Abe x Mihashi

Disclaimer: I do not own any characters from Ookiku Furikabute.

Warning: This story will eventually be slash. If you do not like male/male pairings, do not read this story.

This story is going to be a main AbexMihashi with side relationships with Tajima and Hanai cause I love them both too.

This story is consuming be though it seems like I've been working on this first chapter for forever. Please enjoy.

A Love Worth Fighting For

Chapter One- Old Acquaintances

"Ok boys, let's wrap it up and turn in for the night!" Momoe's loud voice carried from the dugout all the way back to the team, who was practicing in the outfield.

The sound of the team's footsteps were muted by the cicadas, who were buzzing loudly in the near by trees. The early afternoon rain had chilled the earth but had also made the field slick with mud. The team had tried as much as possible not to step on the soft dirt of their diamond, in fear of leaving crater footprints that would need to be filled up the next day, but some times it was inevitable. Run away balls or a slip of the mitt would send a baseball rolling innocently to the pitchers mound and the retriever always returned covered with mud. Though practice was more vigorous than usual, Team Nishiura knew that in order to win their next game, they had to be in prime condition. They had already beat Mihoshi, but the summer tournament was only a couple weeks away.

"You were awesome today, Tajima!" Sakaeguchi remarked as the team entered the school locker room.

Tajima grinned widely as he pealed off his soaked undershirt. "Yeah, I was totally in the zone today." Those around him started laughing and patting him on the back. Mihashi, however, stood in the corner, his locker door open in hopes of concealing himself as much as possible. His wet clothes were making his thin body shiver as tiny goosebumps multiplied on his arms and legs.

"Hey, you need to change before you catch a cold," Abe ordered, walking over to Mihashi after watching the shorter boy stare blankly at his open locker for several minutes. The last thing he needed was for his pitcher to get sick. At the sound of his voice, Mihashi jumped and started stuttering, looking in Abe's direction, but his eyes landed anywhere but his face. Abe internally groaned. He hated when Mihashi got like this. The boy was so unpredictable, and his little quirks covered up his true feelings, making it even harder for Abe to find out the true reason behind Mihashi's actions. "Just hurry up and change, alright?"

Mihashi nodded slowly before glancing down at the floor, his hair covering up his eyes. Something was wrong. Mihashi's shoulders shook slightly as he took a small step backwards. Though any other person on the team might brush off those mannerisms as insignificant, Abe knew Mihashi. Mihashi was being defensive, and Abe wanted to know why.

"What is it? What's wrong?" Abe asked, sounding harsher than he actually felt.

Mihashi shook his head. Practice today had been tough. Abe had tried to teach him how to throw a forkball, but because Mihashi was a naturally good thrower and so used to learning things on his own, he found Abe's instructions confusing and difficult. He could tell Abe was getting frustrated with him. About halfway through practice, Abe had snapped at him about speed and control. Even though Mihashi knew that he was only trying to help, he still took the remark personally. He knew he didn't deserve Abe as his catcher. Without Abe there to tell him which balls to throw, Mihashi was just another unknown, untalented baseball player. His pitches were slow, even if he did have some control, and though he practiced a lot, learning new pitches was very difficult for him. Mihashi knew that it was only a matter of time before Abe saw these flaws in him and decided to move on to Hanai or Oki. Mihashi stared at the ground, hoping that Abe would just leave him alone so he could finish changing.

Abe continued to study Mihashi, even though the smaller boy had not answered him. He could tell that a million different thoughts were running through Mihashi's head by the way his shoulders tensed up and his hands were clenched and glued to his sides. Abe couldn't understand what was wrong. Sure, practice hadn't gone exactly the way he had planned and learning the forkball was proving to be quite difficult, but he could already see Mihashi improving and he knew the pitcher would work hard until he got it right. It was one of the many qualities he admired in Mihashi. Plus, the forkball was a very hard pitch to learn. He didn't hold any resentment to the fact that Mihashi had failed to master the throw the first time practicing with it.

Without thinking, Abe grasped Mihashi's shoulder, intending on lecturing the boy about opening up to each other and learning to be each other's battery. But when his hand touched the damp clothing, he could feel Mihashi's cold body shivering. Exasperated, Abe shook his head.

"Just, hurry up and change, will you?" Abe turned and walked back to his own locker, intending on picking up his backpack and leaving. He had a biology test that he had to study for the next day, not to mention all the other homework his teachers had piled on.

"S-s-sorry…" Mihashi's small voice was barely heard over the rambunctious noise in the background, but Abe caught it. Mihashi voicing out his feelings was a start at least.

