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What Now?

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How did this happen? Nori sat with his back against the wall of the shed. The coolness seeping into his skin would have felt relaxing if he hadn't been trapped in there. He pulled his knees up to his chest and, wrapping his arms around them, leaned his chin there.

Glancing up through his lashes, he saw Miyuki standing there, arms crossed, glaring at the locked door. Nori watched every move he made until, finally, he leaned against the far wall, putting as much space between them as possible. He kept shifting his weight from one foot to the other.

I really messed up… Nori sighed as he hid his face behind his knees. He heard Miyuki move again. The bang on the shed door made him flinch. “Kuramochi, open the door.” Miyuki demanded.

“Not until you fix whatever's going on between the two of you.” The shortstop responded from outside. “It's obvious to everyone and it has to stop.”

“Nothing has to be fixed,” Miyuki snapped. “You're going to be running nonstop next practice.”

Kuramochi let out a sharp laugh. “That doesn't scare me, Captain.”

“Miyuki,” Shirasu spoke up this time. Nori pressed his face against his legs. He couldn't believe his best friend was a part of this. “The faster you fix whatever this is, the faster you get out of there. The way the both of you are behaving is affecting the team. Nori’s even been avoiding pitching to you. Everyone can tell.”

“And even you Miyuki…” The infielder explained. “You’re not as sharp. It’s putting others on edge.”

Miyuki grumbled something under his breath that sounded like, “That's not true.”

“We’ll be back in an hour,” the shortstop spoke again. “So why don't you two just kiss and make up already.”

Nori could hear the teasing tone in his voice, but the words still managed to make him blush. They were in this mess because of him and he felt horrible for Miyuki.

“Asshole,” Miyuki grumbled and went back to lean against the far wall.

He glanced up to see the catcher glaring daggers at the floor. “Sorry…” Nori whispered from behind his knees.

“Why are you apologizing? They're the ones that locked us in here…” He looked up, but when they made contact, they both averted their eyes. Silence fell over them like a thick, suffocating blanket. “We probably should talk about that…

Nori hugged his knees tighter as his face flushed in embarrassment. He didn't want to bring it up ever again. It was absolutely humiliating. He just wanted it all to go away, but at the same time he knew the catcher was right. Nori couldn't even make eye contact with him anymore. “That's why I'm apologizing.” He hid his face behind his knees again. “This is my fault.”

Silence fell again. He looked up to see Miyuki pouting as he looked down at the ground. “It's not just-” he looked up and caught Nori’s eyes; he stopped talking. They stared at each other. “Er…” He scratched the back of his neck as he averted his eyes away. “Shirasu and that idiot are right… We have to figure this out.”

“Right,” he responded in a whisper.

“It wasn't just your fault,” Miyuki said looking back at Nori again. “I shouldn't have done that and I'm sorry that it's awkward between us now. I never meant for that to happen. I probably shouldn't have listened to Miyauchi-senpai in the first place.”

Nori looked away and covered his face again. “It's not your fault,” he stubbornly said. “Stop apologizing for something you didn't do.” He buried his face more and tightened his arms around his legs; fingers digging into his skin. “You were just trying to help me… And I…” Even his ears were burning now.

“Hey, Nori…” Miyuki's voice was right in front of him. “Look at me…” He glanced up. The catcher was squatting in front of him; those warm brown eyes filled with concern. “Stop putting the blame on yourself, alright?” Nori looked at his lips as he spoke; those soft, beautiful lips. “If I hadn't-”

“Stop.” Nori said forcefully, but he was talking more about himself. They stared at each other in an awkward silence until Nori looked away. “The problem wasn't what you did.” He continued. “It’s happened before… But this time…” He covered his face with his hand and bit his lip slightly. This is so humiliating. “The problem was that I liked it.”

Another beat of silence passed before an awkward laugh came from Miyuki. “You enjoyed it? I couldn’t tell.” Nori groaned at the teasing tone that came from the catcher’s mouth. This was truly mortifying. “Sorry…” Another awkward laugh came from the bespectacled boy.

Nori glanced up at the catcher through his lashes. He noticed that Miyuki’s face was tilted away from him, and his hand was holding the back of his neck. He let his eyes wander over his features; the glasses that were sliding down his nose slightly, his lips slightly parted, the blush dusting his cheeks. Nori’s eyes widened ever so slightly. Miyuki… blushing? The next thing he knew, he was leaning forward on his hands and knees, placing a kiss to the corner of the catcher’s mouth.

Startled by the lips against his own, Miyuki flinched away and fell onto his backside. His arm flung out to the side and knocked over one of the crate of baseballs sending them rolling across the shed. Nori watched as the catcher covered his mouth and chin with his hand and looked up at him with shocked eyes behind skewed glasses. Oh God… They stared at each other. Miyuki’s face slowly turning redder by the second, and from the heat in his own face, the pitcher knew he probably looked the same.

