A Baseball Player's Soul
Author's Note (Update. /March 24, 2013):Well, I ran through my stories these past few days, and I do apologize. I realized I have written this story on full-blown school [college, mind you.] days, and compared to my other stories, this has considerably short chapters. I thought it was long enough, but on the average, it wasn't. On the other hand, I truly appreciate all those views, follows, favorites and the good reviews I received in the last few months. Thank you so much! So there, this is the updated, edited and re-written version of the first chapter. Enjoy this chapter! (:
Summary: He wanted nothing but to hold a baseball within the grasp of his hands, but fear and trepidation would always hold him back, until she came along.
The heavens is already in its glorious orange tinge, as a baseball flew in an astounding trajectory towards the edge of the field as well as the esteemed baseball club of Hanegasaki Academy took a break from its after-school training. In exultant spirits, they walked across the field, bats, baseballs and mitts in their hands, while mildly knocking each other on the arms. The head coach, Wakabayashi-sensei, startlingly beckoned his hand in triumph as they turn up at the benches and offered each a heartening pat.
"Ah, these boys!" He mumbled under his breath with pride, as he sauntered merrily to the locker rooms. His eyes twinkled in satisfaction in every occasion. Handling bottled water and a pleasant, crisp sports towel to the baseball players, I did the managerial duties as typical. The soothing warmth brought by the afternoon sun on my skin always reminded me of the extent of my love and fervor for baseball. Furthermore, the chaps of the baseball club constantly reminded me of the memories I had shared with my older brother, who had the similar interest as I do with baseball, before I returned to Habataki last April.
"Thank you, manager!" The pitcher of Hanegasaki Academy's revered baseball team said, as I offered him the last bottled water and sports towel. I gave a distinct nod, with a vivid smile on my face. I sat beside him, as he guzzled the last traces of water in the bottle. I closed my eyes, and my thoughts abruptly drifted. When I shortly returned to Habataki not too long ago, I entered Hanegasaki Academy, supposing that I could somehow establish a career in baseball or probably enter a first-rate sports university. Not long after, I immediately filled in the position of the manager of the baseball club, and day by day, we train and work ourselves, as we aim for the National Baseball Cup.
It is truly a challenge… but one way or another, as soon as you witness the guys of the baseball team working themselves to the brim; it is, without a doubt, worthwhile. Moreover… Oh, shoot. The class' weekly report… Waka-sensei!
I jerked my eyes open, panic rising in my voice. I gave a dreaded glance at the team, realizing that we are still halfway through the training. I slapped my hand on the nape of my neck, and stroked it feebly with my unbelievably sweaty palms. I cannot believe I overlooked such important matter! Waka-sensei is expecting the weekly report surrendered by the end of the day. "Ah, manager?" One of the baseball players called from the benches. "Is everything fine? You're noticeably pale." I hastily shook my head.
"Please inform Wakabayashi-sensei in my stead!" I stammered hurriedly, collecting my belongings in my duffel bag. "I—I, by some means, disregarded our class' weekly report. Waka-sensei is expecting to receive it by the end of the day." He bobbed his head thoughtfully as I secured my baseball cup on my head and made a seemingly mad dash out of the baseball field.
"Oh, is that so? Thank you for your hard work, then, manager!" He manages to holler before I disappeared into the school buildings.
I shut my eyes in distress and mentally prayed that Waka-sensei is not the type of instructor who detests tardiness and fumes in anger if it ensues, though it is definitely doubtful. It is Waka-sensei we are talking about, in any case. However, looking at it in another's perspective, I will find myself at fault. I paid more of my attention to our after-school training and seeing that our class representative took an unanticipated absence, I imploringly took responsible of it.
When I finally deliberated that I ought to open my eyes, I found myself colliding with someone. My rear caught the impact of my fall the moment I failed to deliberate my surroundings, and my duffel bag skidded at the corner of the hallway. Pain, though minimal, exploded throughout. "Hey," a man with an impressive bass voice spoke gently. "Are you all right?"
He stretched out his arm close to me and I removed my baseball cap and tipped my chin. Dark-blue hair, absolute tan, not to mention predominantly tall, he was towering over me, and in every respect, he is intimidating. A ghost of a smile crept on his face, which straight away vanished not long after. "Oh, I'm so sorry. I wasn't looking to where I was going, so—there." I said, timidly. "I'm good, are you?" With great keenness, I took his outstretched hand and he facilely pulled me back to my feet.
"Ah, yeah." He mumbled silently. In my haste, I offered a small bob of my head, pulled my duffel bag from the corner and dashed past him towards the classroom. Arriving at the opened classroom, a small pile of untouched reports was piled on my desk and I heaved a sigh. My backside still feels achy. "Really, how heavy am I?" I barbed to no one in particular, rolled my eyes while rubbing my rear gently.
