And all good things must come to an end...final chapter! Notes and credits below!
The past few weeks had been good to Murata Ken. Now that his spirit had been revealed to be a reincarnation of the Great Sage of Shin Makoku, he had been spending a lot of time at the temple with the High Priestess Ulrike in the hopes of regaining more of his memories. Although she was older than him, they had established an easy friendship and camaraderie with one other. It didn't hurt that many of the other priestesses at the shrine were now much nicer and attentive to him. Being constantly surrounded by beautiful women was enough to make any hot-blooded man scream for joy and there was no doubt that Murata loved every minute of it. Of course, he had to keep his enthusiasm under control, although he discovered that he needn't bother after all. Most of the girls were willing to go out on a 'date' with him if he asked (they usually never left the temple grounds) and he was never bored in their company.
In fact, it was safe to say that it took his mind off Mr. Weller and that partner of his.
Besides his stay at the temple (much to his parents' bemusement by the way), Murata found that snippets of his time at Shin Makoku were coming back to him with each passing day. They were still large chunks of puzzling pieces that left him confused but gradually, some clicked into place, and he was sure that by the end of the year, he'd finally be in control like Shibuya.
Speaking of which…
"Ah hah!" he suddenly exclaimed, causing Yuuri, who had been tossing out t-shirts and underwear from his bottom drawer, to look at him sharply.
"What is it?"
Murata pushed his glasses higher up the bridge of his nose and grinned as if he had discovered the greatest thing of all. "I knew there was something different about you. Stand up again and let me see."
Yuuri rolled his eyes and turned to focus on the task at hand. "Give it a rest, Murata. You're supposed to be helping me find my jersey…"
"Forget the jersey," Murata interrupted as he swung his legs off Yuuri's bed to stand before his friend. They were in his bedroom, the house quiet besides the sound of a dog barking next door. Shouri was back in college, Shouma Shibuya at work while Jennifer had gone to do some grocery shopping.
"Now stand up and let me see you," Murata said, placing his hands on Yuuri's shoulders to 'lift' his friend up. Grumbling beneath his breath, the dark-haired boy complied and placed his hands on his hips.
"You've grown a bit taller," Murata mused as he walked around Yuuri with a hand on his chin and a knowing look in his eyes. "And is it just me or is your hair growing longer?"
Yuuri had the grace to flush at the observation, a hand moving towards his slightly longer locks to rub it gently. "So?" he muttered, cheeks burning. "I like it this way…"
"Oooh?" Murata crooned, a mischievous glint now in his eyes as he smirked. "Or you're growing it out because Wolfram likes it like that, hmm?"
"That's not the reason!" Yuuri blurted out quickly, but his face was now so red that Murata burst out laughing, dancing out of reach as his friend tried to make a grab for him.
"So what is the reason, Shibuya?"
"None of your damn business," came the mumbled reply as Yuuri fell back to his haunches to search through his drawers again. His face was still hot, his heartbeat racing as he knew just how close to the truth Murata had been. Goodness knows he didn't want to think about it again but hell! How couldn't he? It was all he could think, dream, sleep, eat and even breathe!
Wolfram. Wolfram. Wolfram.
God, it was like having an addiction. And to make things worse, they hadn't even seen each other in almost two weeks!
After they finally (confessed) 'touched' each other in the hospital room, Yuuri had woken up from a dreamless and satisfying sleep, wondering if the whole incident with Wolfram had been yet another figment of his overactive imagination. He almost convinced himself that it had never happened when Wolfram suddenly kicked him out of the bed…literally. Assuming that the blond was upset with him for something, Yuuri picked himself off the floor slowly (he had almost cracked his skull against the bedside table), only to see Wolfram's arms and legs splayed all over the place. The bed was narrow enough as it was and with the blond's sleeping patterns, it was a miracle Yuuri had survived the night. He could remember laughing softly to himself at the endearing sight, knowing that such a thing shouldn't shock him. After all, he had spent a week at camp with Wolfram and was more than aware of the blond's less than graceful bed manners.
"We need to take things slow," were the first words out of Wolfram's mouth when he was finally awake, cleaned and dressed in his uniform again.
Yuuri nodded reluctantly, now sure that Wolfram was going to say that everything that had happened was just a result of his inner spirit taking control and…
"It's not that I'm ashamed of us being together as a couple in public," Wolfram was saying. "But you know…let's just keep it quiet. We're still in high school after all."