Abe turned back around and smiled. He could tell each day that Mihashi was willing to open himself up more and more to him, and Abe was glad that he was being trusted. It would make their battery relationship even stronger. Mihashi was still not looking at him, but that was okay.

"Don't worry about the forkball. We'll work on it more tomorrow. Just go home and get some rest," Abe said gently.

Mihashi's face snapped up to stare at Abe in shock. He had been so sure that Abe was going to yell at him for being so stupid and slow, then tell him to step down from the mound and leave. That's how it was at Mihoshi, so why should it be any different here? Yet, there was Abe, telling him not to worry about it. Mihashi felt a shy smile tug at the corner of his lips, but he quickly turned away and began unbuttoning his uniform shirt.

"O-okay. Bye, Abe-kun," Mihashi quietly mumbled, his cold numb fingers finding it difficult to undo the stiff buttons.

"Goodbye, Ace," Abe said, walking out the door.

Once Abe left, Mihashi finished changing in a daze. He still couldn't grasp just how accepting his new teammates were. Abe's last comment left his face uncomfortably red. His team told him that he pitched well, but Mihashi couldn't help but fear that when he least expected it, they would turn on him. When he was with Mihoshi…

"No!" Mihashi screamed inside his head, trying to suppress a shudder. He wanted to move past those horrible times. Even now, his past teammates haunted his life. Mihashi promised himself that they were gone. Besides, they had said they were sorry for the way they had treated him. He needed to let his past go and move on. He liked his new team. They treated him like a true pitcher, an ace. Mihashi didn't want to do anything stupid to mess that up.

Mihashi finished changing quickly, and grabbed his school bag. After saying a quick goodbye to the rest of his team, he unlocked his bike and began the ride home. Mihashi's blue bicycle sprayed up a stream of water from the back tire as he made his way down the vacant sidewalk. Night was fast approaching as the sun dropped lower to the horizon. The cool night air blew against Mihashi's face, instantly drying any perspiration. He felt better now that he was in dry clothes and the exercise from biking was warming up his body.

Mihashi thought back to the locker room and remembered Abe's soft words. Abe's smile still flashed before his mind and Mihashi couldn't help but smile at the image. Ever since Mihashi had joined the team, Abe was always there to catch Mihashi when he fell. He would always be grateful to him. But instead of expressing his thanks to Abe in the locker room, he had almost cried instead.

"Abe must think I'm such a crybaby," Mihashi thought bitterly, watching the last rays of sun disappear from the sky. "The whole team has to be so careful around me and act as though I'm about to break any second…I'm such a pain." His eyes stung as tears began to fill his eyes, but instead of letting them fall, he quickly wiped them away. Mihashi let out a small laugh. "What would my friends think of me now?"

Friends. They were his friends. At the beginning, they were only teammates. Mihashi was almost positive that some had even hated him on site but as the weeks of practice went on, without realizing it, his bond with his team grew. While he was at Mihoshi, Mihashi never had any true friends, but now it was different.

Mihashi glanced around, noticing only now that the street lamps had flickered on and dim stars shown above.

"Ah!" Mihashi let out a startled gasp and began to peddle faster towards home. His mother had warned him not be home late but Mihashi had absentmindedly decided to take the long way home. "I'm going to be in so much trouble!" He set forth blindly, the lamps above barely lighting up his path, and shadows jumped out at him randomly from the narrow street. His mind was racing, his fast beating heart pumping adrenaline into his veins.

"Only a couple more blocks to go," Mihashi tried to reason with his overly tired body, the afternoon practice beginning to take its toll on his muscles. Several unlikely scenarios were running through his mind about what would happen when he opened the front door of his house. The least likely being that his mother wouldn't be home and he could get away with his tardiness scotch free, however unlikely that was. The other extreme possibility revolved around his mother being so mad that she forced him to quit the team. Mihashi shuddered at the thought. Maybe he shouldn't go home just yet…

Without warning, a fist-sized rock came rocketing towards Mihashi. Because of the dark, he only had a second's notice before it hit him directly on the left shoulder, bouncing off of him with a sickening crunch. The momentum sent Mihashi tumbling off his bike, skidding across the wet gravel pavement, and finally stopping in the middle of the empty street.

Mihashi groaned. His body tingled with pain from his freshly scrapped arms and legs and he could already feel his shoulder throb with the promise of a bruise. He was afraid to even try and move. The water on the damp street had already soaked into Mihashi's clothes, chilling him.

