Title: Matchmakers and Misunderstandings-Chapter 1:
Rating: R (for Tajima's porn collection)
Pairings/Characters: Abe/Mihashi, Tajima
Summary: Tajima suggests that Mihashi might like Abe. At first Abe dismisses the idea, but it nags at him until he faces the possibility that Mihashi could actually like him and maybe Abe even likes him back.
Author's Notes: There are some spoilers for post-anime events, but for the most part this end-of-season story is almost entirely hypothetical and made up on my part. I wanted to write something about the period after their first season of games when they were getting ready to go into their second year of High School. This is my first Oofuri fic, so I hope everyone enjoys it. The next chapter should be up soon.
"Hey, hey, hey! Abe!"
Abe looked around for the culprit shouting his name and found Tajima hurrying through the school hallway behind him. Just before Tajima slipped into step with Abe a teacher scolded him for rushing in the halls. A slight bow and a quick apology got the freckled boy out of trouble. He turned to Abe all smiles. It took everything Abe had not to roll his eyes. Seriously, how is someone always that damned happy?
"So I've been thinking…" Tajima started. He paused long enough to toss his hands behind his head in that casual way he always did. "That you and I should get in some extra practice time."
Having the team relying on Tajima as catcher so heavily at the Newcomers and Fall tournaments, it wasn't an unusual request. Abe could tell the backup catcher was getting used to his new role, but at the same time, he was still making mistakes every now and again. Not that it really mattered. They would have lighter workouts for the next few weeks. After that came the New Year, new recruits, and the Spring Tournament. Most likely they'd find a more suitable backup catcher and Tajima would be off the hook. He'd be able to go back to focusing on being their cleanup batter and Abe could train some new freshmen on the ins and outs of their odd ace pitcher Mihashi. Besides, Abe was going to use the time to really focus on getting his knee back into top condition. He didn't need a distraction as annoyingly upbeat as Tajima.
Tajima was still giving Abe a hopeful look, not knowing that the catcher was about to turn him down. "So tomorrow after practice…" Tajima started, but Abe interrupted him immediately.
"I'm just not sure it's necessary," Abe said in his most surly of voices. He hoped it would be enough, but Tajima just scrunched his nose and scowled a little. It wasn't an expression anyone saw that often out of team's most optimistic player, but Abe was getting the pleasure of it now.
"Come on, Abe," the shorter boy said in all seriousness. "I already got Mihashi on board. He thinks it's a great idea."
Oh great, Abe thought to himself, the two that frustrate me the most are collaborating. He glanced down at Tajima again and shifted his bag from one hand to the other. "So what exactly would this extra practice entail?"
Tajima hummed as he thought for a moment. "Mostly I guess some help with strategy and general stuff, but also I guess I need some help with how to take a collision."
Yeah, the kid did need to figure that one out. It was something every catcher had to deal with, but Tajima was such a small guy. It was no wonder that their Fall Tournament had ended in the bottom of the ninth with Tajima losing the battle with the opposing team's cleanup batter as the guy slid into home. No one on the team blamed Tajima since he did the best he could, but they all knew it was a weak spot in their defense.
"Come on, man, I need the help. And maybe I can help you train that knee back into working shape," Tajima said with a cheeky grin.
Abe thought about it for a minute before shaking his head. "I'm really not sure it'll even matter come next year. I don't really want to waste either of our time." He added a noncommittal shrug before he began to turn into his classroom.
Suddenly there was a hand on his shoulder and Tajima was pulling him back into the hallway. "Hey, it doesn't matter if I'm the backup catcher or at the bottom of the list of catchers," Tajima said in all seriousness. "If it is possible I'm going to head into that game in that position I want to know I can do the job. Now I'm asking as a friend and as a teammate, will you help me?"
Abe just stayed quietly stunned for a moment or two before giving Tajima an over-exaggerated eyeroll and mumbling, "Yeah, yeah, whatever."
Excitedly Tajima slapped Abe on the back and shouted, "Thanks, man," before running back to his own class as the bell chimed. Before he rounded the corner he added, "I'll let Mihashi know," and then he was gone.
Abe appreciated all the guys on the team, really, he did, but sometimes they all drove him absolutely, positively nuts. Especially Tajima.