"We can't hold hands in public either!"
"Ah…" Yuuri looked perplexed but he nodded in agreement. "Fine."
"No kissing or any other public displays of affection..."
"I know that!" Yuuri snapped a bit irritably. "Why don't we just forget the whole thing ever happened."
Wolfram looked a bit pained. "Is that what you want?" he finally asked in a quiet voice.
"No, it's not what I want!" Yuuri replied, running restless fingers through his hair. "But all these rules…"
"We're not in Shin Makoku anymore," Wolfram had muttered, lowering his gaze to the floor. "Remember that."
"We're in a society that's not as forgiving or tolerant of us flaunting our relationship…"
"I don't need you to remind me of that," Yuuri interrupted with a heavy sigh. "I know that being…gay is not all that acceptable."
Their eyes met and held for a heated moment before they looked away at the same time. An unspoken decision had been made and although it hurt both parties involved, they knew it was for the best. Yuuri bit his lower lip and stared morosely at the plain linoleum floor, listening to Wolfram pace about the room as his cell phone suddenly rang. He barely paid much attention to the conversation at hand, but could only guess that the blond was talking to Gwendal.
If anyone had told Yuuri a few months ago that he would be involved in this kind of relationship, he would have laughed his head off and then throttled the person. The very notion of falling in love with another boy and even entertaining the thought of spending the rest of his life with him; was something he wouldn't have dreamt of in a million years. But Fate had a funny way of changing one's life and Yuuri knew that his destiny with Wolfram had been sealed the moment they had met each other on that baseball field a few months ago.
He was broken from his thoughts as he felt Wolfram's cool hands on his cheeks, forcing him to meet those mesmerizing green eyes again.
"My ride is waiting. Gwendal says it's okay to leave now," Wolfram had whispered thickly, his thumb caressing Yuuri's cheeks gently, trailing down to tease the parted lips. "Remember what I said, let the doctors know about your arm so you can get out here, got it?"
"I under--" But Yuuri never got to finish whatever he had to say as Wolfram pressed his lips against his in a kiss hard and hot enough to melt steel. Yuuri felt his heart beat hard and fast as he responded with as much passion as he could muster. Wolfram's tongue against his – that sweet taste he was now familiar with – Yuuri knew he'd never get enough. When they finally broke apart for air (Yuuri still had his eyes closed and was grateful for the chair he was sitting on or he was sure he would have fallen to the floor) Wolfram continued in a breathless whisper,
"Wish me luck. I'll be practicing for Koshien all week and the next so I might not get to see you before the big game. You will come watch me, won't you?"
Not trusting himself to speak, Yuuri could only nod in response and Wolfram's grin of delight was more than enough for him.
After a few minutes of trying to push away the table from the door - Yuuri had been too tired to conjure up the Maou's power at the time - Wolfram had finally left with two doctors and a security officer as guides to lead him out of the hospital.
It was safe to say that Yuuri had never felt more alone with his partner gone. The room had felt as cold as ice even though he crawled into bed and snuggled into the pillow which still had the lingering sweet scent of Wolfram upon it.
Watching the news later on that night, he was surprised to find Gwendal finally speaking to the media about Yamaguchi Hiroshi's statements. As always, Yuuri was in awe of the older man's persona and presence (even though it was through the TV screen) and admired the way Gwendal took charge of the situation effortlessly. With only a few words - mostly accepting Hiroshi's plea for forgiveness - Yuuri knew that the press would be off him and Wolfram's tail from now on. Wolfram had called the next morning to tell Yuuri the good news and they had ended up talking for another half-hour before Wolfram had to leave for practice at his school.
That evening, Yuuri showed Dr. Shimizu his arm, telling him about the lack of pain and how much better it felt. But to his consternation, the doctor had suggested yet another round of x-rays and Yuuri was beginning to feel as if he was doomed to remain trapped in the hospital forever. However, thanks to Shouri's persistence (urging the doctors to let his brother return) and Jennifer's indignant rant (calling all the doctors quacks for not telling them that her son was doing well after all this time), they finally removed the heavy cast and pronounced Yuuri fit to go home two days later.
