Forgive me for not updating! School got in the way of my writing schedule! D:

A big shout out to Lunary for discussing this story with me and giving me some creative ideas to use! :D

This monster chapter is done!

Chapter 12: Let it All Out

Even though being with Eijun was one adventure after another, Kazuya still felt hollow inside. He was happy being with Eijun, yes, but his heart still wasn't whole. He loved the pitcher more than baseball, and would do anything to make him smile or laugh, but slowly, he felt the depression grab hold of him, once again, threatening to drag him back down into the deep, dark pit he kept trying to escape.

When Eijun had reached out to him and pulled him out of the darkness of his mind and into the brightness of the world awaiting, he'd try to be positive and laugh and smile to at least act normal around the others, there were often times where he just couldn't muster up the strength to do so, wanting to just curl up underneath his bed covers and cry until he could shed no more tears or fell asleep.

Today was one of those days. He'd sat there at his desk and stared at the math test in front of him, the numbers blurry in his vision as he tried to recollect his thoughts. The sounds of his classmates' pencils scratching along their papers were louder than usual on testing days and it bothered him relentlessly.

He didn't understand why he was feeling so glum today; the weather was warm for a change, sun shining dimly through the puffy, white clouds floating about in the sky, but that morning, he couldn't find the strength to get out of bed, feeling slightly lightheaded as he propped himself up with his shoulders but lost the strength to stay up, crashing back down on to the bed. Eijun had been thoughtful enough to go out of his way just to bring him breakfast in bed, encouraging him to eat something when he'd pushed the tray away from him with a nauseated grimace, and hadn't left his side from the moment his legs felt stable enough to hold his weight instead of turning to jelly, shadowing his every movement on the field, until they had split ways for their classes.

The game against Teito was so close - just two days away - and he needed to rid himself of the mopey feeling soon. After practice had ended for the night and he'd showered to get rid of the sweat and dirt, he could look forward to spending some quality time with Eijun, cuddled up in bed under the covers together, as they picked out a cheesy movie to fall asleep to.

The teacher called for all pencils to be put down, signaling the end of testing. Many students let out groans of discouragement for not being able to have finished in time while others sighed heavily in relief, meaning they had either finished in the nick of time or that it was finally over and they were free from the mental torture of trying to remember everything they'd hastily crammed into their brains the night before the test.

As the teacher came around to collect their tests, she'd paused when she had taken up his, noting the lack of effort he'd put into it. When given a math test, he'd always scribbled out whatever came to his mind, whether it was right or not, taking up half the space needed to work out the problem. He preferred solving problems out by hand, rather than going to a calculator for assistance, unless it was absolutely necessary to use one.

"Miyuki-kun, are you alright? You look a little pale, dear." He'd shrugged his broad shoulders in response to her question. He could blame it on his allergies or lack of a good nights rest, but what if she told Kataoka or Takashima? He couldn't even force himself to smile at her as he mumbled, "I'm fine. I'm just really tired from baseball practice."

After all the tests had been picked up, ready to be graded by the teacher that following evening, Kazuya leaned forward in his seat and tapped Kuramochi on the shoulder with the back of his pencil. The shortstop turned around in the chair to face him, a questioning look on his face. "What's up?" Kuramochi asked nonchalantly, running his fingers through his gelled up hair. Kazuya feigned a smile as he looked at his best friend despondently. "Um...Youichi, can we, maybe, hang out during lunch?"

Kuramochi blinked in confusion, wondering why Kazuya was asking him if they could hang out at lunch. Most of the time, he ate lunch with Zono, since he didn't want to distract Ryousuke from his studies or own friends. They had their limits to how much time they spent together during school; after Seido had lost to Inashiro in the finals of the summer tournament, it was a rare sight to see them together and acting like any other regular couple. Their personal time was split when the third years retired from the team and coach Kataoka had them practicing until the sky had darkened with dimmed stars unable to shine at their fullest due to the blinding lights of the city.

"I guess so, why?" Not like he had any important plans in store for lunch anyways. He watched as the smile faltered on Kazuya's face as he glanced down at his sleeves, thankful they hid his arms that were littered with scars from the world. "There's something important that I need to tell you, but...I can't tell you here..."

Kuramochi had allowed himself to be dragged out of the boisterous classroom, down the jammed hallways of students trying to meet up with their friends for lunch, and into an empty stairwell by the catcher, wondering why it was just the two of them meeting and how come Zono wasn't invited to their secret session. Whatever it was, Kazuya must have trusted him enough to let him in on some type of secret or burden he was carrying that went beyond the role as the vice-Captain, seeming more to be a close friends-only situation.

"I bet you're wondering why I dragged you here, right?" He asked with a nervous laugh, eyes darting everywhere except for the shortstop's face. Kuramochi rolled his eyes and nodded his head slightly, wanting this "top-notch secret meeting" to be over with so he could get back to the classroom and enjoy his meal in peace. "Alright...don't freak out when you see this, okay?" Biting down on his lower lip, Kazuya slowly rolled up the sleeves of his blazer and white uniform shirt, exposing the self-made scars to his best friend, revealing the secret of just how much he hated himself.

