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Never Enough Sleep

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A week-ish later.

 

“Fucking fuck.” I mumbled, shuffling across the floor as quietly as possible while the freezing winter air tried to send my manhood into the next dimension. Sweatpants, socks, sweatshirt, hat, I pulled on my shoes and quickly felt my way to the door in the dark. Mochi-senpai snorted in his sleep and I winced, turning the doorknob slowly.

The freezing breeze of pre-dawn winter air slipped through and it took all my willpower not to simply close the door again and go back to sleep for another hour. I glanced at my bed for a second and then shook my head, slipping outside. The cold seeped into my muscles almost immediately and I shivered, shoving my hands into my pockets and hopping down the stairs toward the baseball field where I could go on my morning run.

“It. Is. So. Cold. It. Is. So. Cold.” I said in time with my steps. The friction wasn’t really doing anything. My shoes crunched against the frost of the grass, tiny ice shards glistening in the moonlight. I took a deep breath and started jogging.

For a few minutes it was only me, my thoughts and the sound of shoes slapping against dirt.

“Sawamura.” Someone called out. “Sawamura, slow down a bit!” I glanced behind at the sound of another pair of feet and found Miyuki jogging up to me. He fell in beside me.

“Morning, Miyuki.” I grinned and then yawned hugely.

“Good morning. It’s nice and warm out, huh?” Miyuki said. I huffed out a laugh.

“Tropical.” I answered. “You don’t usually join the runs, what’s wrong, couldn’t sleep or something?”

I fought to ignore the discomfort creeping up my calf-muscle, the chill straining a little more than I wanted.

“Mmm, something like that. I have a test I was worried about, so I figure that if I run with you I’ll lose enough brain cells to forget.” Miyuki smirked at me, brown eyes glinting with mischief. He was wearing a bandana, like he sometimes does after a bath and I almost laughed when it hit me that it was probably for some sort of horrific bedhead.

“Don’t insult me! I run to wake up, it’s good for you!” I snapped back. “And I have a few tests coming up next week, too. One of them is for chem, ugh.” I said.

“Mine is English. I might have fallen asleep on the review questions.” I blinked at the admission and then let out a shocked laugh.

“You, the great Miyuki Kazuya? Geez, that sounds like something I would do!” The man grumbled and swatted my arm.

“Reviewing all the teams along with practice where someone always wants to pitch more tires me out. I get to homework and I’ll just reread the same line six times.” I patted his shoulder.

“I’m going to be this team’s ace, it’s important to get in extra practice! Besides, I’m passing, and I don’t study at all!” I laughed, Miyuki sent me a flat look.

“Very reassuring.” We returned to jogging in silence, but it didn’t take long for my calf muscle to start seizing up and I slowed to a walk before stopping.

“Man, it’s too cold out. I’m gonna pull a muscle like this.” I groaned, reaching down to massage my leg.

“Yeah, I won’t lie, my side is seizing up.” I jerked up, suddenly remembering his injury and the man waved me off. “Not like that, Sawamura, seriously, calm down. I meant that I was getting a cramp.”

I frowned, but stood back up.

“You know, with how you treat Chris-senpai, I never figured you’d hide an injury.” I admitted, my words seeming very loud in the chilly, early-morning air. Miyuki paused, staring up at the stars for awhile.

“I didn’t either, but it made sense at the time.” He sighed, looking back down. “However, I think that was the stress talking more than anything else.”

I was taken aback, he always decided to open up when I least expected it.

“Yeah, I don’t show it much, but I’m glad Mochi-senpai and Zono-senpai are supporting you more. You’re an incredible player, but no one’s perfect.” I shrugged, rubbing my neck. “Especially not me, but I figure that if I practice long enough I can get pretty close.” Silence answered my words and I flushed, staring at the ground as the seconds dragged on.

“Wow, even you say smart things sometimes!” Miyuki exclaimed. I jerked up, glaring, but stopped short at his expression.

“Well, you know, it’s-“ I fumbled to find something to say in response.

“Don’t think too hard, Sawamura, you’re brain will explode.” And just like that, the moment was gone.

