Fandom: Ookiku Furikabutte

Characters/Pairings: Nishihiro

Words: 581

Summary: Even a year later, he's still not sure which is louder: the crowd or his heart.

Ni-shi-hiro!
Ni-shi-hiro!
Ni-shi-hiro!

The chorus of chants and the sound of trumpets go on and on, in time with the pounding of his heart. The metal feels heavy in his hands, shaking and sweaty. He tightens his grip and tries to breathe.

Third base runner.
Third base runner.
Third base runner.

Bottom of the ninth, runner on third, two outs, and he's at bat. It feels way too much like that game for it to be a coincidence. He's not sure if the universe is kind or cruel. His gut starts to wrench.

Third base runner.
Third base runner.
Third base runner.

He closes his eyes and tries to get comfortable. He can tell the catcher is annoyed by how much time he's taking, and the pitcher looks positively murderous up on the mound. He gulps.

Third base runner.
Third base runner.
Third base runner.

All around him, the crowd is still going strong, putting their hands around their mouths and giving it all they've got. His heart feels like it's going to burst out of his chest. He has to remind himself to keep on breathing. He can do this.

Strike one!

The sound of the ball crashing into the mitt feels like a stab to the heart. His vision's going blurry. His hands are going numb. The world feels like it's crashing down again. Every breath feels like a tick on a time bomb. He's not sure how much more he can take.

Ni-shi-hiro!
Ni-shi-hiro!
Ni-shi-hiro!

From the sea of voices, he can hear his teammates' screaming. You can do it! Hit that ball! Go, Nishihiro! He sends a nod down their way and settles into his stance once more. He can do this.

Third base runner.
Third base runner.
Third base runner.

He's not the same as he was before. He's played in official games now. He's not a total newbie. He's practiced so much more since then. He's improved so much more since then. He can do this.

Strike two!

His fingers are starting to ache. His knees are starting to give in. The resounding beats in his chest feel like there's a bullet going through him every time. The cheers, the yells, the noise, the everything is almost deafening to a point of silence. His mind goes blank while his body starts to tremble.

Ni-shi-hiro!
Ni-shi-hiro!
Ni-shi-hiro!

The sounds are almost as desperate as he is nerve-wracked. Keep your eye on the ball! Focus! Don't give up! He shakes his head out of his stupor. He can do this.

Third base runner.
Third base runner.
Third base runner.

He wipes his palms on his pants before setting the bat back into his hands. He's knows he's got the timing down. All he needs to do is swing a little harder. He takes a deep breath. He can do this.

Windup.
Step.
Throw.

Swing.
Clink!
Run.

He leaves behind everything and just runs and runs as fast as he can. His hands are still shaking. His mind is still whirring. But all he can do now is run and run and hope for the best.

Third base runner.
Third base runner.
Third base runner.

Safe!
Eighth run!
Nishihiro, nice batting!

He feels a hearty slap on the back and a rise in volume in the cheers surrounding him, and for the first time since that day, he doesn't mind the rain of tears down his face along with the thunder in his heart.

He finally did it.