Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction, the characters go with their respective creators of diamond no ace and I do not claim ownership of the characters or the world

Chapter 45

"I can't believe we actually saw them here…" Haruichi said excitedly as they were walking towards the comfort room.

"I did not know they were that famous" Furuya casually answered uninterested.

"Huh… you knew who they were Furuya?" Haruichi asked surprised. He was sort of expecting that Furuya had no idea about the WK team, like someone he knew very well, as he slightly turn behind his back seeing Sawamura who was just following them, and not walking beside them. "Ahm, how did you know about those guys Furuya?" Haruichi asked again, this time taking note Eijun's reaction who seems to be walking up on the clouds.

"I did not know who they were, but that blonde guy, who was holding that other black haired guy… I know they are the best batters of NPB" Furuya answered thinking deeply.

"Ahhhh… well that guy is Captain Sagara Sano, he has the highest hitting percentage on the league while the other guy was Captain Daiki Koji of BJ, he is holding the most homerun for this season on the league as of the moment if I recall." Haruichi answered.

"Ehhhh… you knew captain Daiki, Haruichi?" Eijun asked surprised the moment he heard his teammates mentioned his BJ captain.

"Huh… Captain Daiki? A lot of people knew about him, he is the problem child of the BJ team despite being the captain… and you knew about him Eijun? I thought you did not recognize anyone from them?" Haruichi asked curiously. Why did he seem to talk to him like he knew him personally though… and did I just mishear… but he said 'Captain Daiki?'

"No… I don't know him… I think I remember Kanemaru mentioning him, I just did not know that was him in the flesh…" Eijun answered nervously as he tries to look away.

"Really…" Haruichi was not convinced, Why did he seem to talk to him like he knew him personally though… he was looking at Eijun who seems to be nervous and avoiding his gaze which was also rare from the Sawamura that he knew.

"But it's strange why the two captains are together though… they are after all in both different teams…" Furuya interjected making Haruichi turn to the other pitcher.

"Ahhhmm… I think he might be moving to a different team that is why…" Haruichi nonchalantly answered making Eijun gaped in utter surprise.

"MOVING TO A DIFFERENT TEAM? WHAT?" Eijun asked loud as he immediately moves in front of Haruichi, totally blocking his way.

"Huh… ahm yes… it is usually common for players to be scouted during the finals of NPB games, especially if their contracts would be ending soon with the team they are playing with. Other teams usually scout out the other players and try to convince them to switch team once their contract expires. They usually use camaraderie or higher salary offers…" Haruichi was baffled seeing Sawamura's panic look. "What is wrong, Eijun?" he added curiously.

"Huh… nothing… I just did not know about it…." Eijun answered immediately moving out of the way of his two friends as they continoue to walk towards the comfort room of the stadium.

"Really? You seem to surprised Eijun" Furuya asked as well as he could notice the pitcher's demeanor.

"Nah… im good" Eijun answered though he already pulled out his phone and was typing rigorously.

"Ok… well im going in with Furuya… are you not coming with us?" Haruichi asked as they were in front of the bathroom, then at the same time, the door opened to let out three Inashiro players, including Tadano.

"Ahhhh… no i'm good… I will wait for you here…" Eijun answered smiling, as he took a step backed and lean on the hallway.

"Ok…" Furuya answered, and then he move around the Inashiro players who all greeted them casually.

"Ahmmm ok…" as Haruichi also slightly bowed towards the other Inashiro players who step out.

Tadano was a bit taken back the moment he saw Sawamura's face. He was not expecting to see him this soon, especially after the outcome of the game. Plus he does not really want to see him in the kind of state he was in too, "Ahmmm… why don't' you guys go on ahead, I think I forgot something inside…" Tadano informed to his teammates.

"Huh… you sure Itsuki?" asked one of them obviously sensing a bit of tension the moment they notice Sawamura not entering the bathroom unlike his other Seido teammates.

"Yes… I will catch up soon…" Tadano answered smiling.

"Ok…" as the players walked away, they eyed Sawamura who seem to be still busy messaging someone on his phone.

"I am sorry…" Eijun said in a low tone as he notice Itsuki step close towards him.

"Huh… and here I thought you did not notice me… considering you are glued to your phone…" Itsuki answered casually.

