characters: Takayama Hiroshi, Yamazaki Daisuke, Yamato Takeshi
disclaimer: all these boys and this universe belong to mousapelli
summary: second year of middle school; sequel to For the Love of the Goddamn Game
a/n: Why am I the only one writing fic this year? DD:
Second year, Yamato comes back from the break having lost thirty pounds of fat and gained near as much back in muscle. He'd apparently gone to Osaka for the summer to visit a cousin and spent his days running on the beach, playing volleyball, and eating lush organic produce.
He looks fit. Too fit by half for Hiroshi's taste because it doesn't take long for the coach to look at his hateful growth spurt and suggest he and Hiroshi give it another go.
“Absolutely not,” Hiroshi says.
“I'd rather die,” Yamato says.
Much as his body might be catching up to the rest of them, Yamato's brain was still severely lacking. Hiroshi had seen him call for other relief pitchers during practice games, failing again and again to find someone other than Hiroshi to take a liking to him.
Hiroshi might even feel bad for somehow tainting him with rejection, but after having Yamazaki, Hiroshi is spoiled. So, utterly spoiled, that he thinks if he has to revert back to pointless bitching and male posturing and making decisions based on personal feelings at the sake of the goddamn game, he might end up hating baseball and that he could not bare.
Also, Hiroshi had totally spotted a Wink-Up mag in Yamato's bag one day before practice and if this douche actually wanks off to his brother's cheesecake shots because he think he understands his loneliness or whatever, and Hiroshi has to look at him crouched down in front of him every day, Hiroshi may need to throw a fast ball strategically placed at his head.
It's a good plan, to know these things about yourself in advance. Knowing your limits is important.
He doesn't know Yamazaki 's musical preferences yet, but Hiroshi takes him more for the Pantheon sort anyway or into Uesagi-kun's songs. Or ballads and stuff.
Not that Hiroshi watches that shit anyway, god. It's just that Kouji talks about it all the time and sometimes Hiroshi actually listens to the stuff that comes out of his mouth.
And they're just. Around. Whatever.
The fangirls that seem to follow the team like vultures have yet to discover the connection, to Hiroshi's exceeding relief. But when he becomes a regular and is under more scrutiny, he doubts he'll be so lucky.
His father's bakery has been found out though and sometimes they'll come in on Sundays when he's helping out and giggle at him from behind their hands.
His dad says that when he's older, he'll appreciate their attentions more.
For now, Hiroshi thinks that they're obnoxious.
Yamazaki doesn't get distracted by them either, for which Hiroshi is immensely relieved. Because it keeps them focused, that's all.
“How about we just leave things as they are, sensei?” Yamazaki asks, diplomatically.
Except they move Yamato to the third base during the practice game against the third years and Hiroshi has to rely on him still for base running and catching the harder grounders up against the line.
He does alright, but Hiroshi wishes he were in the outfield if he has to be anywhere, instead of a constant reminder of the crappy pairing he'd started out with and increasing the fear of where he could go back to if he fucks things up with Yamazaki.
He really doesn't want to fuck things up with Yamazaki.
In the end, they hold the third year team to one run, an inside-the-park homer because the right fielder misses the cut-off and sends the ball into the stands.
Yamato's new muscles allow him to actually hit the ball, but right into the center fielder's glove. Every time. The same spot.
The coach doesn't know whether to be impressed by the consistency or appalled by the result and told Yamato as much.
“Those will be out of the park next year,” Yamazaki tells Hiroshi between innings, tightening the straps around his protective padding.
“Yeah, I know, isn't it awful,” he complains, glaring at Yamato's blank face as the coach tries again to explain how to pull the ball. Again.
“Not really,” Yamazaki smiles, small and private, head ducked downward. “Eventually you'll realize we're on the same team.”
“Barely.” Hiroshi rubs his shoulder irritably. He hadn't connected with the rest of the team last year, so desperate in his task to keep Yamazaki where he was, but Yamazaki compensated by making friends with them all. It was convenient because, with their baseball marriage, Hiroshi often got special treatment as an extension of Yamazaki, but it got annoying when they invited themselves along to okinomiyaki when Hiroshi just wanted Yamazaki to himself.
Hiroshi felt like that a lot these days.
His dad said it was normal.
They'd managed to get into separate classes again this year and Hiroshi spent the last ten minutes before the break everyday tensing his muscles, so that he might be the first one out the door when the teacher dismissed them.
