what you’re supposed to call your upperclassmen! Now boil the water before I change my mind.” his heart flutters in his chest, and he tries to focus himself on getting all the food together. Miyuki quickly falls back into safe repeatable patterns. The rest of the night falling into a familiarity of cook, eat and talk.  

After they eat Sawamura cleans up, “Thank you Sempai.” He bows in the doorway.

“Where’re you going?” Miyuki asks instantly.

Sawamura looks confused, he just gestures with his thumb over his shoulder.

“Aren’t you staying here tonight?” Miyuki’s face heats up. I can’t believe I just said that. Quickly he looks away to see all the the handiwork Sawamura has done. The dishes clean and put away, the tea kettle back on the stovetop, the chopsticks still drying on the towel.

“Oh, I don’t need to do that, Wakana doesn't come until tomorrow.” Sawamura waves his hand back and forth in front of himself, dismissing the idea.

“But don’t you think its good practice? To pretend like we’re roommates?” Yea sure tell yourself that Miyuki, its practice for him . There is a small sense of panic worrying him again.

“Oh, well, I suppose you make a good point…” Sawamura looks down the hall at the bag he left by the door. “I guess I do have all the essential things here.”

“Uhm,” Miyuki’s breaking out in a cold sweat, he glances around for any inspiration on what to say to cover this, he sees his textbook. “Do you have any more studying to do?”

“Ugh, you know I always do.” Sawamura wilts a little, but then perks up, “you don’t mind my intrusion?”

“Please!” the sarcasm returns to his voice out of habit,  “I’m used to you being here at this point. You don’t bother me.” Miyuk’s brain waking up from short circuiting, he adds  “You have work tomorrow?”

“Yeah, but its not till the afternoon. I can grab the last of my stuff in the morning and then meet Wakana at the Train station.”

“Need me to pick her up? Sure you won’t get lost?” Miyuki smirked a little remembering that time Sawamura did get lost.

“No” Sawamura sticks out his lip, a scowl on his face. “I’ll pick her up, bring her here before going to work.” He looks far off for a moment, “I think she’ll want to see me at work, so you won’t be stuck with her at all.”

“That’s fine.” Miyuki chews the inside of his mouth for a second. “Sounds like you have it all thought out.”

“Thank you Miyuki Kazuya!” Sawamura bows quickly, pulling his books back out from where he stowed them.

They return to their usual study positions, and silence falls over the apartment again. Its like normal until Sawamura yawns into his book, almost falling asleep in his text.

Miyuki isn't far off from that feeling. “Go to sleep, if you’re tired.”

“I just have to finish this sect~iYAWNn~”

“Right.  I think it can wait. Go to bed.”

“But.”

“No buts, you know where the bedding is, so what’s your excuse?”

Sawamura looks a little bashful, then he yawns again. He concedes the loss, and gets up from the kotatsu, shuffling out into the hall.  

Miyuki does manage to finish the section he’s working on, but it's a near thing too. He hears Sawamura shuffling from the bathroom to the bedroom.  Quiet returns and Miyuki puts a post it note on his page and closes the text. Piled up on the kotatsu next to Sawamura’s books, Miyuki gets ready for bed.

He is already in his loose fitting sweat pants, brushes his teeth and shuffles into his room.  Sawamura has laid his futon next to Miyuki’s, with enough space to walk between the two.  Miyuki glances down at Sawamura twice before he makes his cautious approach to the bed.  He looks once more at his kouhai, he’s not asleep yet but he’s not awake either.  

Miyuki takes off his glasses before quickly pulling his t shirt over his head and depositing it in his hamper. Like a flash he dives into his covers, in case Sawamura is looking.  His mind is buzzing with the thought of Sawamura, sleeping in the same room as him! His mind does circles until he reminds himself he used to share a room in high school, no heart fluttering or panic doing that.  He tells himself its no different, its just Sawamura. Finally his mind relaxes, remembering happy days spent at Seido, playing ball and practicing.  If he falls asleep with a smile on his lips no one can see it as he pulls his covers up to his nose.


 

Wakana Aotsuki just got into Tokyo, and Sawamura showed her the apartment.  Tonight Sawamura has the one class that he couldn’t get out of teaching at the pool. Wakana wanted to see him work, and followed him to the pool. Miyuki gets a text asking him to join them for dinner.

He agrees to meet them at the pool.  Miyuki gets the address from Sawamura as well as Wakana’s cell number too, in case he gets lost.

Miyuki goes to the pool. He finds the building no problem, the signs outside clear.  Once inside he’s greeted with a hallway in two directions. He can hear children's voices ringing through the whole building.  But the smell of chlorine is stronger in the hallway directly in front of him. He looks up on the wall to see a small sign with an arrow to each location listed, sure enough he finds the doors to the pool.