"I did notice you… you are my partner after all…" as Eijun look up and hid his phone on his back pocket.

"Yeah… I think I was careless… I should have known you would throw those pitches… It was a good game Eijun." Itsuki answered smiling.

"Ehhhh… your not mad? That I threw my fastballs?" Eijun seems surprised seeing Itsuki's usually smile, though he could notice red marks under his eyes, obviously from crying.

" I was at first… then Tohru sempai talked to me after the game, he was the one who told me that he gave you permission to use those fastballs… he did warn me the day before the match, but I guess I was just too confident that I could read you" Itsuki explained.

Eijun made a sigh of relief, honestly he was not sure what would be Itsuki's reaction after the game, especially if one of them lost. "So you meet Hero sempai huh... i never saw any of the BJ players though... well except for one" making Eijun sigh as he recalled seeing their captail, then he looked at Itsuki, "I could not beat Narumiya, I could never beat Narumiya with the way I am with Seido… so I had no choice but to use those pitches… I really am sorry Itsuki…" Eijun answered explaining solemnly as he lifted his pitching hand scratching his head casually.

Itsuki's eyes widen the moment he notice the bandaged hand. Wait… that is his dominant hand… "Eijun… you were injured? When?" Itsuki asked worried as he immediately grab Eijun's arm and look at the bandaged pitching hand, he also checked up his arm to his shoulders out of instinct.

"Owhhh… ahhh… hahahaha… it is not really a big deal… it was before the 9th inning." Eijun casually answered and gave his most dubious grin upon noticing the concern look of his BJ partner.

"Was it that bounced pitch? You should have let second or the short stop handle that bounced pitch…" Itsuki reprimanded as he released Eijun's injured hand.

"Hahahaha… yeah… well if they knew that was the direction of the bounced pitch. The last time it went in their direction, it past second remember… I just need to be sure… I cannot risk going into extra innings. " Eijun answered jokingly.

"Figures… Seido does not know your trajectory of bouncing pitches unlike BJ where they can make adjustments." As Itsuki could recall the first bounced pitch, passing the second base player, good thing Seido's shortstop was agile to adjust. "Well don't be too confident about it… you guys might have won the summer tournament, but we would be taking the fall tournament this time, even without Mei…" Itsuki said confidently as he could remember Mei's somber look.

Eijun slightly drop his head and looked down the floor, avoiding Itsuki's eyes while smiling weakly, he also did not notice the confused look on Itsuki face the moment Eijun look down the floor. "Itsuki… I don't think I would be playing in the fall tournament… actually this might also be my last summer with Seido too"

Itsuki wrinkled his forehead when he heard Eijun, "Huh… wait… I thought you said your injury was not a big deal… do you mean you won't be pitching in Koshien too?"

"Ahmmmm no… no…. my injury would heal after five days or so…"

"Huh… then what do you mean…" Itsuki was now confused. If he could recall the winning summer team representing West Tokyo have at least a two week rest before going to the Koshien tournament. If Eijun's injury would heal by then, then that means he was all green to play on the fall or the Kanto tournament after the Koshien season, though he might be burned out by then.

Eijun sigh deeply as if trying to release the building tension in his chest as he turn to look at Itsuki straight on the eye. "Do you know… Hero sempai… I mean Tohru sempai would be taking his surgery after the next season, and his plans to go back to being pitcher…" Eijun started, and he did notice Itsuki nodding once as if informing him he knew about it.

"We talked about it a few times… but he was only planning about it… was he really doing it, that means after this season, he only has a single season left to play catcher…" Itsuki informed casually, as if it was a everyday discussion.

"Yeah… well you see… I want to form a real baseball battery with Hero sempai… that is why… I was planning to take an advancement exam this fall." Eijun informed nervously.

Itsuki's world suddenly turned dark did he just heard Eijun saying advancement exam. The exam where they would be able to let a high schooler graduate a year earlier than scheduled, the most difficult exam that only a mere 5% could be able to pass. "Are you joking right now? Do you realize if you fail that exam you would not be allowed to play on your third year…" Itsuki was so surprised that Eijun could even think of trying to take that exam. Then it hit him, when he remembered Eijun saying this was the last summer he would be playing with Seidon. Wait wait… was he serious… have he thought about this thoroughly… though based from the pitcher's bright golden eyes, the very same eyes that had looked back at him on top of the mound, he was dead serious. Making him fist his free hands, "since when…" he asked quietly , trying to control himself with all of his emotions running wild.