The sky has been considerably darker, as the sun has started descending into the horizon and dusk slowly crept, when I finished probably a one-third of the pile. The sound of the sliding door opening snapped me back from my task to reality. "May I help you?" I squeaked tiredly without turning my head at the direction of the door.
"Ah, well." An all-too familiar impressive bass voice said, echoing in the vacant classroom. He sauntered towards my desk, his footsteps echoing throughout the tiled floors of the study hall. "Souma Yuna, right? Class I-A, manager of the baseball club." I wondered if it was only in my wildest thoughts that the way he had spoken my managerial position in the baseball team left a bitter taste in his mouth, but I quickly shook out the notion. He slid a thin plastic card on the edge of my desk, closely to my left hand, and took the adjacent seat. From the corner of my eye, he rested his head on his hands.
My eyes, while still pasted on the class' report, gleamed in relief and my lip curled. "That's what my identification card says." I said, chuckling. "It must have fallen a little while ago. Thank you so much, uhm—" I pursed my lips in a tight line. How dolefully rude, I haven't asked his name.
"Shiba Katsumi." He said, answering my unvoiced thoughts. Oh, wow. He's a man of a few words.
"Uhm, thank you, Shiba-senpai." I mumbled timorously.
"I'm a first year, too." He replied monotonously.
"Oh. I'm sorry. I thought you were an upperclassman, because of your tall stature." I scurried, my eyes still glued at the papers scattered on my desk. "Shiba-kun."
My cheeks considerably burned as I feel his eyes on my face. It will take a miracle for him not to notice such predicament. Moments later, he tore his gaze away from my face to my desk and he squinted. "The baseball club's training is done for the day." He murmured quietly with his deep baritone voice. "And you're still here."
I chuckled, somewhat nervously. I stuttered a few words, evidently taken aback. I was anxious and terrified that my evident bungle would slip, as far as anyone is concerned. It is wholly upsetting to come across the thought that I am, despite my position, someone who legally overlooks important matters such as these. "Oh, uhm—well." I started, while scratching the nape of my neck nervously. Shiba-kun, truly, a man of few words.
I peered at him at the corner of my eyes, and another of those ghost smiles crept on his face and disappeared as quickly as it materializes. "If you're that anxious about the class' reports. Wakaouji-sensei asks you to go home." My pen slowly slid out of my grasp as I craned my head to the side, and apparently, I found my mouth hanging open. "He presumes that I am acquainted with you, so he took the liberty to tell me that he has already gone home by the time you finish those." He said impassively finally after a tense moment.
"Oh." Was all I managed to say. Guilt surged through my being, and my face, undeniably, felt hot with mortification. I returned my gaze on the cluttered papers on my desk and sighed. I held Waka-sensei for far too long. His chest rumbled, beckoning a low chuckle. "He is not mad if that worries you." He said. "He might have failed to inform you that the class' reports due date were postponed till next week."
I heaved a sigh, not knowing I was holding my breath for long. I rested my head on my arms and a yawn slipped from my mouth. "Thanks." I muttered tiredly, giggling afterwards. "How come you're still in school, Shiba-kun?"
His mouth curled upward, forming a semblance of a smile. "Hm. I napped." I chuckled softly, stretched my arms for a bit, and began tidying the papers messily piled on the table, and into my bag.
"Well, time to go home, then." I murmured brightly. Shiba-kun stood up from the adjacent seat, and stood closely behind me. I tilted my head upward, and his eyes were squinting darkly outside the window. I followed his gaze, and realized that dusk has slowly crept in. Several lights along the sidewalks were already lit, giving off pallid illuminations. "I'll walk you." He offered, as he sauntered out of the room, hands inside his pockets. I hastily followed him, my school bag heavy on my right shoulder and my duffel bag on the other.
I reached out for his sleeve. "Ah, Shiba-kun. You don't have to." I garbled. "For taking the trouble of bringing my student ID back and a request from Waka-sensei, it's fine, really." I dropped his sleeve, turned backward and I closed the door behind me. When I tipped my head back to see his face, he was glaring coldly. I shivered slightly, which he gladly left unnoticed. "It's late." He muttered coldly. "I'll walk you home." He gave me a stare, even without words, it's as if telling me I should not bother arguing.
"Yeah—sure." I stuttered. "Thank you, Shiba-kun." He strolled forward, his hands in his pocket while I closely followed behind him. Funny, I thought. I had a sudden urge to take his sleeve again in my hands.
Collecting the used, drenched sport towels on the benches, I spun around, and caught sight of the all-too familiar crown of dark blue. Shiba-kun sat on the grassy fields outside the metal fences of the baseball field. He slightly gestured his hand, motioning a wave and abruptly returned to his silent reverie. It has been several times I have seen him, intricately watching the baseball practices of the team. Along with that thought, I pursed my lips in a tight line, for the reason that accompanied by a silent reverie is a pale face, mixed with longing and melancholy.
