Eijun felt the world go silent.
He exhales, feeling his muscles loosen at the sudden movement. There’s a batter right in front of him, the scoreboard indicating two red dots which means there’s two outs already but there’s a runner on second and one home run could turn this game around.
Eijun couldn’t hear the crowd. He knows his teammates are behind him, shouting encouragements at him like they always do. He knows that he carries the dreams and hopes from the people on the bleachers and the dugout. He could hear his heartbeat, the steady thrum of it getting faster and faster. He could hear his own breathing, getting heavier and heavier. There’s a flash of memory in his mind, a red haired standing in the batter’s box instead of Hongou, his eyes gleaming with desperation.
Exhaling, he tries to erase the memory out of his mind. Miyuki’s in front of him, eyes intense as he takes on Eijun’s form yet his hands are hidden behind his mitt, not a sign on sight.
Miyuki stands up and although Eijun can’t hear a thing, he knows Miyuki called for a time-out. He shakes his head, not at Eijun but someone from behind him; probably Kuramochi who was curious about the sudden time-out.
“Heh. You’re too stiff, Sawamura.” Miyuki asks, mouth hidden with his mitt. “What’s wrong?”
Eijun shakes his head, exhaling deeply as he closes his eyes. “Just the Inashiro match flashing in my head.”
“Yet your eyes are still shining with mirth.”
At Miyuki’s statement, Eijun suddenly opens his eyes. He tilts his head, looking at Miyuki who was already staring at him; lips pulled into a familiar smirk, posture lax but his eyes were intense, looking at Eijun with confidence.
“You’re a born pitcher, you know.” He taps Eijun in the chest with his mitt, glancing at the batter. “If they score, we’ll score right back. Don’t carry all the burdens by yourself, Sawamura.”
Eijun clutches the part where Miyuki had tapped him. He exhales, relieving the pressure on his chest. Slowly, he could finally hear the crowd, Kuramochi’s hyena laugh behind him and the bleachers shouting for his name. He couldn’t help the grin overcoming his stiff expression. He looks over the scoreboard, two outs; two strikes and no balls. He looks over his teammates, grinning at him with confidence. He looks at Miyuki, whose confidence in him has never wavered, waiting for him behind the plate, waiting for the pitch he asks for.
He grins when Miyuki folds his thumb, indicating Eijun’s favorite pitch. His shoulders shake slightly in laughter ― of course, aggressive until the very end; this was Miyuki Kazuya.
The sound of his pitch hitting Miyuki’s mitt feels like a dream. The batter swings too late and the call of strike by the umpire has never been so satisfying. Eijun grins, at the same time as the Seidou bleachers bursting out in joy, as Kuramochi tackles him with a large grin on his face, as his teammates flock at him, happiness visible in their features, as Miyuki Kazuya stands in front of him, exhaustion evident in his features but happiness rules it out.
“See.” He says, the grin on his face genuine as he taps Eijun on the chest. “I knew you could do it.”
Eijun couldn’t help but grin wider, if that was even possible at this point. “Is that a compliment, Miyuki Kazuya? Are you finally admitting I’m the best?”
“Well, how about I talk about the balls you―”
Eijun covers his ears, walking away from Miyuki. “I can’t hear you. All I heard was Miyuki Kazuya complimenting me!”
Miyuki laughs, slinging his arms on Eijun’s shoulders, pressing his body close. His mouth is close to Eijun’s ear, his warm breath hits Eijun on the side of his nape, making Eijun shiver slightly at the contact. “Didn’t I tell you before?”
“Tell me what?” Eijun looks at him, like he did when he was fourteen and about to take on Azuma. “If you say another bad thing about my pitching, I swear to God, Miyuki Kazuya―”
“Pitching is an art created by the pitcher and the catcher working as one.” Miyuki taps him on the chest. “Told you we’d make a great battery.”
Eijun feels his breath hitch and his heart hammering inside his chest, like it always does when Miyuki does something.
Eijun wonders if Miyuki knows Eijun’s heart doesn’t belong to Eijun anymore.
“Sawamura, you bastard!” Kuramochi comes from behind him, tackling him to the ground. The rest of his teammates flock to him, all bearing smiles and congratulations and even Haruno is on the verge of tears.
Furuya hands him his water and Eijun’s known Furuya for so long that he could recognize the happiness in Furuya’s eyes. “Good job.”
Eijun laughs. “You passed the baton to me perfectly. I couldn’t let you down!”
Furuya nods at him. His expression doesn’t change except for the small lift in the corner of his lips and turns away before Eijun could even tease him for it. He feels elated, his chest burning in happiness – large and uncontained like it would burst out any minute. When he asked Jun what was in Koshien, why everyone was so desperate to go to Koshien, he didn’t think this was the kind of happiness it would bring once they finally made it; finally crawled their way to the top.
The rest of the day feels like a fast-forward in Eijun’s life. He couldn’t remember the events but he remembers feeling warm when Coach Kataoka had praised him, felt overwhelmed when they thanked him for carrying them to Nationals, felt content when he sees the happiness in everyone’s expression as they make it back to Seidou.
He carries the ace number on his back and they finally made it to the top.
Coincidentally, it’s also the last game he gets to play with Miyuki Kazuya.
Time doesn’t stop just because they became national champions. It doesn’t stop when Eijun realizes that Miyuki would graduate soon, along with the other third years of the team leaving Eijun behind. It goes on, on and on.
Eijun thinks time is too cruel.
“For someone who’s been eyed by pro scouts, you don’t look too enthusiastic about it.” Kuramochi tells him one night, just as he was about to lay down and sleep. “You’ve been running yourself rugged, moron.”
Eijun laughs, it sounds too loud, too forced in his ears. “Kuramochi-senpai, I just have a lot of excess energy from winning Koshien! Besides, Kuramochi-senpai, should you really worry about me running when you’ve got exams to finish?”
Kuramochi glares at him, probably hating Eijun for reminding him about the notes he had to study which was laid out in front of him. It’s one of the reasons Eijun has been able to run freely without Kuramochi beating him up for doing so.
Kuramochi hums, returning to his notes. “Captain’s looking for you.”
“Miyuki Kazuya?” Eijun groans. Miyuki actively looking for Eijun only meant trouble, especially since Eijun knows Miyuki wouldn’t play catch for him at this hour. That stingy bastard. “What does he want?”