"Ahm… after the first summer game, when I was pulled out of the 4th inning, that was when I made up my mind. But I was already thinking about it before the summer tournament begun" Eijun explained calmly, trying to check the door of the comfort room, if his friends would suddenly burst out, that was why he lowered his voice.

"What about me?" Itsuki asked bitterly, head down.

"Huh… what do you mean? Owh… you mean our battery, well we would still be partners, I would just graduate a year early… that is all hahahaha…" Eijun informed trying to ease out the building tension and the stiffness in Itsuki's demeanor.

"Have you ever thought… what if you fail… what then? You do realize you won't be allowed to play on the fall tournament or any tournament at all on your third year… what then?" Itsuki said still keeping his eyes on the tiled floor; trying to keep his composure, but it was already breaking slowly.

"Owhhh… well… we will cross that bridge when it gets their…" Eijun gave his usual bright dubious stupid laugh, not noticing Itsuki's change in posture. "I just wanted to have an official battery with Hero sempai before he switches back to…." But before Eijun could finish what he was about to say Itsuki grab his white shirt and pushed him back hitting the corridor wall.

"DON"T SCREW WITH ME!" Itsuki yelled in utter disgust and rage.

"I wonder where those guys went… why do they have to take this long…" Kuramochi was complaining as he and Miyuki turn to look for their pitchers and Haruichi.

"Well you know Sawamura… he could be lost somewhere as usual…" Miyuki casually answered as they made the turn towards the comfort room, and noticed Mei's group on the lobby.

"Owhhhh… well… I would just stand over their… make this quick, Miyuki…" Kuramochi informed as he also saw the Inashiro's players huddling in the lobby, obviously surrounding Narumiya Mei. He walked a bit away to give the pretext of privacy.

"Hey… Kazuya…" Carlos greeted the moment he saw Miyuki came out of the corner.

"Pshhhh what a stroke of bad luck" Katsuyuki complained as he saw Miyuki walking close to them.

"Yeah well… sorry about that…" Miyuki non chalantly teased, at the same time notice the red marks under their eyes, including Mei who seems to have acknowledge his presence by nodding once.

"Hmp… what you guys are celebrating already?" Narumiya asked obviously bitter.

"No… not yet… just looking for our pitchers…" Miyuki answered shortly looking at Mei seriously.

Mei smiled seeing Miyuki's serious demeanor. This is what he had always like about Kazuya, he was never the person who would try to give pity to the loosing team. "Well… your team won Kazuya… don't you dare loose on Koshien… you hear me…"

Miyuki smiled seeing Mei's perky behavior returning. "Huh… who do you think I am?" he answered while grinning as well.

"Someone who would loose on the first match…" Katsuyuki answered bitterly.

"Ouch… that hurt…" Miyuki commented, making a slight gesture as if his heart was hit.

"Show them what players in West Tokyo can do… Kazuya…" Carlos informed smiling.

Miyuki's grin grew wider, he was about to comment more, when they suddenly heard a loud voice across the lobby towards the bathroom area. "DON"T SCREW WITH ME", making all the players turns towards that direction and move at full speed.

"HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN WHOSE FAULT WAS IT THAT I AM ON THIS SIDE OF THE FENCE… WHO SHOWED ME THIS WORLD… AND NOW YOU ARE JUST GOING TO ABANDON ME…" Itsuki was mad, he was furious at Eijun for leaving him behind, he suddenly felt abandon, useless… as his BJ partner was walking away from him and he was no longer able to catch up. It was like the same with Narumiya Mei, his inability to truly bring out his full potential. The feeling when he saw Mei broke down behind the dugout where no one else could see when they lost the championship. He could feel that it was his fault why they lost, he could have made more strategies, more plays, for Christ sake he knew Eijun's pitching repertoire yet he was not able to fully utilize that knowledge. He wondered if they have won, perhaps… perhaps Eijun would not have these thoughts.

