A/N: And so I present another fic for Daiya no Ace! Weeeee! I really wish this fandom would just pop like daisies, you know? There's only a handful doujinshis out there and the fics written are also minimal. Damn it, I mean Miyuki and Chris should be enough to pull fans in, damn it! Anyway, I hope you fellow fans like this fic. Will rest my inspiration for a while, need to study first and damn graduate this coming April. So for now toodles!

Warning: Still in the process of being edited.

Full Summary: Sometimes, they wonder if Sawamura was doing it on purpose but seeing that stupid grin on his equally stupid-looking face makes them think otherwise.

In which, Sawamura is absolutely shameless and they're all left to fend for themselves against the onslaught of it all. Implied multiple pairings. Kind of AllxEijun

I. Pocky Day

It was mid-afternoon when their resident troublemaker made its presence known inside their classroom.

"Chris-senpai! Chris-senpai! You've got to see this!" Chris sighed and tried to sink down his seat. When will the nightmare end?

His classmates laughed at the look of sheer terror on his face. "Oi Chris, your lover boy's looking for you. Better stop him before he goes loony on the rest of us."

Chris mustered a strained smile at his classmate, his lips twitching in irritation. "Stalker would be a preferable word, Hasegawa."

Hasegawa scoffed. "Yeah but the adoration in that kid's eyes is no joke, Chris." The strategist sighed and took mental note of the boy's regimen later. He would be doubling it for sure.

"Aha! Chris-senpai!" The pitcher exaggeratedly pointed at his direction and Chris felt another wave of headache coming his way. He rubbed the temples of his forehead and waited for the first year to make his way over to his desk. Really, the things he did for the baseball team amazed him sometimes.

"Chris-senpai! See this?" Without warning, Sawamura shoved something at his face, making him stumble back. Frowning at the pitcher, he took hold of the - huh? Pocky?

"It's Pocky, senpai!" Sawamura exclaimed, sparkles of joy in his eyes. Chris could almost see the cliched flowers and rainbows surrounding him. Honestly speaking, it made him cringe. Something always goes wrong whenever he looks so ridiculously happy.

"It's just Pocky, Sawamura. It's nothing to be happy about."

Sawamura shook his head, and pinned him with a stare that says are-you-an-idiot and Chris could only feel a little bit offended. "It's not just Pocky! It's Pocky Day!"

"Pocky Day?" Chris might be knowledgeable in all aspects of baseball but other things would escape his brilliant mind from time to time like this Pocky Day Sawamura speaks of. Was it a national holiday? The blank look on his face elicited a few giggles from his female classmates. Unfortunately, they become some amusing side show whenever Sawamura shows up.

"Yep! Pocky Day! Miyuki, the bastard, told me that I should show my appreciation for once and share with you a box of Pocky on this day." It all came out in a rush of words and if Chris wasn't already used to what they dubbed the 'Sawamura babbling' then he certainly wouldn't have understood a word of it.

"Ok? Thank you?" Chis asked hesitantly when Sawamura shook his head again and swiped the box of Pocky from his hands.

"But I'm not done yet, senpai. I still need to show you how to eat it!" Chris watched avidly as Sawamura pulled out one stick of the sweet treat from the box and shoved it in his mouth.

Wide eyes stared at the stupid grin on the pitcher's face, a stick of Pocky dangling awkwardly from his lips. "Uh...Sawamura?" Chris felt his radars for self-preservation ringing loudly in his head. The loud giggles of his female classmates only made him feel worse.

"And this is how you eat Pocky on Pocky Day." Chris didn't have time to move away when Sawamura took hold of his shoulders and quickly chomped on the other side of the Pocky stick still in his mouth. Completely frozen, he could only watch as teeth munched on the stick. The pitcher began his ascent and steadily moved closer and closer and closer.

Chris willed his body to move but couldn't summon enough strength to do so, too shocked at the sudden turn of events. Warm breath fanned his face, his eyes almost going cross-eyed at the close proximity. The girls moved even closer to them, eyes almost popping - who would dare miss live guy to guy action anyway? - while the guys were torn between curiosity and disgust, but nothing registered inside Chris' head except the sight of lips closing the distance to his own.

Close... He's too close. I- His breath hitched at the slightest feel of Sawamura's lips. Just half an inch and then - "And that's how you eat Pocky!"

A series of aww and it was so close too were heard as the haze dissipated from his head and the first thing that registered in his mind was Sawamura beaming at his direction. Chris took one good look at that stupid smile and promptly hit the first year on the head.

"Ow! That hurts, senpai!" Sawamura wailed in distress and it did little to pacify the discomfort in his chest.

"That was my intent, you idiot."

"And I was even willing to share the whole box with you." Sawamura huffily answered.

Chris groaned inwardly. Please no. "Just get back to your classroom, Sawamura."

"But senpai! I still ha-"

"SAWAMURA! You little twerp! Where the hell are you hiding?!" Jun's howl of rage had the first year flinching and darting outside of the classroom in a blink of an eye.

"See you at practice, Chris-senpai!" He threw a casual wave over his shoulder before disappearing out of sight.

Jun came in a minute after Sawamura left, his face fuming in anger. His eyes settled on him and rudely demanded. "Where the hell is he?!"

Still confused as hell, Chris shook his head and pointed at the direction the pitcher went off to. Jun growled and stomped away, leaving everyone staring after him.

"What's going on?" His classmates looked as clueless as he was, but the answer came in the form of Yuki Tetsuya who wordlessly clapped a hand on his shoulder. Realization quickly dawned on him and Chris felt his energy drained out of him.

"So he did it to you and Jun?" It was a rhetorical question but the sudden tightening of Tetsu's hand on his shoulder told him everything. Chris felt dread at the thought of the possibility that they weren't the only victims for the day.

Chris sat heavily on his desk and pinched the bridge of his nose. "I may not have a definite say in the team's regimen, but just this once, make sure Miyuki works triple the amount today."

Tetsu's eyes gleamed eerily. "I was planning double but triple sounds better."

That day a new club was formed. The all mighty 'Yaoi club' was founded with a staggering three hundred members - and counting - and much to their horror, not all members were female.

II. Movie Night

The active roster of the baseball club usually hung out during break and days off from practice. And more often than not, they invade one particular room—Miyuki's room. This time, however, they decided to stay at Kuramochi's room. Miyuki had enough cleaning after them whenever they stayed over and firmly refused them entry to his room.

"Why don't we watch a movie for a change?" Miyuki suggested all of a sudden.

Everyone looked up, shrugged and moved to make room on the floor. It's not as if they were doing anything productive, except for Tetsu who was losing spectacularly against Furuya in a game of shogi. And Furuya only learned how to play three hours earlier, not that the captain needed to know that tiny tidbit. What he doesn't know wouldn't hurt him.

"Kuramochi, you have a stash around here, right?"

Sawamura blinked sleepily from his spot on the bed, only a third of his attention on his senpais. Training took its toll on his body earlier than usual and keeping his eyes open was becoming a chore and a half. Haruichi was already dozing lightly beside him. Another ten minutes and he would be following after his friend.

"Aha! I knew I still had it somewhere!" Kuramochi's shout didn't even faze him. But seriously, how could they still have that much energy? Monsters, Sawamura concluded, they're all friggin' monsters.

"Oya? That wouldn't be porn, now would it, ei Kuramochi?" Jun jibed, his eyebrows furrowed suggestively. Kuramochi grinned toothily, ignoring the way Chris and Tetsu were frowning disapprovingly at the DVD in his hand.

"Na, watching together would be too weird. Besides, if we watched porn and Ryosuke-san finds out, then we're dead." Everyone nodded simultaneously after peeking a glance at the small male nestled in Sawamura's bed. Ah, the overly protective Ryosuke would have them hanged if they did anything to corrupt his precious, little brother.

"Miyuki decided on this!" Kuramochi held the DVD high over his head to let everyone see the cover only to groan out loud.

"Seriously? A retarded, horror movie is the best you can come up with?" Sawamura's ears perked up, his whole body stiffening once his brain processed Jun's words. He shot off the bed, accidentally waking Haruichi in his haste.

"Yeah! Isashiki-senpai's right! Horror movies are retarded!" Kuramochi stared at him, completely unconvinced.

"You're not scared, are you, Sawamura?" Miyuki taunted, a smirk on his lips.

Sawamura scowled. "Who's scared? Only sissies get scared of something so stupid!" Everyone knew otherwise though. His trembling legs and red face gave him away.

"Really now?" Jun stood up, placed one hand around the scared pitcher's shoulder, and dragged him back down on the floor. Slightly pitying his friend, Haruichi crawled over to his side.

"We're not sissies so watching this retarded movie wouldn't be a problem, ei Sawamura?" Jun goaded, a knowing look on his face. Sawamura gulped, his eyes going wide when his senpai's arm around him didn't budge.

"O- Of c- course not!" Sawamura stuttered. Chris could only shake his head at the petrified expression on the first year's face. This should be a good lesson for him - to always watch you say, especially in front of sadistic senpais like Jun and Kuramochi.

"Hear that, Miyuki? The brat says go for it! Oi ichinen! Turn off the lights!" Furuya didn't even blink at the rough command as he got up and flicked the switch off.

"Don't faint on me, Sawamura or you're sleeping outside in the nude!" Jun declared, his arms still holding the quivering teen in place. Kuramochi guffawed loudly, not an ounce of pity in his laugh.

Miyuki smirked to himself. He was sure that his senpai was still bearing a grudge against Sawamura for that stunt he pulled on Pocky Day. Technically, it wasn't his fault that things ended up the way they did, but the looks on their faces were worth all the suffering they dished out on him during practice.

They quieted when the credits rolled and the title was projected on the screen. The words The Grudge 2 appeared in bold white and Sawamura bit back a whimper of fright. Out of all the things they could have watched, why does it have to be a horror movie?! His heart almost froze when the first stirrings of a ghost appeared on the screen.