“Who knows with that guy.” Kuramochi snorts. “He’s waiting. Better not make him wait for too long or he could tell Coach to bench you.”
“That’s abuse of power! He would never do that.” Eijun scrambles, drying himself with his towel as he hastily puts on his clothes. “Where’s Miyuki Kazuya?”
“At the field.” He hears Kuramochi’s laughter as he runs outside.
He immediately sees Miyuki, lean and broad, standing in the middle of the field. “Miyuki Kazuya!”
“Finally.” Miyuki rolls his eyes before he tosses Eijun a spare glove. In a haste, Eijun almost drops it. “Do you still have energy to pitch?”
Eijun could feel his heart hammering in his chest. There were only rare occurrences when Miyuki himself wanted to let Eijun pitch. There’s excitement thrumming through his veins as he nods vigorously, grinning at Miyuki. “I always have the energy for pitching.”
Miyuki rolls his eyes but he crouches down, signaling for Eijun’s four-seamer. With a grin, Eijun changes his grip without looking, all too focused on Miyuki in front of him; motives as unreadable as usual, eyes shining with mirth as Eijun winds up and Eijun loves how Miyuki looks at him when the pitch hits his mitt, like Eijun was an enigma, like Eijun held all the secrets of the universe, like Eijun was a marvel.
“What’s the big idea, Miyuki Kazuya?” Eijun asks yet he winds up and throws another four-seamer right where Miyuki wanted it. “You never want to play catch. Do you have a fever?”
“Oi, oi, is that how you treat your upperclassman who made time to catch for you today?” Miyuki says, eyes narrowing at Eijun. “Kuramochi told me you’ve been out running every night again.”
Eijun groans. “Do you guys gossip about everything?”
“What’s going on then?” Miyuki ignores Eijun’s statement, raising a brow as he stands up. He doesn’t move from his position, standing across Eijun; the distance between the plate and the mound and for all his posturing, Eijun wants to shorten the distance, wants Miyuki to stay with him, wants Miyuki as much as he wants baseball.
That’s what scares Eijun the most. He’s aware that leaving his hometown just for Miyuki Kazuya wasn’t the most platonic thing to do but that was baseball. Baseball was, for better or for worse, close to Eijun’s lifeline and he couldn’t imagine doing anything else. He would do anything for baseball like leaving his hometown for Miyuki Kazuya who’s game-calling and who’s catching he couldn’t get out of his head. His game-calling, his teasing, his catching, it’s something Eijun can never get out of his head. But Eijun had seen the worst parts of him too ― his sharp words, his unsympathetic nature, his glares and even sharper walls ― and Eijun wants it all. Maybe Miyuki was right and Eijun was greedy. He wants to see Miyuki Kazuya; the Miyuki he hasn’t allowed anyone else to see, the Miyuki he keeps so close to his heart guarded by a thousand thorn walls, the Miyuki underneath all the sharp glares and even sharper words.
“What now?” Eijun’s voice is uncharacteristically quiet, unconfident and subdued. He sighs, sitting down on the mound, turning the baseball in his hand over and over. He’s aware of Miyuki looking at him, probably confused by Eijun’s words and how quiet Eijun was acting.
“You move forward.”
“Is that all there really is?” He asks, tilting his head to meet Miyuki’s gaze straight on. He’s still wearing an expression Eijun can’t decipher and Eijun immediately lowers his gaze, unable to keep looking at Miyuki.
“Eh, what’s this? Are you gonna miss me, Sawamura?” Miyuki’s voice is teasing but it’s also quiet and uncharacteristically soft for Miyuki Kazuya. “You’re going to leave this school a year from now, you know.”
“I know that!” He knows but it doesn’t help. Eijun must’ve inserted more fervor in his voice than he thought because Miyuki grows quiet, silently staring at Eijun like Eijun was something he wanted to solve. “I know that everyone has to leave at some point.”
“Isn’t school such an asshole,” Miyuki says, suddenly and he crouches back down, stretching his arms up. “It makes you stay for a few years, gets you attached and throws you back in the real world.”
That makes Eijun’s lips quirk up slightly. Miyuki looks back at him, his gaze soft and there’s a small genuine smile on his lips and it makes Eijun’s heart beat uncontrollably. “You know, Keio is Waseda’s number one rival during the Big6 games.”
Eijun blinks, surprised at the sudden change in conversation. “What?”
“Wouldn’t it be a challenge to go up against Chris-senpai?”
“Of course it is!” Eijun immediately replies, still confused on what Chris had to do with everything. “Chris-senpai is the best, after all!”
“I guess he is.” Miyuki smirks. “Want to take him down?”
Eijun blinks. Take down Chris-senpai? “What?”
“I’m saying, let’s take down Chris-senpai together, moron.” Miyuki rolls his eyes but Eijun can see the softness in his gaze when he looks back at Eijun, his lips quirking up in amusement. “That is, if they let you graduate from here.”
“I’m not failing any classes. Stop instigating Miyuki Kazuya!” Eijun replies, almost like a conditioned response to Miyuki’s statement. But wait, did he just?
Eijun feels his lips part in surprise, staring at Miyuki with wide eyes. That wasn’t something he expected Miyuki to say, certainly not in front of Eijun. He tries to get some words out but all of it was stuck in his throat at Miyuki’s implied statement of Eijun going to the same university as him, at Miyuki inviting him to play with him, at Miyuki telling Eijun to chase him again.
“Oh, you’re speechless?” Miyuki raises a brow, smirking. “Miracles do happen.”
“Miyuki Kazuya!” Eijun glares cat-eyed. “Are you asking me to come chase you once I finish high school?”
“If you finish high school.” Miyuki teases, grin still palpable on his lips but his eyes were a different story. “Besides, what if the pros scout you, Sawamura?”
“I’ll cross the bridge when I get there.” Eijun replies, resolute. If Miyuki’s asking him to go play with him, then, he wouldn’t regret it. He had never regretted chasing Miyuki all the way to Tokyo, why would he start now? “You’re not the only one who wants to beat, Chris-senpai!”
Miyuki grins, signaling for Eijun’s number seven. He mirrors Miyuki’s expression, adrenaline thumping through his veins.
The ball breaks near the plate but it lands on Miyuki’s mitt, producing a sound that Eijun would never forget.
