It was Christmas Day and the sun was setting when Mihashi’s phone beeped with a text notification.
The sound made him flinch in surprise. His presents were all unopened, stacked in his room and his belly was full with a homemade meal. Outside, snowflakes drifted through the air back and forth before settling a thick, white blanket that covered his town’s streets, front lawns and the roofs of houses. Mihashi was cozy under a heavy quilt, half awake and warm. He had nothing on his mind, and yet his phone beeped to his utter surprise.
Mihashi reached out to his phone. His eyes widened when he saw the name on the screen.
“Abe-kun…?” Mihashi murmured, sounding slightly mortified. He was startled by the way his stomach twisted and flipped and how his heart sped up at the simple thought of Abe on Christmas Day. Mihashi tenderly lifted the phone with slightly shaking hands, his heart pounding as he wondered just what Abe could be messaging him about now.
Abe: Don’t eat too many sweets today. It’s bad for your health.
Mihashi shuddered a little. How did Abe know he stuffed his face today? His thumbs hovered over the keys, but he feared Abe’s reaction. If he lied, would Abe know? But if he told the truth, would Abe be even more angry?
Before he could respond, another text came through, causing Mihashi to jump slightly.
Abe: Anyways… can you meet me at the park in 15 minutes?
Mihashi curled up in a ball on the ground, eyes stretched wide with terror. What did Abe want with him? It was getting late, and dark… and it was Christmas. Wasn’t Abe with his family? Questions spun in Mihashi’s mind as he stared at his phone screen, too stunned to respond. Time was going to pass, and he was going to leave Abe hanging…
Mihashi frantically responded. He clicked ‘send’ and let out a heavy exhale.
Mihashi barely got a moment to rest before he got another text. Abe’s reply sure was swift.
Abe: Wear a warm enough jacket. Don’t forget mittens for your hands, and a hat so your ears don’t freeze. Don’t get a cold.
Mihashi scrambled to his feet, his heart fluttering with nervousness and excitement all at once. He rushed downstairs, gave a hurried explanation to his mom to what he was doing, and then he was out the door.
It wasn’t until he was halfway there that he realized he had forgotten to wear a hat, and that Abe might actually kill him. Feeling dread settle in his stomach, Mihashi trudged on. At least his ears weren’t cold just yet; maybe he would be alright.
The snow crunched beneath Mihashi’s feet as he approached the park, his eyes nervously scanning for another silhouette. He rubbed his gloved hands together, glancing around once he stood beside an ice-coated slide. Rubbing his lips together, Mihashi shifted around, unnerved by the silence.
The sudden sound of Abe’s voice right behind him had Mihashi fumbling and flailing in seconds. In an instant he collapsed onto his knees, then screeched from the bitter cold snow seeping through his pants and freezing his skin.
“Oi- Mihashi!” Abe sounded concerned now as he came to Mihashi’s side. He let out a heavy sigh, his breath forming into a visible cloud. Mihashi got ahold of himself and looked up apologetically, his eyes meeting with Abe’s stern, steady and dark gaze. His eyebrows were tensed, making a crease on his forehead that always seemed to be there.
“Are you alright? Jeez, I didn’t mean to scare you…” Abe grumbled as Mihashi got to his feet once more.
“S-Sorry, Abe-kun…” Mihashi stammered out, his face flushing with embarrassment. He stared down at his feet, noticing the indents in the snow where he had suddenly fallen. The material of his jeans over his knees was damp and cold. Mihashi shivered.
“You forgot a hat…” Abe grunted, looking disapprovingly at Mihashi’s messy hair. Mihashi slumped forward, feeling defeated now that Abe had noticed. He waited to be scolded, but Abe’s criticisms never came. Maybe that small comment was enough this time. “Well, anyways,” Abe continued, “here.”
Mihashi looked up in confusion. A box wrapped in colorful glossy paper topped with a star-shaped bow was being handed to him.
Mihashi froze. His heart thumped as he stared at the box. Then, Mihashi slowly brought his eyes up to Abe’s.
Abe’s cheeks blazed red, although Mihashi didn’t know if it was from the cold, or…
“Here, take it. Merry Christmas.” Abe bit out shortly as he stared off into some fixed location. He jerked the box closer, so Mihashi lifted his hands and took it, curious as to what was inside. It was lightweight. Mihashi hesitated, unsure if he was allowed to open it, but Abe seemed to have read his mind.
“Are you gonna open it or what?” Abe pressed. Mihashi quickly tore off the paper and stuffed the shreds into his pocket. Then, he removed the lid of the simplistic white box and blinked at what was inside.
Mihashi reached in, his eyes widening as he pulled out a soft, long gray scarf with baseballs scattered all over it.
Starstruck, Mihashi dropped the box and held the scarf in both hands, his eyes sparkling with amazement. It was thick, and likely really warm…!
“Abe-kun!” Mihashi blurted out, lifting wide eyes to Abe’s face. “Wh-... uh… where…”
“Idiot…” Abe grumbled, looking down to kick at the snow between his feet. Then, he very softly muttered, “I made it.”