Never had his house looked so beautiful and his room so heavenly. He had eaten a meal fit for a king as Jennifer had spared no expense at preparing his favorite dishes. Afterwards, he had soaked in the tub for a long time, allowing himself to finally relax for the first time in weeks. Going back to school had been a treat as well. His classmates had thrown a surprise welcome-back party for him and even though the baseball season was officially over for their school, his teammates had taken the time to decorate the locker room with posters and banners, congratulating him on his return as well as his acceptance into the minor league program. Murata had been the one to tell everyone the good news and the coach was all to happy to pose for pictures with the future professional player. He had every intention of bragging about this to all the other coaches once the new season came around.
All in all, the two weeks had flown by for Yuuri. The days were fine to deal with, but the nights were a much different story. He would sometimes find himself trying to contact Wolfram with his mind but like a really bad signal from a radio or telephone, it was next to impossible to do so. It seemed that their telepathic abilities could only occur when they were in close proximity or in extreme cases of stress. He had debated calling Wolfram on the phone, had always walked to it and stared at the device, but could never quite get himself to do so. To be honest, Yuuri still felt a bit awkward and shy about it all. He didn't want Wolfram to think he was being too…possessive or anything.
"A thousand yen for your thoughts," Murata said, interrupting Yuuri from his daydream. "What's got you thinking so hard?"
"Your boyfriend?" Murata teased and got a shirt flung in his face for his efforts. "Eew, gross! When was the last time you did your laundry, Shibuya!"
Without turning around, Yuuri gave his good friend the finger earning a low whine from Murata.
"What's that for? I was just asking you a question."
"I grew out my hair because I felt like it and that's all. Just let it go…"
"But I can't! Your relationship with Wolfram fascinates me."
Yuuri raised a brow and turned to look at the other boy. He met the amused dark eyes and snorted. "You should talk. You've been hanging around priestesses lately. Just don't get any of them pregnant."
"Like they'd let me get that far," Murata said with a dramatic sigh. He fell back to the bed and threw an arm over his eyes. "Oh, to be a horny teenage boy!"
Yuuri laughed and began to fold his clothes as neatly as he could…which wasn't very neat at all. He basically rolled them up and tossed them into the drawer again. "Don't worry. I'm sure you'll find some poor unsuspecting girl to seduce someday."
"Pfft. I wouldn't count on it," Murata replied before sitting up suddenly on his elbows to stare at his friend. "So? Have you done it with him yet?"
Yuuri choked and almost bumped his head against the dresser. "Wha…what!"
"Oh come now," Murata said, waggling his brows suggestively. "I can tell there's something different about you. You two have gone all the way, haven't you?"
Flushing to the roots of his hair, Yuuri shook his head rapidly. "We have not! Not that it's any of your business…!"
"Ah ha! So you have done something!"
"Fuck off, Murata. I'm warning you…"
"Necking…fondling…some play between the legs…whoa!" He dodged the notebook that was thrown his way and held up his hands in surrender. "Okay! Okay! No more talk about that! Grief! Do you want to chop my head off?"
"I think I'd be doing the world a favor," Yuuri replied as he rose to his feet and stretched aching muscles. Murata was right in his observations. Yuuri had grown a few more inches and perhaps due to the weight-training classes he had begun taking in school (to strengthen his arms), his shoulders were getting a bit broader and his chest better defined. He was still slender (or skinny in Jennifer's eyes) but he was toned in all the right areas. Murata was no fool. Yuuri was somehow – slowly but surely – becoming one with the being within him. He had no doubt that in a few years, the Yuuri he had always known would be a completely different person. Even his voice was no longer as high-pitched as it usually was. Talk about a late spurt of puberty.
Yuuri moved to the bed to sit beside his friend. He reached for a small stash of magazines, a flush coming to his cheeks as he picked up Baseball Weekly. On its cover was a group picture consisting of four players from the teams going to Koshien this year – two from Shiroken High (the Tigers) and two from Fujiwara Private School (the Red Demons). Wolfram was one of the two for Fujiwara and he looked simply resplendent in that familiar red and white striped uniform. He was posing with a baseball bat over his shoulder and in his mind's eye; Yuuri could see that powerful swing all over again.
He doubted he'd ever get tired of seeing Wolfram swinging a baseball bat.
"You really have it bad, don't you?" Murata asked quietly, causing Yuuri to open his eyes (he hadn't even been aware he had closed them) to look at his friend sharply. He fully expected to see a mocking look in those black eyes, but all he saw was a mutual understanding and respect in them – an adult and knowing look that sent shivers down Yuuri's spine. He had a feeling that he was looking at the Great Sage now and no longer at Murata his friend. There was something so 'mature' about that look.
