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all you need (my company)

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It started, as everything troublesome at Seidou did, with Sawamura Eijun.

Specifically, Sawamura Eijun’s obliviousness.

“Eijun-kun,” Haruichi had said to him one night, apropos nothing. Sawamura and Furuya were ‘studying’ in Sawamura’s room, Kanemaru lording over them like some sick dictator and Kuramochi playing his games in the background. Haruichi watched over it all calmly, and when he addressed Sawamura, his voice took on that lilting tone of his. The one you might use to berate a misbehaving, but cute and well meaning, puppy dog. It was a tone that reminded him a little of Wakana and his middle school friends, because god knew they had quite the time dealing with him back then, and something in his chest burned with homesickness.

Sawamura quickly let that thought go, turning to his friend with a bright and unassuming grin. “Yes, Harucchi?”

The other pursed his lips contemplatively, absentmindedly twirling a pen in his hand. Kanemaru was too focused on stopping Furuya from drooling on their biology homework, so he paid no mind to Sawamura slacking off. Haruichi gave him another thoughtful glance, before speaking again. “Have you noticed, that you’re kind of…” He trailed off, unsure of how to phrase his sentence.

Kuramochi cackled, evidently eavesdropping on his underclassmen’s conversation. Without looking up from his game, he chimed in. “Idiotic? Unobservant? Impulsive? I could go on, Sawamura is just so many things–”

“Kuramochi-senpai!”

“I was thinking more,” Haruichi quickly intervened, before Sawamura said anything that could get him locked in another one of the older’s wrestling moves. “Touchy?”

Kuramochi seemed to seriously consider it for a moment. “Yeah, I see what you mean.” He shrugged, the violent mashing of buttons offsetting the pensive tone of his voice. “He’s kind of like a small puppy. Or a 4 year old. Always around you, jumping and pawing and shit like it can’t get enough attention.”

“Kuramochi-senpai!” Sawamura screeched again, only this time louder, more indignant, if that were possible.

He continued to yell, prompting Kuramochi to pause his game and drag him into a complicated looking headlock. Even the high frequencies of Sawamura Eijun didn’t rouse Furuya, which saw Kanemaru giving up entirely, leaving him to be lulled to a deep sleep by thoughts of punnett squares and Sawamura being relentlessly bullied. Kanemaru sighed at the sight, but made no move to free his year mate.

He had made his choice.

“You know what,” Kanemaru said instead, prompting the others to look up at him, mildly curious. “I see it. Especially the dog thing. He gets really excited by head pats and praise, too.”

Kuramochi cackled, shrill and sharp, letting go of Sawamura in his fit, who was looking at Kanemaru with such a poignant look of betrayal, it seemed almost too intense for the conversation at hand. “How could you,” Sawamura said, scandalised. “I trusted you! Kanemaru!”

Haruichi, who was still watching from his perch on Sawamura’s bed, sighed resignedly. “Guys, that’s not really what I was talking about?” They turned to face him, suddenly eerily quiet. Haruichi made a face at the unnecessary scruitnity, but continued. “I just meant like, how Eijun-kun is really, really comfortable with everyone on the team? I was just thinking about it, because of what happened at breakfast with Miyuki-senpai…”

Kanemaru and Kuramochi made similar noises of understanding, Furuya snored lightly, and Sawamura did a double take.

Hah?” Sawamura’s eyes grew impossibly wide. “What do you mean? What happened with Miyuki Kazuya at breakfast?!” He whipped his head from side to side, glancing at the three pairs of disbelieving gazes all trained on him. What? Was it something he said? Sawamura really was curious, though. And he hadn’t even said anything out of line about their captain, yet, so he really didn’t see why they all had that you-misbehaving-but-well-meaning-puppy look trained on him.

Even Haruichi, who was able to remain composed at even the worst of Sawamura’s times, looked at him with mild shock. That, if anything, told Sawamura that something was very wrong.

Or, at least, something had gone entirely over his head. It wouldn’t be the first time.

“Oi, Sawamoron,” Kuramochi chided. “Don’t tell me you really did that on instinct? You didn’t even notice?” He raised an accusatory eyebrow, as if Sawamura was being coy. Or hiding something. Or not being honest with them.

Sawamura Eijun, a liar?

Not on his pure country boy heart!

“I don’t really know what you guys are talking about!” Sawamura exclaimed, flailing about on the floor in frustration. “I didn’t do anything weird this morning, I don’t think. I mean, I did take a bit longer to finish than usual, but that’s because that tanuki bastard interrupted our meal! He was being so- so–”

“So Miyuki,” Kuramochi helpfully supplied. Sawamura chose to ignore the growing look of knowing smugness on the older’s face, which he couldn’t quite understand the meaning of.

“Yeah! That!” He gestured wildly to emphasise his point, nevermind that his teammates listening gave him equal looks of exasperation. “So of course, for the good of the team, I had to let everyone know that he wasn’t being a very good example for us! Obviously!” Sawamura finished, slumping down on the carpet with a flourish. Three sets of eyes were still pinned to him, though towards the end of his tirade they grew more amused. He still didn’t get what was so entertaining. Though Sawamura reasoned, Miyuki getting called out in front of the team was always funny.