As the story progressed, the more bored they were becoming. Haruichi glanced worriedly at Sawamura from time to time but couldn't see his expression well with his bangs in the way. So he busied himself with the others and watched their reactions instead of the movie being played.

Jun looked about ready to tear something apart - it was retarded, ok? - while Tetsu and Chris were concentrated on the screen. Miyuki was fighting off a yawn, Furuya looked apathetic as per usual, Kuramochi was picking at his nails while Masuko was already snoring loudly. Haruichi turned his eyes back at the screen. Well, this was certainly a waste of time.

It was about forty-five minutes into the movie that something happened. Too focused on the movie, they failed to see Sawamura's eyes dilating, a solemn expression overtaking his once terrified features. When the screen showed the blue-skinned ghost underneath the blanket, something snapped inside his head and Sawamura suddenly stood up. Startled, they looked back at him.

"Oi brat, sit down. The movie's not done ye-"

"I'm not watching anymore. I'm going to sleep." Sawamura cut Jun off, his voice sounding deeper than normal.

"Oh ho, so you're sleeping butt-naked outside?" Jun sounded gleeful, his voice dripping acid. Miyuki nodded to himself. Yep, Jun was holding a grudge, a huge ass grudge to say the least. If he didn't know better, Jun must have been embarrassed beyond belief at the 'Pocky Game' he unwittingly taught Sawamura.

"Nope." Sawamura raised his head, his eyes blank and a sickly, sweet smile on his lips. Haruichi shivered and slowly moved away from his friend. Survival instincts told him to get away as far as possible.

"But I need someone to sleep with me. Since you're tall and sturdy, you would have to do, senpai." Sawamura stated matter of fact before hauling - to everyone's disbelief - Jun off the ground and into his bed. The movie played like cheap, background music as this strange scene unfolded before them.

Jun gaped before flailing in Sawamura's hold. "Oi let go of me, brat! I'm not sleeping beside you! Oi, let go, you fucking brat!"

Speechless, they turned away from the two people wrestling on the bed. "Senpai..." Haruichi bit his lower lip in uncertainty. "...I think an unknown world is being played behind us."

"If I become paralyzed because of a nightmare, you would notice immediately, senpai, so I need to wrap myself around you." Sawamura retaliated, his eyes lifeless and his tone bland.

Jun felt his hairs standing on edge as arms slipped around his neck, legs nudged between his own, and clutched him tight. "Gack! Let go, fucker! Don't put your head on my chest!"

Chris coughed awkwardly. "Focus on the screen, Haruichi. Don't look back or you'll get dragged away."

Jun tried to reach out for anything that could save him but both his right and left sides were blocked: his right by the blasted wall and his left by his freakishly, strong kouhai.

"Bastards! Help me!"

Sawamura only closed his eyes and nuzzled against his senpai's warm neck. "Good night, senpai. You can't escape."

"Eeek! HELP ME!

Every person in the room could only apologize in their heads. Sorry Jun/Jun-senpai/Jun-san. Rest in peace.

Needless to say, horror movies were banned from the dorms from that day onward. When asked why - well, one look at Jun's face had them scampering away like their lives depended on it. But really, no one needed to know that dreadful night was also the night that Isashiki Jun had the best sleep in ages.

III. A Hug A Day

They convened early Monday morning just after breakfast. Another practice game was scheduled the day after tomorrow and the coach was determined to have them win against Yakushi High.

"Tanba will be our starting pitcher. Furuya from third inning to sixth and Kawakimi from seventh to ninth. Understood?"

"Yes coach!" Kataoka waited for the inevitable screech from his banshee of a player but when none came, he raised an eyebrow inquisitively at the quiet first year standing beside Furuya before continuing.

"Alright, have a light practice today and tomorrow and rest early. Dismissed."

"Yes coach!"

Practice proceeded smoothly until they dispersed for their first period. Some strayed behind, discussing quietly among themselves.

"Don't you think Sawamura's acting strange as of late?"

Kanemaru rolled his eyes and stashed the baseball bats away. "That idiot's always been strange."

Wataru resolutely shook his head. "Who doesn't know that? I mean, he's all quiet and stuff for two days now..." Haruichi listened attentively but didn't say anything. It was kind of true, anyway, but it was interesting to note that others were concerned for his friend's well-being.

"Yeah well, he'll come around eventually. Might have eaten something spoiled. He'll be making a nuisance of himself sooner or later." Kanemaru sounded so sure of himself that they couldn't help but nod reluctantly.

Sadly, sooner came too soon for any of their liking.

It started after lunch, a day after their practice game against Yakushi High. Peace and quiet never fit in Seido high school. At lunch, the students were scattered everywhere. From the courtyard to the fields, even the rooftop was filled to the brim, so it was no surprise to find some of the players lounging by the baseball field.

"Oi ichenen! What brings you here?" Zono called them over and Kanemaru hesitated but still decided to ask their senpai, both Wataru and Hideyoshi following his lead.

"Ano, senpai?"

Zono nodded, a sign that he could continue. "Have you seen Sawamura? The teach is calling for him."

"Hmm...I think I saw him going to the dorms."

"Thank you, senpai." They bowed their heads gratefully and left for the dorms. True to his word, Sawamura was standing by the entrance, a grin lighting his whole face when he caught sight of them.

"Kanemaru!" The trio trod carefully, their pace slowing down. There was something remotely strange at the way Sawamura was staring at them. Ah well, might be their imagination. Brushing off their uneasiness, they stopped just in front of the pitcher, frowns on their faces.

"You idiot! Did you forget that you had class duty yesterday? The teach says you have detention this afternoon."

Predictably, Sawamura groaned in despair. Kanemaru rolled his eyes and bonked the idiot on the head.

"Ow! The hell?! Why does everyone keep hitting me?!"

Hideyoshi laughed at his expense, "'Coz you deserve it, baka." Sawamura snarled and took one, warning step forward.

Kanemaru stepped in his way just in time. Lunch would be over before they could eat if they started fighting now. "Just go to sensei's office and make an appeal. You can't skip practice when the competition's just around the corner." Sawamura's expression suddenly brightened, his lips curling in a sizable grin.

"You're right! Thanks Kanemaru!" The pitcher grinned and did something so unexpected, Kanemaru didn't have time to react. Sawamura grabbed him around the waist and squeezed. His friends ogled at them before screeching in surprise when they were given the same treatment as him.

"See ya later!" Sawamura waved happily, not looking the least bit apologetic for traumatizing them.

Kanemaru gaped after his retreating back. "Sometimes, I hate it when I'm right."

And right, he was.

Afternoon practice rolled around and various shouts and undignified shrieks were heard throughout the field. From one player to another, Sawamura went around shamelessly hugging anyone and everyone he could get a hold of.

"Uh Sawamura?" Miyuki paused and tried to wriggle around in the tight embrace. "What the hell are you doing?"

The idiot had the audacity to grin as if everything was right in the world. "Hugging you, duh."

Miyuki's hand twitched, a tick forming on his forehead but before he could hit Sawamura, the pitcher released him and proceeded terrorizing the rest of the people in the field.

"He has a death wish, doesn't he?" Ryosuke muttered ominously from his side, being a victim as well. Miyuki nodded, his glasses glinting. They watched as Sawamura traipsed across the field like some monkey on the loose, and almost winced when the coach finally had enough of his horsing around, and kicked him from behind, sending him flying a good feet off the ground.

"Moron." Ryosuke uttered, a tinge of satisfaction in his voice and Miyuki couldn't agree more.

At the end of the day, they found Sawamura with bruises and bumps but no one pitied his sorry state, except Haruichi. They left him nursing his wounds and blocked their ears at the screams of pain coming from his room. Well, he deserved it and surely, they thought, that the stupidity would end. But then again, when where they ever right when it came to one, pesky freshman?

The next day, the cycle continued with Sawamura relentlessly seeking out his friends and fellow baseball players before bestowing them with quick and tight hugs. By the end of the day, they were already barring their dorm rooms, avoiding Sawamura like the plague.

A week later and they were just about ready to explode. Beating him senseless only made Sawamura double his efforts and avoiding him obviously didn't work. When the coach finally had enough again, he practically threw Chris and Sawamura in one room, while previously ordering the former to get down to the bottom of this stupid hugging fest the latter picked up, before locking the door.

Chris sighed and resigned himself to the role of mediator and do a damn good job at it too. He knew they were listening on the other side of the door. "Sawamura."

Sawamura peered up at him. "Yes senpai?"

Chris flicked the first year's forehead and got straight to the point. "Why have you been going around hugging everyone? You can be accused of sexual harassment if you don't stop and soon."

Sawamura clicked his tongue at the mild pain from his forehead before insisting. "It's a charm!"

Out of all the things Chris was expecting, it wasn't that. "A charm?"

Sawamura nodded eagerly. "Yep, I read it in a newspaper once th-" he halted when he saw the dubious look on Chris' face.

Slightly offended, he exclaimed. "I read too, you know!"

Chris sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "Go on."

"So I read once that 'A Hug a Day Keeps the Doctors Away' saying that getting hugs could boost the immune system by increasing oxy- huh? What's the word again?"

Adept at 'Sawamura babbling', Chris supplied. "Oxytocin."

Sawamura nodded, looking like a hyperactive child. "Yep! It makes people healthier!"

Chris spoke after a minute of silence. "So you're doing it because?"

Sawamura's grin was almost blinding when he answered. "So the other players would always be healthy and that no one gets injured!"

Chris melted and begrudgingly ruffled the pitcher's hair. "Sometimes, you're too extreme, Sawamura. Next time, well wishes are more than enough so stop the hugging spree, alright?"

