Eijun couldn’t help but cry.
He could still hear Youichi’s reassuring words, the “we’ll be okay’s” and “I love you’s” and the like. He could also hear the hint of doubt in his voice, yet at the same time he was so sure of himself, which to be honest, Eijun loved.
It had been so long since they first met and so soon since they got together, and every moment with the shortstop felt like it wasn’t enough. Even though they lived together and the only time they weren’t sharing the same space was when they were in their classrooms, and eventually when the third years had to leave the team dorm, Eijun always felt like they’d been separated for years and not just roughly 8 hours.
He knew he had it bad, he’d been so in love with him for such a long time that he sometimes felt it was all a dream. After all, no one would believe Youichi was such a caring and loving person. It did seem like a dream. Maybe he had been dreaming all this time.
Some days he’d wake up in the middle of the night thinking that he really had dreamed it all, and then he’d see Youichi’s hand dangling from the bed above him and he’d hold it, waiting for Youichi to brush it off but instead he’d grip it really tight and Eijun would go to sleep knowing Youichi loved him back and everything was real.
If he was honest, Youichi felt really proud of himself. He just graduated high school, he got recruited in a good college, he’s still playing baseball and most of all, he had the best boyfriend he could ask for. Yes, he was annoying, he was younger and he was taller, but Youichi still loved him so much.
It was hard at first. When they confessed, they couldn’t keep their hands off each other, they wanted to be holding hands all the time, to feel the other there, to just touch. But as much as they both wanted that, they had to force themselves to remember Asada was there in the dorm, Miyuki was there in practice and the whole team was there in the dining room. They were never alone. It made Youichi believe this –their relationship– wasn’t even real.
Some nights he would lie awake on his bed just thinking about the future and how he used to feel so out of place, or how much he pined over Eijun. He wondered how it would be when he left for college. What would he do when he had to leave the dorm to concentrate in college exams? It wrecked him to think about leaving the life he had now, with his teammates and specially with Eijun.
Some of these nights, he’d hear Eijun waking up. Youichi always made sure Asada was sleeping before slipping his hand to the bunk below and keeping it there for Eijun to hold. He always thought Eijun was too dense to hold it and yet he always did it, making him feel so overwhelmed.
Lately though, Eijun had been restless. With Youichi’s graduation coming up, he had started to feel… sad, to say it bluntly. He still had one year to go, while Youichi was already done.
Youichi didn’t like to see Eijun like that, he’d told Eijun that they’ll be okay. They can text, though not often because both of them will be busy with practice and school and too tired to stay awake after late practice. But they have the weekends too, right?
He didn’t like to think about that. It was coming up fast, but they still had time, so they wouldn’t think too hard about it.
A face brought him back to reality, Eijun’s face of course. He was crying— red faced, big tears, heavy crying, and Kanemaru was looking at him weird. Something felt tight in Youichi’s heart, and the tears almost came, but he didn’t want Eijun to cry more, so he forced himself to not cry and looked away from Eijun.
Eijun was known for having his heart out for everyone to see it, and he’d always been okay with that, but today he wished he knew how to hold back when the tears were on his face and his cheeks and everywhere else.
Seeing Youichi looking so proud made him feel proud, he knew what this meant for Youichi, to get this far after all he’s gone through.
One night, with Asada practicing in the indoor gym, he finally told Eijun what happened back in middle school, the reason he was how he is with new people. Eijun convinced Kanemaru to take Asada for a night so he could sleep with Youichi. They had taken off the mattress on their bunks and put them in the middle of the room with both their blankets and cuddled all night.
Speaking of Kanemaru, he was looking at Eijun and making the most done face ever. He was the only one of the guys one who knew about them, not even Harucchi knew. Maybe Eijun was jealous because he got to spend more time with Youichi during practice, or maybe he just didn’t want to tell him.
Kanemaru was different, he was Eijun’s classmate and for some reason, even if he didn’t want to admit it, he liked Eijun. The poor kid accidentally saw Eijun and Youichi kissing in the showers when they thought all the guys left to get food.