Yeah, that was probably it.

Kanemaru snorted, breaking off Sawamura’s thoughts. “And you had to do that while touching his face like he’s your shoujo manga love interest?” He said, voice incredulous.

Sawamura cocked his head in confusion. “Oh. That.” That hadn’t even been on his potential list of things they could be talking about, honestly. Sure, it was pretty nice, at least to Sawamura–Miyuki’s face was soft, and he wasn’t the worst guy in the world to be looking at up close when he wasn’t smirking like the bastard he was. He wouldn’t mind doing it again–for longer, too. Under different circumstances, preferably without their teammates watching. That shoujo manga love interest thing Kanemaru mentioned sounded pretty appealing, now that he thought about it. Miyuki did look like a lot of the protagonists he had been gravitating towards these days. He could probably pull it off.

It was too bad his personality was a garbage can. An attractive one, sure. But still. A garbage can. The whole garbage dump.

But still–it didn’t seem like a big enough deal to warrant a whole intervention. “This Sawamura Eijun is no stranger to physical contact, unlike some people!” Sawamura finally said, paying no mind to the way Kuramochi and Kanemaru were inching closer to him, like predators stalking unsuspecting (or just plain stupid) prey. “Though, I will not judge if you are prudes! I am accepting and loving–”

This is the scene Asada came back to later, having finally finished his dinner and parting ways with Okumura;

Furuya, asleep at their desk, illegible notes and uncapped pens sprawled around his head like a halo of student suffering. Kuramochi and Kanemaru, mercilessly, though unsurprisingly, wrestling Sawamura within an inch of his life. And Haruichi, above it all, looking just as tired and resigned as Asada felt.

All in all–business as usual.

━━━━━━

Though life moved right on, Sawamura often thought back to the conversation about breakfast. It was annoying, to have Miyuki Kazuya in his head all the time, but then again, he was almost always thinking of that bastard, so it wasn’t anything unfamiliar.

But–had it really been that weird?

He considered it, the quiet of the bus around him giving him space to think for once. The team had just finished an away practice game (which they had won, though not by much) and were on the way back to school grounds. The seating arrangements were different today, for whatever reason–Furuya and Haruichi were together at the front, rather than accompanying Sawamura at their usual three seater at the back. Toujou was next to a third year he needed to talk to about something, and Kuramochi had plopped next to a confused but compliant Kanemaru. Everyone else was already accounted for, which left Sawamura and Miyuki stuck together.

Miyuki had seemed to hesitate for a moment before sitting, but he eventually caved and was now napping, head falling naturally on Sawamura’s shoulders.

Looking back, physical affection was never something he thought too much on, or shied away from. It was just instinct, like his unlimited enthusiasm and general loudness. Something like this surely wouldn’t have been weird at home–they were a team, which basically meant they were family, and there were almost no boundaries in family. At least, that’s how Sawamura had grown up. Affection was abundant (as were slaps, thanks, Grandpa) both with friends and family alike. His mother never stopped giving him goodbye forehead kisses; and during particularly tiring days at school, his shoulder was basically free real estate, similar to the situation he was in now.

It didn’t mean anything back home, just that they were close with each other.

Surely, Seido was the same. It took a little while to adjust, but now, in his second year, he could say with full confidence that he was comfortable with almost everyone on the team. Except maybe Miyuki Kazuya, but Sawamura always thought of them to be close in a different way. Maybe because of how indescribably right their battery felt, or how strange and exciting their first meeting had been, or how every meeting after that was charged with some electric feeling Sawamura couldn’t name.

Whatever it was, something about Miyuki was different.

Sawamura turned the thought over in his head, examining it from different angles, changing his grip on it like he did his pitches. He knew, instinctively, that there was something special about Miyuki Kazuya–something that made small, inconsequential touches seem big and loud.

Touches like these–sleepy heads on shoulders, arms linked together after practice, laying impossibly close together in bed–always came naturally to Sawamura. But with Miyuki, they made his heart pound like a kick drum in his chest, deep and steady and sure.

Sure that he didn’t want it to end.

But that didn’t mean anything, did it?

A distinct click of a camera suddenly shook him out of his thoughts. The noise prompted Miyuki to press closer to him, making an adorably disgruntled noise while doing so, and wow, was this what the captain was like without his fifty layers of snark, and oh, wait–was that Kuramochi across the aisle with a phone pointed at them? And Kanemaru, laughing?

Kanemaru!” Sawamura exclaimed instinctively. “You traitor! Again!”

Kanemaru shrugged, pointedly turning away, whilst Kuramochi’s shoulders shook with contained laughter. He made an overexaggerated shushing motion, but it was too late.

Next to Sawamura, Miyuki groaned, brows furrowing lightly at being disturbed. “It’s too early for you to be this loud, Bakamura.” He mumbled absentmindedly, before realising the position they were in. Miyuki instantly moved away, pressing closer to the window in his uncharacteristic haste. In the background, Kuramochi cackled at their captain, saying something about how ‘Oi! It’s nearly 5, idiot! And we’re still on the bus!’, but Sawamura was too busy pouting at the loss of warmth at his side.