"Itsuki wait…" As Eijun grab Itsuki's hand that was holding his shirt, at the same time he froze the moment he saw the betrayal and sadness in Itsuki's eyes. The usual calm, simple minded and cheerful catcher he knew was not their. He could notice the pure utter disbelief, sorrow and dejection on his BJ catcher face, he knew it because he also felt the same way the moment he had pitched a dead ball last year in the same champion's game. He slowly put down his hand as if on defeat and look down unable to look at his partners face, at the same time both Furuya and Haruichi came out of the bathroom door talking happily, yet they instantly froze the moment they saw Eijun pinned on the walk while the Inashiro catcher gripping his shirt.

"Huh…" Furuya looked confused.

"Eijun?" while Haruichi was not sure himself what was going on, he could totally sense a tension between the two, at the same time as if a struck of luck happen, both the Seido and Inashiro's senior's came out from a side corner of the corridor, making Haruichi pale, not sure who to stop first, the Inashiro catcher who had his friend pinned on thee wall, or Kuramochi who seems to be about to hit the catcher.

"Oi! What do you think you doing to our ace, you punk!" Kuramochi yelled.

"Wait wait…. Itsuki!" Mei yelled out almost the same time with Kuramochi.

Miyuki move on reflex as he immediately grab Kuramochi by his arm in order for the latter to not reach the Inashiro catcher, who he sees for the first time to be really pissed off towards Sawamura, while the latter was looking down obviously trying to avoid the gaze of the latter and seem guilty about something. Carlos and Shirakawa also move immediately both moving beside Tadano putting their hands on his shoulder as if to snap him out of his rage.

"Itsuki… what is going?" Shirakawa asked seriously.

"Look… I don't know what is going on but I think this is not the right place…" Carlos added as he hold Tadano's arm that was grabbing Sawamura's shirt.

"Itsuki?" Mei was not sure what to do, first of all, this was the first time he actually saw this side of his catcher. Tadano Itsuki was more like a puppy towards him, but now he was more like a rabid dog who was about to pounce on its prey. This was all new to him.

"Let me go Miyuki! Imma kick that…" Kuramochi yelled while trying to push his captain away from him, but Yamaoka immediately move in front of Kuramochi glaring at the smaller Seido player, making sure the latter would not touch their catcher.

Well… what a big mess… Miyuki thought calmly, as he took a deep sigh, and look at Riku as if the both of them have the same thought. He made a slight nod while releasing Kuramochi and slowly approaching the culprit of the mess. Kuramochi tried to make a break for it in order to get close to Sawamura, but Yamaoka made sure he keeps his distance making him glare at the bigger player. Miyuki knew he could trust Riku with Kuramochi, now he just need to handle the mess that their ace is currently in, considering the latter was also injured, plus it does not sit well with him that someone was pinning his pitcher like that. "Hey… I don't know what our ace said to offend you in anyway, however I would apologize on his behalf… so can we just let it slide today…" Miyuki said low but with a very serious glare at the same time also grabbing Tadano's arm and putting pressure as if telling the younger catcher to let go or else.

"Hey! Kazuya… Itsuki is not like that… right Itsuki… let him go already!" Mei's tone was serious as well immediately standing beside Tadano as if protecting his catcher from Seido's captain.

Itsuki had sense his seniors presence the moment they came out of the corner, but he did not care. He did not care if the senior he had admire and praised 'Narumiya Mei' was their seeing this side of him. Right now his mind is a mess, at the same time he could sense the tightening grip on his arm by the Seido captain catcher, making him grip Eijun's shirt tighter as if he was afraid to let go of his last life line and to get the latter's attention who was now refusing to look at him on the face. Huh… so this is it huh… you won't even have the courage to look at me straight on the face… Itsuki thought bitterly. Itsuki released his grip on Sawamura's shirt, resulting for Carlos and Miyuki loosening their hold on his arm as well. Itsuki look at Eijun dejected who had now looked up with sad eyes, as if apologizing, "I don't want to talk to you for a while…" Ituski informs in a low tone as he took a step back, and walks away, ignoring the surprised and baffled look of his seniors.

"Wait… what! Itsuki… get back here! What is going on!" Mei called out, but Tadano did not even look back and just continued to walk away. "Damn it… Kazuya ill message you later… you handle that brat!" as Mei pointed towards Sawamura, before dashing to follow his catcher.

"Sorry Kazuya… but he is not like that…" Carlos explained confused.