After what seemed like hours, he tried to sit up, wondering where the rock had come from. His question was quickly answered as figures snuck out of a nearby ally, snickers echoing off the walls.

"Nice shot!"

"You sure got him good, Hatake!"

Mihashi froze. That name caused every muscle in his body to clench with fear. He could feel his heartbeat racing.

"No…" Mihashi practically sobbed, trying desperately to hold onto reality. Hatake, the catcher from Team Mihoshi. The name that haunted his nightmares, the bully who made him live his middle school days in constant fear.

Mihashi's forearm started to sting with remembered pain as Mihashi was thrown into his haunted past. It was at the end of the school year last year when Hatake had stalked up to him in the same fashion, like a lion waiting to pounce on its injured prey. Mihashi was walking home. Team Mihoshi had just lost yet another baseball game when Hatake had snapped. He had chased after Mihashi, and when he finally caught up with him, he exploded. Mihashi, who felt guilty enough for allowing his team to fail so miserably, allowed the insults to be screamed at him. Suddenly, a quick kick to the stomach sent the depressed pitcher falling to the ground, clutching his bruised ribs and gasping for breath. Bile threatened to come up from his stomach.

"You piece of shit," Hatake growled in Mihashi's ear, pinching the pressure points in the back of Mihashi's neck and forcing him to stand up again.

Mihashi cried out in pain, his neck muscles instantly cramping up. His stomach screamed in agony and his legs were shaking so bad that he feared when Hatake let go he would fall right back to the ground. Though his mind was screaming at him to get away, a small part of his mind was whispering to Mihashi that he deserved this for making his team fail all those years. It was this small voice that made Mihashi not fight back as Hatake continued to punch him. Mihashi was so full of pain that he couldn't help as tears streamed from his eyes.

It wasn't until Hatake roughly grabbed Mihashi's arm and started twisting, threatening to break it, that Mihashi broke out of his daze. Natural instincts kicked in, and Mihashi tried violently to wrench his arm free. Mihashi's frightened scream quickly morphed into sobs.

"P-p-please, please d-d-don't hurt me! I-I-I'm s-s-sorry, I-I'm sorry, I'm sorry," Mihashi choked out in between shaky breaths.

"Swear that you will never play baseball ever again," Hatake yelled, never letting go of Mihashi's arm.

"Forever?" Mihashi thought quickly to himself.

Mihashi hesitated for only a moment but that was enough for Hatake to twist Mihashi's arm a little bit more. Mihashi screamed as every nerve in his arm flared with pain, tears continuing to stream down his face. Mihashi's life had been pitching. He practiced every day, trying to get better and please his team. He had failed.

"…y-yes…al-alright," Mihashi whispered.

Hatake dropped his arm and walked away without a backward glance.

Mihashi really hadn't meant to join a new baseball team. Hatake's unspoken threat was still fresh in his mind but Momoe picked him up and threw him on the team without consulting him at all. There was even a time when Mihashi was having so much fun with Abe and the others that Hatake slipped his mind. That was until they were to face Team Mihoshi for their first game of the season. Mihashi couldn't sleep the week preceding the game, too scared that Hatake would come while he was sleeping and hurt him.

When they finally faced Mihoshi, Mihashi was positive that Hatake was going to kill him right then and there. Much to his surprise, the team had instead admitted to being wrong and wanted Mihashi back. He was amazed. He truly believed that they were sorry.

Now, as four or five Mihoshi team members surrounded Mihashi, he could almost laugh at his stupidity, knowing now that they apologies were as hallow as a metal bat. Mihashi had gone against his word and now he was going to pay for it.

"What did I say, Mihashi?" Hatake taunted. "Did you think I'd forget about our little agreement? That my apology was sincere and three years of middle school would just be washed away in a simple bow of the head?"

Mihashi's body was shaking as a cold sweat coated his forehead. "I-I-I-I d-d-didn't," Mihashi began, trying to explain that it wasn't his fault he was put on the team, but he was too scared to get the words out. Hatake, already sick of Mihashi's stuttering, kicked him hard in the stomach, quickly shutting the annoying boy up.

"To hell with you! Kanou wasn't able to pitch at all during middle school because of you! He was always the better pitcher, and you knew it. That's why you wouldn't step down. You make me sick," Hatake spat. The four other teammates had gone silent, too scared to say anything. They glanced at each other with nervous excitement.