"I don't…" Yuuri began but realized it was going to be no use trying to deny anything. Murata already knew. "I guess so. He's just…he's such a pain in the ass but…but he makes me feel great, you know what I mean?"
Murata nodded softly as if in complete understanding. "Who would have thought you would end up being with another guy, hmm, Shibuya? I remember you hated his guts at some point."
Yuuri flushed and lifted the magazine to hide his face behind it. "Yes, well, that was a long time ago. I've been running away from my feelings for so long now…I think it's finally time I faced it head on and allow it to take me wherever it wants to."
"Amen to that," Murata said with a chuckle as he picked up a book to thumb through it as well. Together they read in silence for a while until Murata spoke up again.
"Hey…you wouldn't happen to know if Conrad will show up to the game, would you?"
Yuuri blinked and stared at the book in confusion. "Huh?"
"Oh nothing," Murata replied, glad that Yuuri couldn't see the blush on his cheeks. "Just curious, that's all."
Wolfram was a nervous wreck.
He had barely eaten breakfast, although Conrad had outdone himself with the fluffy pancakes and scrambled eggs coated with syrup, just the way Wolfram liked it. His stomach was like a hot bed of live wires and after just two forkfuls of the meal, he had run to the bathroom to heave until he could heave no more.
Conrad, who was waiting patiently outside, shared a concerned look with Yozak before taking a step back as Wolfram finally opened the door slowly. The blond looked incredibly pale, his features drawn. Silently, Conrad held out a cup of water and two aspirin tablets, which Wolfram swallowed gratefully. His head felt like an entire drum line was making a home there, his heart was beating too fast. In fact, he felt like crap.
"You'll be fine," Yozak said from the kitchen as he helped himself to some of Conrad's cooking. "A perfect baseball player like yourself should have nothing to worry about…"
"Oh shut it," Wolfram mumbled as he fell into his chair with a low groan of misery. "Maybe I should just call it quits. I can't take this."
"So you're just going to wimp out because your stomach is too weak to take it?" Yozak asked, lips quirking into a smirk as he sat before Wolfram with a plate full of food. "What's the matter? I thought you were the tough guy!"
Wolfram pinned a cold look on his brother's lover. "Shouldn't you be somewhere on the street performing your tranny act for some poor unsuspecting man?"
"Ouch. Touché," Yozak replied amiably, shoveling a forkful of pancakes in his mouth. "I think your kid brother here needs some discipline, Conrad," he added with another smirk. "I don't mind volunteering my services."
"Touch me and you die," Wolfram retorted, the color coming back to his cheeks as he sat up straighter on the chair. "And stop eating so fast! God, you're a fucking slob."
"Wolfram! That's enough," Conrad cut in sharply. "I know you're nervous but that gives you no right to speak to Yozak like that. Now, apologize."
"Wha…?" Wolfram sputtered, staring into the unyielding brown eyes before forcing himself to meet Yozak's amused ones. He mumbled something and began to shove his chair backwards to get to his feet.
"I don't think he heard you," Conrad said firmly.
"That's right. I don't think I heard you," Yozak added. "What was that again?"
"I said I'm sorry, you…!" Face flushed red with indignation, Wolfram held back another insult with great effort and forced himself to take a deep breath.
"Feel better now?" Conrad asked, a ghost of a smile on his features.
"I don't…" Wolfram stopped and realized that he actually did feel a bit a better. Focusing on Yozak and his anger had cleared his mind from the nervousness he had felt earlier. He shook his head slowly and reached for his baseball cap, snorting lightly at Yozak's smug grin. He flushed again and rose to his feet, making his way out of the kitchen and towards the front door.
"Just hurry the hell up!" he yelled over his shoulder. "I've got a goddamn baseball game to go to!"
It was an extremely hot day.
Shouma was driving and as might be expected, he had somehow gotten them lost on the way to the stadium.
Yuuri groaned and closed his eyes in misery as he listened to Jennifer rustling the map in order to find directions. He ignored Murata's snicker beside him as he contemplated whether the Maou's powers included teleportation.
Just how hard could it possibly be to find a freaking baseball stadium that wasn't too far away from home to begin with!
It was an extremely hot day.