Miyuki wouldn’t look at him. How weird.

Sawamura sighed, put out, but even he knew it wasn’t the time or place to puzzle out the mystery that was Miyuki Kazuya. He turned to Kuramochi instead, gesturing to the phone still in his hands, which now likely stored multiple pictures of a napping Miyuki for all his blackmailing purposes. “Can you send me those?”

To his right, there was a choked sound. Kuramochi cackled again, and it rang through the whole bus like a shrill siren. No one paid them any attention.

Miyuki still refused to look at him the rest of the way back.

Once they were back at the dorms, Kuramochi managed to corner him after dinner, lips set into a firm line and eyes screaming I don’t get paid enough for this. He even muttered as much, looking at Sawamura tiredly for a moment from his seat at their desk. It was funny, because he wasn’t getting paid at all–and what was this, anyway?

“Sawamura,” Kuramochi finally said, oddly serious.

The tone was so heavy, so unlike their usual banter, it gave him the sudden urge to salute. So, he did. “Sir! Yes, sir!”

Kuramochi sighed, resigned. That was more familiar. “Idiot,” He rolled his eyes, but toned down the you’ve-made-a-grave-mistake vibes, which Sawamura was grateful for. He relaxed, quiet for once, waiting for Kuramochi to continue. “I need to talk to you. About Miyuki. More specifically, you and Miyuki.”

Sawamura gasped. “Oh my god, Cheetah-senpai! Is this the infamous Older Brother Talk, just like the shoujo manga? Am I getting the Older Brother Talk? About Miyuki?” Kuramochi stared at him blankly, but Sawamura paid no mind. “But that makes no sense! I haven’t even expressed my intent to deflower him!”

“What the fuck.” Kuramochi said, and promptly shot up from his seat (very cheetah-like, too, Sawamura was quite impressed), twisting his roommate into a very complicated, mildly painful, pretzel.

After a few more minutes of that, Kuramochi finally relented. “I don’t know if you’re faking it or you’re just that much of an oblivious idiot.” He stated, more than asked. It was nothing Sawamura hadn’t heard from him before (and really, everyone else too at some point), but it still made him pout. Kuramochi, being who he was, ignored that entirely. “But either way, this has to stop. You need to take a good look at your feelings for the bastard, and decide what they mean, because I’m too perceptive for my own good and I seriously cannot take any more of you two.”

My feelings for Miyuki?

“I think he’s a jerk!” Sawamura responded instinctively. Kuramochi glared at him, prompting an answer that was more than just the obvious. “But that doesn’t make him any less cool and admirable. Sadly.”

Kuramochi looked strangely thoughtful. “As a player, or as a person?”

Huh, Sawamura thought.

He wasn’t quite sure.

━━━━━━

Did Sawamura admire Miyuki Kazuya as a player, or a person?

Was there a clear distinction between the two?

Player, he supposed, was a little more detached. Like Miyuki was only the sum of his calls on the field and the hits he made. Person, on the other hand, was so much more than that. It meant Sawamura saw Miyuki as more than just his plays, and admired who he was.

Seeing him at that moment–resplendent, backlit by the setting sun like some glowing shoujo manga male lead, fiercely swinging his wooden bat long after practice was scheduled to end–Sawamura decided it was a bit of both.

The sight had stopped him in his tracks, the ‘catch for me, Miyuki Kazuya!’ dying at his lips the moment he laid eyes on the other. It was oddly mesmerising, watching the way Miyuki swung with a single minded determination, his amber eyes shining with the steady, unwavering focus of a true captain. To put it simply, he was breathtaking. On some level, Sawamura had always known that Miyuki was a hard worker–no one could freely criticise others like he did, and get away with it too, without the skills of his own to back it up.

But still.

Something about it was different, now.

Maybe it was the way he had been on Sawamura’s mind for weeks–not just as the annoying tanuki bastard who teased him relentlessly, or the team’s dependable, but still brutally honest, captain–but as Miyuki. Miyuki who he suddenly wanted to be close to all the time, in whatever way he was allowed to be. Miyuki who he wanted to know more about: what he liked, what he didn’t, his favourite things, his past, his hopes, his fears.

Sure, Sawamura was curious by nature, but even he could recognise that this went beyond his usual brand of nosiness, venturing into interested and fascinated and wanting.

He wanted. Something. Anything. Everything.

The sudden realisation hit him with the force of a freight train, driving into his chest with reckless abandon. Sawamura felt like a romance protagonist, having their Oh. moment. That moment, when one small, deceptively simple action or event led them to a grand realisation that this person was who they were actually in love with.

Love.

Him. And Miyuki.

Oh, boy. He would definitely need to ask Chris-senpai for his invaluable wisdom later. This was beyond even his shoujo manga teachings.

In front of him, Miyuki stopped swinging for a moment, finally noticing Sawamura’s unusually quiet presence. “Oi, you want me to catch for you tonight?” He said, an eyebrow raised, voice slightly gravelly with misuse. The lights of the practice field bathed Miyuki in an annoyingly flattering glow, the sheen of sweat on his skin making him look like someone had drawn those manga sparkles around him, except he was real. He faced Sawamura directly, waiting for his answer while running a hand through his stupidly soft looking hair.