"Well everybody had a breaking point somehow…" Shirakawa dryly commented looking at Sawamura badly as if he had concluded that what ever happened was Sawamura's fault.

"Oi… don't you dare blame our pitcher here!" Kuramochi said in greeted teeth obviously still being blocked by Yamaoka.

"Sorry about this… let us just leave it like this ok… im sure both our teams are looking for us…" Miyuki answered dismissively to his friends at the same time he stood in front of Sawamura, as if shielding him from the Inashiro players.

Carlos smiled meaningfully, while Shirakawa was obviously annoyed. Yamaoka on another hand just sigh, as if already tired of all the commotion for the day. "Let us go back…" he said tiredly as he move away from Kuramochi and walk towards his other teammates. They all nod in agreement as Carlos wave to Miyuki while they started walking away towards the direction of their pitcher and catcher.

"So… Could you explain what that was about?" Miyuki asked icily, as he was still not looking at Sawamura, because right now he was also mad. How could his pitcher be this reckless, considering he was also injured.

"Sorry Miyuki sempai… Eijun said he would be waiting for us outside, so me and Furuya went in, and when we got out it was already in that situation." Haruichi explained apologetically. Both him and Furuya were unable to react as their seniors calmly breakoff the tension between their ace and Inashiro's catcher.

"Hmmmm… what about you? What is your explanation?" Miyuki asked as he now turn towards Sawamura who seem to be still looking out towards the direction of the Inashiro catcher.

"Eijun?" Furuya called out carefully when he noticed that Sawamura did not bother answering their captain.

"Oi! Are you hurt!" Kuramochi asked as well, moving close to his junior.

"Huh… what… nahhhh… im good…" Eijun answered as if trying to downplay the events.

"And?" Miyuki asked again, while this time raising an eyebrow, as he could notice that Sawamura was yet again, attempting to avoid the long discussion.

"And what cap? You know cap… you should breathe… you look scary…" Sawamura answered normally as he saw the obvious annoyed and serious look of his Seido captain.

"Sawamura… do you want me to tell the coach about this… because if you don't start talking I will make sure to…" however before Miyuki could even finish his sentence, Eijun immediately answered in a panic.

"Owhhh… owhhh… common cap… give me a break… it is just a small thing. I might have said something that offended Itsu… I mean the Inashiro catcher… that is all" Eijun explained in a panic while starting to move away from his teammates slowly.

"Huh… what did you say for him to be that mad?" Kuramochi asked totally confused and curious at the same time. After all Sawamura saying something that could offend someone to be that mad was something he had never thought that his roommate could do.

"Ahhh… I forgot…" Eijun answered avoiding the talk.

"Really… when did you forgot? Was it when he grab your shirt? Or was it when he pushed you to hit the wall?" Miyuki asked dead seriously while glaring at his pitcher, but as if on cue they all heard Haruichi's phone beeping, and they all turn to look at the latter who seem to stand on a corner, seemingly trying to act like air to avoid the possible tirade of question that might go his way.

"Ahhhh… ahmmm" as Haruichi panic pulling out his phone and checking on the message, "It's Tojou, he said the coach is already on the bus and are looking for us…" Haruichi explained.

"Owh… crap… we gonna get back!" Eijun said immediately.

Miyuki sigh in defeat, he cannot believe what kind of luck Sawamura has, but every time he was cornering him to ask important question, for some reason he was able to avoid it, and this situation is not an exception. "Fine… we are so gonna have that talk Sawamura when we get back to Seido!" Miyuki commented seriously.

"Sure thing cap!" Eijun answered with a salute at the same time he dash off as if the monster from hell were chasing him.

"Why do I feel like he is running away from us?" Kuramochi asked obviously noticing how fast Sawamura run away from them.

"We should go, before the Coach reprimand us…" Miyuki answered instead, as they also run to follow suit Sawamura.

Eijun run as fast as he could back towards their waiting bus, noticing Coach Kataoka and Ochiai standing outside of the bus waiting for them. "Sorry boss… there were a lot of people!" Eijun explained even before Coach Kataoka could ask anything.

"Hmmm… I see…" Coach Kataoka answered, at the same time notice Miyuki and the other missing Seido players following Sawamura not far behind. "Very well… get in so we can go back…" he added dismissively.

