Series: Ookiku Furikabutte
Characters/Pairings: Light Abe/Miha, Momokan, nameless!nurse, mentions of Tajima & Mizutani
Warnings: excessive use of dashes and italics? Bullied!Mihashi?
Summary: Abe liked to think he always kept a close eye on Mihashi, but even he was surprised when Momokan pulled him aside and asked if their star pitcher was being harassed.
At first it was hard to notice that anything unusual was happening. Mihashi Ren was a naturally skittish and shy person and he had the tendency to jump like a kangaroo if Abe so much as breathed at him wrong. Abe liked to think he always kept a close eye on Mihashi (it'd be disastrous if he didn't) but even he was surprised when Momokan pulled him aside and asked if their star pitcher was being harassed.
By who? But Momokan just frowned and turned back to the pitch where everyone was finishing their warm-ups.
Abe watched as Mihashi scrambled to his feet with a little more flailing than he normally put into the task. Mihashi was turning to head back to the dug out when Tajima ran by him with a wave and a hard slap to his back. Something fierce rose in Abe when Mihashi did a full-body shudder and almost collapsed to his knees in the dirt. He was halfway across the field with Momokan hot on his trail before he even began to try and understand the implications.
Mihashi was being harassed? What for? Was it someone from Nishiura or someone from another school? They were doing well in their matches; it could be someone hoping to sabotage their team. Abe had to admit that attacking Mihashi was a sure-fire way of pulling them down. It was also very suicidal of them, if Abe had anything to say about it. Which he did.
His hand wrapped around Mihashi's left elbow and he almost started shaking the poor boy when he jolted away from his touch.
"Abe-kun," Momokan pried at his fingers and then began manhandling Mihashi off the field.
"Chiyo-chan! Here's the key for the storage shed, have them practice their batting with the machines today." She signaled for Abe to follow, "We're going to the nurse's office."
"W-w-what—?" said Mihashi, his feet dragging reluctantly. Abe saw the look Momokan sent him over her shoulder and understood intimately why Mihashi simply bowed his head and trailed after her.
As soon as they reached the nurse's, Momokan pushed Mihashi in the direction of an available bed and began scaring off every other person in the room while simultaneously talking with the fifty-something woman running the sick bay,
"Could you give him a quick physical? Just above the waist, I'm afraid Mihashi-kun took an awful fall turning practice. Hit the ground pretty hard when he was trying to avoid a stray ball and he says his back hurts."
"Yes, of course, let me just—" Abe almost snarled at her when she pushed him outside the circle of the curtain but he stepped back and let the white curtain flutter shut. He listened hard to the soft murmuring not five feet away; Mihashi's distinct stutter (was he answering a question or replying?) and then the rustle of his practice shirt being removed.
Now it was silent. Abe glanced over to Momokan who had her arms tucked tightly under her chest. Worried. She was worried. Well he was worried too, dammit! What the hell was going on?
The nurse stepped out a few minutes later with a nod to Momokan. Abe breezed past her without a second thought as they began talking in low voices. Mihashi was perched on the edge of the bed, looking fragile and confused and very close to bawling his eyes out. He trembled when Abe took a seat next to him, thighs brushing lightly.
Abe wasn't sure what to say. What was going on? He didn't know anything other than Mihashi was possibly hurt and it was possibly because of bullying.
He remembered their first ever game against Mihoshi when he'd been searching for his pitcher and had stumbled upon the opposing team's catcher threatening to break Mihashi's arm. Abe could tell right away it wasn't the first time Mihashi'd been cornered and pushed around. At the time, he'd felt anger at Mihashi for having such a lousy personality; who lets themselves be bullied? Who justifies it with "He isn't a bad guy…"?
Abe had learned quickly that getting pissed at Mihashi was pointless and only proved to irritate himself further. That didn't stop him from getting frustrated and annoyed most days, but Abe respected Mihashi because he was an amazing pitcher who constantly worked to improve his game. He felt an impossibly hot heat burn through his limbs at the thought that somebody was abusing his pitcher.