Baseball connects them both, his pitching to Miyuki’s catching, the distance between the mound and the plate, Eijun coming to Seidou for Miyuki Kazuya and Eijun wouldn’t have it any other way.
When he comes back to the dorms, Kuramochi gives him one look before turning back to his notes. “Finally, I was getting annoyed with all your moping.”
“I wasn’t moping.” Eijun grumbles, falling into bed feeling lighter than he has ever had in weeks.
For Eijun, graduation comes faster than he anticipated. Eijun feels a pang of nostalgia – seems like yesterday when he first met Miyuki, with a big smirk on his face and a bigger ego to boot and now there he was, accepting his diploma and moving on to bigger challenges.
“Oi, Sawamura!” Kuramochi comes from behind him, kicking him below his butt. For the last time, he thinks as he allows Kuramochi to place Eijun on a headlock for one last time in his high school career. “If you don’t bring the team and Coach back on Nationals, there will be hell to pay.”
Eijun groans. “Kuramochi-senpai, we will bring the Coach back to Nationals! And we will triumph again!”
Kuramochi cackles. For a moment, Eijun thinks of how he’s gonna miss Kuramochi’s laughter echoing in their dorm room. “You better. I’ll be counting on it then.”
Eijun searches the crowd, eyes looking for the man who he went to Seidou for, the man who he wanted to acknowledge him, the man who brought him to higher heights, reaching bigger challenges and coming out on top.
“Kuramochi-senpai,” He says, just when he couldn’t find Miyuki in the crowd. “Where’s the Captain?”
Kuramochi shrugs. “I reckon somewhere getting confessed to.” He groans, rolling his eyes. “Gross. What do they all see in him?”
“You’re friends with him, what does that say about you?” Shirasu pipes up from somewhere behind Eijun, making both of them startle slightly.
“Shirasu-senpai!” Eijun turns, bowing politely. “Congratulations on graduating!”
Shirasu nods. “Thanks. And I saw Miyuki heading to the field.”
“Oh.’’ Eijun nods, a grin etched on his face. “Thank you, Shirasu-senpai.”
He leaves, ignoring Kuramochi’s laughter from behind him after Shirasu mutters something under his breath which sounds like it’s about damn time but Eijun doesn’t pay both of them any mind as he bristles through the crowd, jogging the way to the field. Students loiter around the ground, some with their parents while others laughing jovially with their friends. He sees Zono, throws him a small salute before jogging away, fully focused on finding Miyuki.
He finds him in the dugout, gazing at the field wistfully. It’s an expression Eijun would never have thought he’d see across Miyuki’s face, especially since he guards vulnerability with his sarcasm and teasing.
“Miyuki Kazuya.” Eijun heaves and Miyuki turns to look at him, one eyebrow raised. “Here you are!”
“Are you a dog?” Miyuki snickers, patting the seat beside him. “Did you track me with my scent, Sawamura?”
Eijun rolls his eyes, sitting down on the seat next to Miyuki. “Don’t be gross, Miyuki Kazuya. Shirasu-senpai said you went down here.”
“Where’s my senpai, you brat?”
Eijun hums. “I’ll call you senpai once you deserve it.” The fields are empty, dry and scorched. He sees the scratched paint on the benches, the scoreboard still filled with the scores from the retirement game, the visible footprints on the sand as if it was a territorial mark. It’s one of the scenes he gets to watch daily but this might as well be the last time he gets to see it with Miyuki. “What are you doing here anyway? Kuramochi-senpai said you probably got confessed to.”
Eijun thinks of Miyuki, standing alone in the crowd of students and their parents and hums. “If you fail to make it on the first string when I get there, I’m going to toast you, Miyuki Kazuya.”
Miyuki laughs, throwing his head back and placing his arm across the wood on Eijun’s back. He turns to Eijun, flicking Eijun on the forehead with his other hand. “That is if they recruit you, moron.”
“They will.” Eijun glares, rubbing his forehead. “Stop being pessimistic, Miyuki Kazuya. We’re gonna be a battery again, just you watch.”
“There goes my plan for a quiet university life, I guess.” Miyuki teases with a grin.
“Oi,” Eijun complains. “I’m not that loud.”
“My punctured eardrums would say otherwise.”
“Be more captain-like you bastard.” Eijun glares at him, wanting to lift him up and shake him until he says otherwise but he notices the buttons on his blazer ripped out, a thread loosely hanging on the edges. He inches forward, pushing his face in front of Miyuki’s blazer. “Did someone rip out your buttons?”
“Kind of.” Miyuki rolls his eyes. “I would never understand why they would want to rip out the second button.”
“It’s a shoujo thing.” Eijun replies, looking up at Miyuki. He doesn’t realize how close they are ― at this distance, he can see the slight uneven lines made by his sports goggles, his chapped lips, the slope of his nose and Miyuki’s molten amber eyes staring at him. “It’s the button that’s closest to your heart so it contains your feelings throughout your whole high school career.”
“Does it?” Miyuki raises a brow.
“Yes.” Eijun nods, leaning backward, conscious of the distance between his and Miyuki’s faces. “Stop being uncultured, Miyuki Kazuya.”
Miyuki flicks him on the forehead once again. “It’s Miyuki-senpai, brat.”
“Stop calling me brat and maybe I’ll call you senpai.” Eijun grumbles, rolling his eyes at Miyuki. “Besides, flicking your underclassman’s forehead isn’t a very senpai thing to do, Miyuki Kazuya.”
“Eh,” Miyuki shrugs. “It’s you so it’s fine.”
Eijun glares at him. It feels like the usual, with Miyuki on the field with a smirk Eijun would like to punch out of his face, his usual teasing remarks directed at Eijun and the same comfortable atmosphere between both of them―but Eijun knows, it isn’t the same. This might as well be the last time Eijun gets to see him on this field.
Miyuki stands up and Eijun immediately follows. Eijun supposes this is how they usually are. With Miyuki in the lead and Eijun never hesitating to follow him because Miyuki, even when he was an irritating asshole was the reason Eijun went to Seidou; for the sole reason of pitching to him again, of hearing the sound his pitch produces in Miyuki’s mitt, of wanting to pitch and pitch until his hand feels numb and all he can see is Miyuki right in front of him with a smirk on his face triumphant.