"Set yourself better. You're still going to be off balance like that." To prove his point he stood over Tajima and shoved his shoulder hard. With an "oof" Tajima was sitting on his butt in the dirt. "You have to plant your right leg better after the catch or you'll be unsteady."
Abe could probably have taken it if Tajima had scowled or complained, but instead he just smiled up with a cheery, "Sure thing, coach," and hopped up into a crouch and got ready for it again.
Abe took a few steps back on the third base line and took a runners stance. "Alright, Mihashi," he said over his shoulder to the pitcher on the mound, "Let's do it again." Mihashi nodded and threw the ball to Tajima who quickly set himself and prepared for impact. Once again he wasn't positioned correctly and Abe just sighed and walked over to the backup catcher and used his foot to gently knock Tajima off balance one more time. "Right leg. Right leg!" Abe drilled into him.
"H-hey, Abe," Mihashi said as he walked in from the pitcher's mound. "It's g-getting late. Maybe we should stop for tonight."
Tajima's stomach seemed to agree with Mihashi as it let out a low grumble and Tajima just kind of crumpled to the ground murmuring something vague about starving and being deathly hungry. "Foooood," Tajima moaned and looked up at Abe with pleading eyes.
Abe rolled his eyes but offered Tajima a hand. Mihashi seemed overjoyed by small gesture and hurried over to help Tajima out of his catcher's gear. Abe stood and waited patiently, or as patiently as Abe could be, for the two of them. To kill time, he undid the belt on his practice pants, untucked his practice jersey, and pulled it over his head. "I need a shower," he said as sniffed the newly removed garment.
"Yeah, me too," Tajima shouted as he wriggled out of his last shin guard. "Last one in pays for takeout."
Abe didn't even have time to register what had been said. He watched as Tajima practically sprinted into the clubhouse with Mihashi close on his heels. Not wasting time he began disrobing in the doorway as he called out to Abe, "I think we should get ramen tonight," and then disappeared inside.
"Oh hell no," Abe grumbled as he walked to the clubhouse, realizing what had just transpired, "I'm not feeding you. I'm doing this as a favor to you." Once inside Abe stripped out of his pants and undershirt. The last thing to go onto the pile of clothes that desperately needed laundered was his jock and then he stepped into the showers with his two pain-in-the-ass teammates. "If anyone is treating anyone, then you two are buying me some barbeque."
Tajima turned to Abe and interjected, "Barbeque, but we'd have to go to a restaurant for that."
Abe reached for the shower handle and turned on a spray of warm water. "Yeah, and we can talk strategy while we're there, moron." He rubbed a bar of soap on his chest as he let Tajima think it over. It didn't take long, the hyperactive batter was smirking and drooling as pondered the idea of grilled meat.
"We do have this great little Korean place near my house," Tajima said when he finally snapped out of his meat-induced fantasy. "And if you guys want, you could stay the night at my place. My mom is always telling me how empty the house feels since there's only me and one of my brothers at home now."
Abe shrugged. It was the weekend, so it sounded fine. His mom was always bugging him to actually hang out with his friends. "As long as you guys are paying for supper, I'm in."
Mihashi seemed very happy about that. "No problem, Abe."
The three of them quickly finished, but not before Tajima decided to snap Mihashi in the ass with his wet washcloth. It started a mini-war between the two and Abe couldn't fight his lip as it curled into an amused smile as Mihashi blushed and tried vehemently to catch the elusively quick Tajima with his own washcloth. Everything ended well though, because when Tajima finally thought he was safe and was standing and laughing at a defeated Mihashi, Abe undid his own towel from his waist and rolled it quickly and snapped Tajima who gave a surprised yelp. After another round of towel whippings and the three finally got dressed and headed for the restaurant.
The barbeque was really good, and though they had planned to discuss strategy , the three of them ended up talking more about the cute girls who were sitting a couple of places down. Every time Tajima poked Mihashi and teased him about the petite girl sitting on the end the pitcher's face would bloom into a cute, embarrassed blush. Tajima even got Abe to admit that the girl sitting on the inside was his type. The catcher explained he liked girls with short hair and a quiet demeanor.
"So you like the shy kind?" Tajima asked as he plucked a piece of beef off of the grill. "The kind that blushes a lot?" He chuckled and then needled Mihashi in the ribs with his elbow in some strange communication before stealing another piece of beef.