Sawamura didn't look as happy as before but nodded at the sight of his senpai's frowning face. "Fine!"

Chris barely concealed the smile he was suppressing at the sound of a distinctive 'click' from the door. Not that Sawamura noticed they were locked in the first place. He just bounded outside and began stretching, looking completely unruffled.

That night, all newspapers and other questionable, reading materials were confiscated and a basket of fruits and other assortments of sweets were delivered to Sawamura's dorm room. Kuramochi had to lie, of course, saying some batshit lame reason that they were freebies from the supermarket.

The idiot didn't have to know that almost everyone in the team contributed money for his impromptu gifts, feeling both guilty and exasperated, for all their acts of violence against him. One way or another, they wanted to show their appreciation at Sawamura's incredibly stupid way of showing his concern and affection. And Sawamura, being the moron he was, mooned over the so-called freebies and ate till he was sick.

Really, what an imbecile.

IV. Christmas Eve

Not long after Christmas break, it was decided that an extravagant celebration would be held on Christmas Eve for every club, funded by the principal, to acknowledge their hard work. No one dared to refuse, knowing chances like these were rare, and it was also an opportunity for them to bond longer with the seniors of their club. But they didn't let that fact dampen their holiday spirit and busied themselves with the preparations.

At 5 am on the 24th of December, all members of different clubs were already up and about, readying for tonight's thanksgiving dinner. Beforehand, every single person was already given a task. The first years would be helping their vice coach to prepare the food, the second years will have to set up the decorations around the field, and the third years of the baseball club were tasked, along with the other third years of different clubs, with setting up the giant Christmas tree at the very center of the courtyard.

"Tanba! Pass the those green balls!" Jun shouted from the topmost step of the ladder.

Without hesitation, their ace player threw one ball after another in Jun's direction who caught it with little difficulty. Tetsu didn't even blink at the onslaught of ornaments that came from below, and swiftly swiped each ball within his reach from the air before carefully pinning them on the tree. Other third years of different clubs were left gawking at the amazing display of dexterity and unison from the baseball players.

"Holy shit." Hasegawa whistled at the acrobatic display.

Another third year added, "My thoughts exactly, man."

Still wide-eyed, Hasegawa turned accusing eyes in Chris' direction. "What the hell are you guys made of anyway?"

Chris put the box of decorations down before deigning him with an answer. "They're just normal athletic brutes."

"Uh-huh, and I'm superman." Hasegawa laughed at his own joke. Chris could hardly smile. Seriously, they weren't that amazing. Well, maybe they were but yeah, they're normal people who just loves baseball a bit too much.

"Hot damn, if I knew being a baseball player would turn me into that." Hasegawa gestured wildly at Tanba and the others. "I would have signed up on the first day of classes." Chris laughed, his voice mingling with the noise around him.

Hasegawa grinned, a warm sheen in his eyes. "But what I regret the most is being unable to help you, Chris." Chris' laugh died down seeing the guilt in his friend's eyes. He shook his head and tapped him on the shoulder.

"I'm over that now. Besides, you guys were always supporting me, weren't you?" Hasegawa scratched the back of his neck in embarrassment before flushing it down with a loud laugh.

"Che! Being sappy doesn't suit me, damn it! Anyway, enough with the chit chat already. We have work to do." Chris smiled warmly as he watched Hasegawa join the others. Well, if he had anyone to thank for the changes in his life, then only one person would come to mind.

"Don't get all emotional, Chris. We still have a lot of work ahead of us." Tanba gave him one meaningful stare, conveying everything.

Chris half-smiled. "Yeah."

"Oi senpai!" They both turned to the sound of Miyuki's voice. He walked lazily up to them, his eyes barely open.

Chris couldn't blame him for being so tired. It was only seven in the morning, and they've been up for two hours already when they barely slept the night before.

"What is it?" He spoke up for the both of them. Tanba never did like Miyuki and he couldn't see them getting along any time soon.

"Rei-chan's calling everyone over to the cafeteria. Breakfast's ready." Miyuki yawned again, his glasses fogging up but didn't bother wiping the moisture away.

"We'll be right over. Let me just round up the others." Before he could move, Tanba was already making his way towards the giant tree barely covered in ornaments and called their teammates down.

Chris watched him go, a sheepish smile on his face. Sighing, he focused his attention back at Miyuki, who was already falling asleep on his feet. "Why don't we go ahead, Miyuki?"

The catcher grunted, still too tired to do anything else and let his senpai drag him to the cafeteria. Seriously, he wasn't psyched at eating so early in the morning, and the smell of food was nauseating at best. But they had a rule, and breaking it led to dire consequences. Every dormer needs to eat three bowls of rice before they could leave. With the cook watching them like a hawk, no one can cheat their way out.

"Come on, Miyuki. We're here. Line up and get your food." Miyuki grumbled, his usual flair gone in favor of drooling over the cafeteria table. A quick glance around the room told him that more than half of their players weren't doing any better.

"Chris-senpai?" His gaze slid down and saw Haruichi staring up at him.


Haruichi clenched his tray. "Have you seen Eijun-kun?"

Chis stared at him, surprised. "Isn't he supposed to be helping with food preparations?" The better question yet was, 'Why are you asking me when he's supposed to be with you?' But Chris figured that asking that question so bluntly would only worry Ryosuke's brother more.

"What's this? The brat's slacking off, is he?!" Jun shouted after appearing seemingly out of nowhere, startling about a few dozen people sleeping on their breakfast.

"Sawamura's not here?" Miyuki queried while rubbing his eyes and stretching his limbs.

Kuramochi looked up from his bowl of rice and joined in. "Actually, he hasn't been here since last night." They stared at him incredulously as he continued plowing through his breakfast even after saying something so worrying.

"And you didn't inform anyone?" Haruichi demanded, his glare boring holes at the back of Kuramochi's head. If anyone was surprised by the sudden change in the usually reserved first year, they didn't show it.

Kuramochi laughed obnoxiously after swallowing down his soup. "Na, Rei-san called us up last night. Something about Sawamura being home sick and all, so he went back to his hometown after practice last night."

Silence only lasted a heartbeat before Jun was spewing curses that would put any sailor to shame. Haruichi looked red in the face, looking as if he was about to cry. Miyuki looked serious for once, Tetsu was busy glaring at the floor and Chris - he looked angry and that was a sight to behold. Kuramochi dismissed these observations and filed them at the back of his head. He would just have to make Sawamura pay with his body once he comes back.

"So he slacks off and ditches us? That brat's got nerve, doesn't he?" Jun grinned, malicious intent leaking from his body.

"Rei-chan!" Miyuki walked over to her, his usual laid back gait nowhere to be seen. Instead, he looked like someone who was stalking his prey, and ready for the kill. "When's the dead mea- I mean when's Sawamura coming back?"

Takashima adjusted her lenses. "Sawamura-kun will be back a day before the winter break ends - just in time for our formal practice." They looked grim as she announced this and it took her self-control not to slip up and show anything on her face.

She observed them over the rim of her glasses. More than anger, they were feeling disappointed and hurt that someone could just take this important event for granted. And for Sawamura, their team's core of strength and spirit, to be the one leaving them like this was unforgivable. Most especially, when everyone agreed to participate in today's event for the sake of their seniors.

Takashima hid a smirk and retreated to the kitchens. Ah, how could forgetful could she be? She forgot to mention that Sawamura will be back before the winter break ends - just in time for Christmas. Her age must be getting to her if she jumbles information so easily like this. Takashima shrugged and began working on the dough for the cake. Like the saying goes, 'What they didn't know, wouldn't hurt them'.

It wasn't long before students piled up in the kitchen, doing their own part with the preparations. Soon, night fell and at six-thirty in the evening, all students were given reprieve to freshen themselves up. Other preparations were now handled by the teachers and other staff until seven-thirty when the party would begin.

"Haruichi." Ryosuke softly beckoned his brother out of his room and waited until he walked out and clasped his hand. "Still down?" Reluctantly, Haruichi nodded, his fingers tightening around Ryosuke's. In the end, Eijun never did show up. He really wanted to celebrate this day with him - with someone he considered as important as his brother.

"Don't be. Christmas is supposed to be a happy occasion, right?" Ryosuke smiled at him, his face much gentle than what he's used to. Haruichi smiled back, albeit a little more shyly. His older brother was right. He could always teach Eijun a lesson later on.

"So the brat never showed up, huh?" Jun watched the festivities indifferently. Even as the music blared from the stereos and fellow schoolmates made fool of themselves on the dance floor, he didn't lift a finger. Chris shared the same sentiments. Without the loud mouth, everything really did seem too quiet. How were they living before the idiot bombed his way through their lives?

"Maa, no use crying over spilled milk!" Miyuki exclaimed, sounding a little forced, before dragging Kuramochi away. "Come on, I heard the guys from the basketball club spiked the punch."

"Oi! I don't like drinking, bastard!" Their voices were drowned out as they got lost in the crowd. Tanba couldn't take anymore of the tense and awkward atmosphere and promptly stood up, each of his hand holding one of Chris' and Miyauchi's.

"Get up. We're enjoying this and that's final." And just like what Miyuki did, Tanba dragged both away. The others left at the round table reluctantly stood up and followed along, seeing as they looked out of place being the only people isolated from the crowd.

And so the night begun, the partying reached full-swing a quarter to ten. When the clock at the school's tower rang twelve, signifying the start of a new day. Fireworks started, giving life to the cloudy and dark sky while the first inklings of snow fell in gentle drops over their heads.

The dancing stopped and everyone watched as the fireworks display ranged from greens and blues to reds and violets shining in the sky. Truly, this celebration represented many things. To some others, it was a beginning of their wonderful life in high school while to a numbered few, this was the end of another chapter in their lives.