The stadium was packed to its capacity, spectators dressed in the lightest of summer wear with fans to cool off or hats perched on their heads to protect them from the punishing sun's rays. The pre-game entertainment was taking place on the field – some pop idols singing with girls in skimpy outfits cheerleading – while the crowd roared their approval after each act. The hot smell of dango, rice cakes, popcorn, sake, beer and cigarettes lingered in the air. Television and radio crews as well as journalists were stationed all around and within the stadium. The royal box would soon be filled with high level government officials, the baseball commissioner and rumor had it that even a member of the Imperial Family would make an appearance.
Wolfram paced restlessly before the locker room assigned to the Red Demons. Every now and then he'd walk up the small flight of stairs to look into the stands, hoping to see a familiar face – one familiar face in particular. He could see his school colors all over the stadium. Most of the student body at Fujiwara Private School had shown up today with their family and friends in tow, and their cheering section almost dwarfed the competition.
Where are you?
He spun around quickly, heart leaping in his throat with the hope that it would be who he longed to see. But to his disappointment, it was only Gwendal, Gunter and Conrad approaching.
"We just came to wish you good luck," Gunter said, reaching out to clasp the blond's hands tightly. He failed to notice the looks he was getting from the other players, many of whom had seen the famous model's face in commercials and magazines.
Wolfram, flabbergasted at the attention, nodded quickly. "Ah, thank you…oomphff!" He flushed to the roots of his hair as he found himself engulfed in Gunter's sudden embrace. The older man's cologne was overwhelming and Wolfram was sure he was going to suffocate and die before getting a chance to play today.
Gwendal's jaw worked for a moment. "Gunter…"
"I hope you play really well today," Gunter was saying, hardly paying any attention to anyone around him. "You'll go out there and knock them dead!"
Not if you kill me first, Wolfram thought, now having to pound Gunter's chest lightly to get the message across. You're choking me!
"Gunter!" Gwendal said a bit louder. "Stop hugging him so tightly."
"Oh…oh my!" Wolfram was released quickly and had to be held up as his legs gave way a little. "I'm so sorry. I was…" He waved his hands and then clapped them together. "Have a great game, Wolfram. We'll see you at the party tonight."
"Party? What party?" Wolfram asked in bemusement, but Gunter was already making his way to the stands, leaving the brothers to stare at each other for a few awkward seconds.
"Are you all right?" Conrad finally asked.
"Yeah," Wolfram replied, rubbing his neck gently. "At least I can breathe again. What party's he talking about?"
"Oh, just one that Gunter and mother have decided to throw to celebrate you and Yuuri's recovery and acceptance to the minor leagues."
A sudden loud cheer rose from the crowd and Wolfram felt a million goose bumps break out on his flesh. He could feel the excitement in the air. His heartbeat quickened and unbeknownst to him, an eager light of anticipation shone in his eyes.
"Man, I can't wait to get out there," he said, trying hard to contain his eagerness…and yet a nagging sense of worry lurked somewhere within.
He's going to come. He said he'd come. I know he'll come.
"The Tigers had a perfect season," Gwendal was saying as he looked out to the stadium. "They have a great pitching staff and their defense is impeccable. Only two errors committed all year."
Wolfram nodded slowly.
"I'm not saying this to discourage you," Gwendal continued gruffly. "I just want you to know that you shouldn't take things too lightly when you get out there, got it? You're playing the outfield and you know how much their hitters like to get fly balls to score runs. You've got to be on your toes."
"And watch out for Izumi's curve ball when he's pitching to you. They know it's your weakest pitch to hit and they'll keep throwing that at you."
"I know." Wolfram could feel a smile forming on his lips as he met Conrad's amused glance. Gwendal was prone to coaching his brothers before any game and they both knew it was his only way of showing his concern and worry for them without being sentimental.
"In other words," Conrad finally said with a warm smile of encouragement. "Good luck out there, Wolfram. We'll be cheering you on as always."
The blond bit his lower lip, wondering why that statement ought to make him feel like bursting into tears. He spun around to look out into the stadium again, unable to stop the small sigh from escaping his lips as there was still no sign of the other boy.
"Is everything all right, Wolfram?" Gwendal asked with a light frown on his visage.
"Fine…" the blond whispered softly. "Everything will be just fine."
Or so he thought.
By the third inning, Wolfram's uniform was already dirty from having to slide across the grass and dirt to catch balls or to be safe at the bases. His head was throbbing terribly; his mouth felt dry, throat parched and the sun was merciless on him. Sweat trickled from his hair and into his eyes, forcing him to squint and blink repeatedly. It was still a scoreless game but the intensity was picking up and both teams knew that they had each other on the ropes. Neither one was willing to make an error, for just one run was enough to make them win or lose this game.