Mihashi groaned, trying to recover from the blow to the stomach. He couldn't think logically. Some naïve section of his mind tried to reason that this was part of a sick nightmare his tired brain conjured up. He would wake up any moment now, tangled up in his bed sheets. The most injury he would receive would result from falling off the bed. The blood flowing out of his arms and legs, the jolts of pain resonating from his shoulder, and the cold wet clothes that clung to his body told his mind that what was happening to him was very real. If he didn't get away soon, he would be lucky to get away with just a couple bruised ribs and a dislocated shoulder.

"The reason you won against us was pure luck. Everyone thought you were a joke so we barely even tried to win," Hatake growled. "We all know the truth: you're just a stupid, broken, worthless pitcher." Hatake circled around Mihashi, soaking in the feeling of absolute power and control he had over the cowering boy. "I should have broken your arm when I had the chance. Maybe then you wouldn't have run off to ruin yet another team's future."

Mihashi's eyes widened. Hatake's words seemed to seep, little by little, into his very soul as much as Mihashi tried not to listen. He thought that they were his friends. His new teammates had smiled and laughed with him, had told him "good job" after striking a person out, and Abe was making him a stronger pitcher with every day that passed. He wasn't ruining their careers.

Was he?

Hatake watched as his words affected Mihashi. He had been by the boy's miserable side since the beginning of middle school and knew him well enough to know that with Mihashi, emotional blows were worse than physical ones. The boy's mind was beginning to crumble and just when Hatake judged that the boy could go no lower, he would go in for the kill, finally breaking his arm and insuring that the boy could never again play baseball.

Hatake still boiled with rage when he looked at the weakened pitcher. He remembered those long summer middle school days as if it were yesterday. Mihashi would be throwing slow and uncontrolled pitches during a game as if it didn't matter whether they won or lost. Hatake didn't see why Mihashi deserved hand signals from him so he would just stare at Mihashi from behind home plate. They were going to lose anyway. Hatake would glance over at the dugout only to see Kanou's eager face. Kanou wanted to play so bad. He practiced harder than Mihashi, even if he knew he wasn't going to pitch in the next game.

But that bastard wouldn't get off the pitcher's mound. Even if they were losing by over ten points, that stubborn ass wouldn't move. He'd keep on pitching as if he knew he was digging their graves. Hatake felt his face twist into a deep scowl. He'd make Mihashi pay.

Mihashi sat silently in the street, his mind racing. With every second that passed, he successfully convinced himself that he was an ugly virus in the team, just waiting to infect the other players with his selfish, worthless tendencies. Momoe's smile, Tajima's pats on the back, and even the feel of Abe's hand on his hand were washed from his mind with a cold, ruthless reality; a reality that consisted of empty promises, snide remarks, and emotionless actions. Maybe his teammates weren't his friends. They could have been pretending all this time, whispering behind his back, laughing at him in the shadows of the dugout. The thoughts alone almost made Mihashi sick to his stomach.

"Come on, Mihashi! What's wrong? How does it feel to step off of your high horse?" Hatake resumed circling Mihashi. "If you won't step down from the mound, then I'll force you to!" Hatake roughly grabbed Mihashi's right arm.

Mihashi was jerked suddenly into reality by Hatake and screamed. The muscles in his body were clenched so tightly that even moving an inch caused them to creak in discomfort. Though Mihashi could see Hatake grab him arm and start to drag his body more towards the side of the road, he could no longer feel it. The cold night had caused his drenched body to go numb. His mind could see no way out, long since exhausting the fight or flight response, and therefore had partially shut down. His limp body was dragged across the rough pavement as if it were a corpse. Mihashi couldn't feel his school uniform tearing, snagging on the sharp pebbles beneath him. Instead, Mihashi's mind raced through never ending scenarios of punishment and death, of betrayal and mistrust. All physical wants and needs were thrown to the back of his mind.

Hatake and his fellow teammates were trying to move the unresponsive pitcher into the back ally, where they could break his arm slowly and painfully. The boy was just making too much noise for them to continue in the open street.

Just then, two bright headlights, coming towards them from down the street, blinded them all. The car's honk echoed throughout the silent night. Hatake was frozen in place, not sure of what to do. He still had Mihashi's cold arm gripped in one hand but the light had caused a moment of amnesia. The car was coming fast, but Hatake continued to stare for what seemed like hours.

"Hatake! We gotta get out of here!" Shuzo's voice melted his frozen body, finally pulling his eyes away from the oncoming car.

Hatake quickly let Mihashi's arm fall, retreating from the scene with his teammates.

