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all i need (your company)

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It started, as most things did, with something small.

The Seido team was having breakfast as per usual, shovelling their mandated three bowls of rice into their mouths at levels of speed and ease. The first years still struggled somewhat, though Miyuki noted, mildly amused, that they’d improved significantly since they first joined the team. Whether that was due to encouragement (or rather, threats disguised as encouragement) from the likes of Kanemaru, or prolonged exposure, he couldn’t be sure.

Miyuki grabbed his own tray, plopping down on a table of assorted first string members and third years–business as usual.

Bits and pieces of his teammates’ conversations filtered in as he dug into his own breakfast. Miyuki was definitely not the first to morning meal time, though he rarely ever was, but he certainly wasn’t looking to be the last one there. He’d wedged himself into a conveniently vacant seat between Kuramochi and Sawamura, completely uncaring that he’d likely interrupted the flow of their conversation with his presence. He plucked a clump of rice from his bowl, a smug look on his face as he heard Kuramochi’s irritated huff.

A little part of himself, deep inside, took satisfaction in the way Sawamura’s gaze lingered on him as he casually forced himself between them.

He viciously squashed that thought as soon as it came.

“Nice of you to finally grace us with your presence, captain.” Kuramochi remarked with a slight sneer, the moniker sounding like more of an insult than a respectful nod to his position. Miyuki merely raised an unaffected eyebrow at the early morning hostility, though he seldom took any offence to Kuramochi’s attitude. It’s how they’d always functioned–their long standing friendship was defined by biting remarks and thinly veiled insults, though most were harmless (most being the key word. They’d always mercilessly call each other out on their shit if really needed).

Miyuki shrugged, taking his sweet time before responding. “Even someone as good looking as me needs their beauty sleep,” he said, if only to watch with poorly disguised glee as Kuramochi shot him a disgusted look. He was a sadist. It was part of his charm. “What would the team say if their captain didn’t look well rested, hm?”

Nevermind that he’d actually had a rather difficult time sleeping last night, head running away with thoughts that only ever bothered him around the 2 AM mark.

Sawamura, who’d been unusually quiet while Miyuki tormented his teammates, suddenly turned on him. His deft pitcher’s fingers lifted up towards his chin, turning his head left and right. It was gentle, but scrutinizing, like he was trying to verify Miyuki’s claims with his own two eyes. It was endearingly, annoyingly, genuine, as Sawamura often was.

It made Miyuki want to run–far, far away, where soft touches and rough fingertips couldn’t reach him.

In any other scenario, he might’ve found Sawamura’s misplaced seriousness amusing. However, Miyuki could also feel the soft, yet insistent, weight of Sawamura’s calloused fingertips burning into his skin, so.

The interaction couldn’t have lasted more than a few seconds, but something about the casual intimacy struck a chord within Miyuki, lodged so deep that he hadn’t even known it existed. Something a little like yearning shot through his veins, and he briefly wondered–of all times, why here, why now? He and Sawamura were no strangers to contact, though it was usually kept on the field, nothing more than friendly encouraging touches before games or during tense moments. A mitt to the chest to calm down, clenched fists bumping one another after a solid hit.

Hell, when they’d first met, back when Sawamura was still a loud, red faced middle schooler–not that that’d changed–Miyuki had slung an arm around him and called him partner.

(A single moment which crept into his mind when it was dark and the quiet of his dorm made his thoughts extra loud, though he would never admit that to anyone).

Sawamura’s fingers left his face just as softly as they came, but his bright eyes–full of an intensity that was so unmistakably him–made Miyukis’s chest tighten. “Miyuki Kazuya!” Sawamura began, effectively shattering the illusion. His voice, unnecessarily loud and completely at odds with his soft touch, did little to bother him, instead feeding into his growing amusement. “You shouldn’t lie to your teammates, you don’t look well rested at all! But this Sawamura Eijun thanks you for trying to set a good example as captain, even if you do a horrible job at it!”

A wave of snickers, and one poignant ‘Eijun-kun!’ (no doubt the younger Kominato, berating Sawamura for his lack of filter and volume control, as usual) passed through the table, everyone always thoroughly entertained by whatever Sawamura had to say. No one paid any mind to the way he’d been caressing Miyuki’s face, though, as if Sawamura’s touchiness was as natural as his breathing. Most of the players within hearing range were laughing at the astute observation of their captain’s posturing, though Kuramochi shot him a glance that was far too perceptive for his liking.

It was as if he could see through Miyuki’s dismissive smirk–could see the way his heart clenched and gut twisted at Sawamura’s small, fleeting touch. The way he couldn’t figure out how to feel about Sawamura being so perceptive to his condition; at being known, in any capacity, no matter how insignificant it may have seemed.

Miyuki internally sighed, resigning himself to a morning of good natured taunts and sly remarks from all sides, which he no doubt deserved. He turned back to the remnants of his breakfast, letting the team’s amused jabs and Kuramochi’s knowing eyes and Sawamura’s everything, slide off him like water on steel.