“The rest of the team are probably looking for us now.” Eijun remarks, watching as Miyuki stands in the catcher’s box, looking at Eijun straight on.
Eijun stops, his feet automatically stopping eighteen and forty meters away from Miyuki, meeting the latter’s gaze.
“The first time I saw you, I thought you were a loudmouth without anything to back it up. You had a lot of confidence coming in here and screaming at a third year.”
“Hey!” Eijun grumbles, glaring at it. “Is that what the Captain is supposed to say to the ace?”
“I still think you’re loudmouth.” Miyuki continues, ignoring Eijun’s protest. “But you grew into an eye-catching flower, far more attractive and stronger than any of us could’ve imagined.”
Eijun blinks. Once. Twice. “Miyuki Kazuya, do you have a fever?”
Miyuki laughs. It’s genuine laughter that Miyuki rarely does, so unlike his usual mocking or teasing laughter. It’s a testament of how far they’ve both come, with Miyuki trusting Eijun as much as Eijun does, letting Eijun break down his walls one by one.
“Hey Sawamura.” He says, before throwing something in the air. “Catch.”
Without thinking, Eijun catches the tiny thing in the air. He blinks, opening his palm to reveal a white button inside. Eijun picks it up, turning it over and over in confusion. “What am I supposed to do with this?”
“Aren’t you supposed to be knowledgeable about shoujo, Sawamura?” Miyuki raises a brow before he rolls his eyes. “It’s the second button.”
“The second―” Eijun’s eyes widen, looking over at Miyuki with hope that Eijun feels he’s about to break. He breathes. Exhales. It’s shaky but he doesn’t care as he looks at Miyuki, smiling Miyuki who rarely smiles so genuinely at Eijun. “But this isn’t the second button to your blazer.”
Miyuki shakes his head. “It isn’t.”
Eijun nods, waiting for Miyuki to elaborate. When he doesn’t, Eijun glares. “Am I supposed to read your mind now, Miyuki Kazuya?!”
Miyuki rolls his eyes, walks and stops in front of Eijun. He flicks Eijun’s forehead. “It’s the second button to my uniform. The one in Koshien.”
Eijun gapes. He could feel his heart beating faster, felt his mouth open partly in surprise, eyes wide.
“Why did you give me this?”
“Because,” Miyuki shakes his head, smiling fondly. “Even if I tried to avoid it, even if I tried to deny it, I couldn’t. Going to Koshien with you as ace is one of the memories I treasure the most.” Miyuki looks back at him, never wavering. Like a pillar he always was. “So?”
He searches for anything; a thought, a word, anything at all but it’s so like Miyuki Kazuya to have Eijun speechless and this time with a different reason.
Eijun scowls. “Miyuki Kazuya, how dare you steal my idea!”
“Yes!” Eijun groans, pulling out a similar button from his pockets. “I was supposed to do it first, four-eyed bastard! You really love hogging the spotlight, don’t you?”
Miyuki blinks at him. Eijun pushes his button on Miyuki’s palms, watching as the other man’s mouth parts in surprise. He looks at the button on his palm before looking up at Eijun and maybe it’s just Eijun but he swears he sees the joy reflected in Miyuki’s eyes.
“You mean to tell me that we,” Miyuki chuckles. “Had the same idea? And why are you giving me your button anyway, I’m the one graduating.”
“So that you won’t forget me.” Eijun declares.
“As if I could.” Miyuki mumbles, his voice low like it was meant for himself. He stares at Eijun, lips pulled up in a smile. “You’re really something else, moron.”
“Stop ending your compliments with insults!”
Before Miyuki can reply however, he stumbles slightly, probably not expecting a kick from Kuramochi on his back. The latter laughs, grinning at both of them. “What are you morons doing here?”
The rest of the team is behind him, all varying facial expressions when they see Miyuki and Eijun on the mound.
Miyuki grins, raising a brow at Kuramochi. “Wouldn’t you like to know.”
“You know what,” Kuramochi backs up slowly, glaring at both of them. “I know enough in this lifetime to know that that smile doesn’t equate to anything good and honestly, I don’t want to hear it.”
“Don’t be like that, Kuramochi.” Miyuki snickers, watching as Kuramochi’s expression turns to blank. “You’d miss us.”
Kuramochi rolls his eyes. “Good riddance.”
But Eijun saw both of their eyes linger, both fond as they look at each other, arms brushing in camaraderie.
Eijun thinks it won’t just be him who would miss playing with them.
“Aren’t college boys supposed to be busy?” Eijun says as he enters the room. As he expected, Miyuki’s lounging on his bed, a baseball magazine clutched in his hand as he looks up at Eijun.
“Classes start next week.” Miyuki shrugs, sitting up as Asada comes in, not even blinking or wondering why the hell Miyuki Kazuya was casually on Eijun’s bed. “Besides, didn’t Kuramochi visit just last week?”
“To get all his remaining stuff.” Eijun rolls his eyes, gesturing for Miyuki to scoot over. Their new roommate, a first year named Tamaki, immediately looks at Miyuki with eyes wide in awe and lips parted in surprise. “Tamaki, don’t be so sparkly-eyed while looking at Miyuki Kazuya! He has a terrible attitude which you don’t want to―Ah! Miyuki Kazuya!”
Miyuki flicks him on the ear, rolling his eyes at Eijun’s antics. “I’m still older than you.”
“It’s hard to forget when you’re the only one I know who doesn’t have LINE.”
Miyuki snorts. “You seem to forget all the time.”
“It’s because you never do anything senpai-like.”
“Remember that one time―”
Eijun already knows what Miyuki is referring to because it’s an incident he would never let Eijun forget. “That doesn’t count! Since you’re here, why don’t you catch for me, Miyuki Kazuya?!”
“Didn’t you just get back from practice?” Miyuki raises a brow, allowing Eijun to divert the conversation. “Did you forget Chris-senpai’s teachings already?”
“I didn’t!” Eijun grumbles. “But you’re here and I want to pitch to you.”
Miyuki rolls his eyes. “Fine. Ten pitches.”
“Fifteen!” Eijun whines. “Ten isn’t enough for our numbers, Miyuki Kazuya!”
“Alright fine. Ten! Stingy bastard.”
Eijun grabs his gloves and tosses Miyuki an extra one. He says goodbye to Asada and Tamaki and swears he heard Asada say, “They’re always like that. You should get used to it.” but he doesn’t have the luxury to think about it not when Miyuki Kazuya is crouching in front of him asking for Eijun’s number seven.