He shouldn’t have done that. He really shouldn’t have done that. That was like the opposite of fixing things. This… This made everything ten times worse. “S-s-” He stumbled over the word as he saw the confusion in Miyuki’s eyes. “Sorry!” He shouted as he pressed his back into the wall, wishing he could just disappear into nothing at this point.

Oh my God… Nori pressed his palms against his eyes. His breath shook and he bit his lip as he felt the burning behind his eyes. He was so ashamed. Why was he acting before thinking? He always thought before acting, but Miyuki just looked so good with the blush… Damn it! Now Miyuki really was going to hate him.

He kept his hands pressed firmly against his eyes. He felt like he was going to cry. He was ruining their friendship. He probably completely destroyed the battery they built up over the years; all that trust thrown right out the window because of him and his stupid actions. It was over. His baseball life with this team was finished. There was no way he could work with Miyuki again after this. The catcher was probably disgusted with him. The thought made him bite his lip even harder; somehow the pain comforted him a bit.

“You're going to hurt yourself if you keep biting like that,” a hand gently touched his chin. Nori jerked back at the sudden touch, but just ended up slamming his head into the wall behind him. “Shit!” He heard Miyuki curse under his breath. Nori groaned as one hand grabbed the back of his throbbing head and the other pressed into the ground to keep him from falling over. “Are you alright?” The pitcher tensed when he felt Miyuki’s hands on his shoulders to steady him.

He pushed away the hands. “I’m fine…” Nori whispered when he stopped seeing stars. He kept his hand firmly on the back of his head.

“Nori… just let me see…” Miyuki tried to pull his hand away, but Nori flinched away again.

“Don’t!” His voice rose slightly. “Just don’t…” He saw the hurt flash through the other’s eyes as his hands fell to his lap. Another beat of uncomfortable silence fell between them. “Sorry… I’m making this worse…”

Miyuki sighed and shifted so he sat with his back against the wall beside the pitcher. Just a few centimeters separated them, and as much as he wanted to lean into the other, Nori forced himself to lean slightly away. The catcher stretched out his legs in front of him, but Nori kept his curled protectively toward his body.

The silence was really starting to bother Nori now. His hands felt clammy, and with each passing minute, he felt more and more nauseous. He glanced at Miyuki to see the latter leaning his head back against the wall, his eyes trained on the ceiling and brows knitted together. He wanted to know what he was thinking right now; he needed to know.

“You pitched well today,” Miyuki turned to look in Nori’s eyes. The pitcher flinched, but Miyuki smiled as if nothing had happened. He could feel his face warm under the catcher’s gaze. “I watch everyone pitch even if I don’t catch for them.” Nori just listened. It almost sounded like he was trying to fill the silence. “Your pitches hit their spots and you were working really hard. Even the sinker was on point today.” He looked at the far wall of the shed. “I have to admit I’m a little disappointed I didn’t get a chance to catch it today.” He looked back at Nori. “Maybe tomorrow?”

Nori nodded a little. “Yeah,” he smiled slightly at the praise he was getting. “Alright.”

“You’ll stop avoiding me, right?” His eyes turned back to him and there was a slight smirk on his lips. Nori frowned a bit and looked away embarrassed.

“Fine…” He mumbled. “Sorry…”

“Stop apologizing!” Miyuki laughed as he wrapped his arm around the pitcher’s shoulder and pulled him closer. Nori tensed; even his ears felt hot.

“S-sorry…” He mumbled but then realized he had apologized yet again. “No… Uh… I mean okay…?”

The catcher’s lips stretched into a smirk. “That's better.” He didn't move his arm, but neither did Nori try to free himself from the other. They just sat there in silence but at least the awkwardness of the whole situation seemed to have lifted a bit. It helped him feel a little more at ease. “Hey Nori…?” He asked after a bit of time had passed. The pitcher hummed in response. “You do know we have to talk about this, right?”

“Yeah…” He whispered. He hadn't necessarily forgot, but he was really trying not to think about it. So he waited for Miyuki to ask him something embarrassing about his behavior. He honestly wasn’t sure if the other would, but he was also preparing himself for a bit of teasing as well.

“Why…” Nori cringed slightly. Here came the awkward question, but which awkward question? Why was he acting weird? Why did he kiss him? Why was he avoiding him? Why anything really… “Why me?” Miyuki asked in a small voice so unlike his usual persona that it actually made Nori’s heart skip a beat. The pitcher tried to turn his head to look at Miyuki, but the catcher moved his head out of sight. He was so close that Miyuki’s hair was brushing against his cheek. “I guess…” Miyuki continued when Nori didn't respond, “I just don't understand. Why of all people would you pick me?” His breath was hot against the pitcher’s ear and neck.