It was a sort of running joke in their year, and, while Hiroshi hated teasing generally, they could all piss off. It was worth it to get there just that little bit c faster, to get that extra time with Yamazaki. Even on days when he knew Yamazaki needed the free period to work on homework or study or make copies for the homeroom teacher, Hiroshi still wanted to be there, crashed out on the desk next to him or eating onigiri by trying to fit the whole thing in his mouth at once.
It was good times.
And there was always that point in the day that Hiroshi thought he just absolutely needed to tell Yamazaki this one thing. And then he'd let him finish his English grammar. Totally, just, this thing. And they'd end up talking and laughing about it and other things until the bell sounded and Hiroshi had to rush back to class and throw himself into his chair in time for the next lesson to begin.
It was amazing, all the things he hadn't asked Yamazaki about, hadn't committed to memory about him.
He didn't even know if he was into Kouji's band, for crap's sake. It was sort of absurd now that Hiroshi thought about it. Except. On the other hand. They were guys. What the fuck did it matter what Yamazaki did or listened to or thought about this or that. It was just silly. Stupid . Clingy.
And, god, once he said it, he had to stop himself from reeling back.
There were those stories too. The others, where the guy came on too strong and (well those weren't always baseball stories but still), to be thought of as a burden to the poor, patient Yamazaki wasn't a great feeling for the future.
The game ended 0-1 with the third years on top, but Hiroshi counted it as a victory. It wasn't their damn fault the offensive spark just wasn't there. As first years, they'd barely gotten near the batting cages, barely did anything but chase after balls and run the most basic of drills. Everything else was left to them.
Hiroshi and Yamazaki had stayed after most every day they could until dark and sometimes after if the overhead lights came on. It had paid off. Not only had Yamazaki helped him fix his fork, but they'd started to get his fingering for the slider down.
His accuracy was totally off, but that could be fixed with practice. They had time, and Hiroshi was willing to put in more hours this year than he'd done the last.
Hiroshi had plans after all.
The starting pitcher this year was pretty good. He specialized in fast balls, but he didn't have much going on off speed. Usually, he didn't need it, but when he was beat, he was beat hard. As the best second year pitcher by far, Hiroshi would definitely get some time in on the practice games and as relief if things got too dicey.
And then third year, he'd be on top and nothing could stop him but his own laziness and he knew Yamazaki wouldn't stand for that either. They were going to be awesome.
And then, high school. High School Baseball.
Obviously, Yamazaki would have to come with him. Hiroshi couldn't stand to think of another outcome.
Kouji wasn't the only one who could make a name for himself in their family, and, as much as his father made noise about how weird it was for that sort of occupation, Hiroshi also saw how his lip would twitch up when someone commented on how Kouji was such a talented young man.
Hiroshi was a talented young man, too, damn it.
Yamazaki made him better.
And Hiroshi refused to lose him.
There was this one time, and it was a close call, close enough that it still made Hiroshi wake up in a sweat at how close it'd been, Yamazaki was on his way out when Hiroshi when to call on him during lunch, saying he'd had some business to take care of and would be back later.
Hiroshi had lent him go with a wave of casual dismissal, but he'd sulked like a fucking girl the entire time he was gone.
Later, he found out that Yamazaki had been called out by a senpai from the tennis team, who they sometimes ran with during the off season for training. She'd confessed to him and wanted to know if he'd go out with her.
Hiroshi could only imagine, couldn't even see the pure, unfilled amount of free time they sent together slipping away into nothing. Hiroshi would have to make one of those boards with targets on them to throw at. His father would insist on helping him, he was sure, on getting on his knees and catching Hiroshi's new slider as it jumped and bounced and was so imperfect it hurt for anyone other than Yamazaki to see it in that form, his father who'd have to be up at four to make bread dough to pay for Hiroshi's new glove this year.
It felt horribly ungrateful to make anyone else do it. Yamazaki was the only one.
In the end, it came to nothing because, while Hiroshi's heart was in his throat, Yamazaki was turning her down, telling her he was flattering but didn't have the time, didn't have the inclination to date anyone at the time.
And he was still Hiroshi's.
Not that Yamazaki had said that last part, but he'd slid into his seat, next to the one Hiroshi had co-oped as his own and offered Hiroshi a smile and a one shoulder shrug, and popped open his bento to share.
And everything was okay.