"Hey, asshole, that was mine," Abe glared, his eyes narrowing as he set his sights on the last piece on the grill. It was Mihashi's, and stealing meat from that kid was kind of like starving a puppy, but dammit, Abe was hungry.
"Y-you can have it," Mihashi said as he picked up a couple of grilled vegetables, but left the meat Abe had been eyeing. "As thanks for helping Tajima out."
Abe slowly moved his chopsticks to the meat and picked it up. "Thanks," he said with an appreciative nod to his friend. It made Mihashi smile as Abe enjoyed the last of the beef. Even Tajima was smirking, though his attention was divided between his friends and flirting with one of the girls they'd been eyeing.
On the way to Tajima's house the three of them decided to stop at a convenience store and pick up some late night goodies for later. Abe tried to keep it mildly healthy, since good nutrition was key to bouncing back from an injury, but Tajima and Mihashi grabbed every unhealthy snack food in sight. The only thing that was even remotely good for them was the strawberry milk both of them decided to buy.
Toting a few grocery bags of junk food, they finally arrived at Tajima's house. Both Abe and Mihashi had visited before, so they knew where things were. They removed their shoes and said hello to Mrs. Tajima. She did seem genuinely happy to have guests. Tajima's older brother was heading out, apparently he had a date.
Abe walked to the phone. "I'm going to call and let my mom know I'm here," he said as he dialed home. The phone was ringing when Mihashi shuffled over as well.
"Me too," he said as he leaned against a wall and waited his turn. "My mom is still at work, so I'll leave her a message."
Abe was close to saying something to Mihashi, but his mother picked up the phone and politely answered, "Abe residence." Abe asked for permission to stay overnight at Tajima's and it was quickly granted. His mom was, as predicted, glad Abe was being social for once. "Make sure to tell Mrs. Tajima thank you," she reminded him as they ended their phonecall.
"Yeah, I know," Abe replied and then hung up the phone. He moved aside so Mihashi could leave his message.
"Your mom works a lot lately, doesn't she?" Abe asked as Mihashi laid the phone back on the receiver. Mihashi nodded, but didn't really say much else.
"Doesn't that bother you?" Abe couldn't help but pry. "I mean, who makes you dinner and stuff?"
Mihashi shrugged and avoided Abe's eyes. "Well, I…I guess I do. I'm busy with baseball too, so a lot of the time she leaves me money for takeout."
Abe remembered briefly that the largest chunk of the restaurant bill had been taken care of by Mihashi. He felt a little ashamed having taken advantage of his friend's generosity like that. He wasn't even sure if he'd said thank you. Before heading upstairs to Tajima's room Abe reached over and rustled Mihashi's hair. "Thanks for dinner," he mumbled and then rushed up the stairs.
Tajima was upstairs waiting for them. He was pulling out two futons out of a closet. "I hope this is okay," he said as he plopped them down on his room's floor. "I'll get some blankets too."
Soon the three of them were sitting and telling stories and laughing as they gorged themselves on junkfood. Abe turned down the first couple of offers of unhealthy snacks, but soon he was chowing down on it just like Abe and Tajima.
"So just how big do you think Momokan's boobs are?" Tajima was extremely excited as he managed to segue into this conversation. "I mean, they have got to be like double D's."
Mihashi blushed very, very hard when they started talking about their coach. He always did. Abe, on the other hand couldn't really care less. He saw his coach as a coach, but his need to always input his opinion didn't stop him from interjecting it into the conversation, "They're way bigger than double D's."
Mihashi looked like he was swimming. He had his normal "I just blew a brain gasket and need a reboot" look on as he stuttered, "W-what comes after d-double D?"
Good question, Abe thought. He wasn't quite sure. Tajima, however, was a freaking genius when it came to this subject. "Well double D can also be called E, and after that is triple D or F. I've got a picture of a girl in this mag who has H sized boobs. H!"
Like the giddy porn master he was, Tajima fished under his mattress for a minute before coming back out with a well worn magazine. He flipped through the pages until he got to the girl with the enormous tits. "Look, look!" he said shoving the thing into Mihashi's hands.
Abe peeked over and got a good look at the busty girl. Not exactly his thing, especially since he was sure those breasts weren't real. No girl had boobs that big. "Where do you get these things?" Abe asked referring to the magazine. Meanwhile, Mihashi blushed like a tomato as he stealthily turned the page to look at more.