Nori frowned. He hadn't been expecting that. “I… Don't know…” He said honestly.

Miyuki chuckled at that. “When did you… You know…”

He shifted a bit, but didn't pull away. “Our… first year I think?”

“You think or you know?”

He tried to pull away this time, but Miyuki wouldn't let him. “Why does it matter?”

“So if I had grabbed you during our first year, you would have had the same reaction?” Nori couldn't tell if Miyuki sounded more curious or amused.

Nori pouted slightly. “P-probably not…”

“So what changed?” Curious. Miyuki was definitely curious.

“I don't know…” He groaned in annoyance. He honestly couldn't pinpoint one time when he realized his feelings for the other. “You were just always there…”

“Well, I am a catcher so…” His voice was teasing and Nori turned his face away from the catcher to make sure he couldn't see the embarrassment.

“It's not just that…” He whispered and Miyuki fell silent. “You care a lot and not just because you're a catcher. You're a great player and leader… You're smart. You worry about others… Y-you're pretty…” He mumbled the last part under his breath hoping Miyuki wouldn't hear him. “I just really admire you okay? And somehow it just… Evolved?”

The silence was deafening, and he could feel his heart beating in his ears. “You think I'm pretty?” Nori thought he was going to die from embarrassment. Of all the things he could have commented on, he had to hear that part of what he said.

“Yes!” He ended up shouting in frustration. “You're pretty! It's the first thing everyone notices!” He was definitely turning red now but as he turned to look at Miyuki he noticed a slight blush creeping across his cheeks.

Miyuki smiled and then laughed. “I'm sorry I couldn't help myself.”

Nori stared at the catcher, but managed to form a halfhearted glare. He crossed his arms and looked off to the side. “I don't want to talk about this anymore.” He mumbled under his breath.

“Okay,” Miyuki removed his arm from Nori and stood. The pitcher watched him confused. Miyuki saw his confusion and shrugged. “Someone has to clean up all these baseball.”

Nori looked down at the turned over crate. “Right. I'll help.” He almost apologized again, but knew the other wouldn't let him get away with it. He focused solely on picking up one baseball at a time and tossing them back into the crate. He didn't even look at Miyuki, but every now and then their arms would brush and it would send electricity throughout his body. Focus. He told himself. Just do this small task.

He was calm throughout most of it, but he soon realized there weren't many balls left and he began to worry. They'd have to talk about it again. They had somewhat discussed the “why” part. Though it was very briefly discussed… But the biggest question that they both knew had to be discussed was: What now?

“Hey, Nori…” Miyuki's voice broke his thoughts. Nori looked around and realized that the baseball in front of him was the very last one. They'd have to talk after this, so in a pathetic attempt to avoid the inevitable, Nori just stared at the baseball, refusing to pick it up.

But it backfired when Miyuki knelt down himself. He looked up at Nori, who flushed in embarrassment. The catcher just looked so pretty looking up at him. He couldn't look away even though he knew he was staring. To his disappointment, Miyuki looked down. He stood, his body extremely close to Nori, who didn't take a step back.

The difference in height was just enough that Miyuki was looking down at him. He was wearing the same face as before as if trying to figure something out, and Nori just really wanted to know what the other was thinking about. It made him both nervous and excited. “Nori…” his breath caressed the pitcher’s face. He was so close. Close enough for Nori to see the lines that formed when the catcher’s brows pulled together in concentration. He was close enough that all he had to do was lean a little further to capture those lips that were always smirking.

Miyuki frowned a little more before hesitantly cupping Nori's face with his hand. His thumb brushed along the pitcher’s cheek before sliding it down to run along his lower lip. It felt like he was observing him and taking in every little detail possible.

Nori let out a shaky breath through parted lips as he gazed at Miyuki's face. His hand started to reach out toward the other, but he stopped himself, holding them close to his stomach. He watched Miyuki’s eyes wander until they made eye contact. The catcher gazed at him. Nori couldn't quite figure out what emotions were hiding behind those eyes, but he felt his stomach flip at the intensity of it.

Miyuki’s eyes glanced down briefly at the pitcher’s lips. Nori could hear his heart beating in his ears; growing louder and louder with each agonizingly slow second that passed between them. He could tell the catcher was conflicted with what he wanted to do, but Nori wasn’t. He knew what he wanted and this time he let his hands reach forward and tug at the hem of Miyuki’s shirt closing the gap between them. Miyuki frowned a little more as his thumb lightly pulled Nori’s lip down.