The fireworks display lasted a full hour and once the last vestiges of light flashed in the sky, each club was called over to their respective club rooms to celebrate in private. By the time the baseball players were gathered at the warehouse, their coach, vice coach and managers were already there.

"I would like to take this time to greet everyone a Merry Christmas. Use this holiday well and rest your bodies. There's a lot in store for you next year. Make sure you come prepared and ready for battle. Are we clear?"

They stood up straight and shouted all at once. "Yes Coach!"

"Good. You're all dismissed."

"Yes coach!" They dispersed from their line and headed for the tables upfront. Each member was handed a small trinket—a charm for good health and prosperity. It was a small thing but everyone gratefully accepted the gift. It was the only thing they had for Christmas. They were only students, and boys to boot, fancy gift giving wasn't exactly their thing.

"Man, I'm beat." Kuramochi groaned when his joints popped in different places all at once. Ugh, stretching suddenly wasn't so wise, after all.

"Oi, they're joining the other clubs for the after-party. You guys coming?" Zono inquired, only to step back at the glares thrown his way. What the heck did he do this time?

"Are you kidding?! We slept at one in the goddamned morning the day before and forced to wake up at five fucking am to prepare this ass wipe of a party and you're asking if we want to party at two fucking am?!" Zono was starting to sweat bullets and it was only due to Tetsu's timely intervention that he didn't get a beating from Jun.

"Jun, give it a rest. Zono, we'll pass." Zono was already running by the time Tetsu was finished speaking. The others couldn't care less. They were tired as hell and mingling with people they barely knew weren't their idea of fun. Thus, the usual circle of friends ventured towards the direction of the dorms, slipping past people who would get in their way.

"Let's just go to sleep." Everyone gave their own version of approval. Growls here, grunts there, they know the drill.

Kuramochi and Masuko were the first to depart, their dorm room being the closest to the entrance. They both waved lazily at the group clustered in front of them. "See ya."

Masuko reached for the doorknob but stopped when his hand was an inch from the knob. "Kuramochi, did you leave the door open?"

The worry in Masuko's voice was clear and the shake of Kuramochi's head caused the others to stop in their tracks. Hurriedly, they crossed the distance to the duo's dorm room.

Tetsu was the first to speak up. "It might be a thief. Be on your guard."

They all nodded as Kuramochi - being the fastest among them - quietly pushed the door open, expecting the worse, only to freeze at the sight of Sawamura sleeping soundly on his bed, donned in a Santa Claus costume, complete with the beard and a large, empty sack clutched in his hand.

"So? What is it?" Jun hissed from the other side of the door. Kuramochi fumbled for words but only a croak escaped his lips.

"The fuck? You sound like a dying frog, Kuramochi!" Jun burst through the door and came to a stop when he saw the brat sleeping on the bed.

"You're blocking the way, Jun-san." Miyuki casually strolled inside, stilled momentarily before laughing out loud.

"Check out the thief, you guys." One by one, they poured in and froze when they saw Sawamura. By the time the last person was inside their room, Kuramochi already regained his bearings and quickly barreled straight for the unsuspecting pitcher snoring away.

"Dive attack!" Sawamura screamed awake when something heavy fell on his chest.

"What the hell?! Kuramochi-senpai! I was sleeping, you bastard!" Kuramochi huffed before locking Sawamura in a choke hold.

"Ha! That's what you get for missing everything! You lazy ass! You're the only one who didn't slave away for the rest of the day!" Sawamura could feel air leaving his lungs but as soon as the hell started, it ended quickly. He dry heaved, one hand clutching his throat.

"Haha serves you right!"

Sawamura rolled his eyes. "Stupid senpai, always so violent."

"You okay, Eijun-kun?" A hand was reached out to him, and he gratefully accepted only for that same hand to smack his head.

"Eh? Harucchi! You too?!" Sawamura looked close to tears but no one spared an ounce of pity at his sorry state.

"You have some explaining to do, brat." Jun joined the fray, his grin sending shivers of fear down Sawamura's spine.

Suddenly fearing for his safety, Sawamura held his hands up in defeat. "Ok fine! I know I played hooky but can you wait a minute before you grill me?" Not waiting for an answer, he scrambled up the second deck and went back down. Kuramochi was ready to hit him again when a transparent box was presented to him. Inside were three, medium-sized oyaki, all three designed delicately.

"Here, senpai. Merry Christmas!" Kuramochi closed his mouth with a snap and took the fragile looking box wordlessly.

Still grinning, he made a beeline for Masuko and handed him the same thing, only the ribbon tied around the box varied. "Merry Christmas, Masuko-senpai!"

Sawamura retreated and rubbed the back of his head. "It didn't turn out as amazing as I imagined but kaa-san helped me so that should be edible. It wouldn't taste bad, I think? Oh, I placed the rest on your beds, though I shouldn't have trespassed in your rooms but I made sure that the doors were looked after I..." He risked a peek beneath his lashes, suddenly unsure when they didn't make a sound.

"Uh? Sorry?" Sawamura tried again. "It's the only thing I can afford, hehe." He was getting nervous now. Were they expecting something more grand? His smile was beginning to slip off his face.

"Um, I'll do something better next time, I promise! I mean three, tasteless-looking oyaki aren't enough, right? I- oof!" Sawamura never got to finish his infamous 'Sawamura babbling' when Haruichi suddenly threw himself at him and hugged him tight, stealing his breath away for a second.

Clearly baffled, Sawamura hesitantly returned the fierce hug. "Harucchi?"

Haruichi laughed, sounding breathless. "You're forgiven, Eijun-kun."

"Eh? What? Forgiven for what?" Sawamura stared at the rest of his friends, looking absolutely lost.

Miyuki grinned wide and reached out to squeeze one of his cheeks painfully. "Haha! For being an idiot, that's why!"

Sawamura gently pushed Haruichi aside and began shouting his head off. "You stupid catcher! I knew I shouldn't have bothered giving you a gift! You're a lousy bastard!"

The others settled down, their eyes glued to the pair bickering in the middle of the room.

"He's really too much sometimes. It's actually tiring to watch." Kuramochi complained, sounding grounded for once, his hands busy fiddling with the carefully wrapped gift.

Chris chuckled, his gaze focused on Sawamura. "Yeah, but there's no denying that you can't help but miss him, right Tetsu?"

Tetsu shrugged, his eyes closing tiredly as he leaned against Masuko's bed. "I'm not obliged to answer that."

"Oi give that back! The beard's part of the costume! You're ruining everything!" Sawamura wailed when Kuramochi jumped on his back and kicked him down.

"Yahaha! You look so lame, Sawamura!"

Their time passed like this, a gathering filled with cheerful laughter and boisterous yelling. Oh, and a load of bullshitting and fighting too.

At eight in the morning on Christmas Day, not a soul could be seen outside the dormitory grounds. Ryosuke walked in with light steps, careful not to wake the people sleeping inside. Then he backtracked, blinked, and smiled warmly.

"My, my, you don't get to see this everyday."

Chris waved a hand at him, his neck stiff from sleeping at such an awkward angle. His gaze swept across the room, an unbidden smile appearing on his lips. "They got too carried away."

Ryosuke sat on his right, just at the foot of the bunk bed, smiling bemusedly at the three bodies squeezed in Sawamura's bed. "Good thing Haruichi's small or that would be an incredibly tight fit."

Chris moved to get up but Tetsu was already ahead of him. He reached out and tugged the blanket over the freshmen trio snugly sleeping beside each other.

"Thanks, Tetsu."

Tetsu was quick to brush him off. "Catching a cold is not an option."

Chris laughed and it sounded rough from sleep. "You're right but really, how'd we end up sleeping here?"

"Beats me but bunching up like this wasn't so bad, na Tetsu-san?" They looked up at the upper bunk and found Miyuki grinning cheekily at them. His bed mate, Kuramochi, yawned loudly and stretched his arms above his head.

"Hrnn morning senpai." Kuramochi greeted, still groggy from sleep, as he climbed down from his bed. And damn, his body felt like fucking lead.

"Morning Youichi-chan." Ryosuke greeted amicably only to look behind him when something rumbled.

He smiled at the sight of Masuko holding his stomach. "Hungry, Tooru-chan?" Masuko nodded, frowning at his rumbling belly before his eyes widened and he was rummaging his desk. He took out a small box from one of the drawers, his whole face lighting up at the sight of food.

"You sure about that, Masuko? The cafeteria's open, you know?" Masuko stubbornly shook his head and unwrapped the intricately-wrapped gift.

Ryosuke hummed in thought. "That reminds me, Sawamura's from Nagano, right?"

Chris nodded, a piece of oyaki in his hand. Somehow, they found themselves retrieving their gifts from their respective rooms, and began stupidly comparing the varying decorations on the buns. Jun and Kuramochi had a shouting fest over it, and with Sawamura being the dunce that he was, he shouted along with them.

Chris sighed, recalling the night's events. They slept close to 4 am, no thanks to their rowdy pitcher. "Oyaki's known to be one of Nagano's specialties."

"Ah, maybe that's why these look fancier than normal. Oyaki typically looks like like plain dumplings, right? But these look kinda expensive." Miyuki mumbled and popped a piece inside his mouth. The soft bun melted in his mouth and it took some restraint not to eat the rest in one go, else he'd spoil his breakfast.

"Tasteless, huh?" Miyuki grinned and craned his neck to watch the three first years cramped in Sawamura's bed. "For an idiot, he's surprisingly modest." Except for baseball though.

Jun grunted from the upper bunk of Masuko's bed. "He isn't aware of his own good points."

Like Miyuki, both him and Tetsu decided to sleep over. Thank goodness only three people occupied the room, originally, otherwise they wouldn't be so lucky, what with Masuko being as big as he is. Chris wasn't so lucky though so he slept while sitting up, propped against the wall.

