Prompt: #36 Smell
Pairings: Abe/Miha (onesided)
Notes: Abe has good taste, even if his boyfriends... er... pitchers do tend to be a bit extreme. Also, I have this stupid faith in Izumi's brilliance. It shows.
Disclaimer: I wish.
From Your Skin
It had been an accident on Thursday. But when Abe came out of the showers before anyone else on Friday, it was purposeful.
His wet feet slapped against the floor as he walked over to the lockers, giving a quick glance over his shoulder to make sure that the team was still cleaning up. Listening now, he could hear yells and laughter echoing off the tile walls. It would have been nice, at any other time, to hear Mihashi's quiet voice raised to join the others.
Abe sat down on the wooden bench in the middle of the locker room and stared at a practice jersey that lay on the floor in front of his feet. It had been balled up and thrown next to an undershirt and a pair of pants that had been abandoned in a similar fashion. Water dripped from Abe's hair onto his bare shoulders. He felt like a kid sticking his hand in a cookie jar. A cookie jar whose contents may not actually be cookies.
He nudged the jersey with his toe. The folds fell aside, revealing a handwritten number one.
Abe reached out and slowly picked it up. It was heavy in his hand-- heavier than it should have been. Cotton, even cotton coated with dirt and soaked in sweat, shouldn't have felt so weighty.
He clutched the jersey in both hands and brought it up to his face. Taking a deep breath, he lost himself in the smell that had drawn him out of the showers. Mihashi's jersey smelled of freshly cut grass and freshly churned dirt. The buttons were hinted with suntan lotion from where Mihashi's fingers had touched them. There was a strong scent of sweat that had soaked through the pitcher's undershirt that coupled with the faint scent of detergent. Underneath it all, however, there was a vague smell that Abe could only understand as specifically Mihashi.
He wasn't completely sure why he was there. The day before had been purely an accident. Mihashi's practice jersey had been sitting innocently on the bench while Abe was leaning over and pulling socks on. As he bent, something in the smell of that jersey suddenly made him feel almost dizzy.
Abe was usually as abrupt and honest with himself as he was with others. But his honesty only extended to the point of things he could understand. He seriously couldn't see how something of Mihashi's could draw up vague thoughts of longing. Mihashi was, for him, a source of frustration and baseball-related need. He was barely a friend and more of a lost puppy than a teammate. And just because Abe preferred being with his ridiculous pitcher more than anyone else didn't mean that he wanted to be near him. Because that would have been ridiculous.
So he closed his eyes and wondered why he was here, and why Mihashi's smell confused him so much.
Abe was just about to throw the jersey back to the floor when someone behind him said, "Whose is that?"
He turned quickly.
Izumi was standing there with a bland look of curiosity on his face. His arms were folded across his bare chest and water drops ran down his arms.
"What?" Abe snapped unnecessarily as he stood to face his teammate. Already, he could feel his ears begin to burn.
"Whose is that?" Izumi repeated patiently, gesturing at Mihashi's shirt with one hand. Abe's clutch tightened and his knuckles turned white. "That jersey. Whose is it?"
"It's mine," Abe replied defensively. "I was checking to see if I had to wash-"
"No it isn't," interrupted Izumi. "You always hang your clothes up." He pointed to an open locker, where Abe's clothes were draped on hooks. Then something changed in Izumi's expression, and an almost self-satisfied look began to creep over his face. "So whose is it?"
Abe had never thought he could sound as bad as Mihashi, but the words of a believable lie wouldn't come out of his mouth without a fight. "I… It… I wasn't…"
Izumi shook his head in dismissal, his eyes wandering over the jersey. "I already knew that you were- I mean, look, as long as it's not mine…" He paused, narrowed his eyes at the bundle of cloth in Abe's hands, and then suddenly exclaimed "Oh!" in understanding. "It's Mihashi's, isn't it?" A faint smile played about his lips as if he just dropped the last piece into a puzzle.
"Wh- no it's not!" Abe said automatically. His grip on the jersey was lethal.
"I can see the marker," Izumi said. Then, he made an expression that could have been a grin or a grimace. "That's kind of…"
Abe, who was out of defensive words, glared.
Izumi picked his way around discarded items of clothing to his own locker. He threw clean clothes onto the bench and then turned back to Abe with a typical calm expression. "You really should just tell him. Or get over it."
"But-" Abe began (wondering what exactly he was supposed to tell his pitcher) and then stopped as Tajima, Hanai and Mihashi rounded the corner.
Tajima headed straight for the scattered trail of clothes he had left, chirping, "Hey, Abe! You missed the most awesome water fight! I was like- POW! SPLASH! And everyone was screaming!"
"We didn't scream," Hanai protested irritably as he opened his own locker.
Mihashi glanced at Abe, blushed, and then looked at the floor. He skirted the bench and eyed his pile of clothes. When he came up one item short, his gaze snapped immediately to Abe. Then he seemed to realize what the catcher was holding.
"… U-um…" Mihashi said cautiously.
Abe nearly threw the jersey at him.