“Did you at least stretch?” Miyuki tilts his head, as he catches the last pitch, the sky too dark for them to see anything except shadow figures of each other.
“I did.” Eijun nods, rolling his eyes at Miyuki. “As if I would forget. You’d never let me hear the end of it.”
Eijun hears him scoff before he stands right in front of Eijun, so close that Eijun can see the soft smile on his lips, his eyes reflecting Eijun’s face, looks at Eijun with such softness and vulnerability and Eijun―Eijun wishes he could breathe.
Miyuki Kazuya looks stunning. Amber eyes soft as it looks at Eijun like he’s the only one who matters, lips turned up in a small genuine smile, so close for Eijun to touch―feel his warmth―to ascertain he’s here, in front of Eijun, spending his time with Eijun and Eijun wants nothing more than to monopolize him.
Miyuki exhales. “Hi.”
“Hey.” Eijun looks at him, sees right through him, lips pulled up in a smile. Their voices are quiet, soft, only for each other’s ears to hear. He wants him―all of him―every smile, every laughter, every single thing that Miyuki keeps hidden, he wants to know him. Eijun licks his lips and represses a shudder when he sees Miyuki’s eyes follow the movement, his pupils dilating.
Eijun stares at him and waits. Miyuki looks at him, waiting for Eijun to say anything but Eijun’s trying to look contented just looking at him but he wants, wants―
“You’re so stubborn.” Miyuki huffs. “Are you really going to make me ask first?”
“Consent is important, Miyuki Kazuya.” Eijun breathes out, stepping closer that their chests are touching, Miyuki’s lips inches away from his and all Eijun wants is to reach out and take it all.
“I know. That’s not what I meant.” Miyuki licks his lips and Eijun’s eyes follows the movement. “Can I kiss you then? Since you’re too stubborn to ask me.”
“You’re the one who gives me a sign, aren’t you?” Eijun says and his hands are stagnant on Miyuki’s waist, rubbing circles above his shirt. Eijun tiptoes, breathing out, “Yes.”
It’s a new thing, or as new three weeks ago is. He doesn’t remember who makes the move but he remembers wanting to kiss Miyuki after he looks at Eijun triumphantly, eyes shining in mirth and focusing on Eijun and the next thing he knows, he’s backed into a corner, with Miyuki’s lips on his and Eijun’s mind trying to formulate an explanation.
It’s all awkward at first, noses bumping and teeth clashing but Eijun is nothing but a fast-learner and he’s thorough. He wants to learn Miyuki, learn what makes Miyuki shudder in pleasure, learn what makes him make noise, what makes him so pliant in Eijun’s hands.
Miyuki kisses him like Eijun’s lips were worth worshipping, with such fervor and enthusiasm and Eijun finds himself matching Miyuki. His hands creeps underneath Miyuki’s shirt, gripping his waist tightly while he rubs circles in Miyuki’s abs, loving the way Miyuki shivers at his touch.
Miyuki’s hand is on Eijun’s hair, pulling him closer as if they’re bodies weren’t touching like they were afraid to let the air pass between them. They break apart, needing air but both too stubborn to let go. Eijun presses his face on Miyuki’s throat, lips nipping on Miyuki’s skin lightly.
“Fuck, Sawamura―” Miyuki pulls him closer and Eijun wants more, more of Miyuki’s breathless sighs as Eijun alternates between kissing and gently biting his skin, more of Miyuki’s moans as Eijun bites down on his flesh, hard. “Eijun―fuck―not here.”
“Miyuki Kazuya.” Eijun breathes Miyuki’s name like a benediction. “I love you like this. You’re usually so closed off but that mask evaporates when I kiss you, when I touch you, when I―”
“Fuck Sawamura, stop talking.” Miyuki replies yet there’s no bite on his tone, too breathless for Eijun to ever consider it serious. Eijun opens his mouth but Miyuki’s already prying the words away, kissing Eijun like he’s trying to map him, like it’s all that he ever wants.
Eijun kisses back, because for Eijun, Miyuki Kazuya was all he ever wanted.
Coach Kataoka seems to up his demonic training regimen for the upperclassmen while sending the first years to muscle building. Eijun sighs, feeling his whole body ache as he reaches for his phone underneath his pillow.
There’s a message from Miyuki, a response to Eijun’s morning message.
You’re an upperclassman now, you should be able to handle it. Or does Furuya have better stamina than you now? Kanemaru as Captain is the most logical choice and having Haruichi and Toujou as Vice Captain makes sense. Both you and Furuya are fighting tooth and nail for the Ace number and if you weren’t, I would’ve told Coach to make you as Captain.
Eijun smiles. For some reason, this has become their usual. No matter how many times he threatened to block Eijun because of how early Eijun wakes him up, there isn’t a text Eijun sent that went unanswered.
He sents Miyuki an emoji of flipping the table, detailing on how demonic Coach is with the third years this year. He talks about Miyuki like he does when they’re both in Miyuki’s room, catching up with whatever’s happening around them.
Eijun places his phone near his pillow, a smile on his face as he closes his eyes.
They’ll be alright.
Miyuki’s classes started two weeks ago and he hasn’t had the time to visit Seidou anymore. He does, however, text Eijun about his professors―one who apparently quizzed them on the first day of school to that one professor who didn’t even show up in class. In return, Eijun texts him about Coach Kataoka’s regimes, competing with Furuya for the ace number and trying not to fall asleep in class.
It’s hard when Eijun turns to the catcher’s box and it’s not Miyuki anymore and he tells that to Miyuki when the latter called two days later.
“You’re an idiot.” Miyuki replies. “You can’t choose who you play with or play against in baseball, you know.”
“I know.” Eijun huffs, facing the ceiling. “But I’d choose you no matter what.”
Miyuki’s silent for a moment. Throughout the course of―whatever they are at the moment―Eijun’s learned to read through Miyuki’s silences, the underlying meaning of his words, the pauses in between and Eijun knows Miyuki just needs time to take the words.
“I know.” Miyuki finally replies, echoing Eijun’s words. “I’d choose you too.”
Two days earlier, he receives nothing from Miyuki.
And that’s where it starts.