Mornings, Miyuki thought, were always a pain.

━━━━━━

The thing about noticing something–no matter how small–was that once you did, you couldn’t stop.

Once Miyuki had experienced a small taste of Sawamura’s off field casual affection–and yes, he was still talking about The Breakfast Incident, if you could even call that affection and not just ignoring personal boundaries and social etiquette–he couldn’t stop seeing it. He wondered how someone as perceptive as himself had failed to notice such a detail; wondered if he had been too blinded by Sawamura’s everything else to realise how overwhelmingly tactile he was.

Always.

It was little gestures, like the way he brushed Kominato’s hair from his face when he noticed it bothering the other, offering a handful of clips and hair ties from the depths of his pockets (where he got those, Miyuki didn’t even want to know). Or the way he’d let Furuya rest his head on his shoulder during mealtimes or breaks between practices, berating him about his lack of ‘stamina-rol’ while gently patting his head, an odd mix of fondness and irritation that only the two rivals could pull off. He seemed equally affectionate with his other second year friends, an arm always slung around Kanemaru or Toujou, or both at the same time, squeezing in between the two when walking to meal times.

They weren’t the only ones, either. He was just as friendly with the first years–or at least, the ones he knew wouldn’t bite his hand off. His first year roommate, Asada, was no stranger to Sawamura ruffling his hair fondly at every chance, or being dragged to a game of catch, hands firmly set on his shoulders. The actions were always small and casual, so it was no wonder no one batted an eye. However, to Miyuki, who was so unfamiliar with casual affection being freely thrown about, the gestures glared loudly in his face, bright and warm and nothing like Miyuki–but everything like Sawamura.

Though Sawamura seemed to know who did and didn’t receive physical affection well, the way he loved had always been big and loud and overflowing. Unbidden, it spilt into the empty crevices of their dorms and hall and the field, filling up their space with warmth and that special brand of Sawamura Eijun country boy sunshine. Miyuki was, frankly, a little miffed he didn’t get as much of as everyone else.

Over the week or so since that breakfast, Miyuki noticed that Sawamura’s acts spreaded across the whole team. At that point, it was second nature for him to catch and catalogue all of the younger’s different dynamics with their teammates. A voice in the back of his mind–suspiciously Kuramochi sounding–warned him that he was getting a tad obsessive with this, but his self awareness only extended about as far as baseball related affairs.

It was on the field, during cool down after practice one Monday evening, that Miyuki noticed Sawamura sidling up to Kawakami’s side. He was acting like the adorable kouhai Miyuki knew he wasn’t–at least, not with him. It was the first time he’d witnessed Sawamura acting somewhat cute, or at least, his age. No doubt he was only doing it to wheedle Kawakami into something, like extra training or helping with his homework, but Kawakami didn’t seem phased in the slightest. It made Miyuki think that he was probably used to Sawamura acting like this, only shaking his head in that exasperatedly fond way that Sawamura drew out of everyone he met, and didn’t that thought make something unfamiliar and uncomfortable churn in his gut.

Kawakami seemed to acquiesce to Sawamura’s request, which earned him a bright grin and a couple excited tugs on his arm, before Sawamura went back to relaxing his abnormally flexible limbs. From beside him, Miyuki heard a (frankly, too suggestive) cough, prompting him to slide his gaze away from Sawamura and to a smirking Kuramochi. He rolled his eyes, acting like he hadn’t been intensely staring at their idiot pitcher for the better part of the cool down. “What.” He said instead, fixing his teammate with a glare, that, because he was Kuramochi, did little more than make his already smug expression even worse.

Kuramochi shrugged, pushing his lower body a little closer to the floor as he attempted to soothe his body from the pain of their gruelling fielding practice. “Nothing,” he replied, in a tone that screamed everything. Miyuki hated him, just a little, for how well he could get a read on him. “Just noticing that you seem kind of hung up on Sawamoron lately. He do something to you?”

Kuramochi knew he hadn’t, and Miyuki knew that he knew, and he really hated this situation.

Miyuki shot him a cool look, because appearances, though his forced nonchalance only furthered Kuramochi’s suspicions, stretching his annoyingly sly grin wider across his face. Miyuki’s lips pursed into a thin, contemplative line of their own accord, and he wondered if he should just say fuck it and ask him. It wasn’t his modus operandi–being interested in his teammates outside of baseball, that is, captain or not–but it’d been eating at him for days, and Kuramochi already thought something was going on.

Plus, he had been Sawamura’s roommate all this time, so he’d probably know the best out of all of them.

“Is he,” Miyuki began, against his better judgement, gesturing vaguely in front of him. “You know. Always like … that.” It was a rare sight to see, an ineloquent Miyuki Kazuya, but putting Sawamura and words like clingy and touchy and affectionate in the same sentence did something to him that he really didn’t want to explore.