Kuramochi cackled, a teasing grin on his lips. "So you do like, Sawamura, ne Jun-san?"

Jun rolled over and threw his pillow solidly at their shortstop's face. "Shut the fuck up, Kuramochi."

Kuramochi wasn't fazed and continued bothering his barely awake senpai. No one tried to stop them this time. It's not as if anyone had the strength to do so, anyway.

"Nii-san?" Ryosuke was quick to assist Haruichi as he sat up dazedly from the bed.

"You should sleep a bit more, Haruichi."

His brother hastily shook his head, his eyebrows furrowed in worry. "I have to go and buy Eijun-kun's gift before we all leave for home." That's right. They would all be leaving after lunch for the winter break. Ryosuke nodded in understanding and helped him up, while brushing away misplaced strands of hair from his face.

"I'll come with you. I have to give him something too. And you guys?" It didn't even take a minute to have them all standing and preparing for a day out.

Haruichi waited patiently for his senpais and smiled fondly when his eyes settled om the bed where both Furuya and Sawamura were sleeping, unknowingly snuggled against each other. No one dared to wake the two, it's their fault for not waking up on their own.

His gaze softened even more when the pitcher's fingers came to view. They were full of bandages and grazes that it made his chest squeeze a little. Sometimes, Eijun really doesn't know how to hold back and those wounds were proof of how much he tried to cook when he clearly couldn't.

"Haruichi, let's go. We'll meet the others outside." Taking one last glance at his two closest friends, Haruichi couldn't suppress the urge to giggle childishly. Eijun really never ceases to amuse him, but this time, it seems that he wasn't the only one who thinks so.

Haruichi's observation was proven ever so true on their way back to the dorms when every person who accompanied him and his brother bought a gift of their own. Naturally, by the time Sawamura received his gifts - with much cussing from Jun's part and a lot of teasing from Kuramochi and Miyuki - he was a sobbing mess, his loud voice crying out his heartfelt gratitude.

"Stop crying already, idiot!"

Sawamura cried even harder, "I can't believe Chris-senpai gave my unworthy self a gift!"

"Oi, I gave you something too." Miyuki rebutted.

Sawamura snorted, his face upturned haughtily. "So what?! Chris-senpai is still way better than you!"

"Why you little, ungrateful brat! Give it back then!" Miyuki made a grab for his sack of gifts but Sawamura was quick to pull it away from his prying hands.

"Haha! In your dreams!"

Yeah, some things never change, do they?

V. Sick and Slick

Classes resumed two days after New Year. Now, almost a week has passed and all other students were slowly integrating themselves into their usual school lives filled with nothing but homework and studying. Sometimes, school breaks always transformed them into bums, wasting away doing absolutely nothing. Such was the case of Sawamura Eijun who still refused to get out of bed one Friday morning. Thus, Kuramochi being the good senpai that he was deemed it necessary to wake his kouhai up.

"Morning Attack!" Kuramochi shouted and dived under the covers, harshly grabbing Sawamura's limp body.

"Oi Sawamura! You're only a first year so you have no right to skip classes!"

Sawamura wriggled weakly against Kuramochi's hold. "Senpai, it hurts. I'm awake now, sorry." The usual liveliness and violent struggling wasn't there and though it should be a cause for worry, Kuramochi only chalked it up to exhaustion from yesterday's practice.

"Che! Then get up already. We can't miss breakfast since the food lady's keeping tabs on everyone." Having said this, Kuramochi dropped him on the bed and ran for the door.

"See ya later, Sawamura!" Blinking slowly, Sawamura sluggishly sat up from the bed, eyes dully staring at the floor. For some reason, he felt a little off today. Maybe, he was still tired. It shouldn't be a surprise since their training menu from the beginning of the week had been more strenuous than last year.

Shrugging to himself, he stood to his full height and promptly fell over. Eh? Did the world just tilt off its axis? Sawamura tried to pick himself off the floor but could only groan pathetically when his limbs refused to cooperate.

"Damn it. I'm going to be late and teach is gonna be after my ass again." There was no other way around it. He just needs to endure or else he'll miss practice with detention Which he couldn't afford, especially today of all days. Chris-senpai promised to pitch for him today. Thinking back, there really wasn't much time left till his senpais' graduation. It left a bitter taste in his mouth.

Now, more than ever, he wanted to spend as much time as he could practicing just to show them all the fruits of his efforts. And then when they do, they'd be able to leave the club feeling reassured and confident that the Seido baseball club would rise to the top.

That everything they did for the club wouldn't be wasted on the people being left behind. Sawamura gritted his teeth, forced back the pain from his head and numbness from his body, and lifted himself with much effort from his arms. He couldn't let some petty fatigue drag him down, not now and not ever.

Luckily or not, he made it to first period with much stumbling from his part and a lot of vomiting after breakfast. Being the idiot that he was, he ignored all these worrying symptoms. It wasn't as if it was the first time he felt this disoriented.

"Eijun-kun?" He looked up and found Haruichi frowning down at him.

"Something up, Harucchi?" Was that his voice? It sounded strange and scratchy.

Haruichi, predictably, picked up on this. "I should be asking you that, Eijun-kun." Forcing a laugh, he grinned, all teeth and gums.

"'M fine! I feel as great as ever!" Except for the fact that he's been feeling nauseous and weighed down since he woke up.

Uh-huh so why are you still sitting on your desk staring at a wall when lunch started half an hour ago? Haruichi gave his friend a critical once-over, taking note of the unnatural flush on his cheeks, dark bags beneath his eyes, and his overall pale complexion. Acting on instinct, he leaned down and placed one hand on Sawamura's forehead, and another one on his own. I knew it.

"You're sick, Eijun-kun."

The pitcher barked with laughter. "Haha! You worry too much, Harucchi! I'm as healthy as a horse!"

"No, you're really sick, Eijun-kun." Haruichi insisted.

Sawamura wasn't fazed and made a move to stand up. He had to do it carefully this time. If he falls on his ass again, then Haruichi would be fretting over him again.

"I'm not, just tired. Aren't you tired from yesterday?"

Haruichi's frown deepened. "Of course I am but you're tired and sick, Eijun-kun. Maybe, you should skip pract-"


Haruichi bit his lower lip at the sharp tone but persisted. "You'll worsen your condition, Eijun-kun. I'll tell Rei-"

For the second time, Sawamura quickly cut off his tirade. He pinned him down with a stare, one that Haruichi has never seen before. "You tell them nothing, Harucchi. I'm perfectly fine so stop insisting that I'm not."

Haruichi was stumped speechless. Eijun-kun's never been like this. That steely gaze and domineering aura... Shocked, he had no choice but to let his friend walk away and exit their classroom leaving him staring after his back.

"Kominato." The second baseman jolted awake.

Kanemaru stopped at his side. "Sawamura's an idiot. You'd have better luck convincing a dog to speak than getting through that thick skull of his." He heaved a sigh and regarded him from the corner of his eye. "I'll help keep an eye on him."

Haruichi offered him a shy smile. "You really care about Eijun-kun, Kanemaru-kun."

Kanemaru flushed red, caught red-handed. "Huh? Who cares about that fool?!" Haruichi sniggered. Even with all his bravado and overzealous enthusiasm, Sawamura just keeps getting people to his side.

"Just that - he's the representative of us first years is all." Kanemaru confessed solemnly.

Haruichi couldn't agree more. "We have to make sure he doesn't keel over later." Then again, this was Sawamura they were talking about so nothing's ever guaranteed. Haruichi sighed as his friend competed ruthlessly against Furuya, looking as healthy as he claimed to be. He wasn't fooled. Not in the slightest.

Running beside him a while ago only spurned his concerns. His breathing was heavier than usual and he looked even redder than before. He knew things would turn for the worse if they didn't stop Sawamura. If only Chris-senpai was here... Unfortunately, their seniors were getting busier as their graduation loomed closer. Ah, so that's it. So that's why. Sawamura was being bull-headed more than usual precisely because of their senpais' graduation.

Mou Eijun-kun, you really are an idiot. There was no helping it then. If it was already set in stone, then the only thing that could stop Sawamura now was the world ending, and that wouldn't happen even if Haruichi wished for it with all his heart.

"Oi ichinen! Stop resting and get your butts in gear!"

Flustered, Haruichi shouted back. "Hai!"

Practice continued on and much to Haruichi's and Kanemaru's relief, Sawamura didn't pass out. Though they never strayed their attention away from him. Dinner passed without preamble and for a moment, Haruichi thought he was wrong. So when the pitcher bounced over to him and tattled on this and that, he let his guard down.

And that was a mistake all in itself.

Kuramochi bolted awake, and searched for the source of all the rustling around. He was a light sleeper for fuck's sake. And only one person would be so noisy this late into the night.

"The hell, Sawamura! Keep it down already!" Kuramochi buried his head on his pillow when the rustling didn't stop.

Endure, endure, endu- oh fuck it! "You damned brat, what the hell are you even doing down there?!"

He slid off his bed and haphazardly ripped the blanket off his body. Sawamura didn't shout like he expected, didn't get mad as he should have, he only lied there on his bed, breathing heavily. He sounded pained... Kuramochi didn't waste time, he went for the switch, flipped it on before kneeling down by the first bunk, reached out and turned him around to face him.

"Oi Sawamura, what's wrong?" Kuramochi panicked when he was met with a red-faced Sawamura breathing raggedly, looking as if he couldn't breathe. He felt for his forehead and pulled back in shock.

"Damn it! If you were sick, you should have said so, baka! Masuko-san! Masuko-san! Wake up goddamnit!" Ok fine so maybe he shouldn't be acting like the apocalypse was waiting on their doorstep but hey seeing someone looking as if he was about to die could really shake a person.