Miyuki apologizes for not answering his call and Eijun understands. He can hear the tiredness in Miyuki’s voice, can hear Miyuki almost on the verge of sleep but he tries to respond to Eijun.
“If you’re sleepy, go to sleep, Miyuki Kazuya.” Eijun rolls his eyes. “It’s fine. I understand how busy you are, you know.”
Miyuki yawns, on the other end. “I know. Maybe I like hearing your voice.”
Eijun laughs. “I knew you’d miss me!”
Three weeks later, Miyuki doesn’t reply to him for five days and Eijun understands. They have their own lives to live and even he’s busy trying to keep the ace number and not let it fall to Furuya’s hands. He doesn’t call either and Eijun supposes he’s busy or tired.
The ‘good morning’ messages lessen and is replaced with ‘can’t talk right now. later’ from both of them. Calls are rarer these days and even on weekends, they both can’t seem to find the time for each other.
And, even if Eijun understands, it’s hard.
It’s hard when he’s fingers are hovering near the call button, just wanting to hear Miyuki’s voice. It’s hard when his messages go unanswered for the tenth time even if he understands how busy Miyuki is. It’s hard when all he wants is to have Miyuki be with him but he knows he can’t be as selfish as he was a year ago.
I miss you, he types.
Eijun sighs, dropping his phone near his head as he stares at the ceiling. He isn’t lonely, no, he has Haruichi and Furuya, Toujou and Kanemaru, he even has the first years but he knows by now Miyuki Kazuya is different from the rest of them.
He deletes the message, lays down and tries to sleep.
He’s trying not to let it get to him, not to let it show but he doesn’t quite succeed when he hears the news.
“What do you mean Narumiya turned down the pros to play with Miyuki-senpai?” Eijun asks, hovering over Haruichi who was on his phone with Kuramochi. “Wasn’t he already signed to the Lions?”
It makes Eijun contemplate on how much he doesn’t know about Miyuki now. He doesn’t know if Miyuki’s teammates in baseball are as good as deciphering between the lines as Seidou. He doesn’t know if Miyuki has any hard-ass professors or if that professor from the first day who didn’t come to class was okay at teaching. He doesn’t know if Miyuki likes his classmates or if he made any other friend.
“Apparently, it was just a bunch of rumors.” Haruichi says, tilting his head to look at Eijun. “Didn’t Miyuki-senpai tell you?”
“No.” Eijun says, his voice hollow and empty. He doesn’t know what Miyuki Kazuya is up to these days. It’s been months since they last talked, after all. “No, he didn’t mention it.”
Haruichi frowns and Eijun wishes Haruichi wouldn’t look at him like that, like he knew what Eijun was trying so desperately to hide.
“I see.” Haruichi nods. “Maybe he forgot.”
It’s a useless effort to soothe Eijun. After all, they both knew Miyuki Kazuya never forgot anything when it comes to baseball.
He’s distracted for the rest of the day. He isn’t sure how many balls he gives to Okumura, but at the end of it, he still feels restless. He tried to run, run from his thoughts, run from reality, run from everything but it only delayed the inevitable when he returns to the room and finds nothing.
I miss you, he types.
Eijun sighs, feeling his chest constrict in pain. He saves the message, along every other ‘I miss you’ he types almost every day but he’s too afraid to send.
Two months become three and three months become six. Eijun has on hundred eighty three unsent I miss you on his phone and every single day he’s tempted to send even just one to Miyuki but he can’t.
“And what a pitch by Narumiya!” Eijun can’t seem to avert his gaze from the screen, showing Narumiya’s victorious grin as they enter another inning without a run lost.
The camera pans to Miyuki and Eijun feels his chest tighten and he nibbles his lower lip unconsciously, staring as Miyuki removes his catcher’s helmet, a large smug grin on his face as Narumiya bumps his glove.
Eijun snaps out of it, turning his head to see Furuya staring at him. He smiles but it feels so forced, so unlike the Eijun who would wear his heart on his sleeve.
“You miss him.” Furuya says, sitting down beside him. When Eijun doesn’t answer, Furuya hums. “You haven’t been talking, have you?”
“No.” Eijun says and he swallows a lump on his throat, a cry threatening to leave out of his lips. “And yeah, I miss him.”
“But I don’t have the right.” Furuya raises a brow, like he’s waiting for Eijun to elaborate.
Rubbing his hands on his face, Eijun laughs, too forced and even Furuya knows that. “We didn’t―” He sighs, not knowing how to say it out loud. “We weren’t dating or anything. We didn’t put a label to anything. We just kissed a few times.”
“And yet you promised to chase him until university.” Furuya points out, making Eijun redden slightly. “And he was the first one to say it too.”
“It doesn’t matter anymore.” Eijun shakes his head, putting his head above his knees. “It was baseball. Baseball is different from this.”
“For both of you, is it really?”
Eijun doesn’t answer and he’s thankful Furuya doesn’t probe him for it. He merely stays, a pillar in Eijun’s distress, his shoulder bumping into Eijun slightly as a show of support.
Eijun hides his face behind his knees and cries.
Eijun moves on.
The world doesn’t stop just because he got his heart broken. He still has to defend the Ace number from Furuya. He still has to take the Coach back to Nationals. He still has to make sure their summer doesn’t end too early.
(―but in the walls of his room, another I miss you message is saved on his drafts.)
“Have you heard of that disease going around?”
“No.” Eijun shakes his head. “And besides, this Nagano boy rarely gets sick!”
“It isn’t that kind of disease.” Furuya says, dropping his tray next to Eijun’s and picking up his chopsticks. “A classmate of mine had it. The unrequited love disease.”
“Hanahaki.” Haruichi pipes up. “Unrequited love. You cough up flowers and you die if you don’t get surgery.”
“But it removes all of your feelings for the person.” Furuya chimes in, pretending to chew his rice. “And there are some who even forgets the person they’re in love with because their feelings were too strong.”
Eijun gapes. “Really? There’s a disease like that? How unfortunate if you managed to fall for the wrong person then.”
Haruichi and Furuya share a look. Eijun raises a brow at them. “What?”
“Nothing.” Furuya replies. “We better hurry up if we want to be at class on time.”
Eijun says goodbye to both Haruichi and Furuya, already done with his three bowls of rice. He grabs his notebooks from the table, arranging it carefully on his bag and some shoujo mangas he promised to return today. He grabs his phone, opening it to look at the time.