Kuramochi, unfortunately, had no such hangups. “What, affectionate?” He said bluntly, having also seen the interaction between Kawakami and Sawamura. Miyuki decided it was the perfect time to stretch his body away from the other, making Kuramochi snort derisively. “Well, yeah, he’s kind of always been like that. You didn’t notice until now? So much for the analytical genius catcher that made headlines.”

“That’s baseball.” He retorted, as if Kuramochi was stupid and it was obvious.

“So what, your brain just shuts off once you leave the field?” Kuramochi cackled, the loud sound attracting the attention of some of their teammates. “I always knew I was smarter than you. Expert people reader my ass.”

“Good one, Kuramochi. How long did it take you to come up with that? You practice in the mirror, too?”

Kuramochi glared hotly at him as the team finished their stretches and began heading back for baths, threatening him with his usual brand of bodily harm. Miyuki continued to provoke him, grateful that the topic had moved on from Sawamura, because he’d been this close to saying something even stupider, and Miyuki Kazuya did not say stupid things.

He’d just started to let his guard down (big, big mistake–one he usually didn’t make) when he registered a distinct warmth at his side, a lithe but definitely noticeable body worming it’s way in between he and Kuramochi. Miyuki felt more than saw Sawamura draping an arm around Kuramochi, chattering off about how Kawakami-senpai agreed to help me with Japanese History, isn’t he such a nice senpai? Unlike someone I know. You should learn from him– before he promptly dissolved into aborted noises of pain, Kuramochi mercilessly gathering him in a headlock.

Miyuki didn’t have time to do more than snicker, before Kuramochi sent him a suggestive look from over Sawamura’s head, swiftly shoving the moron over to Miyuki. One minute his personal space bubble was inact, and next thing he knew, Sawamura was clutching his arm for balance and leaning into his side for support, cursing out Kuramochi all the while. He didn’t seem to notice his own actions, clinging tighter to Miyuki as his indignant yelling grew louder and Kuramochi’s cackling grew shriller.

Shoving him off wouldn’t be hard, or out of character at all, Miyuki thought to himself, resolutely doing anything but that. Sawamura had righted himself just fine, and took to pulling Miyuki along instead. It was like he didn't even realise this was Miyuki he’d plastered himself to–the damn tanuki bastard!, heartless captain Miyuki–or he didn’t care either way, too full of energy and warmth to care who received it.

It wasn’t the worst thing he’d ever experienced, being pulled into Sawamura’s orbit like this. His body heat combated the evening chill and the bright timbre of his voice draped over Miyuki’s tired body like a thick blanket, warm and just the right side of stifling. A lesser man might admit to actually liking it, wanting it, being able to get used to the type of physical affection freely given out by people with big hearts and bigger smiles.

But he wasn’t a lesser man.

Closeness, by any definition of the word, wasn’t something Miyuki had ever been accustomed to. His parents were absent most of his childhood, one way or another, so he didn’t grow up with affectionate hugs and pats on the head and forehead kisses and the full course parental love meal–not in the way he knew Sawamura did. Even now, Miyuki still had no interest in any of that stuff. Kissing, hugging, hand holding–everything seemed unnecessary and trivial to him, especially when he had more important things to worry about, like baseball.

There was something about Sawamura, though. He didn’t want to think about it any longer, lest his traitorous mind get any ideas.

When they finally separated at the dorms, Sawamura prying himself off Miyuki with a needlessly loud, cheerful ‘you’re lucky I have a test tomorrow, Miyuki Kazuya, otherwise I would be asking you to catch for me right now!’, Miyuki didn’t know how to feel. Sawamura’s absence at his side was so painfully noticeable, it stopped him where he stood, stationed by a vending machine. That unfamiliar feeling burned through him again, around his chest this time–something a little too much like loneliness and yearning.

He paused, mind reeling.

Ah, shit.

━━━━━━

After a few days, Miyuki had mostly fooled himself into thinking he was over Monday afternoon. Kuramochi would definitely call him out for being in denial, but Miyuki was an expert at compartmentalizing bothersome emotions, so he was decidedly over it.

Until, of course, Sawamura barrelled into his personal space again, like an overly affectionate hurricane, turning Miyuki’s thoughts upside down like he was built for it.

A good chunk of the team was cramped into his dorm room, as usual, taking up his night with their gossip and gaming and general noise. As much as he grumbled and complained, he always let them in when they came knocking (or rather, when they stormed through his door, Kuramochi at the head of the charge), so the team seemed to believe he had a soft spot for these nights.

Whether Miyuki did or didn’t secretly enjoy their company was, frankly, none of their business.

Per routine, Furuya and a couple first years were on a drink run–Furuya seemed to genuinely enjoy errands, and the first years were still intimidated enough by him to feel bad about letting him go on his own. From his perch atop his bed, he spotted Kuramochi, Kominato, Zono and Kanemaru engaging in a vicious battle of Mario Kart. Unsurprisingly, Kominato was winning by a landslide, despite Kuramochi’s vehement gaming obsession and the others’ cries of protest. There were a couple of second and third years to the side, cheering passionately for anyone but Kuramochi to win, which was a usual, but always amusing, sight.