“Oi! You’re such an asshole, you tanuki bastard! We were having a moment!”

We argued all the way back to the dorms, but all I could picture was his expression of shocked happiness.

I wanted to see it again.

 


 

The next day or so.

 

It was a complete accident, but with what I knew about the panic attacks and the tiny bit I’d heard about Miyuki’s past, the words ‘touch-starved’ should have sprung to mind sooner. They didn’t, I found out through simply being as overly affectionate with Miyuki as I was with everyone else. I had been keeping more of a distance between us due to the fact that he was the biggest asshole all the time, but that kind of changed after… everything.

Either way, the man had never been particularly physical off the baseball field. He often avoided contact with other people and could be pretty chilly in a lot of ways. The reasoning actually had to be pointed out to me, which was embarrassing.

“Well, yeah man, it’s a defense mechanism. God, how do you function in your day to day life?” Mochi-senpai wasn’t the type to mince words. Or actions. I shuddered, remembering that wrestling match. I would beat him someday. I winced, finding a bruise. Someday.

The point is that I made a sort of personal goal to become someone Miyuki trusted enough to be comfortable around. I wasn’t quite sure what the would entail, but the details weren’t important.

“Miyuki Kazuya!” I yelled out, jogging across the cafeteria with my dinner. The man sighed, sliding over a seat.

“What, Sawamura?” He asked, long-suffering. I grinned, plopping down next to him.

“Do you mind if I do my homework with you?” He blinked at me. “Mochi-senpai can be pretty distracting, and you usually do it after practice right?” Miyuki blinked again, but then slowly nodded. I dug into my rice. “Thanks.” I said between bites.

I figured that hanging out more couldn’t hurt. After all, trust implied being friends, and friends required hanging out. I was pretty sure Miyuki didn’t even understand the phrase, so homework was a good alternative. I needed to do it anyway and Kuramochi was loud, so it wasn’t a lie, just a convenient excuse.

Dinner was it’s usual exciting affair, with the amount of noise a hundred hungry athletes can make ricocheting in one small building. Or small compared to that anyway.

I was focused on inhaling my rice at warp speed whilst attempting to carry a conversation. It often ended in rice everywhere, but I was in a hurry to get on with my evening, though the idea that I could be excited over hanging out with Miyuki was still a little weird. What was weirder was uniting the Miyuki I knew as catcher, and the Miyuki who could be overwhelmed by anxiety and responsibility. I would get there eventually.

“You’re going to choke, Sawamura.”

“I’mph.” I mumbled.

“Ah yes, mphhh, an answer that makes perfect sense.” The words were bitingly sarcastic and I glared at the man beside me. He was smirking, eyes twinkling with humor from behind dark-framed glasses. Grudgingly, I swallowed.

“Shut the fuck up, Miyuki.” I said primly. He started cackling and then went back to his own food.

“You guys are getting along.” I almost jumped out of my skin when the soft voice of Haruichi materialized next to me.

“We are not.” I hissed back. Harucci looked nothing short of tickled by my words and shrugged.

“If you say so, Ei-chan.” He took a bite of food and ignored whatever I was going to say next, pure happiness enveloping him. I snorted and finished my dinner.

“I’ll meet you back at the dorms, Miyuki-senpai!” I yelled, freeing myself from the bench and picking up my platter.

“Ah, wait up, Sawamura, we can walk together.” He said, eating his last bite and standing beside me. Harucci grinned at me and I stuck out my tongue.

“Of course!”

It wasn’t a loud walk back, I was tired and not looking forward to homework, but it had to be done, or I wouldn’t be able to play. Gravel crunched under my sneakers, my stomach pleasantly full from dinner. I glanced at the field longingly.

“Not tonight.” I sighed aloud.

“Hm? Did you say something?” Miyuki asked. I jumped and flushed.

“Aha, no, no, you’re hearing things. Do you need to get your ears checked, Miyuki Kazuya?” I deflected. He smirked.

“No, but you definitely need your head checked.” I grimaced.

“I do not!” He cackled at me as we walked up the stairs. I paused.