Sawamura was going to die.

“This Sawamura Eijun humbly requests your catching skills at the earliest convenience, Cap!” He yelled, bowing exaggeratedly and attracting a few stares from some of the team who’d also stayed behind. He saw Haruichi a couple metres away, and even with their distance, he still felt the thoughtful, knowing weight of his friends gaze on him and Miyuki.

To his credit, Miyuki didn’t tease him about his unnecessarily formal speech like he usually would’ve. Instead, he shot Sawamura a small, crooked grin–nothing like his usual sleazy smirk–seeming almost endeared, of all things. Kind of like how people looked at puppies who were trying to walk for the first time. “Alright, alright.” He said, still smiling. Maybe all that batting practice had gotten to his head and made him forget how to be mean. “Can you wait a little longer while I clean up?”

Sawamura could only nod dumbly, making Miyuki chuckle under his breath. Chuckle–not cackle evilly, like he usually did at Sawamura’s expense because he was a bastard at heart–but an actual laugh. A soft one. For real. The action made Miyuki seem gentler, and coupled with the way he’d just been looking at Sawamura, it made him feel ridiculously warm and flustered. He didn’t know what to do.

Miyuki was the one who’d just been practicing, but it was Sawamura who suddenly felt breathless.

━━━

CHRIS-SENPAI!!!

oh great and wonderful chris-senpai.

what would you do if one the homies made u feel all

warm n stuff???

kinda like a whole bunch of butterflies just built a village in ur gut

Eagerly awaiting your response,

Sawamura Eijun

SENT AT 1:15 AM

Sawamura, we’ve talked about this before. You don’t need to sign off when you send texts. I know it’s you.

Also, texting at 1 AM? I thought we already discussed the importance of good sleeping habits in maintaining a healthy mental and physical state.

SENT AT 3:20 AM

I doubt I can give you any romantic advice of use. It’s not my expertise.

But if there’s one thing I know about you, it’s that you’ve got good instincts. Listen to them.

SENT AT 3:23 AM

━━━━━━

Sawamura had always liked noise.

He liked the way indistinct chatter always filled the dining hall during mealtimes, a symphony of Seido gossip that always left him entertained and intrigued. He liked the uproarious cheering he could hear from the mound after he struck out another batter, his trademark Osh! Osh! Osh! echoing back at him and knocking him off his feet. He liked the raucous laughter and yells from a night in with the team, countless bodies cramped in one dorm room, all scrambling for a chance to thrash each other in Mario Kart.

He loved it, really. The noise made him feel warm and surrounded, almost like he was back home. Back home, there was never a dull moment: all he knew was the timbre of his father's voice, the depth of his grandfather’s laugh, and the lilting tone of his mother’s constant calls.

But something about these quiet moments with Miyuki made him feel a different type of warmth–one that seeped through his skin and settled right at the centre of his heart and said, this is home, too.

Huh, Sawamura thought.

Home.

He glanced at Miyuki, illuminated by the 2 AM light, always looking like he’d been pulled out of one of Sawamura’s treasured mangas. He was, simply put, beautiful. Even when he looked like this–unsure and undone. Sawamura had rarely seen Miyuki look anything other than completely in control of himself, so seeing him like this, at just a simple observation no less, gave him an unfair kind of hope.

“But then you get all weird when I get close to you, and I don’t really get it!”

He had blurted it out in the moment, but he meant it entirely. Sawamura didn’t understand Miyuki at all. He was somehow both brutally honest and a complete mystery. He was an absolute bastard at the best of times (all times, really), to everyone and anyone, but he was also their captain, catcher and clean up–reliable, strong and solid.

But Miyuki was more than that to him, too.

Miyuki was everything–the reason he came to Seido; the person that pushed him to play better, even if it was just with sharp words and sharper grins; the person he wanted to be acknowledged by more than anything.

The person he wanted, more than anything.

Beyond his general affection for his team; beyond his admiration for Miyuki’s skill and dedication to baseball; beyond his appreciation for their battery and how it had shaped his play…

Beyond all that, he wanted Miyuki Kazuya. Shitty personality and all. He wanted him as more than just his captain and catcher, but as someone who he could freely cling to without excuse. As someone who he could have more late night talks with. As someone who he could just be with, as just-Sawamura and just-Miyuki, nothing else to it, despite how different they were.

And he knew. He really did, okay?

Despite what evidence would suggest, Sawamura Eijun was quite self aware, thank you very much. He knew how he was; like the white hot sun, just this side of too bright and too loving and overwhelmingly larger than life. But Miyuki Kazuya was the kind of cold that burned–all scathing remarks and searing words and smug smirks, wrapped up in a sharp jawline and the typical pretty boy print.

But when Miyuki was with him…

There was something about him that was so warm.

He felt that warmth now. They were so close, breaths mingling, toes touching. It was all at once exhilarating and electrifying and intoxicating. Like the feeling he got on the mound, except a million times better, because sixty feet became one breath, and there was no catcher’s mask to hide Miyuki’s eyes, which always held more sincerity than his words ever could.