Miyuki himself had been flipping idly through a baseball magazine for the better part of the night, currently scanning through an article about Narumiya Mei. He wondered if the narcissistic bastard had managed to give anything more than the usual self absorbed (though, begrudgingly true) comments about his own pitching. It was a poor attempt at distracting himself from the fact that most of the night’s usual suspects were accounted for, except–

“We’re back.” Furuya’s voice called from the doorway, shaking Miyuki out of his thoughts and prompting a stampede of thirsty baseball players to the entrance. Cans and words of thanks were exchanged, before everyone filtered back to their different corners of Miyuki’s room. He paid them no mind, choosing to glare at the attached picture of Mei pitching at Koshien, until a cold weight on his left cheek made him jump slightly. He sputtered, ready to skin the offender alive, only to be met with a smug looking Sawamura, armed with a can of Miyuki’s favourite brand of iced coffee and an annoyingly (endearingly) bright grin. Miyuki rolled his eyes at Sawamura’s obvious delight, but snatched up the proffered beverage with a begrudging thanks. He couldn’t help but look away as Sawamura deposited himself next to Miyuki, as if to avoid the full effect of his too bright too loud too much laugh.

When Miyuki finally deigned to look back at the other, he could only blink, uncharacteristically caught off guard as Sawamura’s expression turned just a touch softer when their eyes met. Warm pleasure shaded the corners of his eyes as he draped himself across Miyuki’s shoulders, making himself quite comfortable practically cuddled to Miyuki’s side. Sawamura didn’t seem to find any issue with the position, casually peering at the magazine clutched in the older’s hands.

Miyuki sat, deathly still, waiting for the other to say something. A few seconds passed and Miyuki felt, more than saw, Sawamura’s face scrunch up. “Narumiya Mei.” He said simply, in a tone that explained enough.

“You jealous that he got an article and you didn’t?” Miyuki retorted, reverting to snark just as easily as snakes would shed their skin, trading in nerves and vulnerabilities for stronger defences. What he said was harsh. What he meant was, how do you make me feel so warm, doing something as small as this?

Sawamura, predictably, squawked in response. “Am not!” He exclaimed, indignant and loud. “That’ll be me one day, you’ll see, damn tanuki bastard!” Miyuki knew as much, witnessed first hand the Sawamura’s limitless potential and the bright future he had ahead of him as a baseball player. It was purely his opinion as a catcher, of course, nothing more there–and he’d never say such words of obvious praise and expectation to Sawamura’s face.

The younger kept ranting, but his volume was so commonplace that no one turned towards them, save Kuramochi, likely ready to shut him up with a few choice words (or wrestling moves). He had since relinquished his controller to Toujou after being thrashed by Kominato, so Miyuki was able to see the exact moment Kuramochi registered he and Sawamura’s position. He watched, irritated, as the bastard raised one insuiting eyebrow and pointedly turned away from them.

And honestly, fuck you Kuramochi–it was perfectly innocent, and it wasn’t like Miyuki could feel every single point of contact burning him all the way down to his bones, leaving him irritatingly flustered while Sawamura read that cursed article under his breath, unperturbed. Having quickly gotten over Miyuki’s jab, the younger inched closer to the magazine, squinting at a particularly aggravating quote from Mei. As natural as his own breaths, Sawamura’s hand slipped over Miyuki’s own clenched fingers to bring the page closer to him.

Miyuki, conversely, had stopped breathing entirely. Sawamura seemed oblivious to the implication of his hand atop Miyuki’s–the left one, with the pitcher’s calluses, the physical manifestations of his hard work and love for the thrilling game that bound them inexplicably–and Miyuki still wasn’t breathing.

“Bakamura.” He managed to choke out, hiding the tremble in his voice with a contrary smirk. Riling Sawamura up had become another one of his personal skills, at this point, so it felt fundamentally wrong to see the younger not fuming at any insult. Despite Sawamura’s affronted yell, the effect was dampened by the way Sawamura refused to let go of him, comfortably plastered to Miyuki’s left side, looking absolutely content and not at all annoyed. Miyuki would die before he told anyone how the warm weight of Sawamura’s head on his shoulders made him feel; the way he couldn’t decide if he wanted it forever or never again.

Sawamura had taken to idly playing with his fingers too, still grumbling about Mei, and it was all moving a little too fast for Miyuki’s touch starved brain. He couldn’t take it anymore. “Is this any way to treat your senpai? I’m not your pillow.”

He furrowed his brows in response, waving Miyuki’s words away with a flippant (right) hand. “Stop talking, you’re ruining it. I’m comfortable here.” Sawamura muttered, still focused on the article.