Every now and then, Wolfram would look to the stands, still searching for that elusive face. He could see his mother sitting beside Gwendal, Gunter, Anissina, Yozak and Conrad in the royal box. To his embarrassment, she'd stand up and wave a white handkerchief in his direction, yelling out his name with pride and delight in her tone. She was dressed in Fujiwara's school colors of red and white, looking quite young and beautiful in the jacket and pants. He could also see that the baseball commissioner had been making passes at his mother and Wolfram had to tell himself to concentrate on the game at hand instead of wishing he could run up there to choke the lecherous bastard's neck.
The sudden crack of the bat had him lifting his head sharply. Immediately, his body tensed as he noticed that the ball was approaching his direction…no…further back. Shit! He'd have to run after it or this was bound to be a homerun! Grunting lightly, he spun on his heels and took off towards the fence, eyes still trained on the tiny round object in the air as he stretched out his arm to catch it.
Come down! Come down! Come down!
"ARGH!" He bumped into the fence with a painful thud, his cap falling off his head as he slid to the ground. With his heart pounding fiercely, he finally heard the light thud of the ball falling into his mitt; knowing he'd have no time to recover from the hit, he jumped to his feet and threw the ball towards third base as hard as he could. He held his breath as he watched the Tigers' player running towards third at a blistering pace. The ball he had thrown seemed to be going through the air at an incredibly slow pace and Wolfram groaned in misery as he realized that his daydreaming was going to cost them a run.
But a sudden cry of 'OOOOOOOOOOUTT!' by the umpire sent the crowd roaring in approval. Akira, the third baseman for the Red Demons, had caught the ball just in time and still managed to send the Tiger's player out by tagging him quickly. Wolfram laughed in relief and sank to his knees, hardly paying attention to his teammates who cheered him for taking the hit and managing to throw at the same time.
The inning came to an end and it was still scoreless.
"How are the ribs, von Bielefeld?" Coach Ishida asked as he eyed the blond, who was already getting ready to bat.
"It's okay," Wolfram replied as he slipped into his gloves, trying to smile although he still ached like hell. He had really banged them against that fence and he wondered if he'd be able to get enough power in his swing to hit at all. "I'll live."
Although the coach didn't look too convinced, he nodded and watched the lithe young man make his way out of the dugout to a cheering crowd who had begun to chant his name as soon as it was announced.
Wolfram made his way to home plate, tipping his helmet in acknowledgement to those who rooted for him. Again, his glance drifted towards the stands and he felt his heart sink as he saw the empty seats which had been reserved for the Shibuyas right below his family's.
I can't believe it. He didn't show up after all. That…that idiot!
"Hey, beautiful," came the muffled teasing voice from the catcher behind the plate. "Better watch your back or you might get hurt."
"Shut the fuck up, asshole," Wolfram muttered, as he fell into his stance with a thunderous scowl on his visage. He was angry now – angry at this moronic catcher beside him, angry at the pitcher on the mound who was clearly mocking him, angry at how hot and sweaty he was getting but most importantly, angry at that lying bastard, Yuuri, who had promised to show up and yet--
"STRIKE ONE!" the umpire bellowed as the ball flew past him before he could even blink an eye.
Goddamn it! Concentrate, Wolfram! Stop thinking about him! You should have known he wouldn't come. You were the one who made all the rules about not showing your affection in public. So why focus on that now?
There was an audible groan from the crowd and Wolfram felt another light sheen of sweat break out on his brow. This wasn't good. This wasn't good at all. If he couldn't concentrate…
Then what the fuck are you doing out there!
His eyes widened at the familiar voice that filled his head.
His gaze darted to the stands again. This time he could see the Shibuya family and Murata making their way to their seats…but there was no Yuuri with them. What the…?
Knowing that his concentration was now shot to hell, Wolfram held out his hand for a time-out and tried to steady his jumping nerves. He licked his lips and closed his eyes, forcing himself to think through the situation calmly.
Yuuri. Where are you?
Doesn't matter where I am, does it? Came the amused reply. I'm here and that's all you need to know. Now, are you just going to stand there looking pretty or are you going to show those bastards what you've got?
Doesn't matter where I am, does it? Came the amused reply. I'm here and that's all you need to know. Now, are you just going to stand there looking pretty or are you going to show those bastards what you've got?