Mihashi blinked widely. “Made…?”
“Yes!” Abe snapped, his face reddening even further. Mihashi noticed the tips of his ears were just as red as his cheeks. “I made it. I knitted it… for you.”
Mihashi gawked. At first, he stared down at the scarf again, admiring the craftsmanship, the careful dotted lines that made up the red stitches of the baseballs, and the interwoven patterns that changed from gray to white. His heart swelled knowing that Abe put effort into this, weaving every single thread together to create something heartfelt and unique.
Mihashi was smiling widely. He threw the scarf on around his shoulders. The soft fabric nestled around his neck, and Mihashi beamed over the edge of the scarf. Abe was staring at him, eyes wide and mouth parted.
“Abe-kun, I-I-I… love! I love it!” He could hardly contain his excitement. He had never received a handmade gift from anyone in his life.
Now, he could cherish this scarf forever- a gift made especially for him by a true friend and teammate.
Mihashi’s heart swelled with gratitude. He couldn’t believe someone would think of him enough to make him a gift. Abe yelled at him a lot, and it wasn’t only because he was worried about Mihashi’s ability to be a healthy pitcher. No- he must truly care about Mihashi himself, too. As a person, and not just a pitcher.
Mihashi gripped the edge of the scarf, still smiling widely. Abe turned impossibly redder and his lips trembled in an attempt to speak. Instead, he turned away, hiding his blushing face as he reached down to gather the box that Mihashi had hastily dropped.
“Well, we should be getting back to our homes,” Abe said as he stood up, gripping the box tightly in his hands. “It’s getting darker, and-”
“Abe-kun!” Mihashi leaned forward- close enough that Abe flinched and took a step back. Mihashi continued on anyways, his heart racing in determination. “I-I don’t… I didn’t… get a gift for, uhm, for… for you… but!!” Mihashi squeezed his fists, released them, and then reached over and grabbed Abe’s hands within his own.
Abe’s breath stuttered. He stared at Mihashi, frozen with surprise. Mihashi went on, “I-I’ll get you a gift you h-haven’t seen… before…!”
Abe swallowed slowly. He stared into Mihashi’s eyes, his expression tense and flustered. “Mihashi, what’s the point if Christmas is ending…”
“It’s… better-! Uh- better late than… never…!” Mihashi argued, squeezing his hands tighter. Then, he let them go, a smile resting on his lips. Abe had made him feel good, and he wanted to return the favor. It was only polite to give a gift in return, but more than anything, Mihashi wanted Abe to feel as loved as Mihashi felt.
“Fine…” Abe sighed softly. A small smile spread on his face that contrasted his usual grumpy attitude. He held a thumbs up, his eyes gleaming warmly despite the frigid winter air around them. Snowflakes fluttered around them and dusted over Abe’s hair. “I’ll be waiting for it, Mihashi.”
“Mm!” Mihashi nodded, his cheeks aching from how broadly he was smiling. Then, Abe turned to leave and slowly walked in the direction of his house. Mihashi stood there for a moment, then turned around to walk back as well.
However, something made Mihashi pause. He forgot something important. Mihashi turned around and yelled, “Uhm!”
Abe didn’t stop walking, but he looked over his shoulder, eyebrows raised.
Mihashi beamed, brighter than he ever had before. He raised his hand high in the air and waved. “M-Merry Christmas… Takaya!”
Abe’s eyes widened and he stumbled. He almost fell, to Mihashi’s terror, but somehow he remained on his feet. Abe stood there, facing Mihashi now with his mouth gaping and his face as red as a rose. It was funny, but it was getting cold, so Mihashi simply smiled at him and then turned around.
Mihashi happily hummed as he went the direction to go back to his house. He only made it a few steps before he heard footsteps rushing up behind him.
Mihashi yelped as arms wrapped around him from behind. Spiky black hair brushed against his cheek, and he knew Abe was there, squeezing him tightly with his forehead pressed against Mihashi’s shoulder. He could feel Abe’s heartbeat thudding against his back, and Mihashi felt warm from head to toe. Mihashi let out a quick breath, which fanned out in front of him before dispersing in the air. Snowflakes breezed past the pair, falling silently all around them.
“... Merry Christmas, Ren.”
Then, Abe let go and sprinted away, as fast as he could manage. When Mihashi turned over his shoulder, he saw Abe nearly slip on some ice, but it didn’t stop him from running. Mihashi laughed quietly to himself, feeling warm and content.
Mihashi held the scarf with one hand the entire walk back. Even after he got home, he was thinking hard over what sort of special gift he could make for Abe in return.
Maybe some mittens... to match the scarf…! Mihashi thought with a grin. It was a perfect idea!
Mihashi stepped out of his boots when he walked into the door of his home. Then, he immediately poked his head into the living room.
“M-Mom!” Mihashi blurted out, getting his mother’s attention. She turned to him, eyebrows raised in question.
“Can… can you teach me… how to knit?”