A/N: This is my first attempt at a Cross Game fic. I hope I managed to capture the spirit and a little of the style of what was Adachi Mitsuru's great creation. Cross Game is literally the best sports manga I have ever read. Seriously; I have never been so into baseball before. For all the fans out there- enjoy! I like to think that this conversation happened before Aoba and Koh officially got together.

Title: Because I Wanted To

Summary: Seishu's ace pitcher and clean-up hitter have a talk about our favorite female pitcher in our favorite coffeehouse.

Takes place before the last chapter so they haven't left for the Koshien yet.

Disclaimer: All characters belong to the genius mind of Adachi Mitsuru, while I own a few fantasies of Azuma in an apron. Otherwise I've got nothing.

"Why did you do it?"

"What?" Azuma took a moment to look up from the stove where he was cooking a large Napolitan, then looked back down to make sure that none of the noodles had gone flying out. With a concentrated stare and a firm grip on the panhandle, Azuma quickly flipped the cooked spaghetti onto the plate held by his other hand. "Why did I do what?" Azuma inquired once more to Coffee Clover's single customer of the day, handing him his ordered large Napolitan. Business was slow, but someone still needed to run the shop for the day. Aoba needed to go last-minute shopping for the Koshien, accompanied by her sisters, so Azuma, hardly one to turn down a favor (especially from Tsukishima), took up the job of running the café for the day, apron and all.

But even the hilarity of Azuma's forced domestic chore failed to digress Koh from his original question.

"Why did you tell me to hug Aoba?" Azuma 's eyebrows lifted a degree higher than normal to emphasize his surprise while Koh refused to make eye contact, busy peering into his half-empty ("No, no, half-full" Wakaba used to admonish) coffee cup.

Azuma stared a little longer, and then turned around so that his back faced Koh instead. "Why… huh," he said with little emotion in his voice, taking a step toward the sink. He twisted the knob and watched water flow out as he prepared to wash the lonely cup in the sink from his brother's morning coffee (he had been the Tsukishima's designated driver for the day). "Because… because I wanted to."

"Hey, hey." Koh narrowed his eyes at this childish response, eyes lifting up to glare at the batter's wide back. "Give me a better answer here—"

"Because," Azuma repeated, cutting Koh's request off. Koh closed his mouth. Azuma continued scrubbing. "Because I wanted to be the one who got you two together." He set the washcloth aside and rinsed out the coffee cup under the faucet's warm running water. "After everyone else's efforts, I wanted to be the one who could say, 'It was me'." He twisted the knob until the water stopped and turned back around. Face to face. "I was the one who got them together." Azuma stared.

"…" Koh stared back, blinked, and then turned his head to the side. "Oh," he said.

The corner of Azuma's mouth lifted into what Koh could only call, seeing out of the corner of his eye, a smirk. "You see?" Azuma said, reaching out his hand to grab the coffee pot. "A wedding speech in the making." He gestured to Koh's coffee cup and Koh let him refill it, emptying the last of the coffee and allowing Azuma to turn around and make more. Koh tapped his nail against the counter, hesitating.

"You like Aoba," Koh finally said to Azuma's back, a statement more than anything else.

"…Yeah." Azuma's back still turned, the two Seishu baseball players listened to the bubbling and grinding of the coffee machine. A moment passed.

Koh nodded to himself. "I thought so." Koh raised his coffee cup in acknowledgement. "Thanks."

"No problem," Azuma said, "but the refill's an extra seventy yen."

"No, that's not what I—hey! Wait a minute, refills here are free—"

"Not for you, they're not." He faced him. "Aoba said."

"Oi, Azuma!"

a/n: the end. it makes me feel sad that azuma never got the girl in the end so i always feel like making him out to be the hero or in this case the matchmaker.

here's a little extra something. (remember, Mizuki Asami left for the mountains after chapter 159.)

Later, when Koh had left to also start packing for the Koshien (Azuma had done it the day before; it was amazing how alike the new couple acted), Azuma stood in the middle of café counter, drying Koh's coffee cup. Then, he paused, and looked up. "Why am I doing this again?"

Next door at the Tsukishima Batting Center's counter sat the head of the Tsukishima household. From behind a newspaper he raised his head and grinned, sheepishly holding up a bandage-wrapped finger. "Sorry, Azuma," he said happily, cigarette hanging out of his mouth, "you know how clumsy I am!"

The Coffee Clover's volunteer worker of the day stared (glared?) in the direction of the Tsukishima Batting Center.