"My older brothers. They keep me supplied," Tajima said with his classic smirk. "But if you want the good stuff," Tajima hopped out of bed and turned on his computer. After a little bit of clicking through file folders he opened up one of the files and waved Mihashi and Abe over. The two other boys silently followed, but Abe almost regretted it when he looked over Tajima's shoulder.
On the screen was a very pretty girl lying prone on a bed and there was a man who had latched his mouth onto her breast. Her eyes were scrunched closed and she was moaning this low, sweet sound as the man licked and nibbled wherever he pleased.
"Isn't this great?" Tajima asked excitedly. "She gives him this amazing blowjob in a minute. Totally hot."
Mihashi seemed mesmerized by the scene on the computer screen, but Abe stepped back embarrassed. He watched as both Mihashi and Tajima's eyes were glued on the video. Poor Mihashi looked like he was about to pass out from pure embarrassment any minute, but at the same time Abe could see an excited hunger in the shy boy's eyes. That same hunger was already written all over Tajima's face.
"I…um…we…" Abe stuttered through a few words, and felt distinctly like he'd summoned Mihashi seeing how he was tripping over words left and right. Didn't Tajima and Mihashi think it was strange for the three of them to be watching porn together? What made it worse was that Abe hadn't really ever seen porn, except for the occasional glance at a dirty magazine a friend passed around. The girl in the video moaned again, and even though the computer's sound was turned down extremely low, her voice seemed to go straight to Abe's crotch.
Oh hell no, he thought as he glanced at his friends again. No way in hell was he going to get a hard-on at a sleepover with two of his best pals. Nothing spelled awkward like unwanted erections. He'd learned that much in middle school when he started going through puberty. "Shut that off," he told Tajima sternly.
Tajima just smirked in reply. It was almost a challenge. That cocky little grin of his was clearly saying, "Yeah, make me."
"Come on man," Abe pleaded. If that didn't work he really would shut the stupid thing down by force if necessary.
Tajima stared Abe down for a few seconds, but then sighed and turned off the video. Mihashi looked both relieved and saddened by the loss. "You are so uptight at times," he said accusingly to the catcher. "Seriously man, you need to jerk off more. It makes you less of a douche."
This, of course, seemed to infuriate Abe, as so many things did. He pointed a condemning finger at Tajima and growled in the angriest of whispers, "I am not a douche, Tajima. And I jerk off plenty. I just prefer to do it in the privacy of my bathroom, and not in the company of friends."
Tajima rolled his eyes, "It's just porn."
Abe huffed and took a step toward Tajima, who in turn stood from his computer chair and matched Abe's step. It took a very flustered Mihashi between them to stop them from getting in an all out brawl. "Stop it guys. Just stop," he pleaded with his friends. Mihashi planted one hand firmly on Abe's chest, and the other on Tajima's. He applied enough pressure on them to force them apart. The two arguing boys glanced at the teammate separating them and calmed down. "P-please don't fight," Mihashi added.
"Yeah, yeah," Tajima said as he flopped back down on his bed. "Last time I share my secret stash with you two."
Abe was fine with that, but Mihashi let out a tiny, disappointed whimper. Abe and Tajima looked at Mihashi, and without much warning both of them started to laugh.
"Hey guys, what's so funny?" Mihashi asked as Tajima rolled on his bed howling and Abe even let out a little snort. "Guys?"
Tajima tried to breathe, but he couldn't quiet himself. Between giggles he managed to say, "I…never," and then he laughed harder, "That you…were that…kind of guy, Mihashi."
Abe wiped a bit of amused moisture from the corner of his eye as he snickered and patted the pitcher on the back.
"What? What kind of guy do you mean?" Mihashi asked, very confused. His expression changed into his usual half-chicken, half clueless Mihashi look, which only made the two other boys laugh harder.
"You know," Tajima said, practically in tears. "A pervert."
Mihashi practically fainted as he slumped into a seated position on the floor. "I'm not a pervert," he mumbled as his face flushed bright, bright red. "Perverts hide in bushes and steal panties and take pervy pictures of girls," he said very, very quietly. "I don't do those things."
Abe and Tajima managed to quiet themselves and after swallowing down the last of his laughs Abe took a seat by Mihashi and patted the poor guy on the back. "We know, Mihashi. We were just teasing."
