The Catcher and the Pitcher
Sawamura Eijun stomped his way from the bullpen, seething. 'That bastard Miyuki, where did he run off to, again'.
He'd been looking for the catcher since this morning. It was Miyuki who smugly told him that they could practice together, and now what? That traitor catcher is nowhere to be found. Practice tonight will be over soon and Sawamura finally lost his well-know limited patience (or more like, his exploding impatience).
Sawamura saw Furuya practicing his batting with Harucchi, so he was sure Miyuki's not with the other pitcher. Kuramochi's currently busy struggling with balls Ryo-san is throwing at him and the shortstop nearly strangled Sawamura when he interrupted them, asking about Miyuki. Everyone found it in their good judgment not to answer the aggravated first year, preventing any impending shouting spree that could (and would surely) happen if he finally found the catcher. And not even their coach answered his query. Yeah, he was feeling the love here.
Of course, nothing could make Sawamura even more irritated, no, scratch that, more livid than people not paying him any attention (although truthfully, he was already used to his teammates' exceptional near-deaf attitude towards him.)
Still fuming, Sawamura sighed and finally decided to give up on his search. Dragging his feet as he walked in his irritation, Sawamura went to the shed for his partner, hauling the tire out for practice. A few runs would at least rein in his annoyance. Sawamura patted the tire with affection, the only one who never ignored him and never complained of his boundless enthusiasm (Well seriously, if only the tire could talk, complaints are the least thing the pitcher would probably hear).
Feeling slightly better with the prospect of finally getting at least a semblance of practice, Sawamura bounded to the field, his mood somewhat improved. And it totally turn into a full-blown ecstatic when right before reaching his running course, Sawamura saw Chris walking towards the field, probably just coming back from his daily therapy. Sawamura beamed and he immediately razed his way towards his respected senpai.
Most of his teammates rolled their eyes, while the others winced and rubbed a hand over their ears. What an excellent way to broadcast someone's arrival. Sawamura will make a good announcer for his loud voice if nothing else.
Chris sighed tinged with a mixture of defeat and fondness when he saw his energetic kouhai running towards him. 'Well, it's nothing new, really.' Chris smiled softly when Sawamura nearly tripped on his feet in his hurry to reach him.
"Chris-senpai, thank goodness you're already here! Ne, ne, senpai, can we practice together? You'll catch my pitches right? Practice will be over soon and I haven't even thrown a single pitch today!" Sawamura whined.
Chris frowned. Well, that's not good. Sawamura needed all the practice he could get. He isn't like Furuya, who's naturally gifted when it comes to baseball. Not to mention Sawamura could barely do anything else besides his pitching. Yes. Sad to say, the first year is an extremely horrible batter. Really. Bunting is the only play he can do.
"What about the others? You didn't try asking them to catch for you?" He asked and just like that, Sawamura's good mood gone in a blink of an eye. His eyes flared and Chris blinked, rubbing his eyes disbelievingly. What the—? Chris could swear he saw a dragon peaking from Sawamura's back. Was that an illusion?
"Other catcher, huh?" Sawamura smiled slowly, evilly, and Chris flinched, surprised from Sawamura's sudden flaring temper. The pitcher was burning with fury.
Trembling, Sawamura clenched his fist in front of his face, smirking manically. "Other catcher? Other catcher? Haaahh...? Are you by any chance, referring to someone who wears a megane, wearing a stupid cap on his stupid head, always showing that stupid grin on his stupid face, forgetting his own stupid promise to me, the most amazing pitcher of all? Heeeeh... I wonder, who other catcher you were talking about, ne, Chris-senpai..?" Sawamura asked, voice dripping with malice.
Chris flinched yet again and he smiled uncertainly. "I-I see. Miyuki's not available huh?"
Sawamura's eyes flashed. "MI-YU-KI? Who's that? Huh, senpai? Who?" Sawamura growled.
Chris shuddered. This is the first time he saw Sawamura this angry. He wondered what Miyuki did this time to garner such reaction from the pitcher. Well, base on what Sawamura had said, Chris mostly figured it out. Miyuki probably escaped again. It looks like the pitcher has a legitimate reason to be angry this time. It'll be better if—
Suddenly, Chris remembered something and he frowned. "Now that you mention it, I saw Miyuki this afternoon on my way to the clinic."
Sawamura's eyes widen and he immediately rounded on his senpai, incensed. "Where? Where the hell did that stupid catcher run off to?"
"Ah…" Chris took a step back from the other, wary.
Before the two of them could say another word, Kuramochi move towards them, looking like he had swam on a mud with his dirty uniform. He panted roughly as he hunched on his knees.