"Holy shit...what happened to your arms?" Kuramochi whispered in a hushed voice, all color draining from his face, eyes widened with fear, and mouth agape as he tried to think of what could have happened to Kazuya in order for his arms to be scratched to pieces. He'd remembered the day he'd seen the catcher wearing short sleeves for a change, though, multiple band-aids were plastered on his arms and wrists, he'd never really gave it much thought, finding it to be none of business to pry if Kazuya didn't say anything about them.

"I...did this to myself...first, with a razor...second, with the blade to a handheld pencil sharpener I have in my room. I started doing this during our first year...and it escalated into an addiction. Youichi, I'm trying to stop, but my arms have been itching so bad and I just can't scratch them...I promised Eijun I wouldn't reopen the scars, but it's getting too hard to keep that promise." His voice was feeble and it cracked in different places, and he was about ready to burst into tears of having to confide in someone who he considered to be his best friend about his secret.

Kuramochi was silent for a few minutes, taking in everything he'd just learned about Kazuya and trying to make sense of it all. "Well...I'm not sure how I'm supposed to respond to this.'re my best friend and I'm glad you told me why you always wore long sleeved shirts in the summer. I honestly don't know why you'd consider this to be your only option; you know you could have just come to me sooner for help. It's not like I'm going to judge you on having a shitty father who won't accept you, ya know?"

Kazuya fixated his gaze to the floor, not wanting to meet Kuramochi's disappointed gaze. He shouldn't have put it off for so long, knowing the shortstop could have given him the support he needed without hesitation, but he never had the courage to do so. "I didn't want to ruin our friendship..." Telling Kuramochi was more painful than the time Eijun had found out he was a cutter and had then taken it up as his full responsibility to make sure he wasn't tempted to scratch or cut. But Eijun couldn't read him, always being fooled by the masks he'd put up as safety precautions, unlike Kuramochi, who could smell bullshit from him as soon as it slipped from his mouth.

"You're such an idiot, Kazuya," Kuramochi muttered, "If you needed someone to talk to or even just ramble, you should have just come to me. I'm not gonna laugh at you or tell anyone about it. You're not alone; you have friends and teammates for a reason, so stop acting like you're going to be a burden to anyone by telling us what's wrong because you're not! You're only burdening us if you lock it all up and pretend like you're happy when you're actually crumbling apart on the inside!" His voice thundered through the empty stairwell, but he spoke nothing but the truth.

Hastily rubbing his misty eyes with his sleeve, he'd glanced up and paused when he'd witnessed Kazuya actually tearing up from his words. At first, he'd thought he'd upset his friend and was ready to fumble with an apology about how it was out of line to say such things when he had no idea what the catcher was actually going through, but he'd never expected to hear the soft words, "Thank you, Youichi," come from Kazuya's mouth as he wiped at the tears that had started to leak out from his eyes.

"No problem."

After telling Kuramochi everything, he'd felt somewhat better, getting it off his chest and having someone else know about it, but by telling the shortstop, that meant he had to tell all his other teammates about it, though, and he wasn't too keen on that idea. He trusted them, yes, but he had no idea what he would do if someone - whether it was purposely or accidentally - spilled the beans to any of the reporters who came to Seido and interviewed random players about what they thought about Seido's baseball team. If word that he was a cutter got into the papers, he'd never be able to look anyone in the eye again; if his father found out about it, he'd be sntahced up from Seido - away everyone he knew and liked - and shipped off to some mental hospital for help.

He shook the thoughts out of his head as he walked down the hallway of the first-years floor, thoroughly searching for Eijun in each of the half-empty classrooms he passed by. It was tempting to ask one of the first-years standing in the hallway in their groups, but he figured Eijun would either be in his classroom reading a shoujo manga or eating his makeshift lunch with Haruichi and Furuya in their classroom.

He didn't have to look any further, as one of the girls standing in the doorway of classroom he was walking by squealed with delight when she saw him, hurting his ears slightly. "Sawamura-kun, your boyfriend is wandering around the hallway looking for you!" It made him the corners of his turn up in a slight smile to hear how the first-year girls viewed their relationship in such a positive light, not caring if they were both boys or that Eijun had scored someone as handsome and intelligent as him.

Squeezing in through the narrow path the students standing in the doorway had created, he sauntered over towards the pitcher's group, which was made up of first-years who had made the first string, and noted how Eijun's face lit up with joy once he saw him, a grin forming its way on his lips. "Miyuki, you're here!" he exclaimed, golden eyes shining slightly brighter than they usually did as he neared the group. "Yeah, sorry I'm so late. I was talking to Youichi about something important." He said, pulling up a vacant chair next to Eijun's, settling down on it and trying to make himself comfortable.