Maybe this is what everyone meant, when they asked him to re-examine his feelings. Maybe it wasn’t quite love, yet. But it was something. Could it be enough?

His instincts screamed at him. He listened.

“Can I kiss you?”

Sawamura felt Miyuki’s yes in all their points of contact. The first press of their lips, awkward and unsure but desperately wanting–a quiet yes. Miyuki’s hands tightly gripping his waist, as his own travelled up Miyuki’s arms, around his neck, through his hair–an enthusiastic yes. Their foreheads touching as they seperated, unwilling to part but needing to take a moment to breathe, to look and realise that this was real–a hopeful yes.

He was greedy, he realised, after the second kiss; the third; the fourth; the last, which became a reluctant goodbye as exhaustion crept up on them, sleep calling their names.

Sawamura Eijun always knew he was more ambitious than most, to put it lightly. He wanted many things in life, always had–big lofty things that started out as pipedreams turning into solid goals he was willing to put in the work to achieve. Especially back in middle school, he had seen the world and wanted it at his fingertips. Wanted freedom, happiness, fun–all with the people he called his closest friends. Wanted to take the nation by storm with his ragtag team of amateur baseball players, and truly believed they could do it too.

His old coach had once called him a dangerous mix of boundless optimism and bottomless greed, and it was a badge he wore with pride.

Even after moving away from his middle school team, he carried all their passion with him. It made him work harder and want more. It wasn’t enough to settle for second best. It wasn’t enough to only be the relief pitcher. He wanted more than that–he was greedy for so much more. The ace number; the pinnacle of his personal achievements, the acknowledgement from all sides that he was more than enough, the evidence of his team’s unwavering trust in him and his pitches.

But in that moment, Sawamura Eijun was only greedy for every kiss and every yes that followed–every bit of honesty and trust that Miyuki Kazuya had to give.

━━━━━━

Nothing much changed, after that night between them.

Except, it had.

Sawamura was always close, but now Miyuki had no problems getting even closer. Borderline inappropriate sometimes (most of the time, actually, especially when the team hung out in Miyuki’s room), which was incredibly embarrassing and also–well, he didn’t want to say. The sudden reciprocation of Sawamura’s usual affection didn’t go unnoticed by the others, and it started raising some… not concerns, per say, but people were curious.

The thing was, while Sawamura didn't care about what people thought of his personal life–he never hid anything about himself, to the point where the entire team already knew his whole life story–Miyuki was even more so apathetic, for entirely different reasons. Mainly that he was an unfeeling bastard, on a good day, who everybody knew absolutely nothing about.

And so, the responsibility had sort of fallen to Sawamura, to field off the growing questions and curious looks of their team. Not that he even knew what to say most of the time, because he and Miyuki hadn’t said in so many words that they were. Well.

You know.

“Are you and Miyuki-senpai,” Okumura had asked after catching practice one afternooon, looking incredibly uncomfortable. His uncharacteristic curiosity made Sawamura absolutely delighted. “You know.” He gestured vaguely at the air between them, like that meant anything at all. But Sawamura got it just fine–he was dense as hell, sure, but a part of him always keenly understood anything concerning Miyuki.

But, well. The thing was: he didn’t know. He didn’t know if Miyuki and he were, you know. Dating. Boyfriends. They hadn’t talked about any of that yet, but Sawamura’s gut was telling him that Miyuki had exhausted his emotional honesty tap for at least a year, after that night on the practice field. It didn’t bother him–he liked the easy comfort of whatever they were doing now–but…

Some reassurance surely didn’t hurt.

Sawamura grinned at Okumura, who still looked like he had swallowed a bitter lemon, and laughed brightly. The younger jumped, unprepared for the Kuramochi-like cackle, and quickly turned his patent glare onto the older. Sawamura only slung an arm over Okumura’s shoulder, much to his chagrin. “Hah! My dear Wolf boy, would you like Sawamura-senpai to explain the many nuances of high school romance?”

Okumura stepped out of Sawamura’s arms, the angry aura around him flaring fiercely. “Goodbye, senpai.” He said simply, and walked straight out of the bullpen, catching gear still on, not looking back at Sawamura’s flailing figure once.

“I’m an expert in the subject, you know!” Sawamura called out to his retreating back, attracting the confused, slightly miffed, stares of many of his teammates. Well, nothing new there.

“I wasn’t aware you were good enough at any subject to qualify as an expert.” A smooth voice, deep and low, said next to his ear. Sawamura jumped, turning to meet Miyuki’s smirking face, the bastard. He had that post practice sheen, the one Sawamura liked so much, making him look like some sort of glistening shoujo manga male lead. Sawamura fell a little bit more in love. “Care to share with the class?” Miyuki continued, eyes amused and tone undeniably mocking.

Sawamura promptly retracted any love he had just mentally given to the other.

“Well, you’re the reason I know so much about romance, so you should know!” He declared, partly in truth and partly because he hoped it would make Miyuki the tiniest bit embarrassed.