Masuko stirred, his eyes blinking open. "What? This better be imp-"

Kuramochi didn't give him time to say anything else when in a flurry of movements, he was heading for the door. He only stopped briefly to bark a hasty, "Watch the idiot, I'm getting Chri-senpai," before running away as if his life depended on it.

He looked lame and absolutely twitchy but those things were from his mind, Kuramochi forced himself to calm down before knocking on Chris' dorm room. He waited three seconds and knocked again, a little louder this time and could only sigh in relief when someone fumbled for the doorknob.

"Senpai?" Kanemaru asked, still hazy from sleep. Kuramochi pushed him out of the way and forced himself in.

"Chris-senpai? Chris-senpai!" The other second year inside the room grumbled.

"Stop with the racket! He's not here! All third years of every club are at school preparing for the cultural festival!" Kuramochi palmed his face. Seriously, why now of all times? And why so late? It's nearing 1 am! And why the hell wasn't Masuko with the others if all seniors were required to attend? Ah whatever. He had other pressing matters to attend to, like the fact that he has to scour the whole school just to look for Chris.

"Damn it!"


"Aww man, after practice and we have to stay at this depressing place for who knows how long. I'm dying here." True to his word, Jun looked worse for wear with Tetsu barely able to keep his eyes open.

Tanba was already snoring away on the other side of their room and Ryosuke was busy terrorizing whoever caught his fancy. Chris sighed, feeling the fatigue creeping in. It was tradition that every year for the whole month of January that all seniors of each club would be relentlessly working for the cultural festival held on the second week of February.

It was a grand scale event, open for the public. Thus, the school makes use of this chance to earn funds for their events. However, respective clubs were responsible for their own activities but must actively participate for all other activities as well. Right now, the baseball club, together with the basketball club and tennis club, were tasked with float building.

"You don't have the right to complain when you're just flapping your lips, Isashiki." Jun started, his eyes blazing. Hasegawa stuck his tongue out and ran for the door.

"Get back here, retard!" Chris ignored them and set his mind at the task at hand. The float was only halfway done. Painting aside, it would take a good week to complete the whole thing.

"Eh? Kuramochi? Why the hell are you here?!" Jun's bellow caught everyone's attention including his own. Chris turned to where the commotion was and saw the seond uear bent over, panting heavily.

"Chris-sen- ugh." Kuramochi breathed out. He was so getting back at Sawamura after this. He straightened after a few puffs of breath and demanded. "Where's Chris-senpai?!"

Jun stepped back, taken aback. "The fuck's wron-"

"What's wrong, Kuramochi?" Chris asked, his feet carrying him forward. He raised one eyebrow in question when the shortstop closed the distance partway, his face aghast.

"Senpai! Sawamura's sick!" Kuramochi exclaimed, eyes wide, sounding almost hysterical.

Tetsu stepped forward. "Calm down, Kuramochi. How bad is it?"

"Bad, I mean seriously it's really bad and the way he's breathing doesn't look normal. I just panicked, sorry." Chris nodded grimly. Bad timing indeed. The coach and vice coach left last night after practice for a conference and would come back Monday. The other teachers already left and the only guardian they have right now was the janitor.

Seeing his face looking so conflicted, Tetsu sighed. "Chris just go. We can handle things here. If anything's up, just give us a ring." Their gazes collided, urging him on. Chris smiled gratefully.

"Ah. I'll be in touch. Let's go, Kuramochi."

Walking back didn't suit Kuramochi and before long, he was running towards the dorms, failing to hide his anxiety. Chris didn't mind. He was just as worried and frustrated. Just one missed practice and the pitcher suddenly collapses. How can he graduate peacefully when he has his hands full and his mind constantly worrying over him?


"Yes, senpai?" Chris slowed to a jog as they neared the entrance to the dorms.

"I'll go ahead so I need you to fetch the first aid kit under my bed. Can you do that?" Kuramochi didn't utter a word of affirmation and just did as was told. They didn't have the luxury of time. Chris strode past the entrance and two rooms before reaching Sawamura's. He didn't need to knock, not when the door was wide open and people were already milling in and out the room.

"Chris-senpai! You're here!" They looked at him imploringly, distress clear on each of their faces.

"How is he?" He knelt down and peered at the freshman's sickly face. Kuramochi wasn't exaggerating. It really did look bad. A swift touch on the forehead said it all.

"Senpai! Here it is!" Kuramochi announced over the small crowd gathered around him. He set the box beside him, looking anxiously down at Sawamura.

"Is he going to be ok?" Haruichi interrupted as Chris methodically took Sawamura's temperature. How could he be so stupid? He could only mentally thank Kanemaru for seeking him out after Kuramochi bulldozed his way into their room.

"40.9 degrees Celsius." Chris uttered in astonishment once the timer from the thermometer went off. How did it get so bad?

His eyes narrowed. "Haruichi."

"Yes, senpai?"

"Sawamura went to practice even though he was sick to begin with, didn't he." It wasn't a question at all.

Haruichi nodded hesitantly. "Yes, I tried to stop him and I should have tried harder but - sorry."

Chris sighed. "Don't be. Knowing him, it was bound to happen."

They can talk about this later. For now, they need to lower down Sawamura's temperature. He turned to face them and wasn't surprised to see them all standing in attention, patiently awaiting for orders. The situation was dire but seeing them like this forced a smile from his lips. Sawamura was really cared for, wasn't he?

"Masuko, Kuramochi, Kanemaru - we need a cooler, lots of ice cubes, a basin, face towels, and extra blankets. Haruichi, call up your brother, have anyone who's available to buy some medicine, fluids, and food, preferably jellies and unsweetened pudding for now. The konbini near the school is open 24/7, it should have everything we need." They nodded in understanding and hurried outside.

"Senpai?" Half-lidded eyes met his and he was already bending down and carting his fingers through Sawamura's hair.

"Why are you-" A ragged wheeze escaped his lips followed by a series of coughing that had Chris cradling him and soothing his back. Sawamura leaned against his senpai's chest, not having the strength to hold himself up.

"I feel funny, senpai." Chris had to stop himself from tapping him on the head with the intent to scold. The kid was already feeling bad as it is.

"You're sick, Sawamura." He intoned lightly. Just as he said this, Sawamura shook violently, his teeth chattering. Chris pulled him closer, unmindful of the burning heat from feverish skin, and covered their forms with the coverlet, hoping his body heat and the warmth from the blanket would ease the shivering. Fevers this high felt like hell and he could only imagine what Sawamura was feeling now.

"Eijun-kun?" Haruichi plodded towards them and sat on the bed.

"Harucchi, sorry I didn't listen to you." Sawamura ducked his head, looking miserable and small cocooned in the blanket they were wrapped in.

Haruichi shook his head. "It's fine. Next time just don't push yourself too much, ok?" Eijun managed a small smile before another coughing fit spilled from his mouth. Alarmed, Haruichi swiftly took the bottle of water from the desk and handed it it over to Chris.

"Tilt your head a little and drink, Sawamura." Still weak, he opened his mouth and slowly drank with Chris holding the bottle out for him.

"Senpai! We have everything!"

Kuramochi was the first one to enter, followed by Masuko, then Kanemaru, all lugging the things he listed down.

Chris moved to disentangle himself from Sawamura but stopped when he whimpered at the loss of warmth. "You'll be fine, Sawamura. I promise." The pitcher looked up at him critically before releasing his grip on his clothes.

"Ok." Chris tousled Sawamura's hair, an exasperated smile on his lips. Really. This boy. Sighing, he re-directed his attention to the other occupants of the room.

"Kuramochi, fill the basin with water and ice cubes and hand me those towels. Haruichi, you'll be helping me wipe him down. Just pass the wet towel over his skin and quickly wipe it with a dry one. When you get tired, say so and Kanemaru will take your place." They were quick to work and began the tedious task of continuously wiping Sawamura down. His clothes were discarded, except for his boxers, and only a towel was placed over his figure to keep him from shivering.

"It hurts - too cold ah!" Sawamura cried out every time something wet graced his skin. Hos body felt as it was on fire and to have something so cold against his skin felt as if he was being stabbed by pin pricks of pain. He wanted it to stop but his struggling was wasted effort on his part when Masuko was asked to hold him down.

"Senpai... I don't like this." He sobbed pitifully but Chris knew that if they did, then his temperature wouldn't lower down. And leaving him with a temperature that high would lead to something worse. Chris strengthened his resolve with Haruichi unwillingly doing the same, his face taut with pain for his suffering friend. It's ok Eijun-kun, you'll be fine, just like senpai promised.

Almost an hour later and Sawamura finally calmed down, his breathing evened out and Chris decided to stop for the time being and check his condition once he wakes up. At the same time they took a break, the other seniors arrived, bearing plastic bags filled to the brim.

Ryosuke decided to stay behind while Tetsu and Jun departed not long after a brief hello and good look on Sawamura's face. They didn't have enough energy to linger around. They would just have to ask about the first year's conditon after proper rest.

"How's he doing?" Ryosuke asked, a mask on his face. It wouldn't be good if they contracted whatever Sawamura was infected with. Chris must have thought the same since everyone else was wearing masks.

"I'll have him take some medicine and see how it goes from there." Chris answered distractedly as he rummaged a bag, pulling out a jell-o and medicine before returning to Sawamura's side. One hand came up to gently caress flushed cheeks.

"Sawamura, wake up. Sawamura." That gentle voice was lulling him away from sleep and with much effort, his eyes cracked open.


Chris smiled kindly. "Yeah, think you can sit up?"

Sawamura groaned in pain but tried to do so with Chris lending a hand. Something cold was pressed against his hand, causing him to look down at the squishy yellow thing given to him.

"It's jell-o, Sawamura. You need something in your stomach before you take your medicine."

Sawamura frowned and shook his head. "I don't want to eat, senpai."