“Ah, hang on, I have to get my books.” I paused by my room, slipping inside and rummaging through my things. My school stuff was still out from earlier so it only took a second. “I have returned from war!” I yelled, carrying the heavy load under my arm. My catcher scoffed and rolled his eyes.

“Let’s just get it done, bakamura.” I shoved him with my shoulder and he stumbled, punching me in the side. “Would you just-“ He rapped at his door. “-Get inside please.”

“Yes, yes.” I said, slipping past him after he opened it, the numbers 203 gleaming above me. His room always seemed much quieter without the upperclassmen in it. I glanced around, noting that it had been cleaned since I’d hung out a few days before. “How do you always find time to clean, do you ever sleep?” I asked, sliding down to the floor in my usual spot and setting my things down.

“Plenty of time when I’m dead.” He answered blithely, picking up the pencil and shuffling around the work already at his desk.

“Funny.” I slid a clip from my stuff, sticking it in my hair so it would stay out of my face and then picked up my English work. We both went quiet, and I sank into my work for a little while before finally hitting something that I just couldn’t figure out. I stopped and tapped my pencil irritably before giving in and looking to Miyuki. He was hunched over the desk, having put on headphones at some point and was scribbling away. I hesitated and tried to understand the grammar problem again, but it didn’t make any more sense the second time. I stood up, groaning at the tingling in my legs and shuffled over.

“Hey, Miyuki?” I asked, tapping him on the shoulder. His shoulders jerked and bunched, and he let out this weird squeaking noise, looking at me with a horribly startled stare. Miyuki rushed to look normal and take off his headphones, but it was too late, I’d already seen it.

“O-Oh my God, y-you, aha, you should’ve seen your f-f-face.” I was almost in tears as Miyuki simply clutched his headphones, glaring at me.

“If you were just going to scare me, then-“ I abruptly stopped laughing when he actually sounded angry.

“No, no, I just wanted your attention, I wasn’t trying to startle you.” He grudgingly turned to looked at me and I rubbed the back of my neck.

“Well, what is it?” He said. I held up my paper, as if it would be a shield from the mocking I was about to receive.

“I don’t understand a question and thought you might.” I said. He sighed and nodded to the unused chair in the corner.

“Pull it up, because it’s you I get the feeling this might take a while.” Miyuki said. I sneered at him, but set down the sheet and my textbook, yanking over the chair and plopping down. “Alright, so what don’t you understand.”

I paused and chewed my lip.

“This question is talking about past participles, but I don’t understand how that’s different from the past tense, or how to conjugate the words. Like I get the idea of adding -ed to things, but this word doesn’t do that and is apparently the same thing?” I pointed out. I glanced over as Miyuki surveyed my paper, he was almost drowning in an oversized sweatshirt, hair having fallen completely flat after a day of practice and a shower, and yet I was almost intimidated by the muscles twitching in his jaw as he chewed over my questions, eyes glinting with focus.

I swallowed and looked away, the point was to become closer friends with the man not stare at him like a piece of meat.

“Alright, so this is a verb form that has the same function as the present participle, only past tense.” I blinked. He picked up his pencil and wrote two versions of a sentence. “Remembering learning how sentences like ‘she went swimming’ worked, well, it’s like that, only past tense. So instead of ‘swimming’, it’s ‘she swam’.” I leaned over him, squinting at the sentence.

“I guess I get it, but why doesn’t it have the word before it. Like, you’re supposed to have a, a phrase or whatever for ‘-ing’, why not ‘swam’.” Miyuki looked irritated. “Sorry, I just-“ He rubbed his eyes.

“No, it’s fine, I’m just not really sure either. I just kind of memorized what I needed to so I could pass.” He admitted, glancing to the opposite wall with a frown. I paused.

“Ha! I always forget you’re just as much of a baseball idiot as I am.” I laughed, pulling the sheet back and tapping my question. “So, if I don’t need a phrase before it, how do I figure out it’s supposed to be past tense or whatever?”

“Look for something indicating time, words like ‘yesterday’, or ‘last night’, that would mean the action took place before.” I nodded then caught a glimpse of the math he was working on and nearly gagged.