Tajima came and joined the other two. "Yeah," he said, shooting a warm smile at his distraught friend, "I don't really think you're a pervert, I just never thought you'd like dirty magazines and stuff."
Mihashi's lip quivered and he mumbled, "I'm just like any guy. I…I like those things."
The three of them got quiet for a moment. "You know," Tajima began, unfortunately speaking without thinking first. Which is how he did most things that didn't pertain of the realm of baseball, Tajima didn't really give his words a second thought before he let the words rush right out of his mouth. "I always thought with the way you mooned over Abe that you had a crush on him or something. I assumed you liked dudes more than chicks."
"Wha-what?" Mihashi asked, his eyes wide and his body shaking.
Abe was almost as stunned as Mihashi as he just mutely stared at Tajima, not believing what the guy had just implied. A few seconds later Abe found his voice. "You thought he was gay?" he asked incredulously.
"Naw, not gay-gay. I know he likes some chicks. So just bi," Tajima speaks as casually as he does when he talks about stats or food. The freckled boy shrugged and genuinely didn't seem to understand why his assumption was anything other than appropriate conversation. "Besides," Tajima added, "You two always act like you're flirting or something. I mean it's really obvious. All the guys on the team say so."
"What?!?" Abe practically screeched. "You seriously think Mihashi and I have a thing for each other?"
"For A-Abe?" Mihashi added.
"Dude, you are so far off base," Abe said, his voice low and quiet now. "He's my friend, my pitcher, and I'll admit we have a strange relationship, but it isn't that kind of relationship."
Mihashi was still stuck on the fact that someone thought he liked Abe, "For Abe?" he asked again in a little squeak.
Tajima ignored Abe, who was hellbent on being argumentative and combative in the conversation, and instead answered Mihashi. "Yes, for Abe," he said almost exasperatedly. "Now some guys see it different, but I've never thought there was anything wrong with liking other dudes."
"So you are gay?" Abe asked accusingly.
Tajima shrugged off the question casually, "No way man. At least I don't think so. I mean, I wouldn't turn down a helping hand or something like that, but I prefer chicks." Tajima waited a few seconds before adding, "One of my brothers is gay, and he's still cool."
"You have a gay brother?" Mihashi asked, finally seeming to snap out of the weird trance he'd been stuck in.
Tajima nodded, "Yeah, so I don't really think there's anything wrong with it. I just thought that since you fit Abe's type that maybe he liked…"
"No, I don't," Abe interrupted.
Mihashi seemed to deflate, which not only served to confuse Abe, but also made him feel like a complete asshole for saying that like he did. Did Mihashi really want Abe to like him? Was Mihashi bi like Tajima suggested? But before Abe could backtrack, Mihashi put a hand on his friend's shoulder and squeezed gently. "You are my friend, right?"
Abe's face scrunched in confusion, but then he shook his head in agreement, "Well, yeah, of course you're my friend, dumbass. I like you just fine like that."
Mihashi's face lit up when Abe told him that. It was clear that the reason the other boy had seemed upset was simply a misunderstanding. Who wouldn't feel rejected if a friend said they didn't like you at all? Abe liked Mihashi just fine as a friend, and it seemed like that finally got across to him.
"Maybe we should all just go to bed now. It's late," Tajima suggested. The other two agreed and they all slipped under their blankets. They talked a little more, but soon they drifted off one by one.
Abe was the last to find sleep. The whole possibility of Mihashi liking him was weighing heavily on his mind. As Abe thought back through the last few months he had known Mihashi he began to realize there were a lot of things which could be misconstrued in his relationship with the team's pitcher. At times things seemed far more than friendly between them. But wasn't that what teammates did? Wasn't that how close friends treated one another?
The soft snores coming from the futon beside him seemed to pierce right through Abe's thoughts. They were distracting and he glanced over at Mihashi to find him sleeping soundly. He really couldn't believe that people thought Mihashi liked him. The kid was just weird and awkward. Even Abe could tell that Mihashi didn't have a thing for guys, but then again Abe was pretty oblivious to all things romantic. As sleep started to take Abe, his thoughts became more and more scattered. Blips and bits of thought started to skip through his head, and the last thing Abe thought was, "There's just no way he likes me, right?"