"Don't think I won't be back! You'll get what you deserve!" Hatake bellowed, glancing over his shoulder at Mihashi. The anger and thirst for revenge was still so fresh in his mind. He'd be back for Mihashi. It might not be today, but he'd make sure Mihashi paid for the way he treated Kanou and his team. He felt a pang of regret that he wasn't able to finish the job tonight, but if he and the others were caught, they would be expelled.

The car rolled to a stop in front of Mihashi. The driver jumped out of his car, afraid that he'd find the motionless body unconscious or dead. He thought that the group of teenagers was just hanging out in the street. The driver didn't expect, as he knelt down beside Mihashi, to find a body lying unresponsive and beaten up.

"Hey, kid! Are you ok? Can you get up?" the driver asked frantically, grabbing the Mihashi's side and rolling him over so that boy was lying on his back. Mihashi cringed as his body was turned around, and let a pained moan escape his lips. The driver sighed in relief. At least the kid wasn't dead.

Mihashi slowly opened his eyes, expecting to see Hatake standing over him, but instead saw a middle aged man, whose face was tight with worry.

"Who?" Mihashi managed to croak out before he felt fluid fill his lungs, sending him into a coughing fit.

"Take it easy there," the stranger consoled, helping Mihashi sit up to allow him to breathe easier. "What happened?"

Mihashi had finished coughing, but his throat remained raw and scratchy. His eyes burned with fresh tears just remembering Hatake's face and his promised revenge. Mihashi wanted to burst, to tell this man all that had happened and how unfair it was and how much he hurt, but in the end, he couldn't do it. Why make another person suffer with his problems and self-pity?

"N-n-nothing…h-happened," Mihashi lied, clenching his bruised stomach.

The driver could clearly tell the young boy wasn't telling the truth, but pressuring the him with questions now wouldn't result in getting any answers. Since Mihashi had sat up, the car's headlights shown on him like a spotlight. Though there were no major cuts on his face, the older man could see streams of blood dripping down his cheeks from wiping his face with his torn up arms. Blood had soaked through his filthy school jacket and his pants were torn from when he was dragged across the street. Even in the darkness, the driver could tell the boy was soaked to the bone and shivering. He looked so small and fragile that the driver couldn't believe that bullies would have to go to this extent to prove whatever sick point they had in mind.

"Where do you live? I'll give you a ride home," the man offered, his conscience not allowing him to do any less.

Mihashi shook his head. "I-I-I-I l-live j-just down the s-s-street," Mihashi pointed a shaking finger to a fairly large house located behind trees near the end of the road.

The man looked at Mihashi skeptically. "I'll walk you home."

Mihashi nodded, not knowing if he could make it home by himself. The older man helped him stand up, which resulted in another round of coughing. His bruised chest made breathing difficult and Mihashi found himself short of breath from just standing up. His wrist and shoulder were still throbbing, but Mihashi knew he had to get home. Every shadow in the street, every sound or wisp of the wind could be Hatake waiting for him and Mihashi was about to jump out of his skin from the overwhelming anxiety.

The two walked slowly towards Mihashi's house after the man pulled his car to the side and grabbed the boy's forgotten bicycle. The man kept throwing worried glances at the slightly limping boy, wondering what might have happened if he hadn't shown up.

"T-t-thank you," Mihashi whispered suddenly, his head tilted towards the ground.

"It's no problem. I'm just glad I was in the right place at the right time. You should really be more careful, you know that?" The driver replied.

Mihashi's throat tightened up as fresh tears sprang up in his eyes, so he nodded instead of responding. This man who he had met only minutes before was concerned with him and was making sure he was okay. Maybe Mihashi wasn't the mean, selfish pitcher that Hatake made him out to be. If he deserved to get beat up for being a horrible person, why would a complete stranger help him? Questions raced around his head, causing his headache to pound harder.

"Is this your house?" the driver asked, pulling Mihashi out of his daze.

"Y-y-yeah, t-thank you so much," Mihashi mumbled, taking his bike from the stranger. He bowed his head in thanks, but even the slight tilt of his head sent him in a dizzy spell. Mihashi looked up to see two heads of the concerned stranger swirling around his vision instead of just one, making his already painful stomach clench in discomfort.

"Just get inside and take care of those cuts," the driver advised, waving to Mihashi as he turned and walked back to his car.

Mihashi's smile was short lived. His whole body ached and his headache was only getting worse with each passing moment. He entered his house without any trouble and found it funny when his mother didn't run up to greet him right away. Maybe she really was gone? Mihashi knew that he should take a bath and clean some of the cuts he received, but his brain could hardly function as it was.

Each step was painful and his body felt weighted down by lead. Mihashi barely made it to his bed before collapsing into an exhausted sleep.