"Keh, Ryou-san seems to be in a bad mood. That training nearly killed me!" he huffed. The shortstop straightened up and faced the other two. "What did you say about Miyuki, Chris-senpai? You saw him? Where? That bastard megane, he was acting strange last night, and then he suddenly asked Coach for a break today. What kind of ditching that bastard is doing now?" Kuramochi eyes suddenly widen and he rounded up on his senpai as well, bouncing on his feet. Chris took another step back. Sawamura alone could make him feel wary so close to his personal space, but adding Kuramochi to the equation? It'll be hell. He doesn't know what could happen being so close with these two.
"Nee Chris-senpai, is Miyuki together with anyone when you saw him?" Kuramochi asked eagerly.
He paused, feeling uncomfortable from the implication of Kuramochi's question. Chris ignored Sawamura's screech towards Kuramochi, complaining about the other not telling him about Miyuki's absence earlier and the shortstop headlocking the loud first year to shut him up as Chris thought of what he saw earlier. He was starting to regret that he even said anything about Miyuki. Chris frowned, contemplating if he should divulge what he saw. But then, it's not like it's a bad thing right? What he saw doesn't mean anything right? Right.
"Well, why did you ask? Did something happen last night Kuramochi?" Chris thought it's better to ask first.
Kuramochi stopped his torture of poor Sawamura and loosen his grip around the first year. The pitcher immediately struggled loose and went behind Chris, peaking warily at his senpai's shoulder in case Kuramochi grabbed him again.
"Maa…" Kuramochi scratched his head and started to relay last night events.
Kuramochi's eyebrows twitched yet again when he heard a cell phone rang for the umpteenth time that night. He and Masuko were in a middle of a very important mission and if that ringing caused him to lose, he will definitely bring down his wrath to that stupid catcher. Kuramochi bet five puddings against Masuko-san and he couldn't afford to lose. Well okay, more like he has no money to back up his bet.
Again, the cell phone rang on top of the study table, distracting him on his game. Annoyed, Kuramochi press a button to pause his game and shouted in irritation. "Miyuki, teme! When are you going to answer that stupid phone? It's distracting me!"
Everyone in the room shifted their attentions to Miyuki who was calmly obliterating their Captain in game of shogi, all of them were actually asking the same question in their mind. Truthfully, Jun was just about one step away from blasting the phone right before Kuramochi's outburst.
Tetsu looked up from his position in front of the shogi board and spoke to his opponent."That's right. It's been distracting me from the start. No wonder I lost every game."
Everyone sweat dropped. ' 're just too weak.'
Miyuki merely grinned."Maa, maa, it's not that distracting right? Don't mind it."
"What do you mean not distracting?! Once is not, but it's been freaking ringing this whole time. Just answer it already!" Kuramochi shouted.
Miyuki sighed, looking troubled. But they all knew it was just a farce. Suddenly, the phone rang again and before anyone else can react, Kuramochi dived for the phone and answered it.
"Hai, moshi, moshi. This is Kuramochi. Miyuki, the bastard is being his usual bastard self so—"
"Ano, Kazuya is not available?"
Kuramochi froze. It's a girl. Wait, a girl? Calling Miyuki? What the—
The phone was suddenly snatched from his ear. Miyuki looked at him exasperatedly. "Don't answer someone else's phone, baka. Che." Miyuki brought the phone to his ear as he stepped out of the room. Before the door completely shut closed, they could barely hear him answered back. "It's me. What is it?"
Everyone looked at Kuramochi expectantly. They were curious on who was it on the other line.
Kuramochi twitched. "It's a girl." He deadpanned. "And from the sound of her voice, a very cute girl."
Their eyes widen. "What?!" Jun screeched, while Zono sweat dropped, wondering how the hell the shortstop knew the girl was cute just from hearing her voice alone.
"That bastard!" Jun was still cursing while the others exchanged disbelieving looks.
"But I thought— " Masuko started.
"No." Tetsu said calmly. "We merely thought of it. It was just a suspicion on our part."
Jun huffed. "Che, what are you talking about? It was pretty obvious, you know. We didn't merely think about it. We are seeing it, everyday if you must know."
Again, they silently looked at each other. Yeah. All of them can see it. Miyuki likes a certain loudmouth pitcher. And it was obvious to anyone looking. So, who was the girl on the phone then? Some of them can feel a massive catastrophe heading their way.