He gapes in surprise when he sees a familiar name he hasn’t seen in almost six months. He could feel his heart beating faster and Eijun feels his breathing go uneven as he shakily clicks on Miyuki’s name.
From: Captain Miyuki Kazuya ¬_¬
Heard you got the ace number. Congratulations.
Eijun’s throat itches. He licks his lips, nibbling his lower lip as he tries to compose a message. He deletes the first three times before settling on: Of course I did! I’m awesome, Miyuki Kazuya.
Eijun sees three dots on Miyuki’s name. He exhales, his heart beat still as fast as it was a minute ago. He waits. The dots disappear and Miyuki doesn’t reply to him.
Eijun breathes in deeply.
He moves on.
His throat has been itching for the past few days and he doesn’t find out until five days later when he’s looking at another one of Miyuki’s games and they make a daring and risky play for the third out and Narumiya taps Miyuki’s chest with his glove.
Miyuki laughs, shaking his head as he taps Narumiya’s glove back.
Eijun feels a bile on his throat and he coughs and coughs and coughs. Petals fall out of his mouth, piling on the floor and Eijun could do nothing but stare. Petals, falling out of his mouth.
He remembers Haruichi’s words. “Unrequited love. You cough up flowers and you die if you don’t get surgery.”
And when he coughs up red carnations again, petals falling from his mouth one after the other, he knows that Miyuki doesn't like him anymore.
Eijun desperately tries to hide it from his teammates. He tries to be as loud and enthusiastic as he is but he knows sometimes it falls flat. It’s from Haruichi’s worried looks, from Furuya giving him water for no reason at all, from Kanemaru asking him what was wrong.
He doesn’t want to burden anyone with this. It was his to bear.
The team’s watching Kuramochi’s game. Right after university, unlike Miyuki, Kuramochi accepted the offer from the Swallows.
“Is that Miyuki-senpai?” Toujou asks, looking closely at the screen. He points, grinning. “There! He’s talking with Kuramochi-senpai.”
And Eijun can’t avert his gaze fast enough. He looks at Miyuki and feels the petals clogging his throat. He discreetly coughs, gripping the petals tight on his palm and shoving them down his pockets.
“I need some fresh air.”
“Shit. Sorry, Eijun―”
“I’m fine, Toujo.” He says, trying to keep the petals in bay. “I just need some air.”
Haruichi looks at him worriedly but he nods.
Eijun all but runs to the bathroom, coughing up red petals―carnations, Eijun wants to laugh, symbolizes deep love and affection―bloody red carnations.
Eijun leans back on the stall, trying to breathe evenly but he can’t.
Some days are worse than others. He thinks about Miyuki Kazuya and he doesn’t even make it to the bathroom when he feels the urge to cough. He’s coughing up blood and petals, mixing together and Eijun’s starting to hate the color red.
He’s coughing his guts out when Haruichi finds him, pale and gripping the sink tightly and red petals filling the sink.
“Oh.” He says. That’s all Haruichi says. He doesn’t ask Eijun who ―at this point, only a dense person wouldn’t know― but he frowns, flushes the petals out and helps Eijun up. “C’mon. Before someone sees.”
Haruichi brings him to his room, making him sit on the bed before giving him a bottle of water.
“You have to tell him.”
Eijun shakes his head. No. He wouldn’t. He could never. “I can’t.”
“Then,” Haruichi purses his lips and Eijun can see he hates the words coming out of his mouth more than Eijun does. “Surgery.”
“No.” Eijun denies vehemently. Surgery takes away his feelings for Miyuki; all the love, the affection, the warmth he feels for Miyuki and if his feelings are too strong, there’s a possibility he could forget Miyuki. He would never do that. Miyuki’s too important in Eijun’s life for him to do that.
He coughs. Even thinking about Miyuki makes him cough up petals.
Haruichi’s lips are in a thin line. “I’ll ask the nurse some painkillers.”
Eijun nods. He swallows. “Thank you.”
Furuya finds out three days later and Eijun wonders if he really can’t keep a secret.
It’s getting worse every day and Eijun finds it hard to breathe every day. They’re both running, an unspoken routine they both established when Eijun remembers Miyuki and how he would goad Eijun and Furuya into stopping.
He curls over and coughs carnations. Eijun doesn’t know when but the world collapses on him and he feels his vision going dark.
When he wakes up, it’s to Haruichi and Furuya looking at him worriedly. Haruichi’s biting his lower lip, nudging a water bottle at Eijun. Eijun nods, thankfully. He smiles weakly at Furuya who shakes his head, looking at Eijun with sadness.
“You won’t tell him.” He says, instead of a question.
“And you won’t get surgery either.”
Furuya closes his eyes, slowly. As if he couldn’t believe the words coming out of Eijun’s mouth. “He deserves to know.”
Furuya shakes his head. “If you do this―” He swallows, not even bothering to hide the sadness in his face. That, or Eijun’s come a long way in reading Furuya. “He deserves to say goodbye and you deserve closure.”
Eijun nods. “I’ll go see his next game.”
Eijun doesn’t know how Haruichi did it but he manages to get Eijun permit from the Coach to leave practice and school for half a day just in time to watch Miyuki’s next game. Eijun sees the worried glances of his teammates though Haruichi’s sharp look prevents them from asking it out loud.
Eijun knows he looks like he hasn’t slept in days. Dark bags under his eyes, lips cracked and face pale. It’s like the yips all over again except this time, Eijun’s not crippled but possibly dying.
Eijun almost misses his stop and he pushes through the crowd of people in the station just to get to the game in time. For some reason, ever since Miyuki and Narumiya teamed up and started the games, a lot of people comes and sometimes the whole stadium sells out. Eijun grabs the nearest seat he could find which was still pretty far but it was better than nothing.
He immediately sees Miyuki, grinning and teasing his teammates and Eijun―Eijun feels the petals lurch in his throat, just at seeing Miyuki there standing. He feels his the beat of his heart, his slow breathing and his legs jumping up and down. He’s hyperaware of everything that’s happening in his body but all he can focus on is Miyuki.
Miyuki, who manages to lead Narumiya with such finesse and aggressiveness able to strike out every batter. Miyuki, who grins and teases his teammates like he did during Seidou. Miyuki, who has daring calls and aggressive plays and he’s―he’s an enigma, he’s stunning, he’s all Eijun ever wants.