Eijun freaked out, Youichi stayed poker faced and Kanemaru just turned around and left. After that, Eijun talked to Kanemaru and he said he was okay with that, but that didn’t mean they had to tell the other guys about it too.
Back to the graduation, it was too late for Eijun to realize that Youichi saw him, but not too late to notice that something in Youichi changed. He was trying to hold back his tears, he still thinks he can hide it, but Eijun can see, Eijun knows him. Seeing Youichi like that stopped his crying completely but then made him cry harder.
Eijun still couldn’t stop thinking about what was going to happen to them when Youichi leaves. Wakana told him they’ll be okay and that they’ll figure a way to be together and so did Youichi, but even with all that said, he was worried, really worried.
Worried about cheating? About drifting apart? About getting bored? About not seeing each other and eventually losing his feelings for Youichi? He didn’t know why. All the reasons he could think of seemed out of place and impossible.
He doubted he would ever get bored, or that he could love someone else but Youichi, so why was he so worried?
After the ceremony was over, Youichi left to where his family was. His grandfather and his mother were crying so much, it reminded him of Eijun, whom he couldn’t see right now. He decided to look for him before he had to go with his family. After all, it was the last time they’d see each other until Eijun was done with his classes.
They had planned to visit each other as soon as they could before Eijun started training camp and Youichi had to leave for college. They said their good-byes last night after Eijun got Kanemaru to take Asada for the night again. That Kanemaru kid was truly a gift, but Youichi wanted to talk to Eijun one last time.
He didn’t have to wait long, just a few glances to where the second and first years were and he easily found Eijun. Both of them found each other at the same time.
Eijun’s smile made his stomach drop to his feet, it was so beautiful and perfect and it was only for him. He felt so overwhelmed every time he looked at his boyfriend, it was a dangerous and wonderful sensation. He didn’t really have a lot of time to think about it, though, because right in that moment the next thing he saw was Eijun running towards him at full speed with no chance of stopping. The only thing Youichi could think of was to open his arms and catch him.
They fell to the floor laughing, and to Youichi it was perfect, everything was so perfect. He felt, right in that moment, that this was the happiest he had ever been, with a diploma, a baseball career in front of him and a boyfriend in his arms. But he was about to change his mind.
Eijun had never felt so happy in his life. He really believed that all the time he had pined after Youichi had been worth it if it meant to feel this way right now.
Being in Youichi’s arms made him feel so silly about the future. How could he ever think that they’d drift apart or get bored of each other?
In Youichi’s arms, he can hear his boyfriend’s heart, screaming how much it loves Eijun.
In Youichi’s arms, he knows how much he loves him back.
In Youichi’s arms he thinks he can be with him forever.
And it’s in Youichi’s arms where he finally says you know what? I don’t care anymore and just kisses Youichi, in front of his family and all the people in the gym where the ceremony was held. He couldn’t help it, it was like a reflex, and he just had to do it. And he did it.
How wrong was Youichi, how could he ever be sure of something regarding his boyfriend. Feeling Eijun’s lips on his, in front of the whole school and his family and their teammates, he knows for sure that this moment is the happiest he’s ever been and that from here it will only get better.
For a moment he thinks that maybe he should stop Eijun, just maybe. But instead he kisses him back.
He knows he’ll have to deal with his family later, and maybe Miyuki because they’re going to the same college, but he can’t bring himself to care.
When they finally get up off of the gym floor, his mother’s face is the thing he sees first. She has stopped crying and instead she’s petrified, looking at him and then Eijun, and then back at him. His grandfather has the biggest smile he’s ever seen, and Youichi doesn’t know what that means, and he’s not sure if he wants to find out.
After what it feels like ages, his grandfather is the one to break the silence.
“Is this the southpaw pitcher?”
He looks back at Eijun and sees the deepest blush he’s ever seen on the pitcher, and it secretly makes him fall more in love with him.
His teammates are looking at them with happy faces and bored expressions, and someone in the back screams “finally!” and all of them laugh while Eijun and Youichi just stare at them, dumbfounded.