“Oh, so you think my bed is comfortable?” Miyuki drawled, still smirking, desperately holding on to the only part of the situation he could control. This part, he could do. He’d never had trouble making Sawamura flustered with his words. So, he watched, with twisted delight and fascination, at how the implication turned the tips of Sawamura’s ears red.

His own pulse quickened–how annoying.

Here Miyuki was, trying his damn hardest not to let some unintentionally charming, bumbling country dumbass get to him, but apparently his traitorous heart hadn’t gotten the memo. “Or maybe, you find my body comfortable?” He said, in the face of Sawamura’s flustered silence. “I’m flattered, Sawamura, I had no idea you liked me that much.”

Miyuki was relentless with his teasing, obviously, because he was a bastard at heart, but for some reason, something about the concept of Sawamura liking him made him feel strange. Something suspiciously close to butterflies festered in the pit of his stomach, and he cursed out Sawamura’s stupid shoujo mangas for influencing him.

Yet, for all the blush still on the younger’s face, the only thing he did was cackle (he was definitely spending too much time with Kuramochi–that needed to change), pushing away from Miyuki with the same ease he’d clung to him. Sawamura let the forgotten baseball magazine fall into Miyuki’s lap, muttering something about a damn delusional Miyuki Kazuya, taking all the fun away, as he glared at him one last time, before slipping off his bed to join a new round of Mario Kart. Miyuki could only watch him go, mildly disoriented at how short lived that was, despite Sawamura’s usual reactiveness.

He had gotten the younger to give him space. Mission accomplished. But why did he feel so–

Disappointed.

He didn’t actually like it, did he? The touches, the almost spooning, the (technically) hand holding. That was all stuff people usually did with their girlfriends or boyfriends, right? Not their loud, stupid, stupidly warm underclassmen. And fine, Miyuki could admit that objectively speaking, Sawamura wasn’t the worst guy in the world, both in the looks and personality department. Sure, he was annoying as all hell, and couldn’t differentiate between when to use his inside and outside voice, and didn’t know the first thing about self control.

But he was also so, so fucking bright, and electrifying, and quite possibly the most optimistic and persevering person Miyuki had ever met. He brought with him a warmth Miyuki hadn’t known the team was missing, or even needed.

But they did. Sawamura had burst into their lives, a burning sun against a stormy sky, resilience and affection wrapped up in honey gold eyes, and they were all better for it–both on and off the field.

Maybe Miyuki was better for it, too.

━━━━━━

He couldn’t sleep. Again.

To be fair, Miyuki was no stranger to insomnia, though it was most often combatted with scorebooks and game tapes. He could usually tire himself out by analysing team stats and gathering data on their latest opponent, accompanied only by the gleam of his laptop and a deeply rooted restlessness that’d been with him since he was a kid. Something was different about tonight, though. Miyuki’s normally sharp mind couldn’t focus on any of the data, bothering him to no end–who the hell did his brain think it was, going against his commands?

It was annoying, but he resigned himself to a lonely, sleepless night, and had traded in the blue light and baseball figures for a can of coffee and a lone bench outside. Miyuki was doing little more than sitting quietly, barely registering the way the slight breeze ruffled his worn t-shirt and blew strands of his own hair into his face. He had just been pondering the emotional benefits (and health consequences) of injecting another round of caffeine into his veins, before a distinctive, needlessly loud ‘Miyuki Kazuya!’ reached his ears, snapping him out of whatever plane of consciousness he was drifting to.

Even under the not quite darkness, not quite light, of 2 AM, Sawamura Eijun was still stupidly captivating. The world around them was dim, but Sawamura’s gold eyes were pinned to him, only him, and they were so, so bright–electric and blazing and the only thing on the planet capable of turning his insides into honey like this. After the past few weeks of being pathetically hyper-fixated on Sawamura’s every breath, he had begrudgingly acknowledged that the visceral twist of his heart whenever the moron smiled had to mean something.

Internally, at least.

Like hell he’d ever admit any of that shit aloud, because–by some sick and twisted happenstance he could only chalk up to built up karma–between all the banter and the pitching and the catching and the touching, Miyuki had gone and fallen for Sawamura.

He couldn’t tell which of them was more of an idiot –Sawamura, by default, or him, for being so disgustingly, unbelievably gone for said idiot. Maybe it was inevitable; he’d always found the other oddly fascinating, ever since that first time he had caught Sawamura’s pitches and witnessed his strange and magnificent form and own sort of power. Nothing had ever caught his attention the way Sawamura did–nothing had ever kept it quite like him, either–and no matter how emotionally stunted Miyuki was, he was no oblivious fool.

Sure, he was unhealthily practiced in simply denying emotions he felt had no use in his life, but still. He should’ve seen it coming–should've had a plan and a backup plan and a backup-backup plan to prevent all this from happening.

This being feelings.