The curtain parted as the nurse and Momokan stepped through.
"We need to talk to Mihashi privately; I'm going to have to ask you to step out for a little." There was no way Abe was leaving. Apparently Mihashi thought so too, if his bone-breaking death grip on Abe's left hand was anything to go by. Abe noted that Mihashi's hand was almost uncomfortably hot.
"I'd rather stay thanks."
The nurse stared long and hard at Mihashi who skillfully avoided meeting her gaze. Finally she heaved a sigh and pulled a chain over to take a seat in front of them.
"Mihashi," said the nurse, "you know you won't get in trouble if you tell us the reason for those bruises on your back. If you're being teased or bullied by someone at school or home, you need to inform us so we can help you."
Abe couldn't really feel his fingers any more but he ignored that if only because now real tears were spilling over Mihashi's softly curved cheeks and dripping steadily from his wobbling chin. His heart thudded painfully in his chest.
"T-they…" Abe squeezed Mihashi's hand when he trembled and didn't continue. Mihashi took a few sobbing gasps before it all just seemed to swell and tumble over his lips,
"A-about a week ago, got these letters—my locker—and, and in the halls, p-people shoved at," his voice hitched, "me and called—" a sob so retched and Abe felt it was okay to tuck Mihashi's arm into his side, "called me f-fag and homo! T-then," he curled into himself a bit more and his voice came out as just a low stutter, "then yesterday—was walking to p-practice…" Mihashi breathed deeply for a few seconds, his hand came up to swipe at his face once before falling limply into his lap again, "these people! Just—just came from nowhere a-and—my back," he looked up to Abe then, as if to make sure he was still listening, "they pushed me, h-hit—my back, hit a wall, nngh," Mihashi winced and pressed the back of his hand to his mouth. Abe suspected he'd bitten his tongue but Mihashi plowed on, "S-spat, they spat at me, kept—kept pushing me and r-rocks…!"
Mihashi stopped there. He was shaking so hard, Abe had long ago lost feeling in his arm from the vibrations. His mind was whirling in a flurry of thought even as he attempted to ignore the press of Mihashi against his side.
"Who are they?" Abe was so mad, "Name them, Mihashi."
Abe gripped Mihashi's arm tightly and rattled him a little when he began to fervently shake his head, "Name them, Mihashi."
"Abe-kun!" The reprimand from the nurse was sharp, but Mihashi was already stuttering out names. Abe vaguely recognized a few, some were in their year, but most were older. Mihashi paused after one particular name; his eyes skittered up to meet Abe's briefly, falling just as quickly.
"He… he l-lives near me, I—" hiccup, "I think he, he might have…"
"Might have what?" growled Abe.
"Some—some letters in our mail… he might've—uhm…"
"Your mother asked me about those Mihashi." There was a stormy look on Momokan's face, "She was afraid you were being bullied in school when she found some letters with offensive graffiti on them."
"I—I didn't want anyone to worry!" Mihashi was looking up now, pleading with them all to understand, "Af—after yester," deep breath, sob, "yesterday, I didn't—I don't, w-what was—"
Didn't want them to worry? Well! If that was Mihashi's intention, he going about it all wrong. Abe was far past worried; he'd skipped right into blazing pissed and he felt Mihashi should know.
"I can't," Abe forced himself to release his bruising grip on Mihashi's arm when he whimpered and ducked into his side, "believe you! Of course we're going to worry if you start showing up with imprints of rocks on your arms or large bruises on your back from being shoved into a wall. Are you stupid? We're your team, Mihashi!" Abe clutched at the back of Mihashi's neck and waited until he was looking up at him through his blonde eye lashes, "We're your team, Mihashi. We're like your family. You can't hide this kind of thing from us! We support each other and we can't help you if don't tell us what's wrong!"