“That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you guys,” breaks Kanemaru. “We know, we always have. You guys are so obvious, I was surprised when you guy told me you’ve only been together for a few months,”
“Wait, a few months?” intervenes Maezono. “I thought you guys have been together since last year?” and then they all laugh again.
After a while when it dies down, Youichi’s mother touches his sleeve and tells him they’re going to wait for him in the car and asks him if he wants “Sawamura-kun” to go with them. Youichi says he’ll ask. He won’t.
Eijun feels so overwhelmed by everything that it’s just too much for him to keep up, so he just doesn’t. He gathers in his mind what just happened: They’re out to Youichi’s family, and to the team, and everyone actually thought they’d been dating for over a year. And he just doesn’t care.
After all that, he finally gets a moment to be alone with Youichi. They’d go to the roof but that’s probably full of girls confessing, or lovers breaking up, so they make sure there’s no one on the field and head there instead.
“What a day, huh?” says Youichi. He’s walking a little in front of Eijun with his hands on the back of his head, but he turns as he says it.
He holds out his hand for Eijun to grab.
“Back when I still lived in the dorm, I used to do this when I heard you waking up. I almost got caught by Asada once, but I pretended I was just yawning and half asleep,” he says and laughs. “It always made me feel more at ease and helped me fall asleep,”
Eijun, caught off guard and overwhelmed with emotion, doesn’t know what to say, so instead he starts to cry. He’s so happy he doesn’t know what to do.
“Aw, come on, don’t cry. I didn’t tell you that to make you cry”, he feels Youichi step closer to him and place a soothing hand on his back, drawing tiny circles to help him breath.
“You’re so out of character when you’re with me” is the only thing that comes to Eijun mind, so he says it— no, more like he sobs it— in between tears and hiccups.
“Well, I don’t see you screaming and getting on my nerves right now,” Youichi retorts. And he’s right, he’s so right.
Eijun knows he’s not the same when they’re together. At first when they started dating he had to whisper everything out of fear of being discovered, but eventually it became something, like a secret for them to share.
He liked it that way. They had to be really close so that their voices didn’t carry to places other than the one they’d made for the two of them, and it used to feel good.
And it’s because of moments like this that Eijun is worried about what’s going to happen, right now. Before, if they wanted to be with the other, they just had to wait for practice to be over, but now it’s going to be impossible. Eijun will get a new roommate, and Youichi won’t even be in the same school anymore, so he has to ask again, and he’ll keep asking until that moment comes: “Aren’t you worried about the future?”
“I am,” Youichi starts. “But I’m not leaving to another city, I’ll be here in Tokyo. I know it’s gonna be hard for us to get used to, but we can text and email and, you know, video chats are a thing, right? You won’t even… realize I’m not… here,”
“You know that’s not true. I’ll miss you so bad, and I’ll text you every day. I’ll email you silly pictures of dogs and of the guys, and I’ll stay awake until midnight if I have to just to Skype you and see your face.” He didn’t meant to, but halfway through his response he starts to cry again.
The first thing he does after Eijun starts to cry for the umpteenth time today is hug him. He’s sure if some of the guys see him doing this they’d never recognize him, but he doesn’t care, so he hugs Eijun tighter.
“Come on, Eijun. Don’t do this. We’ll be okay. We’ll manage somehow, we always do and we will this time. Besides, I’ve been thinking: it’s only a year, and if you get in the same school or one in Tokyo we could always go back to living together! We’re pretty used to that by now, you know.” He doesn’t really think about it, he just says what’s on his mind to calm Eijun and maybe for himself too, so when Eijun looks back at him with teary eyes, he tries to excuse himself. “I mean, if you want to. I know it’s something serious and big, maybe we shouldn’t rush it… not because I don’t know how I feel about you, I mean, I love you y–”
“I’d love to… move in… with you,” hiccups Eijun, interrupting the shortstop’s ramblings. “And I love you too.”
And then Youichi allows himself to let the tears flow. “I love you, you punk. You’ll see, we’ll be okay.”
“I know,” is what Eijun finally says. Because he knows, he truly knows they will be okay.