Feelings he couldn’t simply rationalise away–justify with excuses like fatigue or prolonged exposure or adrenaline. The realisation that Miyuki had caught more than just Sawamura’s pitches had come to him on a different night, though it was much like this one, surprisingly quiet for all that the actual object of his affections was loud. It had been jarring, to face his own emotions dead on and have nowhere to run from them. Miyuki hated the feeling, just a bit, and wanted it to go away.

But it never did.

Sawamura’s insistence on just existing in the same space as him, taking up all the room in Miyuki’s mind with endearingly offended yells and enthusiastic chants and quiet touches, ensured he never left the older’s thoughts for a second. When Miyuki wasn’t thinking about baseball, a rarity in it’s own right, he was thinking of Sawamura. And even when he was thinking of baseball, it and Sawamura were so deeply intertwined in Miyuki’s mind, so inseparable and entangled and interesting, that it never even mattered.

No matter which crevice of his mind he ran to, Sawamura was always there, demanding his attention and acknowledgement and affection.

Even now, imperceptibly panting before him, Sawamura commanded Miyuki’s gaze, drawing his sharp eyes to the slight sheen of sweat on his forehead; his disheveled, windswept hair, which unintentionally made him look stupidly charming; and the uncontained brightness of his grin.

“Catch for me, Miyuki Kazuya.” His eyes were still blazing, and Miyuki was so gone.

“It’s 2 in the morning, moron.” Miyuki said, but there was no heat to it, none of his usual cruel admonishment, and Sawamura’s grin stretched wider. It was like the pitcher didn’t register the time, or the fact that his body was probably close to screaming at him for training right now–at least, he assumed the younger had at least been running laps earlier, if his current state was anything to go by. Miyuki wasn’t irresponsible, so whilst he already felt himself gearing up to indulge in Sawamura’s whims, he’d at least make sure the idiot wasn’t pushing himself. Off season or not, it was always Miyuki’s job to look after his pitchers.

His heart just gravitated to this one in particular, unfortunately.

“Sorry, sorry, Cap! Just a game of catch, then.” Sawamura didn’t sound sorry at all. Neither was Miyuki.

“It's okay.” Miyuki gracefully slid from the bench, tossing his empty can into a nearby trash bin. He led them to the equipment shed, armed with a spare key thanks to his captaincy, to grab a couple spare mitts and a ball. “I couldn’t sleep anyway.”

Sawamura turned to him once they had gotten all they needed, a faint look of surprise on his face, unable to believe Miyuki had been willing to share something genuine enough to pass as truth. Miyuki himself was pretty caught off guard by his own earnestness, though he covered it swiftly by tossing the younger some gear and dragging him to one of the practice fields.

“Out here, Bakamura?” He asked, like it mattered what Sawamura would answer.

The younger did, anyway, because that’s who he was. “Yeah, yeah, tanuki bastard.” Sawamura replied, the edges of his insult softened by the uncharacteristic gentleness of his tone and the muted colours of the world at 2 AM.

They got themselves settled into an easy, familiar rhythm, tossing the ball back and forth in comfortable silence, until Sawamura predictably cracked. He breathed deeply, before sending the ball into Miyuki’s awaiting mitt with more intent than before. “I miss home a lot, on nights like these. When I’m out here and everything looks so different, but it’s still the same sky. Close. Not close enough.”

Miyuki held the ball, watching Sawamura, who wasn’t looking at him, but up at the sparse smattering of stars above them. It made him feel disgustingly soft, out of sync with who he had forced himself to be all this time. So at odds with Sawamura, who, in all scenarios and all seasons, was as much of himself as he could possibly be. Honest and earnest and so goddamn intriguing. Miyuki wanted to ask, curious and desperate in a way he seldom was–what was it like, having a home worthy of being missed? What was it like, growing up there?

Were you happy? Were you loved?

What did that feel like?

He wanted to ask; but he more importantly wanted to know. To experience. To understand what made Sawamura Eijun the way he was–overflowing with love and light and laughter and feeling. So, so much of it. Of every kind and capacity.

Sawamura tipped his head back down, eyes meeting his with the unmistakable glint of a challenge, and Miyuki Kazuya was no coward. The ball sailed cleanly through the distance between them, and Miyuki spoke up. “I don’t have much of a home to miss anymore.” He offered, possessed by some strange urge to reciprocate Sawamura’s honesty for no other reason than he wanted to.

He wanted Sawamura to know, at least some part of him, the less favourable parts, unrelated to the ties that already bound them together.

He wanted to see if Sawamura would stay, despite it.

The other remained quiet for a beat, turning the ball over in his hands in an uncharacteristic display of consideration. Miyuki’s lip quirked up into an amused smirk, despite himself. He could tell that Sawamura wanted to pry, but wasn’t sure if he was allowed to, his endless curiosity battling with the little survival instincts he had. It was kind of endearing, Miyuki could admit, but he wasn’t quite ready to air out all his tragic secrets. Not tonight, anyway.

He was willing to share a little, though, and he hoped that would be enough for Sawamura.