Wolfram smirked and fell into another stance, his heart now feeling ten times lighter than he had started out with. He had no real clue as to where Yuuri was, but the other boy was here – in the stadium – and that was more than good enough for him.
He motioned to the pitcher that he was ready and as the world seemed to slow down around him (he could see everything perfectly now), the pain on his side no longer existent, Wolfram swung his hips and let it go. With all the strength he could muster, he sent the ball flying through the air with a swing that looked so effortless, it was simply beautiful to watch. He dropped his bat and began to run around the bases, knowing without a doubt that the ball was never going to be caught by anyone on the Tigers team.
Wolfram's homerun galvanized the Red Demons and for the next three innings, they played a game that would be talked about for days, weeks and even months to come. Although Wolfram never got to see Yuuri, having his encouraging words fill his mind were enough to have him playing exceptionally well. Somehow, he knew he was playing for Yuuri too. Every throw, every hit, every nosedive into the dirt and grass was for Yuuri. And as he caught the last ball, sending the last Tiger player out, Wolfram could feel Yuuri's elation and joy mingled with his – making it so strong an emotion that he was unable to stop the tears from filling his eyes. He wiped them away quickly, gasping and laughing as his teammates hoisted him onto their shoulders to parade around the field.
Yuuri…we did it! We actually did it!
With some effort, he managed to escape the clutches of his teammates, coach and the reporters who were beginning to file out to the field. The stadium was a cacophony of noise and celebration and Wolfram was more than happy to find himself in the cool corridors near the locker rooms. He had to find Yuuri and fast. He had no idea where his feet would take him, but soon enough, he found himself staring at three young men laughing and talking amongst themselves in the empty lobby.
"Well, well, if it isn't the hero of the game!" the tall blond man exclaimed, causing Wolfram to flush with embarrassment.
"Keiichi," he muttered, aware that his heart was pounding so much harder as he felt Yuuri's gaze fall on him. He deliberately looked away, knowing that if he met that look he'd…he'd…
"Congratulations on the win," Yoichiro added with a wide grin, reaching out to shake Wolfram's unresisting hand. However, Keiichi would have none of it and pulled Wolfram into his arms in a crushing hug.
"Go easy on him," Yoichiro warned as Wolfram held his side gently. "He's still hurting."
"Sorry," Keiichi mumbled, still grinning in delight. "Man, it's been so long since we saw you guys but we'll be meeting again in a couple of weeks, right? Spring training's beginning and then Opening Day."
"At least let me recover from this one," Wolfram replied with a soft laugh, flushing darkly as Yuuri moved closer to him. "So where have you two been?"
"Back in school," Yoichiro replied with a soft nod, his sharp gaze darting between the two boys before him. "We're still in college after all but we'll have to give it up once spring training begins."
"Yoichiro's been sobbing every night at parting ways with his Advanced Calculus notes," Keiichi said with a dramatic sigh. "I keep telling him I'll be more than enough for him and…"
"Shut up," Yoichiro mumbled, his cheeks turning a bright beet red. "Don't listen to him. He never knows when to stop…"
"So you two really are together!" Yuuri exclaimed, laughing softly. "Geez, I was a bit confused about that."
"So you mean you never knew they were into each other from the beginning?" Wolfram asked incredulously as he finally looked at Yuuri. "How dumb are you?"
"Hey, I'm not dumb!" Yuuri replied with a pained expression. "I just thought that Keiichi was messing around and…"
"Oh? That he was perhaps interested in you? Is that it?"
"No! I never thought…okay, so it did cross my mind at first but…I didn't think…"
"I don't believe it. You'd still cheat with anyone when you've got me on your side…" He slapped a hand over his mouth, realizing his blunder but Keiichi and Yoichiro were already pouncing on it.
"Ah ha! You two stubborn morons!" Keiichi grabbed Yuuri in a headlock and tried to ruffle his hair while Yoichiro shook hands with Wolfram again.
"Good luck you two," he said with sincerity in his tone. "I mean that."
"The same for you as well," Wolfram replied as he flushed darkly. "I'm sure Keiichi's a handful."
"You don't know the half of it." They both watched their partners mock fighting with Keiichi now trying to kiss Yuuri and Yuuri doing his best to push the blond away from him.
Several minutes later, after Yoichiro and Keiichi had left with the promise to meet them at a small restaurant for lunch tomorrow, Wolfram sighed and leaned against the wall in exhaustion. Yuuri had run across the lobby to fetch a cup of water for him and as he approached, holding the cups gingerly in his hands, Wolfram took a good long look at him.