There was a pained cough to their left. Kawakami, probably.

“Feeling bold today, are we?” Miyuki smirked, guiding them out of the bullpen for the sake of everyone else’s sanity. He still sported that signature smug look, the annoyingly attractive one, but his ears were a distinct shade of red they didn’t often turn. Sawamura only knew so because he was very well versed in all of Miyuki’s small mannerisms, which he took great pride in, internally. Despite not being much of a details kind of guy, Miyuki Kazuya was, as always, the exception to his every rule.

His body language was an open book that Sawamura had finally learnt how to read. While Miyuki’s words were often sharp and cutting, his body was always honest, and Sawamura caught every little reaction to keep like treasures.

Sawamura grinned up at him, slipping his hand into Miyuki’s as they walked. “This Sawamura Eijun is always bold and romantic!” He lifted their interlocked hands in proof, still smiling brightly. The temptation to kiss Miyuki’s hand was there too, so he gave in, just to see how it felt. The back of his hand was soft under the gentle press of Sawamura’s lips, but he knew from experience that Miyuki’s palms were rough and calloused on his hips.

He decided that he liked the feel of both, just in different ways.

“I can see that.” Miyuki said wryly, though his words couldn’t hide the way red spilled down from the tips of his ears to paint his cheeks a bright, rosy colour. The flushed look he sported made Sawamura grin even wider, were that possible. He really would never get tired of the way Miyuki seemed to change like this, when it was just the two of them. The way he let little pieces of honesty and embarrassment and endearment slip through the cracks of his smug defences, for Sawamura’s eyes and ears and heart only.

“Ha!” He said triumphantly, dragging Miyuki along the familiar path back to the dorms, like he always did. “You blushed again! I’m winning!”

Miyuki sighed exasperatedly, though Sawamura was sure it was at least a little fond, too. “Dating isn’t a competition, Sawamoron.”

“So you admit that we’re dating, then?” Sawamura said excitedly, eyes growing wide and staring intently at Miyuki. “Right? Right! You said it yourself, no take backs!”

Miyuki huffed a little, half laugh and half sigh. Sawamura pouted, which earned him the quickest cheek kiss in all of history. It appeased him, though, so he quietly waited for Miyuki to speak. “What, do you think I do this with just anyone?” It was his turn to lift their hands, still perfectly slotted together like puzzle pieces.

When Sawamura remained silent, Miyuki rolled his eyes, pulling him to the side of the path with intent. He tipped his head down a little, looking Sawamura right in the eyes. “Yes, idiot, we’re dating,” Miyuki’s free hand lifted up to ruffle Sawamura’s hair gently, and that special Miyuki Kazuya warmth blanketed him just how he liked. “Just in case it wasn’t already clear from that night, and every other night, and day, since then.” His voice was teasing now, but Sawamura would not be deterred.

“It wouldn’t hurt to hear it more, you jerk.” Sawamura said, but there was no heat to it, only warm content. He pressed further into Miyuki’s touch, making the older laugh, amused and indulgent. Sawamura was suddenly glad that the team was already gone, leaving him and him alone to witness the way Miyuki’s entire expression softened when he laughed, his mask of arrogance falling to reveal genuine affection.

Miyuki smiled, unguarded, and Sawamura was in–maybe not love yet, but something quite close.

Oh? The Sawamura Eijun needs affirmation and reassurance?” There it was: the smirk was back. Miyuki’s blush had settled now, and he’d reverted to his unrepentant asshole mode, despite the fact that he was still carding his hands through Sawamura’s hair. There was a different urge this time, to punch him, or kiss him, or both, in any order. It was a true testament to how much he liked Miyuki, that Sawamura was able to deal with his horrible attitude even in moments like these. “Who would’ve thought.”

“Yes, this Sawamura Eijun does! And so do you, Miyuki Kazuya, you can’t lie to me!” Sawamura said, eyes narrowing up at Miyuki. He only chuckled in response, neither confirming nor denying anything, instead dragging them back on the path to the dorms.

“Yeah, yeah, whatever helps you sleep at night.” Miyuki teased, though his grip had tightened imperceptibly and his ears were still red and he was smiling–Sawamura’s favourite smile, all soft and small and genuine, head slightly turned away like Miyuki was too embarrassed to let him see.

But he had anyway, and that said everything Sawamura needed to hear.

━━━━━━

Rather than saying nothing changed, a better way of putting it might be that it was the little things which did.

Miyuki still seemed to value his sleep more than being a shining example of team captain during breakfast, but there were some days he actually arrived on time, much to everyone’s surprise. It was only ever the mornings Sawamura managed to drag him out for an early jog, but still. It was a start.

The running really was nice, too–though Miyuki had placed a morning ban on his precious tire after the first time, claiming Sawamura always paid too much attention to it and not enough to Miyuki.

Late nights were still filled with extra practice and 97% of the team collectively taking over Miyuki’s room, but there were some nights that were just a little different.

Like tonight.