Once through the set of double doors he is hit with a wave of humid hot air, the chlorine stifling.  He’s looking around absently, then he remembers he is supposed to meet someone he’s barely met.

Thankfully she seems all too eager to meet him and as he approaches the bleachers to one side of the room he sees a woman waving her arm back and forth. Miyuki casually makes his way up the steps to where she is seated half way up. Miyuki smiles wanly, not sure he’s happy about being here anymore.

“Nice to meet you, I’m Wakana Aotsuki” She beams, leaning into a half bow from her seat.

“Miyuki Kazuya, pleased to meet you.” Miyuki looks back towards the pool, the sound of splashing water loud.  They both watch as Sawamura smiles at the kids.  He’s encouraging them to slap the water with their hands cupped.  Miyuki and Wakana watch in silence until Mura’ looks up towards them and smiles a huge grin.  

Wakana glances over at Miyuki before asking “How’s he?”

“Huh? Sawamura?” Miyuki looks over at her, then back to the pool. “He’s better at swimming than I thought.”

She playfully swats at Miyuki. “No really. He doing alright in school? He doesn’t talk much about his classes, just sports really.”

Miyuki raises an eyebrow at her. “You do know what he’s majoring in right?”

“Actually no.”

Miyuki looks at her skeptically,  finally answering her, "Sports Psychology. So really that is all he’s ever studying in a sense.”

“He’s really good then?”

“Hmm, better than some.” Miyuki rolls his eyes, the math and English courses not Sawamura’s strongest subjects. “But for his major, yeah, he’s picked well.”

Sawamura jumps out of the pool, Miyuki gapes a little at his muscular definition. His body shining, as water droplets run down his pecs, abs and arms.  His swim suit clinging to his thighs, leaves little to the imagination of the muscle underneath.  

Sawamura walks over to the edge of the bleachers.  Miyuki and Wakana walk down to the edge of the pool. “Hey guys, sorry to keep you waiting. I was going to shower and change then we’ll be ready to go, yea?”

Wakana smiles and nods “now shoo, I’m sure you’re hungry.”

“Oh you know it! Okay, be quick.” He winks at her and smiles. Sawamura walks away to the locker rooms.  

Wakana turns to Miyuki seriousness written all over her face. “You watching out for him?”

“What?” Miyuki, still a little stunned from the image of Sawamura in a bathing suite, panics for a second, looking toward the door Sawamura disappeared into.  His brain kicks in enough to recognize one word she said, he repeats it, “Watch?”

“Come now, I know you’re not stupid.” she pauses, giving Miyuki the once over look. “But he,” she jerks her thumb towards the locker room, “won’t realize things until he’s already waist deep in them. You are one of the few people Sawamura honestly respects.” she scoffs, “He would barely stop talking about you and baseball.” she waves her hand in Miyuki’s direction to dismiss any rebuttal. “Now I expect you to treat him good.”

“What the..”

“If I hear you’ve betrayed his trust in any way,” she leaned in close to Miyuki, her breath fanning across his face. “I will personally come and find you.” She sneers “and it won’t be pleasant.” she stares him down.

Miyuki’s throat has gone dry and he swallows to try and alleviate the feeling.   She’s threatening me? Over Sawamura? “Wait, I think you’ve got...”

“Oh hey guys!” Sawamura returns.

 The moment interrupted, leaving Miyuki with some unanswered questions.

“Let's go I’m starving." Sawamura mock whispers "My treat!”, lowering his voice only a fraction. He smiled and Wakana grabbed him by the elbow.

“Wait, no you can’t do that!” Miyuki starts to argue. His brain returning to functional. Sawamura can’t blow his money carelessly!

Wakana and Eijun give Miyuki a harsh stare. “Geez whats the big deal?” Wakana pouts.

“Relax, Miyuki senpai. I got a bonus for doing this class.” Sawamura thumbs back at the pool as they walk away.

“Really?!” Miyuki can’t help but sound surprised.

“Yeah, they begged me to do it even though I had taken it off. So they threw in a bonus to get me to do it. Guess the kids like me the most.” He smiles at Wakana.

“Oh Eijun! That’s great. Getting special requests to teach already!” Wakana almost squeals.

Miyuki’s face must betray his surprise at her difference in attitude.

“Miyuki senpai?” Eijun has dropped Wakana’s arm and is turned to face Miyuki.  “You alright?”

“Huh, oh yeah, fine. Let’s get out of here. It's a million degrees and smells like chlorine.” He pinches his nose for emphasis.

“Alright.” Sawamura spins around, Wakana picks up his elbow again.“Oh, right. What do you guys want?”

“Hmm, I don’t know. What's close by?” Wakana asks, all sweetness.