Eijun doesn’t even know how he manages to find the comfort rooms but he coughs and coughs and pukes out―a whole flower.
Eijun’s throat aches and his vision is somewhat blurry, his chest heaving up and down and he curls over and pukes. His whole body is aching, he feels cold and fuck he’s still pulling out one flower over the other. Eijun wonders how he’s still alive.
He flushes the petals, wiping the blood on the corner of his lips. He closes his eyes and breathes deeply, finding his throat still stuck up and he finds it so hard to breathe now.
He doesn’t think he’ll ever be prepared to see Miyuki Kazuya without puking his guts out.
Of course, that’s why when he opens the bathroom stall, he sees Miyuki entering the bathroom and if it wasn’t for the predicament, Eijun would’ve laughed at how Miyuki’s eyes widened so comically but before laughter could escape him, he coughs and he could feel his whole body shaking.
Because fuck after all this time, it’s still Miyuki. Miyuki with his smug smirk and his amazing catching. Miyuki with his intense amber eyes and his soft genuine smile. Miyuki who looked at Eijun like Eijun was his whole world.
But Eijun isn’t listening, not when the only thing he can focus on his the pain on his throat and the feeling of his body being on fire. He feels his legs collapse and if it wasn’t for Miyuki and his fast reflexes, he would’ve dropped down to the floor.
Miyuki sees the bloody red carnations before he faces Eijun, lips in a thin line and eyebrows furrowed. “Who?”
And Eijun wants to laugh, or maybe punch him for asking such a question. Who? Who? As if there was anybody else except Miyuki Kazuya.
Miyuki’s grip on his waist tightens just as Eijun heaves another batch of flowers. “Sawamura, who?”
Eijun laughs, too hollow. He looks at Miyuki in the eye and the latter’s hand goes up to the side of his lips, wiping the blood on Eijun’s lower lip. “Who? You have the nerve to ask that? As if there’s been anyone else, Miyuki Kazuya!”
“But it’s been―”
“I know. I know, all right?” Eijun protests, his voice subdued and weak. “I can’t help what I feel and Miyuki, it’s always been you.”
Eijun doesn’t know what Miyuki’s answer is but he does see Miyuki’s panicked look before his vision blacks out. Again.
When Eijun comes to, he hears Narumiya’s voice and feels a heavy weight on his hands. His throat feels dry and clogged up and he tries to open his eyes. Tries and fails miserably.
“So he’s the reason, huh.” Narumiya voice says, somehow quiet slurred in Eijun’s ears. “The reason you were moping.”
Miyuki doesn’t answer. Eijun assumes he gestures for something because Narumiya continues. “I’ve never seen you look so panicked. He must really be something special then.”
“Trust me.” Miyuki’s voice is hoarse, low and so close to Eijun’s bed. “He is.”
He hears the door open and close and Eijun tries to get his eyes to open again. He can’t―why can’t he?―Miyuki squeezes his hand and he feels Miyuki’s hair on the tips of his fingers.
“Don’t.” Miyuki says, quietly. “Don’t do this to me. We haven’t talked for six months and I fucking know it’s my fault but please, don’t leave me like this.”
Leave? Eijun would never. He couldn’t, not even if he wanted to.
“I texted you everyday. I just couldn’t send it. I chickened out every single time.” Miyuki laughs, quietly. “Fuck, if I had known I would’ve made sure to text you every single day. I would’ve―let me make it up to you. Just open your eyes.”
Eijun tries, for the third time.
The first thing he sees is white. It’s all white. He hears a machine beeping nearby but all he can focus is on Miyuki quietly talking to him, pouring out what Eijun wanted to hear all those months ago.
“M―Miyuki.” His voice is hoarse from disuse and he can still taste blood on his mouth.
Miyuki’s head whips up, eyes widening in surprise before he squeezes Eijun’s hand. “Fuck, Sawamura.” He says, shaking his head before he leans down, his forehead touching Eijun. “Don’t fucking do that again to me, please. I’ll try harder just―”
Eijun shakes his head. “It’s not―It isn’t your fault alone. I could’ve called you or texted you.”
“I know.” Miyuki nods, warm breath hitting Eijun’s face. Eijun feels the next batch of flowers threatening to pop out and he curls, coughs wracking his whole body. “Sawamura!”
Eijun can’t answer, not when he’s assaulted with another batch, one after the other and blood covers each flower.
“Sawamura, look at me. Focus on my voice. Hey.” Miyuki’s hand is on Eijun’s nape, his forehead touching Eijun’s. “I’m sorry. I’m so fucking sorry for ignoring you. I’m sorry for being a coward. I love you. I don’t know why but I do―scratch that, I know exactly why but despite everything I love you and I―tell me we can fix all of this.”
It’s the first time in ages that Eijun can breathe properly. He smiles, closing his eyes to focus on Miyuki; his voice, his touch, his warmth. “I’m sorry for not trying hard enough.” He replies, opening his eyes. He places a hand on Miyuki’s lips when the latter seems to argue. “I’m sorry for being afraid. I thought you wouldn’t―I thought you already moved on. It wasn’t… We didn’t exactly label things. All I knew that I was yours, already from the start of it all.”
“I love you.” Eijun whispers, his words soft and slow, savoring every word and he breathes them on Miyuki’s lips. “I love you even when you’re being a bastard, even when you put up your walls around me sometimes. I even love your smug smirk.”
“I love you.” Eijun says. “Everything about you.”
“Hey,” Miyuki smiles genuinely and his eyes are shining with mirth, with fondness; all directed at Eijun. “Was that a cliché line from one of your shoujo manga’s?”
“You’re a bastard.” Eijun shakes his head, fondly. “Why do I like you.”
“I don’t know either.” Miyuki replies, chuckling. He looks at Eijun in the eye, caressing his cheeks gently. “Can I kiss you?”
“I’ve been waiting for six months.” Eijun replies before Miyuki kisses him and he tastes like he always does and kisses like the world began at Eijun’s mouth and he wants all of it.
Eijun feels the world go silent; his world going silent as he focuses on the thrum of Miyuki’s pulse, the warmth of Miyuki’s body and his addicting kisses that leaves Eijun wanting for more.
Because for Eijun, it was Miyuki Kazuya or no one.