"Coach," I mumbled quietly, as I drop the sports towel inside a plastic basket. "Can I leave for a moment?"
He waved his hand frivolously, beckoning me his approval. His eyes were still glued at the team, twinkling in easygoing pride. I jogged across the field and when I crossed the boundaries of the metal fences, I walked up to him thoughtfully and took a seat beside him. I curled up my knees, and my breathing resumed to normal. "Hey, Shiba-kun." I said after a heartbeat. He didn't react nor flinch when I called him. He remained passive and unmoving, his gaze still unwavering from the baseball players throwing the ball in a remarkable trajectory.
It was silent and tense, so I shivered slightly. I gazed at his face, realizing he is somewhere in a tempest, seeing how much despondence are succumbed on his face. "I've seen you around on several occasions." I squeaked hesitantly, but I was hoping I will be able to break the stillness. Shiba-kun managed to crack a grin and exhaled quietly.
"They've been improving. Steadily." He said quietly and he chuckled silently. I gulped back as I peered at his face. Sadness washed all of his features. "Hmm, no doubt about it. You're an amazing manager to them, after all."
I laughed nervously and hesitantly. "You're bluffing!" I said, pulling my gaze away from him. "I am just a manager. I'm not actually doing anything." Then he remained hushed yet again. I took a slight glance at his face, the despondence and melancholy never left but grew even further. I couldn't help but feel concern and sadness, myself, the more I look at his face. I had the sudden urge to hold his hand while I look at such upsetting face, but I quickly shook off the notion.
"Say, Shiba-kun." I uttered, after a moment. "If I ask you to join the baseball club, will you?"
His eyes widened considerably as he stared at me. He rubbed the nape of his neck fretfully and sighed. "Where did that come from?" He asked in incredulity, and I shivered involuntarily. The expression give away by his face, to say the least, frightened my wits. "Souma." He mumbled my name contemptuously that I looked away instantly and I hid my face between the indents of my knees. Shiba-kun shuffled slightly beside me and sighed. "I'm sorry. I do not mean to frighten you, by any means."
"Wait—Ah. Well. Nowhere. It came from nowhere." I answered, loud enough for him to hear. "I heard from the baseball chaps. You were an astounding baseball player, yourself, back in middle school. I'm sorry. I know this is completely not my business but—but, I could not shake off the feeling that you seem so lost and longing the more you watch the team play. I'm helplessly worried whenever you give off such expression."
My face felt hot and I have no idea if it was out of sudden rush of affection or somehow, humiliation and fright. I took a peek at his face, and his brows furrowed immediately. A sudden rush of determination surged through my body, so I pulled myself up and took his face in my hands. "Don't block yourself from what makes you happy the most. From what makes you alive. I was thinking—just thinking, that you would feel alive once again and that longing air you exude will be long forgotten, if—" I momentarily hesitated, my determination wavering. "Please. Join me—us in the baseball team."
Shiba-kun closed his eyes as he snaked out of my hold. He pursed his lips in a grim line as he contemplates deeply. I placed my hands on my mouth, and wondered what in heaven's name have I said. He opened his lips for an answer, but he abruptly shut it tight as the loud clattering of the fenced gate from a baseball threw him off guard. He immediately stood up and ran away, leaving me as dazed as him. "Shiba-kun?!" I called alarmingly, but he had disappeared through the double doors of the school building.
Two chaps from the baseball team jogged hastily towards me, their faces drenched in sweat. "Ah, manager!" One of the baseball players called distressingly. "We're sorry. Were you hit by the baseball?" I stood up and shook my head. I craned my head slightly, allowing me to see them.
"Not at all." I said quietly. Traces of guilt washed over me as I sighed. I might have overstepped a boundary I shouldn't have bothered. "I'm fine."
"Were you just talking to Shiba Katsumi?" The other baseball player asked, his voice hinted wonder and awe. He appeared as if he wanted to say more but he crouched on the ground and picked up the stray baseball.
"Yes." I answered.
Author's Note:Trial. A gift, before second semester starts. :D Tokimeki Memorial really grew in me and I have loved it since summer of this year :)). Written out of the blue, reviews are highly appreciated. Oh, by the way, this is a multichapter story :) Seriously contemplating if I would make a short drabble for all the men of TMGS 2nd Season, especially Hariya and Saeki XD
UPDATE /MARCH 25, 2013: Yaaaay. Editing and revising is done. One-shot for Saeki and the heroine is also done. Please do read and check it out. Thank you so much for reading! (:
UPDATE /AGAIN (please don't kill me, xD): Now editing chapter 2 and writing chapter 3 :))