"You're growing out your hair," he finally muttered, accepting the cup with a hand that trembled slightly. Yuuri was more than just growing out his hair. He was changing but Wolfram felt a bit embarrassed pointing that out to him. The lobby was still empty although they could see spectators making their way out of the stadium and into the parking lots right outside the large glass doors.
"I…uh…like it this way," Yuuri replied with a small smile as he made himself comfortable beside his companion.
They drank in silence for a while and Yuuri was the first to finish, crushing the paper cup and tossing it into the nearby trashcan. He took a deep breath and rubbed his damp palms on his jeans, his heartbeat now racing a bit faster as he realized what he was about to do.
"Huh…what? Yuu…Yuuri?" Wolfram gasped, the cup slipping from his boneless fingers as Yuuri suddenly stood before him to place his hands on Wolfram's waist. "What are you…aah."
His lashes fluttered weakly, his breath coming out in short gasps as he felt a warm and soothing heat seem to emanate from Yuuri's hands. He had no idea what the other boy was doing to him but it felt oh-so-good and absolutely wonderful. Unconsciously, he moved closer to Yuuri, arms moving of their own accord to wrap themselves around his neck.
"Does…does that feel good?" Yuuri whispered into Wolfram's ear, flushing as he felt something hard and obvious pressing against his stomach.
Wolfram debated lying about it, but another weak groan of pleasure escaped his lips and he buried his hot face against Yuuri's neck, settling for a slow nod of agreement. He knew he was also getting helplessly aroused, but it would take wild horses for him to pull away from Yuuri now. He wanted to remain this way for as long as he could. He had waited so long for this moment – to be with him again – to reassure himself that their feelings for each other hadn't changed at all.
"What was all that talk about not showing our affections for each other in public?" Yuuri mumbled with a soft chuckle.
"Shut up," Wolfram muttered, and playfully nipped Yuuri's neck in retaliation. "You made me play well today so it's the least I can do."
"I didn't do anything. You were the one out there."
"But you encouraged me and that's that." He pulled back to stare into Yuuri's dark eyes, licking his lips slowly as he felt his cheeks heat up again. "Uum…"
"I…I…" I can't say it! The words are going to sound so cliché and cheesy and pathetic.
/So show him, Wolfram. Show him just how much you care./
/So show him, Wolfram. Show him just how much you care./
"Wolfram?" Yuuri asked tentatively. "What did you want to say…?"
"About that rule regarding us not making out in public?"
The blond leaned even closer to whisper softly against his partner's lips. "Let's just forget that, shall we?"
Yuuri snickered and gave a slow nod of understanding and as their lips finally met in a heated kiss, the world ceased to exist and nothing else mattered. Neither boy knew what the future held for them or how far their relationship would take them, but for now, they were more than content to enjoy each other's company for as long as they could.
Back then…were you going to say that you…eh…loved me?
Why do you ask?
Well…nothing…just that…I think I…uum…I do love you, you know.
All right, already. I love you too. Happy now?
Yes. I am happy now.
Final Notes and Thanks: I'm a certified baseball nut (or rather used to be when the Braves (Atlanta) were doing well wails. Anyway, I'm the kinda girl that looks at box scores and studies stats and all what not. Yay, fun, isn't it/lol/ Bottom line, I was so pleased that Yuuri is also a baseball fanatic which was why it was a bit easy for me to use this storyline as an AU setting.
My thanks should first and foremost go to Blackster who pulled me back into the fandom when I had all but given up on it. I never thought I'd be able to write another story for KKM let alone a multichapter and FINISH IT! But I managed somehow and it wouldn't have been possible without your help and support along the way. /huggles/ So thank you so very much! I sincerely hope you enjoyed this story. It's the least I can do for you.
Many thanks go to my betas who've helped with this story, mushysquishy, zannyzan, and lurikoysabeth. Thank you ladies, for dealing with my impatience and helping me look much better than I really am. Thank you!
And last but not least, to all who have taken the time to leave their comments on the story from the beginning /bows gratefully/ Thank you so very much for your support and encouragement! Your interest helped the muses and got this story written, so thank you so much again!
Lots of websites were used for research for this story, so listing them all out will bore you to death. Just know that 'Wikipedia' is awesome, as well as 'MLB' and 'Japan Baseball' have been great helps!
So until next time...it's been fun!