Miyuki wonders if Sawamura knows about Wakana's mean side.

“Hmm.” Sawamura chews his lower lip a moment, looking around. “Oh I know a place, not too far from here. Okonomiyaki sound good to you?” Eijun looks to Miyuki first, then Wakana.

She smiles and nods and looks to Miyuki.

“Hmm? Um, yeah fine by me.” Miyuki can’t muster up to be eloquent when his brain feels like it just got whiplash.

“Alright, lets get going! I’m starved.”

They walk and Miyuki follows a step behind. Wakana is hanging onto her friend, and they are chatting happily about swimming and college classes.  Miyuki zones out a little not listening to the conversation.

“What about you Miyuki-sempai?” Wakana turns to him, sweetness plastered all over her face.

“Huh? What was the question?”

“Geez, and you say I don’t listen~” Sawamura exaggeratedly rolls his eyes.

Wakana smacks Eijun’s arm. She goes on “What’s your biggest complaint about university life? Hmm?”

“Complaints, hmmm?

“Oh come on! Surely mr. critical has something?!” Wakana whines.

“Mr. Critical? That's a new nickname.” he sends a pointed look at Sawamura, the only person who would give her such an impression of him.  “I guess my biggest complaint would be the coach.”

“Coach?! Really?” Sawamura’s eyes bug out a bit.

“Yeah,” Miyuki puts his hands behind his head, looking anywhere but at the two people he’s talking to. “He doesn’t trust us like Katoaka did. He’s not bad, but he’s a bit of a control freak.” Miyuki pouts a little at the thought of coach telling him what kind of calls to make at the plate.

Miyuki returns to the present when he bumps into Sawamura. “Oi, what’s the big idea?”

“I thought I’d be your biggest complaint,” Sawamura mutters, just loud enough to be heard by Miyuki.  

“Nah, I’ve dealt with far worse. Do you not remember Kuramochi?” Miyuki quickly pats Sawamura on the crown of his head. And as quickly lets go. His heart is racing.  What is wrong with me? His mind scrambles to restore normalcy or order. “Uh, Sawamura, we going to dinner or not?”

“Right! We’re almost there.” Sawamura perks up from his sudden moment of quiet.  He quickly catches back up to Wakana, who has opened a gap of a few paces between them.  

Hmmm. Curious, Wakana’s behavior.  Miyuki inhales deeply to calm his racing heart and sudden panic at being close to his kouhai.  He closes the distance quickly with long strides.  The restaurant only two doors farther from where they stopped.  Miyuki logs the thought away that he needs to remember this, analyze it later.  

For now he joins Sawamura and Wakana for dinner.  They each order and grab drinks, chatting through the meal.  When the finish their first course Wakana orders a beer, and Miyuki joins in.  Sawamura sticks to his soft drinks. Wakana waggles her beer towards Sawamura.  He makes a sour face but doesn’t say anything. She shrugs and continues drinking its contents.

Miyuki finds the exchange odd, but shoves the thought away.

 

Wakana can drink it turns out. Miyuki trying to keep up with her, for whatever reason. Ends up a little tipsy.  He tries not to let his inebriation show, but its futile. Wakana keeps smirking at him like the cat that got the cream.  It unsettles Miyuki some more.  

On their walk back to Miyuki’s apartment they happen to run into a group of Keito Univ. players. 

Miyuki turns to Wakana, “You watch any of our games?” he smirks, his sense of propriety gone as the buzz takes over.

“Yeah, of course I do!”

“You see us play those guys?!” He points in their direction.

“Who?” She looks without understanding who they are.

“Oh great, here we go again.” Sawamura Mumbles, and moves from next to Wakana to in between Wakana and Miyuki.

“What’s going on?” Wakana whispers to Sawamura.

“He’s about to pick a fight.”

“Well then why don’t we just go another way?” She looks between Miyuki, smiling like an idiot, and Sawamura, lips set in a thin line.

“Because its too late for that. They heard him.” Sawamura exhales, the sound of the put upon.  “I can handle it though, so just follow my lead, okay?”

“Sure.” But she sounds a little skeptical.

Miyuki chimes in louder now, oblivious to the hushed conversation that just transpired, “If it isn’t Keito! The school with the worst fielders, and even worse batters. They’rs one in a dozen of em that can hit for shit!”

The group of three guys from Keito caught Miyuki’s words and are now in front of them on the sidewalk.  The tallest guy, easily a head taller than Miyuki, grunts, his chest puffing out and his nose flaring. He’s flushed in the face, his nose a bright pink.  The two guys with him, both broad shouldered and as tall as Miyuki.  Both looking flushed similarly, and a little wild in the eyes.

“Are you talking shit about our school?”