After Kuramochi's story, Chris rubbed his chin as he mull over what he heard. Although Kuramochi didn't say it aloud because of Sawamura's presence, he knew they were bothered by that phone call. Everyone can see that the catcher has hidden attraction towards the first-year pitcher, although Chris can also see that Miyuki is not aware of it yet himself, not to mention Sawamura. The boy is the densest creature ever born, honestly.
Chris faced the other two. "Ah well, yes I saw him today. And as you said, he was with a girl. They were talking when they entered a café in town." He said. He didn't mention that the two were talking quite intimately at that. The girl was talking when Miyuki moved closer, tilting his ear towards the girl familiarly to hear what she was saying better.
Kuramochi cursed under his breath, mumbling profanities neither his two companions can decipher. Both the catcher and the shortstop forgot about a certain pitcher who remained silent throughout the entire conversation. They only become fully aware of his presence again when both of them shuddered as they felt a flaring murderous aura coming from his direction. Chris and Kuramochi snapped their heads towards him in surprise.
And well… What they saw made them want to run in opposite direction.
"Sawamura?" Chris asked hesitatingly. They couldn't see Sawamura's eyes behind his hair, but there's no doubt about it, the first year is burning with anger.
"That bastard—" Sawamura gritted out slowly. "So that's the reason he was missing since morning, huh? And to think I even got worried for a minute that he might be sick since he's been out the whole day and now—?"
Both Chris and Kuramochi shivered when the aura behind the pitcher flared even more. Chris can honestly say it now. A burning dragon was definitely floating behind Sawamura.
"That Miyu-gane, just so you wait. Try showing that smug face of yours in front of me again and I'll definitely-!" Sawamura suddenly snapped his eyes open, making both his senpai jumped warily.
This is not good, Sawamura thought as he breathed out. He's losing his temper again and in front of his respected Chris-senpai no less. No, not good.
But Sawamura couldn't get rid of a constricting lump lodged in his throat uncomfortably just thinking about Miyuki choosing to go to a date rather than staying with him to practice. And he didn't even inform Sawamura at all. Well okay, it's not like he was saying that the bastard should get his permission or something. No, it's not like that at all. But the catcher promised him the night before, and Sawamura was admittedly excited that Miyuki volunteered to catch for him. He couldn't even sleep last night in his excitement.
But what did that bastard had done? He'd totally forget about him. Not even uttering a word that he will be out the entire day. Sawamura can feel his ire rising again. No, no. Not good.
Sawamura breathed slowly, exhaling his irritation through his nose. It doesn't bother him. Not at all, so it's not like he cared. This isn't the first time Miyuki suddenly changed his mind about practice or the other sneaking away to escape Sawamura's insistence to catch for him, but somehow, Sawamura can feel that this was something different. That feelings eliciting from within him at the present were different. But as dense as the pitcher could get, he wasn't sure what difference entirely. He just knew it was something… important.
Pushing the thought away from his mind, Sawamura abruptly turned to face his two skittish senpai. He exhaled loudly, trying to calm himself. "Well, it can't be helped. Looks like Miyuki that bastard is busy—" He nearly gritted the last word out. "— at the moment, so Chris-senpai, can you catch for me? Practice will be over soon. I want to throw a pitch!" The first-year silently thought 'While imagining that bastard's face in front of the mitt. Heh, I can't wait' Sawamura smirked.
Kuramochi stared back at Sawamura, unnerved. What just happened? He could have sworn Sawamura would bring down hell down their heads with his uncontrollable shouting spree, endlessly complaining about being abandoned by Miyuki in exchange of his date. He was even readying himself to headlock the other to shut him up. But now? Sawamura looked erringly calm it was starting to scare Kuramochi. He shivered.
Oi, oi, doesn't he care at all if Miyuki found a girlfriend? Well to be honest, Kuramochi wasn't even sure if Sawamura likes Miyuki. It's not like the brat thought of anything else besides baseball. And he was simple-minded enough that he practically focuses on one thing at a time. Kuramochi even doubted it if Sawamura ever thought of attraction towards another. Kuramochi was observant enough to see that. But—
Kuramochi tilted his head, confused.
Chris was thinking along the same lines. It's true that they haven't seen any indication that Sawamura may harbor any feelings towards the other catcher besides annoyance and probably, a bit of awe and respect. But attraction? Well, his earlier obsession to Miyuki as a catcher can count as one. Other than that, nothing.
But somehow, just now, Chris saw a tiny emotional slip from Sawamura. Chris was pretty sure that behind the annoyance occupying his expression, the catcher caught a flicker of hurt on his face and if Chris was not mistaken, a hint of jealousy. Chris smiled. Well now, that was interesting.
Chapter One: An Irate Pitcher
End of Chapter….