“Stop thinking so much, moron.” Miyuki said, watching as Sawamura’s hesitation instantly cleared, replaced with his patent indignation. “You’ll hurt your head.”

In retaliation, Sawamura lobbed the ball back with more force than necessary, his loud voice carrying easily above the resounding thwack of the ball against Miyuki’s mitt. “I’m not actually as much of an idiot as you say, you bastard!”

Miyuki threw it back with no hesitation, smiling something small and genuine. “I know.” He responded, soft and simple in a way Miyuki Kazuya never was, and Sawamura visibly faltered.

He sputtered, but tossed the ball back anyway. “Y-You! You’re something else, Miyuki.” Sawamura exclaimed, omitting the senpai as usual, much to Miyuki’s chagrin. “I don’t get you!”

The catcher smirked, emboldened by the odd turn of conversation. He stepped closer, flinging the ball back into Sawamura’s awaiting mitt. “Oh, really?” His voice lilted, tone a touch teasing and a touch something else–something more flirtatious, maybe. Dangerous territory. “What's not to get?”

“Everything!” Sawamura exclaimed, ball forgotten, dropping to the floor as he gestured wildly at nothing. He was always so expressive and loud, even in actions alone, and Miyuki found himself endlessly amused by it. “You say stuff like that, and look at me like that, and you’re so- so Miyuki–”

“Eloquent as always, I see.”

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

Miyuki paused, rendered speechless for quite possibly the first time in his life. He might have to mark this day down in his calendar for reference. Sawamura didn’t seem to notice, apparently on a roll now that he got going. “It’s okay, you know, you damn bastard.” The younger had discarded the mitt in his haste and advanced towards Miyuki, determined to voice the entirety of his tirade. “To let yourself be loved. Affection isn’t only for nice people–if it was, you’d be screwed, because you’re really the worst–”

“Is that any way to talk to your captain and catcher?” Miyuki’s words were cold, but his gear had slipped off shaking hands and his voice was traitorously gentle.

“You’re not just my captain and my catcher!”

“Then what else am I, Sawamura? Because this sounds awfully close to being a confession.” They were even closer now, toes almost touching. Miyuki couldn’t breathe. “You sure you wanna go there?”

“And what if I do? What if this is a confession?” Sawamura responded instinctively, heated and defiant in the way Miyuki knew he always was. His own heartbeat thundered in his ears, loud and unforgiving. “What are you going to do about it? Brush it off, like you do everything else?”

Miyuki swiftly collected himself, unsure of where this was going. One minute, they had been playing a game of catch. Now, Sawamura was in his space again, loud and demanding–always so demanding–of Miyuki’s time, his attention, his acknowledgement. If only the idiot knew he already had all that and more. “I never expected you to be so forward, Sawamura.” He said mockingly, grasping at the last semblance of composure he had. It was a losing game. “You don’t look like the type. I’m almost impressed.”

“Don't go straight for the jugular!” Sawamura screeched. Miyuki couldn’t help the amused grin that overtook his face, easily entertained by how fast the younger got riled up. It was comforting, the way some things just never changed, even in a situation like this. “There were other ways you could've said it!”

Miyuki caved. “You always defy my expectations.”

That got Sawamura to shut up pretty quickly, eyes growing impossibly wider at whatever he seemed to realise at that moment. “I- You! You can’t just- You can’t just say things like that! Miyuki Kazuya!”

“That’s my name. Don’t wear it out.” Miyuki teased, instinctively going on the offensive. They were so close now, and he couldn’t tell if he wanted to press forward or run for the hills. To make his escape before he got himself in too deep, as if he wasn’t already drowning in this. Whatever this was. Miyuki felt it so keenly in those few seconds, like fear had manifested itself hands and claws and reached for him, brutal and unforgiving. It gripped Miyuki tight, that fear driven urge to nip the unknown feelings at the bud, before they grew bigger and stronger and planted roots in his heart.

To leave before he got left (again, his mind supplied unhelpfully).

But something was stopping him.

Sawamura’s gaze, pinning him to the ground, golden eyes blazing with some unfamiliar emotion that Miyuki couldn’t name, but was likely reflected in his own eyes.

Sawamura’s hands, wrapped around his wrists, anchoring and burning, making sure fear couldn’t drag him away even if it tried.

Sawamura’s lips, pursed in impulsive determination, then parting open, saying, “Can I kiss you?”

There were very few things Miyuki Kazuya was afraid of. Heights, for one (especially roller-coasters, though he’d never let that slip in a million years). Getting attached. Making trouble for the team. Not living up to his own expectations, which had been set so high as long as he could remember; which always left him reaching up and up, forgetting about those willing to meet him where he was.

But there was Sawamura–a hand on his wrist, warmth at his side–reminding him, hey, you bastard, I’m here too. Let’s go up together. And though he knew that the loud mouthed idiot still had a way to go before catching up to him in baseball, this was different. They both knew it, too.

Maybe it was Miyuki’s turn to meet him halfway.