Sawamura lay in bed, body exhausted after another gruelling practice but mind still running a hundred miles an hour. They had ended with fielding practice, which always left everyone on the verge of collapsing because nobody on the team knew the definition of giving up, least of all Sawamura himself. There was something rewarding in that though, he thought. Something about pushing yourself past your own limits, and knowing everyone around you would be doing the exact same, fueled him to go even harder.

Not too hard, though, because Chris-senpai had taught him very well about the importance of taking care of your body and health. Sawamura had the utmost respect for his master, so he would take the advice to his own grave.

Just as he was contemplating texting Chris-senpai about the upcoming tournament in a few weeks, his phone pinged with a new notification. It was an email from Miyuki (because he still lived in the last decade), which had become more frequent since they started dating. Not that Sawamura minded–Miyuki initiating genuine conversations was a miracle in and of itself, so he treasured every single one of them. It always began with some small, inane message, like a random observation about practice or a snarky comment about whatever shoujo manga Sawamura had convinced him to read that week.

(That, too, was a miracle–Miyuki practically lived and breathed baseball, so getting him to read anything that wasn’t their scorebook had taken a lot of pouting on his part. It had worked though, and Sawamura was beginning to realise that maybe he was the exception to all of Miyuki’s rules, too.)

Tonight, the email was the latter. There was no greeting, no small talk, no mention of baseball or practice. Only:

Sawamoron, this sucks. I hate that you made me read this. If he doesn’t grow a pair in the next two chapters I will throw this pile of garbage out the window. She deserves so much better than this emotionally incapacitated fool. I need a drink.

Sawamura grinned. He knew exactly where Miyuki was up to, because that had been his own reaction at first–he was pretty far in, especially considering Sawamura had only loaned the manga to him a couple days ago. Something about Miyuki being invested in the story made Sawamura unreasonably happy, though he exercised the little self restraint he had and didn’t reply with his usual excited rambling (nor the comment on how similar he thought Miyuki and the male lead were, but damn did he really want to).

Instead, he quietly slipped out of the top bunk, careful not to alert Kuramochi or Asada–though Sawamura was sure they were used to his odd hours by now. He grabbed a pair of shoes and headed out, making his way to the vending machine where he knew Miyuki would be.

Sawamura found him with little difficulty, sitting on a bench close by. There was an unopened can of coffee being passed between his hands, the condensation making his hands almost as damp as his freshly washed hair, which was still dripping onto the small towel hung around his neck. Knowing Miyuki, he had hung back to do some extra practice on his own, and had been the last one using the baths before they closed. It was both completely unsurprising and mildly concerning that he’d still pushed himself to do more, even after the entire team had been crushed by that last bit of fielding practice.

“Oi! Miyuki Kazuya.” Sawamura called out, entirely uncaring of the time and the appropriate volume level. He stood in front of Miyuki–close enough to slip in between his knees, because boundaries no longer existed–but he didn’t look up to face him, still intently staring at the can in his hands. Sawamura pouted, briefly pondering the merits of sitting in Miyuki’s lap to snap him out of it, but he decided against it tonight. There would be plenty of other nights together to push Miyuki’s buttons, but tonight probably wasn’t one of them. Instead, he opted to sit next to him, manoeuvring their limbs so that he was comfortably plastered to Miyuki’s side, head on his shoulders and arms wound around his.

Miyuki’s eyes remained a million miles away, but his lips quirked up into a small smile.

“Stalking me now, Sawamoron?” Miyuki said after placing the can down, breaking his self imposed silence with a light jab.

It was what they always did, dating or not–the teasing, the banter, the (frankly, quite uncreative) insults that were practically pet names at this point–though they both knew Miyuki’s heart wasn’t in it tonight. Still, he reverted to his old habits anyway. Sometimes Sawamura wished Miyuki would be more straightforward when something was wrong, or he wanted to talk, or he simply just wanted some company. It had always been hard to tell with Miyuki, especially at the start: was he deflecting because he didn’t know how to express himself, or was he really just being an asshole that day?

Sawamura was practicing being patient, though.

“You asked me to come, you bastard. What’s wrong?”

He wasn’t very good at it yet.

“I recall saying no such thing.” Miyuki retorted, just to be contrary, though he linked their fingers together anyway. “I specifically remember commenting only on the garbage you call entertainment.” He continued haughtily, smirking in that annoying way of his, but the grip on Sawamura’s hand was much tighter now.

Miyuki Kazuya’s tongue was a liar, but his hands were as honest as they came.

Sawamura rolled his eyes. Now who was the emotionally incapacitated fool, Miyuki Kazuya?

Still, he pressed closer, warm and comforting. Sawamura dropped a light kiss to Miyuki’s shoulder, just because he could. Just because he felt like Miyuki needed it. The night hid both their red cheeks, mercifully. “You can’t trick me! I know you only read my manga when you can’t focus on other stuff. Which is kind of rude. You need to appreciate good literature!”

Silence.

See, that was the thing about Miyuki Kazuya’s late night emails. They always seemed like some small, inane message, some stray thought being sent out with no real intentions–but Sawamura knew better. Miyuki was, at best, emotionally stunted and allergic to vulnerability. At worst, he was an unrepentant asshole hellbent on not being honest about his own feelings. He always said things in vague, roundabout ways, talking in circles until even he lost sight of what he was saying–but Sawamura was learning more and more each day, and he was a quick study.