Miyuki’s face morphs into one of surprise. “What? Hatoro-san isn’t it? I would never bad mouth your school.” Miyuki pauses briefly.

Hatoro relaxes a little, a grin returning to his face.

Then Miyuki continues, “No, just your lousy baseball team!” He grins ear to ear.

Hatoro, snaps back into an angry glare.  He raises a fist as he steps towards Miyuki.

Sawamura snaps into action faster, not slowed down by alcohol. He quickly get between Hatoro and Miyuki, shoves Miyuki back towards Wakana. She grabs him as Sawamura ducks around Hatoro. Sawamura’s leg behind the taller guy’s stride. Swiftly sweeping Sawamura’s leg forward, pulling Hatoro’s legs out from under him. He throws his arms wide as he falls backwards, right into the arms of his compatriots.  Who, without a choice, grab for their falling senpai.  The two are not quick enough, or big enough to support the sudden change of weight. The whole lot of them go crashing to the sidewalk, a grunt of pain escaping them.

Sawamura doesn’t wait around for round two. He grabs Miyuki’s elbow from Wakana and pulls his Senpai along without remorse. Moving them away from the tangle of limbs that he just caused on the street. Wakana easily keeping pace with Sawamura’s quick strides.  Miyuki seems to find the whole thing hilarious, but at the glare Sawamura sends his way his laughter dies.  

They get back to the apartment without any other incidents.

Sawamura’s good mood gone, he ushers them all into the apartment. Wakana gives him some space, as he gets Miyuki out of his shoes, and coat, shoved in the direction of the bathroom.  Sawamura takes his own shoes and coat off, grabbing a sports bottle from the kitchen filling it with water.  He puts it in the bedroom before he hurries back and bows to Wakana.

“I’m very sorry for my Senpai’s behavior. Please forgive this!” He says earnestly,without shouting.

She giggles a little, “relax Eijun. I don’t hold it against you. Besides you managed to avoid a knockout fight it seems.” she looks Eijun over once more, “Where’d you learn moves like that anyway?”

Sawamura goes a bit pink in his bow but doesn’t respond immediately.

Miyuki stumbles out of the bathroom to save him from a response.  Sawamura quickly grabs onto his senpai and gets him into the bedroom, and settled before there is any other arguments.

He comes back out to the living room and gets Wakana settled.

She eyes him. "Seriously Eijun, where'd you learn to fight like that?"

He bites his lower lip, he opens his mouth when there is a loud thud in the other room. "Ah! Miyuki Senpai!" he dashes to the bedroom.

"Guess I'll get it out of you later Ei-kun." She shakes her head, and gets ready to sleep.


 

The next day Miyuki goes to the local batting cages to work off some of his energy. Miyuki had little contact with Sawamura and Wakana. They went out sight seeing in the city.

But Sawamura wouldn't look at him that moring. Quickly rushing around, avoiding eye contact, leaving Miyuki even more fuzzy feeling. What did he do? He knows he got drunk, he knows he's an even bigger ass when he's drunk. He remembers talking smack about Keito players, but then there was some fast moves and they were all back in the apartment.  No pain, no bruises, so he wasn't hit. Usually the hits serve as a reminder and a wake up to his drunk senses. But last night, there was none of that, only a warm hand pulling him along the sidewalk. 

He shakes his head, don't fixate on it. He looses himself to the rythm of the machine spitting balls at him.

He is drenched in sweat before he leaves. He gets back to the apartment and showers. Then he goes out again, wandering the streets, spending time in a cafe, avoiding running into the people sharing his apartment he stays out till dinner time before he returns home. He makes dinner, watches an MLB game, emails Furuya and Kuramochi and goes to bed.  He is asleep before Sawamura and Wakana return.

The next day is much the same, almost no contact with the pair. Infact when Miyuki comes back late in the day all of Wakana's things are gone. He notes she is probably on a train home now before he falls back into his routine.

 

Miyuki is surprised to open his textbook Monday morning to find an envelope with his name written neatly across the front.  He looks around the library, wondering where it might have come from.  He then opens the envelope carefully, pulling a single sheet of notebook paper folded up. He opens that to reveal a short letter in the same neat handwriting.  

Its a short note from Wakana. She thanked him for his hospitaliy and then reminded him of his promise. What promise? Her threat to have him watch out for Eijun? That wasn't a promise, it was a thinly veiled threat. But what caught his attention was her gratitude for sharing his space with Eijun. That seems weird, when its not how you thank someones' roomate.

When he gets home that night its the first time in over a month Sawamura doesn't show up for dinner.  Miyuki looks around his apartment, and the little pieces of Sawamura are still present in the apartment.  Miyuki feels a pange of loneliness in his chest that hurts.  This is what it means to let people in close to your heart.