Mihashi's neck was warm and slightly sun burnt (Abe made a mental note to get his idiot pitcher some sun screen) and even as Abe watched, Mihashi's harsh breathing slowed to a gentle hiccup and he relaxed into Abe's hand.
A soft cough drew Abe's attention to the nurse who had gotten out a pen and a pad of paper, "I'm glad you've given us name's Mihashi-san, there has actually been a few other students who have showed up with similar scratches and bruising but they either didn't know who was bullying them or refused to say." The pen began tapping against the paper in a way that set Abe's teeth on edge in annoyance, "I'm sure if they know they're not alone either they'll also file complaints through the school. It sounds to me like these boys are bullying people just because they can; you were probably targeted because you live close to one of them." Here she looked pointedly at the hand Abe rested on the back of Mihashi's neck, "I don't think it has anything to do with you possibly being homosexual."
Her look said she doubted her own words. Abe didn't like that look, not at all.
"I'm going to visit the principle and have a talk with him. For now, make sure you're always in the company of somebody you trust." Momokan nodded at her questioning look,
"He shares the same class with some of his teammates."
"Alright," said the nurse, "All that's left for you to do, Mihashi-san, is take it easy for a few days. The bruising on your back should start to fade in a day or two but for now sleep on your stomach and take a break from your baseball activities."
Mihashi definitely looked like he was about to protest that, his eyes went wide with panic and he almost shot right off the bed. Momokan seemed to have predicted this though because her arms were already unfolded and she was there holding him down with a steady hand in seconds.
"Mihashi-kun, you'll be taking a two day break from practice. During this time Abe-kun will have you studying our next opponent's batting styles. Understood?" Mihashi visibly quailed under her grip.
"Ye—" gulp, "yes!"
"Good. You two head back to the field and get started on reviewing those charts."
Abe reluctantly released Mihashi as they exited the nurse's office. It was silent on the walk back and it unnerved Abe with every step he took. He was used to Mihashi stuttering his way through awkward conversation and even when he wasn't mumbling to himself there was always an air of nervous energy hovering at Abe's shoulder, ready to take flight at any given moment.
Now it seemed like a dead weight had settled over Mihashi's head. His arms swung uselessly at his sides and his feet scuffed up small, depressing dust clouds in their wake.
Abe couldn't stand it.
"Mihashi," He waited until Mihashi was even with him, "Mihashi."
Mihashi's head snapped up in confusion, like he wasn't really sure where he was. Abe let him give a cursory glance to their surroundings before he spoke again,
"You know this wasn't your fault, right?" Abe could see he clearly did not know. He clenched and unclenched his hands to keep from wrapping them around Mihashi's skinny little neck.
"This wasn't you fault! Everyone on the team would agree with me, you didn't have to hide this from me—from us." Mihashi was starting to look properly ashamed but this didn't satisfy Abe, he didn't want Mihashi to be scared into trusting them!
"I'm…" Mihashi looked close to tears again, "I'm sorr—"
Abe held out his right hand, "Give me your hand. No—your pitching hand."
Mihashi held out his hand, looking like he half expected Abe to rip it off. Abe was really (really) tempted to right then, but decided upon just snatching it up and holding it firmly between his own long fingers.
A goofy (and entirely inappropriate) grin spread across his face at the heat radiating off of Mihashi's hand.
"No, it's alright." And it really was because Mihashi trusted Abe, felt comfortable and relaxed around him. He just obviously had trouble voicing when he needed help, "Just promise to never keep secrets like that from me again. We're a battery Mihashi; there are no secrets between us."
"I," Mihashi seemed to sense his seriousness because he swallowed and nodded hard, "I promise."
Abe shifted his grip so he was able to drag Mihashi after him, "Good. Let's get back to the pitch so you can study those batting charts."
That stupid grin remained plastered across his face all the way to the dug out where Mizutani kindly pointed out he should really practice his scary child-eating smirk in the privacy of his own home. Abe decided the team could spare losing one member.
Criticism is always welcome, this is my first fic in years and my first Oofuri fic ever.