His knuckles were already turning purple by the time he returned to the bus where the team was getting ready for departure, but he really didn't care. It was worth it. The slight stinging in his hand was nothing compared to the other guy's face, which he had just punched with so much pleasure. The guy deserved it, too. Eijun's lips thinned into a line, the corners of his mouth downturned in a scowl as he remembered the crude words and the jeering voice.
"What kind of captain gets struck out swinging when his team is only a run away from Koushien?"
"Not to mention the pitchers! I mean, come on, as a catcher wouldn't you want to get some pressure off of them? But nah, not this guy!"
"And that pathetic slide at the end of the 9th inning? That was so bad it was almost funny!"
The ugly laughter still rang in Eijun's ears and his fists tightened again at his sides. What right did they have to say all of that? What right did they have to judge Miyuki like that? They knew shit about how much Miyuki had done, how much he sacrificed for the team. So how dare they say all of that bullsh–
A hand cuffed him on the back of his head and Eijun muffled a startled cry, swirling around. He was clenching his jaw so tight that now when he opened his mouth, it hurt to speak. His scowl lessened, but didn't entirely disappear as his gaze met his captain's eyes. They glistened with a hint of curiosity, curiosity that Eijun knew he couldn't satiate.
"What are you spacing out for, Bakamura?" Miyuki asked, his lips quirked in the usual teasing smile, although that enticing glow was gone from his eyes. Eijun didn't like it. "Get inside already, we're only waiting for you."
Eijun looked past Miyuki's shoulder and taking a deep breath to calm the shimmering rage in his chest, he stepped around him without as much as a word. He jumped up the steps of the bus, the negative energy coursing through his body making him want to move, do something, punch someone, something, anything. He could feel Miyuki's gaze following him, but he ignored the tug at his heart that made him want to run back and embrace Miyuki's broad shoulders protectively. It was bad enough that Eijun had to deal with the burden of all the hatred spat at Miyuki's back, Miyuki didn't need to shoulder it as well.
With a heavy sigh that pressed almost painfully against his ribcage, Eijun threw himself into a seat at the very end of the buss, far away from anyone else. He couldn't deal with other people right now. He really couldn't talk or pretend everything was fine, because it wasn't. But explaining it would be just... too much. So he sat in a cloud of silent anger, brooding, with his chin propped in his right hand and his left clenched tight.
He got lost in his own mind, debating all the ways in which he could get revenge – a few punches just wasn't enough. Flaying sounded nice, but so did skin stripping and setting their skin aflame by submerging them in boiling water... The anger in Eijun's chest purred at his dark thoughts, an evil grin making its way onto his face. He imagined the pain-filled screams and suddenly the world was a better place.
"My, that is some bloodthirst, Sawamura." Miyuki slumped onto the seat next to him. Eijun reluctantly turned his eyes to him, taking a calming breath to settle his anger. "Are you that upset we lost?"
Eijun blinked, shocked. He forgot all about that. The last traces of his grin disappeared.
"I'm fine," he replied, looking out the window as the bus started moving. How did he manage to forget about something so important...?
"That's a first," Miyuki teased, his voice deceivingly light and Eijun knew better than comment on it. "Aren't you gonna cry like last yea– Oi, Sawamura, what's up with your hand?"
Eijun tensed up, quickly trying to hide his left hand from sight, but Miyuki was faster. He caught Eijun's wrist and turned it over to get a better look, a hiss slipping past his parted lips.
"What have you done?" Miyuki's voice lost all its teasing and was now deadly serious, making Eijun's chest tighten in unease. "You're a pitcher, Sawamura. Your hands are your life. So what have you done to–"
"It's fine," he interrupted rather harshly, pulling his hand out of Miyuki's grasp. He immediately missed the feeling of Miyuki's callused fingers around his own. "I'm fine," he added a tad more gently.
Silence fell between them when Miyuki only stared at him, his eyes intense, and Eijun tried everything to not look his way. The gaze didn't lessen any for a long while and Eijun fidgeted nervously. Finally, he couldn't take it anymore and turned to Miyuki with a scowl firmly back in place.
"Stop staring," he demanded. Miyuki smirked. He knew he had won.
"Then tell me what happened."
Eijun's lips thinned as he took in the guy before him. And then he sighed, reaching over to tug hard at a strand of Miyuki's hair. It was a petty revenge, but it eased Eijun's heart a bit. Miyuki grimaced, rubbing at the back of his head to relieve the sting. His eyes never left Eijun's, though. They bore into him, attentive, sharp, hell-bent on making Eijun talk.
"I just couldn't listen to what they were saying about you, okay?" Eijun said, looking down at his hand and the purple bruises, anger welling in his chest again, but it was hushed with deep satisfaction now. "So I kind of punched in a few faces."
There was a change in Miyuki's face, a subtle one, but Eijun caught it. The corners of Miyuki's mouth softened and his eyes seemed to glow with an inner light for just a brief moment. And then it was gone and Miyuki was frowning at him. Eijun wanted to roll his eyes.
"You shouldn't have, you idiot," Miyuki said sternly. "You injured your hand for no good reason and now you–"
"It was a good reason to me," Eijun cut him off, his jaw clicking stubbornly.
"No, it wasn't." Miyuki did roll his eyes at that. Eijun glared, making the other smirk. "I'm touched you wanted to defend my honour, Sawamura, but it was completely unnecessary."
"We will just have to agree to disagree, then," Eijun huffed. He looked out the window, avoiding Miyuki's gaze. His chest tightened slightly at the way Miyuki treated the whole matter, but frankly, he should have expected it. Lips pulled together, Eijun said in a calm, hushed voice, "You're a good captain, Miyuki-senpai, and an even better catcher. They had no right to say all that shit about you. You deserve none of it."
Eijun tried really had to forget about Miyuki's reflection in the window glass, focusing on the buildings they passed as the bus made its way towards their dorm. For a while, he even succeeded. But when Miyuki took his injured hand into his own, his fingers gently cradling Eijun's hand and thumb brushing his bruised knuckles in a soft caress, he couldn't pretend anymore. He turned back to Miyuki, his breath getting stuck in his throat at the tender smile curling around Miyuki's mouth.
"Thank you." It was said quietly and so sweetly, Eijun's heart skipped a beat.
Miyuki bowed his head, bringing Eijun's bruised hand up at the same time, and he placed a gentle kiss to the battered skin. It stung a bit, but Eijun didn't really notice. His full attention was on Miyuki, who was still smiling at him as he leaned forward. Their cheeks brushed together, warm and soft, and Eijun's eyelashes fluttered when he half closed his eyes at the caress.
"My chivalrous knight."
There was a light snicker next to his ear and Eijun bristled. Before he could respond, though, Miyuki pressed a small kiss to the shell of his ear and all of Eijun's strength and anger from before melted away. He allowed another tiny kiss below his ear, resting his cheek on the side of Miyuki's head.
"Does that mean you're a damsel in distress that needs my rescuing?" he asked in a teasing voice, and this time when he heard a snicker muffled by his shoulder, he couldn't bit back a smile of his own.
Miyuki hummed and the sound reverberated through Eijun, relaxing all the remaining tension from his body. He leaned more of his weight on Miyuki, bringing up an arm to hang it loosely around the other's broad back.
"I might as well," Miyuki said. "From time to time."
Eijun hid his face in Miyuki's shoulder, his lips spread wide in a smile. And from time to time, whether Miyuki needed it or not, Eijun knew he would be there to protect him.