Chris sighed and took it from his hands. "You need to eat. Don't waste the efforts your senpais went through just to buy them." That seemed to do the trick but when he still looked as if he was about to disagree, Kuramochi stepped in and perched himself beside Chris.

"I'll feed you, baka, so eat it all up." Sawamura's sickly face sparked with life and smiled radiantly at him.

"You're kinder than usual, senpai." Kuramochi froze, and felt his cheeks burn as the other occupants of the room watched them.

He sputtered indignantly. "I'm not doing it for you! You're just being troublesome right now so get better already."

Sawamura beamed but stopped when his headache came back with a vengeance. "Arggh...it hurts."

"Come on, eat this up so you can rest." Straining against the pain, Sawamura opened his mouth, chewed and swallowed. Ryosuke watched this delightful sight with his eyes open. The kid was being obedient without complaint for once and if his hunch was correct then... His lips curled in a grin. Well, he'll just have to find out later.


It was early Saturday morning when the news of Sawamura's condition reached his ears. He hated to admit it but as soon as he heard the dreaded news, he almost bolted out of his room, all other thoughts thrown in the wind. Seriously, idiots should be susceptible to colds. Idiots do not get sick.

Miyuki stopped in front of room number 5, a small bowl of gruel in his hand. Being the considerate senpai he was, he opted to make a detour to the cafeteria, ask the food lady for something easy to digest, before seeing how that stubborn pitcher of theirs was doing.

He opened the door, not bothering to knock, and went inside. Chris sat on a chair situated next to Sawamura's bed reading a novel though he looked up at the sound of the door opening. He gave off a relieved smile, his eyes on the small bowl he was holding.

"Great timing, Miyuki. Can you watch over him? Coach asked me to facilitate practice today. Regulars were given the weekend off, right?" Miyuki was quick to oblige, striding towards the bed, a gleeful smile making its way on his face.

"I'll be more than happy to do so. Don't worry, I have it covered." Chris rose to his feet.

"Thanks. I couldn't ask the others just because..." Chris looked at him as if communicating the reason with his eyes.

Miyuki chortled aloud. "I got it. They couldn't handle it, I'm guessing."

"Yes," Chris said, "and Sawamura needs peace and quiet. His temperature's been wavering too much so until his fever breaks, we have to keep a close eye on him."

Miyuki settled on the bed and felt for Sawamura's forehead. "Yeah, still too warm. His timetable?" Chris took something out of the book he was reading and passed it to him.

Miyuki scanned the contents, humming thoughtfully. "Yeah, really perfect timing, it's about time for his tonsil meds."

"We have to get the swelling down else it would hamper his recovery."

"Got it. I'll take over from here - nothing to do better anyway. You can go now, senpai."

Chris smiled gratefully. "I'll drop by during lunch."

Miyuki nodded and waved him off. Chris flashed another smile at him before heading for the door but stopped a scant inch away from the door.

"Miyuki." The catcher turned to face him. "Do whatever it takes to get him to eat. He's more stubborn than usual so I'll leave it up to you." Miyuki's lenses glinted, a strange smile suddenly on his lips. Oh the fun of it all.

"Will do, senpai. Will do."

When the door closed, Miyuki's gaze slanted downwards and saw the strange sight of surprise surprise a quiet and peaceful-looking Sawamura. Asleep or awake, he was still noisy and seeing this new side of him was a little pleasant. Though personally, he preferred a livelier one. Poking one flushed cheek, he chuckled softly.

"Aren't you a lucky guy, Sawamura. To be cared for so much by Chris-senpai, you're one lucky kid. But you have me to care for you now so you better be grateful." As if hearing his voice, Sawamura jerked away from his touch. Miyuki tsked, a vein twitching on his forehead.

"You little brat. Not cute at all." He paused and made a grab for the bowl of gruel before settling on the bed again.

"Ah well, time to wake up, Sawamura." He nudged him slightly on the shoulder and waited when the first stirrings of consciousness appeared on his face. Sawamura's eyes slowly opened, his gaze glazed over as he stared at him.

Miyuki grinned. "Ya Sawamura, how you feeling?" Honestly, he was expecting to be glared at, or ridiculed (you know, the usual deal) but was gobsmacked when Sawamura smiled, a little shine in his eyes.

"Miyuki...senpai..." His voice was breathy and awed. Miyuki withdrew so quickly, he almost pulled a muscle.

"Senpai?" Miyuki uncomfortably sidled back to the pitcher's side, a little wary at the sudden change.

"Uh yeah." God, he sounded awkward. "You need to take your meds so eat this, ok?" He placed the bowl on Sawamura's hands, urging him to eat.

One look at the rice had Sawamura cringing, his eyebrows knitting in distaste. "Don't want to." And stressed the point by pushing the bowl far away from.

Miyuki sighed. Such a kid. "You have to so you can get better sooner."

Sawamura shook his head. "No, you can't make me." Miyuki sighed again. Why were all pitchers so selfish? Sawamura was acting like Furuya on a bad day. Fortunately, he knew just how to handle them.

"I'll feed you so quit being stubborn."

Sawamura perked up. "Ok."

Miyuki sweatdropped. See? Selfish. Well, at least he was willing to eat now. Swirling the rice, he scooped a small spoonful and offered the meager amount to Sawamura who obediently opened his mouth, chomped down on the spoon and swallowed.

Miyuki did this a few more times and every time he did, he tried to fight off the urge to make fun of the first year's docile face. (I mean, what the heck? He's acting like a total child.) It made his task easier though. A little bribing and he willingly took his meds.

"He looks weird like this..." He thought aloud.

"How so?" Miyuki whirled around so fast, he almost had a whiplash. Ryosuke stood by the entrance, smiling in that eerie way of his.

"You sure know how to make an entrance, Ryo-san." The third year smiled and ventured forward.

"You were too busy feeding Sawamura-chan that you didn't hear me come in." He sat on the chair previously occupied by Chris, his face indulgent.

"So? Why do you think he looks weird?"

Miyuki quirked an eyebrow at him before glancing back at Sawamura, brushing a few stray hairs from his red face. "Like a baby chick being fed. It's kind of endearing."

"That's not all though." Ryosuke retorted, his smile turning sly. Miyuki recognized it right away.

"Go on, ask him something."

Miyuki stared at him suspiciously but his curiosity won. "Sawamura, what do you think of Ryo-san?" Ryosuke grinned. Two can play at at hat game.

"Ryo-san?" Sawamura asked.

"Yep, Ryo-san." Miyuki confirmed.

"Harucchi's nii-san is... scary." Ryosuke twitched and Miyuki fought down another laugh.

"But I like him."

"Oh?" Ryosuke leaned forward, suddenly interested. "How so?"

Miyuki deflated, a bit miffed. Fine, Sawamura hates him but to like Kominato Ryosuke, of all people? That was just hitting below the belt. Seriously.

"Harucchi loves Ryo-san very much. That means-" He coughed into his hand but continued in spite of the burning in his chest. "-he must be a great nii-san, no doubt about it." Like all his declarations, this too, was full of conviction. Ryosuke's smile softened, his heart warming at such heartfelt words. Maybe, he had judged Haruichi's friend too quickly. Maybe, he wasn't just a ridiculous boy with too much zeal to be considered healthy.

"Then, what about Miyuki-chan? What do you think of him?" Now, this was no brainer. Miyuki already knew where this was going. Sighing, he let Sawamura rest against his chest when he swayed unsteadily, but it seems he wasn't done yet.

"Miyuki-chan is twisted and self-centered." Sawamura stated bluntly. They stared at him flabbergasted for a second and a half before Ryosuke was throwing his head back in laughter. Oh this was rich, absolutely rich. Ok, he takes back everything he said. Sawamura wasn't as stupid as he seemed.

Miyuki glared daggers at him, wishing him dead. Fine. Since, he's in a good mood, he'll let it slide for now. "But?" Ryosuke prompted.

Sawamura burrowed himself closer to Miyuki, his eyes starting close. "...but I only enrolled at Seido for him. Everyday, I'd wish that I could play with him but he seems too far away..." Sawamura confessed. Miyuki stiffened at this but he didn't notice as he continued. "...he's burdened too much. Must make sure to always watch over him so he'll always be number one..." He breathed out, his voice wistful and then he was sound asleep, one hand clutched on Miyuki's shirt.

Silence. Just obstinate silence followed after Sawamura's confession until Ryosuke decided to break it. "He's insightful, isn't he, Miyuki-chan?"

Miyuki laid Sawamura on the bed, his face hidden from view. "Ah. But being an idiot suits him better." He sighed deeply and sat near the foot of the bed.

"You knew he was going to be like this, didn't you, Ryo-san." It wasn't so much of a question as much as it was a direct accusation.

Ryosuke raised his hands in defeat. "Perfect deduction as always, Ka-chan."

Miyuki groaned indignantly. "Don't call me something so disgusting."

"That's true. If you and Sawamura get together, you'd be tou-chan, right?"

Miyuki balked, his face paling. "Don't even joke about that, Ryo-san. If I spend my life together with that brat, I'd have gray hair before I reach twenty. Not cool, dude."

Ryosuke's gaze sharpened. You say that now but... "Whatever you say, Ka-chan."

"...Please don't call me that."

"Oh my mistake, sorry tou-chan."

"You're enjoying this, aren't you?"



"Wow, you look like shit, Sawamura." Jun exclaimed as soon as he saw Sawamura awake. Everyone was staring at him with a look that says you-can-be-such-an-insensitive-bastard-Jun-you-bastard. Jun bristled in defense.

Kuramochi rolled his eyes, exasperated. "Way to make someone feel better, Jun-san."

Sawamura, on his part, didn't look offended in the least. Instead, he smiled bright, his whole face lighting up like some damned Christmas tree. Jun stalled at the entrance. The last time he saw that sugar-coated smile, he was harassed into going to bed with him. (Saying it like that would cause a lot of misunderstandings, really.)