Eijun nod once, and immediately went in, as if trying to avoid Miyuki who he knew was close. "Yo! Okumura… why don't we sit together and let us review the game!" Eijun called out the moment he got on the bus, and move towards his sit.

"Huh… but we would be having our meeting when we return to Seido?" Okumura complained confused, as he was already sitting beside Kawakami. "Plus… aren't you supposed to review your play with captain Miyuki?"

"Nahhh… this is a learning experience for you! Come… come sit here!" Eijun called again as he move towards the window area, giving the aisle seat to his junior catcher.

Okumura looked confused as he turned to look at Kawakami, as if asking him what to do. "It is fine Okumura… Sawamura seems to be hiding from Miyuki for some reason…" Kawakami answered smiling and as if on cue, Miyuki and the others entered the bus.

"Common hurry up Okumura!" Eijun called out again, making Okumura sigh in defeat.

"Yes… coming Sawamura sempai…" Okumura answered in a defeated tone. He stood up and walk at the back to sit beside their ace.

"What was that about?" Kuramochi asked the moment he went on the seat that Okumura just vacated .

"I don't know… but I think Sawamura is running away from Miyuki…" Kawakami answered confusingly.

"Ahhhh… make sense…" Kuramochi answered as he could notice Miyuki's deadly glare towards Sawamura, while the latter was obviously sitting low trying to avoid the eyes on him, or attention for that matter.

"OK…. This is everyone…" Miss Takeshima counted again as both Coach Kataoka and Coach Ochiai entered the bus and went to their respective sits.

"Good… settle down everyone so we can leave now" Mr Kazuyoshi added, as the bus driver closed the bus door, and started the vehicle. Miyuki on the other hand made one last look towards Sawamura's direction before seating properly, and looked out the window in order to calm his nerves, at the same time organized all the questions that was running on his head for Sawamura to answer later.

Sawamura could sense the death glare that Miyuki was sending him the moment his Seido captain got in the bus, thus he pushed Okumura to sit beside him, and sit down as far as he could to avoid the latter. The moment the bus was on motion, he was still on edge, at the same time he could sense his heart rhythm was not yet back to normal, well to his credit he did run as fast as he could in order to get away from his teammates.

"Sawamura sempai… I thought we were gonna review the game now?" Okumura asked curiously as he could notice the low sitting position of his senior.

"Huh… yeah… when we get back in Seido… by the way… did cap seat down already?" Eijun asked tentatively as he was scared to actually check for himself.

Okumura sigh deeply as he did notice the annoyed look on their captain's face before going to his respective seat. "Yes… he did…" he finally answered, at the same time he noticed his senior sitting properly and letting out a deep breathe of relief. "Are you and Miyuki sempai arguing?"

"Huh no… we were just making bets on who can run faster…" Sawamura answered with his most dubious smile, at the same time noticing his phone vibrating.

"Fine… then…" Okumura uncaringly answered, as his junior relaxed on his seat.

Eijun grin the moment he noticed that Okumura stop bothering him, and started to relax instead. This is one of the reason why he sometimes like sitting beside the wolf like first year. He rarely talks to him, at the same time he had this aloofness around him that makes him relax. He slowly pulled out his phone and checked on the message that he just received. From: Coach Shoji, Got the Captain Jaguar back safe and sound. Good game… Let us talk for a bit, See you in your Seido dorm later… Eijun then closed his phoned as he tries to relax his breathing. "Hey Okumura… did we really won the game?" Eijun asked softly, making it only the fist year catcher could hear.

Okumura turn to look at his senior, who was bowed down as if hiding from the view of the people surrounding them. "Yes…" Okumura answered shortly.

"I see… then why is it I felt that… that we did won… yet I lost something, my chest felt heavy…" Eijun answered as he grip his shirt near his chest, as he could recall Itsuki's betrayed looked.

"I think you are just tired Sawamura sempai…" Okumura commented thought he was still looking at his senior confused.

"Ahhh… I guess…" Eijun answered as he relax his hand, and look out the window away from the observing gaze of his first year catcher.

_つづく_


A/N: To those who watch anime, they know what those last three letters mean (wink, wink) Now that's a wrap! Hope you like it... Keep safe and Stay Healthy Everyone. Love you All! See you next year everyone! Season 3 here we come! Happy Holidays! Till Next Year!