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let's go back to playing ball

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I am having troubles believing how stupid he can be.

He knew Shinjo would destroy him. Maybe he hoped he wouldn't actually do it, because Mikoshiba always forces himself to see the good in people, which makes him resemble to Kawato a hell of a lot; but still, deep down, he knew it. And he also knew he wouldn't be able to defend himself, because he doesn't have the hart to beat people up and especially because Shinjo is superior to him in both size and physical strength.

He's so tiny. So tiny, fragile, incredibly fragile, beautiful in his fragility. With those big eyes and thin limbs he wouldn't even scare a fly, let alone hurt it.

I love him for this.

Of all of us, Mikoshiba is the only one who hasn't lost himself along the road.

When people started to refer to us as good-for-nothings, we began to conform to those labels, becoming what we hated for others to think we were without even realizing it. Not Mikoshiba, though. He's always remained by our side, but he's never joined us in our reckless and stupid behaviours wrapped in that fog of juvenile rebellion which we believed excused them. While we thought we were invincible and feared, Mikoshiba knew the reality of the facts: we were merely angry kids who had been abandoned in the streets like unwanted puppies, and our lives had become a neverending attempt to get revenge over whoever hadn't been abandoned with us, because we couldn't find a single person to blame and therefore being mad at everybody seemed perfectly legit.

But Mikoshiba had never ceased to hope. To hope that one day we would go back and walk beside him, leaving behind that yankees reputation. To hope that we would play baseball together again, re-gaining that whole great see of smiles lost in pointless fights.

«Sekikawa?»

His voice catches me by surprise. Lost in thoughts as I was, I hadn't realized I had been staring at him for a while now and my dumbfounded expression must have worried him. After all, my head is bandaged: imagining a concussion isn't that absurd.

«Sorry.» I say, without knowing exactly the reason why I'm apologizing. «It hurts a bit.» I add, pointing at my forehead.

I try to smile, but the anxious gaze Mikoshiba gives me makes me sigh.

«How are you feeling?» I ask him, wanting to put an end to this awful silence and especially to make sure he's relatively okay.

He seems startled, like he hasn't really thought about it until now. After a while he nods and says: «All right.»

His face – covered in plasters – tells me a whole different story. I give him a puzzled look, but I stay silent.

«... maybe not all.» he mutters.

Then he smiles faintly and I feel my heart crack a little, because Mikoshiba just doesn't smile faintly. Ever. He smiles, period, and his smile is the most beautiful smile I've ever seen and I need that smile to know everything is going to be okay and he has to smile and I can't breathe if Mikoshiba doesn't smile so I get up and before even realizing what I'm doing I sit on his bed and he has to scooch over because there isn't enough space and suddendly I'm hugging him and I bury my nose in his shoulder and I inhale deeply and my lungs fill with him and I'm finally able to breathe again.

I feel his arms closing around my back as he gasps in surprise. I'm trembling, but that familiar scent calms me down and little by little our surroundings get steadier. I snuffle my face against the white cloth of his shirt and he clutches at my jacket.

A few minutes have passed when I force myself to back away slightly and get out of his comforting embrance. We look at each other and I know that if I don't do it now I won't ever because I'm not as brave as I want to make everyone believe, so I surge forward and touch my lips to his.

Our kiss is delicate and motionless, but it is still my favourite one among all the kisses I've ever given and when I realize what I'm thinking I call myself an idiot because of the atypical excess of hearts and flowers; but Mikoshiba's mouth remains incredibly soft and backing away is extremely difficult.

Mikoshiba blinks a few times, as to bring me into focus. For a moment it seems like he's about to talk, but he just places his hands on my neck instead and I let go of the breath I didn't know I was holding.

«Mikoshiba...» I whisper, without a specific reason. He keeps on looking at me and those immense irises locked on mine make me dizzy. When he starts getting closer I lean forward and all that happens next is Mikoshiba. Mikoshiba in front of me, his cold fingers on the back of my neck, his mouth on mine, his scent mixed with the sharp one of the peroxide used to disinfect our wounds.

I bury my hands in his hair, vaguely thinking that if he wanted to do the same he couldn't because of my mohawk and I don't know why I think about it but I do and it makes me smile.

I part my lips a little to try and deepen the kiss and with the tip of the tongue I lick Mikoshiba's ones; he lets me in. It probably hurts a bit, because Shinjo beat him up pretty badly and he has a huge bruise right on the side of his mouth, so I try to be as delicate as possible, using slow and gentle movements that I've never used with anyone.

I'd love for it to last forever, or at least for half a hour, but we have to stop in a disappointing hurry because getting caught making out by someone would be unconvenient. I rest my forehead against Mikoshiba's, savouring the moment, and just as I'm about to go back to my bed he tugs at the sleeve of my dark blue jacket.

«Can you stay?» he asks, and maybe that isn't the best idea ever since we're in the school infirmary, but I can't and I don't want to say no, so I say «sure» and together we get under the covers.

He gives his back to me and I lean on it, resting my chin on his shoulder and circling his waist with my arm.

I listen to the sound of our breaths until I'm so calm I feel I might fall asleep any moment, but there's still something I have to do.

«Let's go back to playing baseball. How does that sound to you?» I whisper, close to his ear.

Mikoshiba smiles, and it is a real smile this time, not the mere shadow of one. He nods slowly and closes his eyes.

When I wake up, an hour or two later, his fingers are still entwined with mine.