He was so close to getting what he wanted, but Nori had to wait. If he rushed this and pulled Miyuki into the kiss - that he so desperately wanted - he could ruin just about everything. Those eyes, that gaze on his lips, were driving the pitcher mad, and just when he thought he couldn’t take anymore, Miyuki tilted Nori’s face and slowly moved his lips to meet the other’s. He pulled back almost as quickly as it started.

Nori had closed his eyes, and a part of him thought he had imagined it. If it wasn’t for the blush and embarrassed pout on Miyuki’s face, he would have thought the thing never happened. He wanted more, but silently chastised himself because Miyuki had actually showed some sort of emotion and dare he say desire to maybe be with him. He had to know. He was tired of getting lost in his own thoughts of worry.

“What now?” He blurted out. The words he’d been dreading felt a little less foreboding, but his grip on the hem of Miyuki’s shirt was so tight, a part of him hoped it didn’t get stretched out. Miyuki licked his lips as his brow furrowed in concentration, but he didn’t say anything. “Miyuki…” Nori begged and now he felt his hands trembling. His anxiety rising by the second.

“I don’t know.” Miyuki had said it honestly, but it didn’t help the other’s nerves.

Nori looked away from him. He didn’t want the catcher to see the disappointment that was most definitely starting to show on his face. He felt like he was on an emotional rollercoaster and it was really starting to take a toll on him. Releasing his hold on Miyuki’s shirt, he took a step back. He moved the crate of baseballs back to where they belonged. He looked back to see the catcher looking down at the baseball in his hands; transferring it from one hand to the other with a pensive look. “Here,” Nori called out and raised his hand. “We should put everything away.”

Miyuki looked up at him surprised, but tossed him the baseball anyway. Nori caught it easily, and turned to drop it in the crate with the others. “Maybe…” Miyuki’s unsure voice touched his ears as he let the ball fall from his hand. He didn’t turn to look. “We could try.”

“Why?” Nori said finally looking back. He wasn’t sure why he was asking. He should be celebrating after hearing that, but he didn’t want to get his hopes up. He needed reasons... He didn’t want to just jump into if they both didn’t want it.

He watched as Miyuki’s hand rubbed the back of his neck, and avoided looking at Nori. The catcher sighed in defeat. “Because…” he stopped and frowned. “Just now... I think we could do it.”

Nori frowned in confusion. What had changed from the time he didn’t know to now. “How?”

“When I said I didn’t know,” Miyuki shifted his feet. “You acted similar to how you usually do…”

Nori waited for more of an explanation, but didn’t get anything. He opened his mouth to ask again when his eyes widened in realization. “You think if it doesn’t work out it’ll be fine… and the team won’t suffer because of us…” Miyuki nodded, but looked down at the ground. “You don’t think we could do it?”

“I don’t know, Nori…” Miyuki looked at him, and Nori could see how nervous he was. It was a different expression from what he usually wore. “Does that make you want to change your mind about this?”

Was Miyuki… testing him or was he honestly that worried about this? “No, it doesn’t.” Nori said evenly. He knew what he felt and what he wanted. Even if the catcher wasn’t sure, he’d risk it. “And it won’t change anything, right?” Though Nori really doubted this because wasn't that the reason they were in this position in the first place, but if Miyuki thought it was possible then he would too.

“Right,” Miyuki nodded; his face a little more sure.

“Then,” Nori felt a smile spreading across his face. “Let’s try it.”

Miyuki’s smirk resembled more of a smile this time. “Yeah.”

The banging at the shed’s door made the both of them jump. Nori thought his heart was going to explode as he placed a hand on his chest and tried to calm it. “Did the two of you figure things out yet, or do we need to leave you in there still?” Kuramochi’s voice echoed through the door.

“People want to practice, but everything’s locked in there.” Shirasu spoke up this time. “So it doesn’t matter if you didn’t work it out, we have to cut this short.”

Miyuki just shook his head, but Nori just laughed. “Just let us out.” He called out.

There was a slight pause before Kuramochi said, “Oh, I guess they figured it out.” There was the click of the door and it swung open. “I’m surprised you managed to figure it all out so quickly, Captain.” He smirked at Miyuki, who was squinting at the bright light coming in through the opening. “I thought we would have to keep you in there for hours.”

“Kuramochi…” Shirasu frowned in disapproval.

“You’re running for the next three practices,” Miyuki stated.

The shortstop let out a sharp laugh. “Yeah, right…”

“Try me.” He stated as he grabbed Nori’s hand, causing the latter to blush. His fingers intertwined with Nori’s, and the pitcher smiled slightly. The action didn’t go unnoticed and the two others looked at each other in pleasant surprise. The catcher led Nori from the shed. “Better make sure your legs are ready tomorrow.” He called over his shoulder, but didn’t stop to hear the other’s response. Nori’s smile brightened when he noticed the blush forming on Miyuki’s cheeks.