Disclaimer: I don't own Ookiku Furikabutte. Sad.

Please read the author's notes upon finishing.

Summer 2004

"My teammates and I won too. I'm glad I kept playing baseball. Thank you, Shuu-chan."

Kanou flipped open his phone to this message on his break from practice. He stared at the small screen, not blinking, allowing himself to be partially blinded by the sharp rays of sunlight that had filtered their way through the trees, dappling the ground in front of him.

"Don't get caught with your phone, Kanou, break's over."

"What the hell, calling me Shuu-chan?"

Spring 2001

"Nine target areas? Really? That's amazing!"

"I..I..uh, n-not really?"

"No seriously, I can only hit four, maybe. What's your top speed?"

"I-I don't know."

Kanou grinned, linking his arm with Mihashi's as he skipped quickly and happily down the street with the simultaneously pleased and bewildered pitcher in tow. Mihashi moved awkwardly, blending in with the cherry blossom petals that were lazily buffeted by the wind before settling on the path after the two boys.

"C'mon, let's go to the field before school and you can show me what you've got!"

Summer 2001

"We lost again, and it's all your fault, Mihashi!"

"Yeah, if coach didn't force us to put Mihashi in, Kanou could pitch."

"You know Kanou's the better pitcher, so why don't you give up the mound?"

"Hey, Kanou, do you want me to 'take care of him' for you? I'll break his arm, if you want, and then you can pitch in his place."

"Hatake…I don't really think that…"

Kanou trailed off mid-thought, and stared down at his grubby cleats. The rubber soles had begun to peel away from the fabric of the cleat. It wouldn't be long before his toes, which were currently straining at the fabric, pushed through.

He walked slowly past the group of boys, who had all gathered in a mob around Mihashi, mainly so he wouldn't have to look into Mihashi's eyes, and respond to the blond boy's silent plea for his help.

Winter 2004

"Mihashi…you're really not staying here for high school?"

Kanou could feel the warmth of his own breath heating up in his scarf, causing it to become moist with condensation. This was mirrored by the soft melting of snowflakes as they gently landed on his face. The entire world was gentle, quiet, in that moment, but also at a standstill, much like Mihashi himself.

"I'm not."

It was said quietly, firmly, and without the effect of Mihashi's usual nervous stutter. Kanou's breath created a puff of air beyond his damp scarf.

"You're going to keep playing baseball, right?"

There was no answer from the slight, blond boy beyond his breath, heavier than usual and visible, much like Kanou's own. The snow continued to fall, quietly, steadily, and to Kanou, it truly seemed as if time had stopped. Mihashi's eyes slowly closed, allowing the snowflakes to dust his eyelashes before melting, dripping into his eyes.

"Don't quit playing! You have to join the team there!"

Kanou felt tears welling up behind his eyes. He fought the urge to run to Mihashi's side and shake him, to somehow convince him that quitting baseball would be a waste of his talent, but Kanou knew that the time had long passed when Mihashi would believe anything that he had to say. The few feet separating them was actually an insurmountable distance.

"It'll be different from what you did until now! You…"

Choking on his words a bit, Kanou kept a steady gaze on Mihashi, who was managing to keep his tears to a minimum, burying his face in the sleeve of his coat.

"You can't stop playing yet!"

It was said with conviction, but Kanou knew that Mihashi still wouldn't listen. After all, there was no reason why anything Kanou said now could validate the way Mihashi had been treated these past three years.

Summer 2004

The leaves rustled in the wind, causing the shadows to move in soft patterns as Kanou jumped down from his perch, closing his phone with a grin. Looking up at the sky, he paused, and in the glint of the summer sun, Kanou began to move again.

"Keep up the good work, Ren."

A/N: This very shoddy fic was written for the Novel Koushien livejournal community. If you also like Oofuri, reading Oofuri fanfiction or drawing Oofuri fanart, you should head over there and participate! It's a great community with a lot of talented writers and artists!