"Uh..." Jun looked as if he was about to bolt and he would have if Tetsu didn't push him inside, looking unapologetic when the center fielder unceremoniously fell flat on his face.

"You were in the way." Tetsu said it as if he was stating the weather.

"Yahaha! Who looks like shit now?" Jun quickly drew himself up and lunged for the shortstop laughing his ass off. Tetsu blinked at the two monkeys wrestling on the floor before carefully walking around them. They say that idiocy was contagious. it'd be wise to be more careful in the future. Idiocy was incurable, after all.

Safe away from all the commotion, Tetsu knelt down by the side of the bed. "How're you feeling, Sawamura?"

The first year gave him crooked smile, "Feeling much better. Miyuki-chan's been taking care of me the whole day."


There was chilling silence as everyone gaped at the two people seated beside each other on the bed.

"What the fuck is Miyuki-chan?" Ah Isashiki Jun, always the outspoken one. Miyuki didn't look unnerved though and only calmly turned another page of the manga cradled in his right hand while his left was securing Sawamura to his side, silently offering his warmth.

"Miyuki-chan?" Kuramochi looked constipated and Tetsu almost keeled in shock.

Ryosuke took pity on his friends and decided to intervene. "Eijun-chan." Their jaws dropped to the ground. Eijun-chan?!

"Yes, Ryo-san?" They were dying, seriously dying, like dying and did they say, dying? The hell was Ryo-san?!

"What do you think of Chris?" The sudden change in subject had them calming down a bit. Chris, who stayed silent all this time, turned to face them. Something didn't feel right.


Ryosuke affirmed. "Yes, Chris-senpai."

Sawamura closed his eyes, feeling a little tired and laid his head on Miyuki's shoulder as if it was the most natural thing in the world. They looked close to hyperventilating now. Was the world coming to an end?

"Chris-senpai's an insensitive bully." Miyuki almost dropped the act altogether. God, the looks on their faces were priceless. He shared a glance with Ryosuke. The fun just started.

"Ok, hold it and freeze. Who the fuck is that?! And where the hell is the real brat?!" Jun rudely jabbed a finger at Sawamura's direction.

Ryosuke chuckled. "Nothing of the sort. He's the Sawamura you all know - well, you thought so at least."

"Nii-san?" Haruichi was at a loss. What the hell was going on?

Ryosuke placed a finger on his lips, shushing them. "Shhh. Just watch, you'll find out soon enough."

Kuramochi snorted in disbelief. "Well, it better be good 'coz I think Chris-senpai just short-circuited." Um yeah, Chris looked as if a dog died at his feet.

"Maa just watch." Miyuki decided to intercede, closing the manga in his hand with a firm snap.

"What're you talk-"

"Eijun-chan, anything else about Chris-senpai?"

Sawamura groggily responded, his eyes still closed. "But he's the most amazing person I've met in my life and if I could, I'd follow him for the rest of my life." Sawamura heaved a breath, his throat feeling parched but he still kept going. "He deserves a lot of things but gives too much. He's too kind, too gentle so it's my job to protect him."

Miyuki grinned at their stupefied expressions, taking note of Chris' face the most. Shock, disbelief, and unbidden joy mixed together. There really was no other way to explain it.

Haruichi coughed into his fist, disrupting the quietness that descended on them. "Eijun-kun, what about Kuramochi-senpai?"

Kuramochi turned rigid and waited with bathed breath. Sawamura didn't disappoint. "Kuramochi-senpai's a violent monkey."

"Wow, thanks Sawamura."

"Shhh! Shut up, Kuramochi! He's not done yet!"

"Alright, fine!"

"Go on, Eijun-kun."

Sawamura shifted and nuzzled into the warmth radiating from his side, his body quivering involuntarily. Chris saw this and crossed the distance to the bed. He sat on Sawamura's left, Miyuki still perched on the right, and covered all three of them with a blanket. The added warmth momentarily stopped the shivering, forcing a smile on his lips before proceeding.

"Kuramochi-senpai is strong and capable. I envy him sometimes. He's someone I look up to because he has everything I don't have." Sawamura huffed a breath as if wanting to laugh but couldn't. "He's the one person I know I could always count on, and someday, I'll be strong enough to support him too."

"Oh god, you're just embarrassing, Sawamura! Make him stop!" Kuramochi blubbered out, his face messy with splotches of red that reached his ears.

The sound of a shutter had him screeching and scratching tooth and nail at Masuko who unwittingly took a picture of his face. The man was built strong so nothing he did could make him budge and admit defeat.

"Great blackmail material - good job, Masuko!"

"No, it's not! Give it back you brute!"

"Settle down, all of you." Tetsu's steely voice sliced through the air and they were forced to obediently simmer down.

"Good, my turn." They looked at their captain as if he had grown another head. Tetsu looked strangely excited.

"Sawamura, do you hate Furuya?"

"You are so getting it, kaibutsu-kun." Miyuki teased.

Furuya's face wrinkled in annoyance. "I bet it would be better than yours."

Miyuki's grin disappeared from his face, his eyes grave. "I wouldn't be sure about that, Furuya."

"Shut it, you two! Oi Sawamura! What about Furuya?"

Sawamura jerked at the sound of his name. "Furu...ya? Oh, he's one hell of a bastard." He stated frankly, sounding totally convinced that he was right.

"Yahaha! Burn, Furuya! Burn!"

"See kaibutsu-kun?" Furuya frowned heavily, feeling a small twinge in his chest. Haruichi glanced at him worriedly.

"...but there's no way I can live without him." That shut them up real quick. Furuya almost looked smug. "He keeps me going, making me reach higher, helping me grow. It's thanks to him that I can move forward. He's my other half."


"...That sounded disturbingly like a confession."

"Shut up, Kuramochi."

Kuramochi flattened but quickly bounced back. "Oi Sawamura, what about Tetsu-san? Jun-san?" Jun looked up from the televison while Tetsu stopped glaring the shogi board down at the sound of their names.

Sawamura's nose wrinkled when something tickled his face. He blearily opened his eyes to see Miyuki grinning down at him. "...Miyuki-chan?"

"Ya, finally opened your eyes, huh?"

Sawamura gave a smile of his own. "Yeah."

"Uh hate to say this man but you look kind of like lov-"

Miyuki intervened before he could finish. "Don't even dare, Kuramochi."

The second year poked his tongue out childishly. "Fine! So what about Tetsu-san and Jun-san, Sawamura?"

Sawamura turned to face him, his cheeks rosy from the fever. "Tetsu-san's a big block of ice and Jun-san's a barbarian."


"Whoa, you're dead meat once you're back at practice, Sawamura." They silenced him with a glare. Kuramochii drew himself up defensively. Why was he the one being picked on? That was Sawamura's job!

"But?" Ryosuke urged.

"Tetsu-san's the best captain any team would ever ask for. He's dependable, capable, and admirable - if I was born a girl, I'd force him to marry me." Sawamura revealed, his gaze swaying here and there, but every word was said with such finality that they didn't know if they should laugh or...

"...That was definitely a proposal right there."

"I'll castrate you if you don't shut up, Kuramochi."

Ignoring them altogether, Haruichi called out gently. "Eijun-kun?"

A long pause and then. "...If I could be a rock he could lean on, if I could be by his side when he's tired of everything and becomes uncertain, then that's all that matters."

They risked a glance at his direction but Tetsu was as poker-faced as the first time they saw him. Chris didn't buy it in the least. He knew that their captain was barely keeping it together.

"And Jun-san, Sawamura-chan?" Masuko spoke at long last.

"Oh." Sawamura looked as if he remembered something important. "Jun-san's passion comes second to no one." Sawamura revealed. "The way he speaks, the way he plays, and the way he carries himself... I've never seen anyone so dignified or beautiful, maybe... That's why someday when he burns out and can't continue, I'll be the first one to save him."

"In other words, Jun-san, Sawamura's the knight and you're the damsel in distress." Kuramochi nodded to himself, completely convinced of his analysis. Jun snarled at him before striking him down.

"That hurts, Jun-san!"

Miyuki clicked his tongue, his face remorseless. "You had that coming, Kuramochi."

Chris sighed when Sawamura dissolved into coughing fits. He raised one hand and smoothed over his back in gentle strokes. "Alright, let's end it at that."

"Ehhhh? I still have to ask abou-"

"No." Chris cut him off sharply. "He needs to rest. I don't want his temperature rising again so you can all continue this tomorrow - if he can remember all this, anyway. Once his fever breaks, don't expect the same thing."

"Huh?" They stared at him confused.

Chris removed himself from Sawamura's side. Miyuki did the same and together they positioned him on the bed before tucking him in. Chris stood up and turned to face them.

"It's the fever talking, ever heard of that? Much like a person who drinks himself to a stupor, a drunkard simply put. Sawamura's condition could be likened to the same thing. He's delirious from the fever and would probably forget everything."

Kuramochi made a face. "Aww you never got to know yours Masuko!" Masuko opened his cell wordlessly and showed him the picture he took a while ago.

"Goddamnit! Erase that already!"

"Just shut up, Kuramochi, seriously."

Haruichi chanced a gaze over his shoulder. Really, the wonders of Sawamura Eijun never ever ceases to amuse him. Though it was disappointing that he didn't get his turn, it was enough to know how much he cared for them. And it seems that for the fifth time around, he had rendered everyone absolutely speechless.

Total score: Sawamura - 5 ; The rest - 0

It was a total beat down.

Then again, losing once in a while wasn't so bad because Sawamura knew, intentionally or otherwise, how to make it all seem like fair game.

Now love me people! I think I just used up my inspiration for this. Ugh almost 42 pages on Word. Damn it.

Completed: February 8, 2014