“You’ve never asked permission for any of the other stuff.” Miyuki responded after a beat too long, watching as Sawamura’s face burned a brighter shade of red. It was the way he often looked whenever Miyuki said anything remotely teasing–which was about 90% of the time they spoke–like he wasn’t sure whether to be flustered and embarrassed, or loud and angry.

Sawamura settled for something in between, sputtering, like he always did. Miyuki could only smile, something exasperatedly fond and hopelessly endeared. Maybe this thing wasn’t anything to be afraid of; maybe it wasn’t so unfamiliar, or unknown, after all. Maybe it was just a culmination of everything they’d ever felt and said and done to one another–the banter; the anger; the admiration.

The late night practices; the genuine strategy talks; the electrifying games.

The exhilarating synergy on the field; the blazing eyes; the unforgettable sound of a powerful ball hitting home in a smoking catchers mitt.

Maybe the only difference was the sixty feet and six inches becoming one single breath.

Miyuki silently pressed forward, their lips meeting together in a resounding yes.

Sawamura was uncharacteristically still at first, like he didn’t quite believe simply asking had actually worked–like he couldn’t fathom Miyuki Kazuya was willingly kissing him. Miyuki made a mental note to work on that, but then Sawamura was responding in turn, kissing back with as much enthusiasm as he approached everything else in life (which was to say, quite a lot).

It was a little awkward and a lot clumsy, but it was more than fine, because Sawamura was here–in his space like always, rough pitchers hands sliding up his arms, his shoulders, his neck, settling into his hair–and god, Miyuki burned.

They eventually pulled apart, breaths mingling with the proximity. Sawamura looked at him, a mixture of impatience and wanting and content swirling in wide, piercing eyes. They were quiet for another moment, but the silence didn’t last long.

“Eager, I see.” Miyuki said, his smirk audible, as if he wasn’t the one who had kissed first. As if his own hands weren’t firmly planted on Sawamura’s waist, his tight grip desperate and unyielding, like he was worried Sawamura would somehow dissipate in his arms.

But he didn’t. He stayed, occupying Miyuki’s space and vision. Always. Even when he insulted him, which Miyuki found oddly comforting in such uncharted territory. “You are seriously trash, Miyuki Kazuya.” Sawamura said, nose scrunching up slightly. It was so stupidly adorable, so Sawamura, that it reminded him that this was nothing to be afraid of or run from.

“Says the guy who just kissed me.” Miyuki was still smirking, though at this point it was more like a genuine smile. Well, it couldn’t hurt to let one real smile out. Just this once.

“Yeah, well, I never said I had good taste! And you kissed me first, you jerk!” Sawamura declared rather heatedly, but there was laughter in his eyes and a matching smile on his lips. A small one, soft and genuine, for Miyuki and Miyuki alone. That yearning settled in his chest again, but this time it’s weight was less overbearing and more comforting, because now he had Sawamura to carry it with him.

Miyuki leaned closer, letting their foreheads touch. “You talk too much, Bakamura.”

Then, they were kissing again, and it almost felt like coming home.

━━━━━━

Nothing much changed, after that night between them. Sawamura was still Sawamura; unabashedly loud and unapologetically loving. He still squawked like a ruffled bird when he got teased; still demanded Miyuki catch for him, no matter the weather or how beat down they were from training or the plans Miyuki already had for the night; still doted on everyone, spreading affection through touch and sheer willpower alone. The entire team felt it, though Sawamura paid extra attention to Miyuki these days, an arm around him or a head against his shoulder at every opportunity, like a loud, clingy koala.

The only difference now, really, was that Miyuki finally gave as good as he got–maybe even better, if he did say so himself.

For every time Sawamura wrapped a calloused hand around Miyuki’s wrist to drag him off to wherever he pleased, the older responded in turn, pulling Sawamura into his arms with a sleazy, flirtatious smirk, which always drew the best reactions out of the easily flustered pitcher.

For every time Sawamura took up his space, forcing his way onto Miyuki’s bed, armed with his shoujo manga or a baseball magazine he wanted to read whilst plastered to Miyuki’s side, the older took it a step further, crowding Sawamura up against the wall and pressing into him in ways a touch too indecent with half the team as an audience.

For every piece of himself that Sawamura shared, reaching into his chest to offer a part of it to Miyuki, he gave a little of himself away too, his usually impenetrable ice walls weakened by the warmth of trust and understanding and being known. And kept anyway.

Because that’s what Sawamura Eijun did–he saw you and understood you and knew you and loved you in spite of it. Because of it. He saw the parts of Miyuki no one else had gotten close enough to even fathom; parts of him that were still a little jagged at the edges, some too sharp and others surprisingly fragile and the odd awkward one, reminding them of just how young they were, how inexperienced, fumbling through this new thing together.

Sawamura saw Miyuki for who he was, understood what he needed, and reached out to him with his loud voice and soft touches and his unconditional company.

And maybe that was all Miyuki needed. His company.