“That looks horrible.” He coughed out a laugh.

“It is. Logarithms, I don’t understand them at all. Give me a stressful practice over this any day of the week.” I leaned against him, shoulders squishing together.

“What does it even mean?” There were lots of logs on the paper, and a few too many random letters for me to be comfortable calling it math. Miyuki laughed.

“It’s another way to explain exponents, I think. But I would worry more about your own homework, Sawamura.” He said.

“Yeah, yeah.” I tapped my feet against the floor, shifting back to my own work. My side stayed pressed up against Miyuki’s and I leached away his body heat gleefully. It was chilly in his dorm.

The surprising part was that the man made no move to push me away. I puttered away at my sheet, choosing to ignore the phenomena for the time being. The rest of the sheet went alright as I stopped agonizing over getting the right phrases and instead just looked for a time word and the corresponding conjugation. With my luck half of it was wrong, but that was an improvement over none of it.

I set my pencil down, yawning, Miyuki twitched and I glanced over to find that he had dozed off against his hand at some point. That was prime blackmail material, if I’d ever seen it. I pulled out my phone, turning on the camera, but found myself hesitating at his peaceful, loose expression, smudges of gray against his eyes. I closed the phone and opted to rub his back.

“Miyuki? Hey, wake up man, the bed is way more comfortable.” I glanced up at the clock and found that it had become one in the morning at some point. Luckily, my homework was done. Miyuki mumbled incoherently at me, his hand slipping. The man jerked awake, looking around blearily before finding me. I squeezed his shoulder. “Morning, sleeping beauty. Come on, let’s go to bed.”

He yawned.

“Oh, I must’ve fallen asleep, sorry.” He murmured, voice gravelly with exhaustion. He slid off his glasses, leaving them on the desk and standing. I let go of his shoulder as he swayed, looking blankly down at me. “You staying?” I shrugged.

“Sure, probably quieter anyway.” He nodded.

“That’s cool.” He rubbed the shoulder I’d been leaning against and shivered.

I stood, putting my chair back and turned to find Miyuki stalled in the same place, staring blankly into space, a hand against his shoulder. My eyebrows furrowed.

A defense mechanism.

I grabbed a shirt and threw it at him, satisfied as it hit him in the face.

“I promise that your bed is more comfortable than standing there.” I walked back up and slung my arm over his shoulder, waiting to see the reaction. Miyuki’s eyes drooped and he listed against me, over a hundred pounds of solidly muscled putty, I could have cried over how adorable it was, but adorable and Miyuki Kazuya didn’t belong in the same sentence, so I endeavored to ignore it. Clutching Miyuki’s soft sweatshirt, I walked over to bed and pushed him down, he still seemed at least sixty percent asleep and was giving me this sleepy annoyed look.

“Now I’m cold, you’re supposed to support your captain, Sawamura.” He attempted a glare, but it came out more like a grumpy kitten. My eyebrows rose. Where was the off-putting, rude senpai I was used to? I pinched myself, but the situation continued to be a tired, grumpy Miyuki attempting to glare me into being his personal heater. I could have laughed myself into a coma if it wasn’t so oddly flattering.

“Of course, senpai, how dare I?” He nodded to himself, and leaned forward to wrap his not-insignificantly strong arms around my middle, burrowing his face against my stomach. My abdomen jumped and I froze. He tilted up slightly, flashing a smirk that was mostly a satisfied smile. I almost choked on the surge of affection that bloomed in me, helplessly smiling down at the catcher.

I was so fucked.

But it also sent me thinking and as I was about halfway to sleep a little while later a phrase came back to me in a rush from all my google searches about mental stress. Becoming touch-starved was relatively easy, especially for those with anxiety about being around others, or had other mental issues encouraging keeping others at arm-length. I sat up and glanced at the man passed out and sprawled across his covers before rubbing my face. I hadn’t noticed his injury, but this was something I could help with. Probably. I didn’t want to overwhelm him or be too affectionate and drive him away, but…

I pondered just talking about it, but that could get complicated. I turned over, brain spinning as I went back to sleep. I would come up with something.