Miyuki finally turned to look at him, eyes tired but mouth curled up in that perpetual smirk of his. One of these days, Sawamura would kiss it right off. That would show the bastard.

“So you do notice things after all, Sawamura. Who would’ve thought?”

He really was such a jerk, sometimes, that Miyuki Kazuya. Well, it didn’t matter much anyway. Sawamura was persistent and stubborn and already too invested to ever want anybody else. Their eyes met, and Sawamura was too soft in that moment to put up much of a fight. “I always notice when it comes to you.” He said in earnest, because Miyuki Kazuya deserved nothing less than his complete honesty, even if he had trouble with his own.

Miyuki coughed lightly, averting his eyes. It was very cute, but Sawamura would certainly be gutted if he ever said that.

“I’ve just been thinking. Future stuff. Life stuff.” He said, finally giving in after a brief pause, his ears slightly pink. Miyuki’s tone was dismissive, though was obviously more there. Sawamura knew that was likely all he was getting for now. Miyuki seldom thought about anything other than baseball, so the idea of him looking that far ahead was unfamiliar territory. It made him curious, sure, but it was enough to know that something was on his mind, and that he trusted Sawamura enough to let him see that. To let Sawamura be there for him.

And besides, Seido’s summer was just beginning; Sawamura would do everything in his power to make it as long as possible, so that Miyuki wouldn’t have to face such thoughts too soon. As their ace, he could at least do that. Though instead of telling him that and giving Miyuki even more reason to tease him, he said:

“You’re always thinking, you calculating bastard.”

Miyuki snickered quietly, “Well, one of us has to.” He said, looking more relaxed now that Sawamura had given him an easy out. If he wanted to talk for real right now, he would. But either way, Sawamura wouldn’t be going anywhere. Even if Miyuki said mean things.

Sawamura pouted, making a show of tugging his arms away in a huff. Miyuki chuckled softly, pulling him back with practiced ease and dropping a chaste kiss to his nose in apology. It almost appeased him, because Miyuki doing anything apologetically was an absolute miracle, and they both knew Sawamura was a complete and utter sucker for nose kisses.

But, still.

“You missed.” Sawamura said, head turned up expectantly.

“I don’t miss.” He sounded almost offended.

“Well really, because–”

Miyuki Kazuya was an unapologetic bastard, with a million ways to (quite rudely, might he add) shut Sawamura up. Sometimes it was a blunt, apathetic, no, I’m not catching for you, leave me alone. Other times it was a slightly more passionate, if you wake me up at 6 AM one more time I will make every day a no throw day. Or gut you. I haven’t decided yet. On occasion, he would even just walk away, leaving Sawamura ranting at his retreating back, heated words bouncing right off the bastard.

But Sawamura knew kissing was, by far, his favourite method. Not that he had any complaints.

They stayed like that for a while, just kissing. Just enjoying the undisturbed peace the night brought them, learning and relearning all the things they liked and loved about each other’s mouths. When they finally pulled away, with pink lips and pinker cheeks, Miyuki inhaled deeply. He spoke first, voice low and a tiny bit breathless, and Sawamura was truly a goner.

“Can we just… Stay like this. For a bit.” Miyuki said, small and quietly content and so unlike what everyone else knew him to be. Sawamura wanted to give him the world.

Instead, he settled for giving him this–because for all his nosiness and persistence, being with Miyuki was teaching him how to just be there for somebody. No probing questions or cheesy, motivational one liners, though some of his friends did take quite well to those. Miyuki didn’t need all that. All he needed was Sawamura’s company, warmth at his side and open ears ready to listen whenever he was ready to talk about it.

And while Sawamura liked it when Miyuki talked to him about things, the quiet was nice, too. It had taken them so long just to come this far–to come to a point where Miyuki asked for Sawamura when he needed him, even in his own strange way. Where Miyuki would tell Sawamura what he really wanted–whether that be quiet comfort or an amusing distraction or, much to Sawamura’s delight, his honest advice.

Maybe it wasn’t quite everything. But it was definitely something. It was more than enough.

━━━━━━

For all the changes, their plays stayed the same.

Soft as they had become off the field, on it, they were fierce and unafraid and daring like always. Miyuki never had any problems catching anything Sawamura could throw at him, be that his overwhelming affection or his unpredictable pitch. And so, his calls were as cunning as ever, mitt positioned in deadly combinations that brought twin smirks to their faces. Sawamura’s pitches were equally intense, responding to Miyuki’s boldness and trust with just as much, maybe even more, of his own.

The only difference now was that Sawamura finally knew what lay behind that catcher's mask. What those cold, calculating eyes looked like first thing in the morning, sleepy and soft and content after a night of cuddling (though Miyuki still refused to admit how much he liked it). How those smirking lips felt against his own, sometimes gentle, sometimes not–but always so, so warm. How easily those same lips could lift up into a grin, revealing annoyingly perfect teeth as he laughed, real and unguarded and just for Sawamura.

That, he hoped, would never change.