"Where's your lunch at, Miyuki?" Eijun questioned, noticing how the catcher hadn't brought anything to eat for lunch with him. He was starting to worry about Kazuya's health more and more when he noticed things others may not have thought twice about. The bags and dark circles forming under his eyes, the amount of weight he seemed to be losing, his lack of appetite, and how greasy his hair looked, almost as if he hadn't washed it in awhile or didn't have the energy to bother with it.

"I'm not really hungry," He didn't think he could stomach anything down at all. He'd nearly having heaved up his breakfast, when the teacher randomly announced that they were taking a test over what they'd learned during the week, and was ushered out of the classroom to the bathroom down the hall, but nothing came up from his stomach and all he could do was stare down at his distorted reflection in the clear water of the toilet bowl. He didn't want to risk being put out of the match tomorrow on account of having some type of digestion issue. Maybe it would subside if he got a good night's rest? He had been so lost in thought, he hadn't noticed Eijun had slipped a hand into his own, intertwining their fingers together absentmindedly as if he were trying to send some positive - energy into his life.

"I'll share some of my lunch with you, alright?" Eijun hadn't bothered to wait on a response, instead, splitting his sandwich in half, hovering it in front of his boyfriend's lips impatiently, waiting for him to take even a small bite to reassure him that he wasn't sick or trying to starve himself. He grinned maliciously as he watched Kazuya give in to his stomach's loud growls, opening his mouth to allow the pitcher to stick part of the sandwich in, sinking his teeth down on the soft bread, mayonnaise, cheese, and meat, and tearing it off, slowly grinding it down into smaller bits before swallowing it. It tasted alright, but it was definitely store bought as he judged from the funky aftertaste.

"Miyuki-senpai, how are you feeling?" Asked Haruichi, sweetly, having heard from Eijun that Kazuya had been suffering from terrible allergies lately and was taking prescribed medication to treat them. The catcher blinked in surprise at the small, pink haired boy asking him a question, not expecting such concern over his health from someone that wasn't Eijun. It seemed that being in a relationship with the pitcher meant getting close to the other first-years in his social life in the process.

Eijun made him happy, but he was beginning to wonder if he made the pitcher happy in return. All he ever did was cause him to worry over his well-being and health, making him sacrifice personal time out of his own life to spend making sure he didn't try to end his own. On days off from practice, Kazuya always felt like an asshole when he watched Eijun turn down offers to go hang out with his friends in town, an apologetic smile on his lips as he insisted on them going without him. He'd often drop subtle hints to the young pitcher about him needing to get out with his friends more and have fun instead of staying cooped up on Seido's campus all day with him.

His attempts never worked; Eijun would always insist that he didn't feel like hanging out with them that day, wanting to spend more quality time with him in their room, whether it was simply watching a sappy movie or working on homework. Maybe if he asked to tag along with them, Eijun would be more willing to say yes. He'd lived in Tokyo his whole life and had seen everything there was to offer in the town, but Eijun, having grown up in the countryside, didn't get this kind of opportunity to explore this brand new world full of skyscrapers and bustling streets.

"I'm fine, just feeling a little drowsy from the medication," It wasn't the medication that was making him drowsy, it was his lack of a good night's rest that was causing it. While Eijun was asleep, snoring loudly in his ear, he'd still be up, lost in his thoughts as he stared up at the bottom of the top bunk. Falling asleep meant the nightmares would come back and he'd bolt up from his sleep, heart racing wildly in his chest, as beads of sweat trickled down his face, not to mention the sudden act of movement woke Eijun up from his rest.

There was always the feeling that something was crawling along his skin made it worse; he couldn't scratch at the scabs, no matter how bad his arms itched. He wanted to get better and prove to himself that he didn't need anyone's help at getting over the addiction. He could tough it out until the end; he was a boy, after all. And as captain, it would be a sign of weakness to have to ask for help.

"Maybe you should go lay down in the infirmary. You don't look too good, Miyuki." Eijun remarked, pushing the catcher's long bangs out of his face to test for any traces of a fever. Kazuya felt the coolness of the pitcher's hand on his forehead, wanting him to keep it there forever. Eijun retracted his hand from the catcher's forehead, after finding no evident trace of a fever, but felt guilty for not being able to soothe the older boy's pain.

Kazuya did more than enough for him, when he was feeling miserable and always found different ways to cheer him up and make him laugh, but he just couldn't do that when it wasn't him who felt depressed; he'd tell him a funny joke that had a suggestive innuendo pun in it that he'd overheard in the classroom one day or bring up an embarrassing moment that he'd caught Kuramochi in with Ryousuke, but the catcher still looked melancholy.

"I'm fine, Eijun. Just not feeling the school vibe today," He admitted, leaning back in his chair as he rubbed his face with his hands. He knew Eijun meant well at wanting him to preserve his strength for the upcoming match against Teito, but there was hardly anything he could do to help. This wasn't the pitcher's struggle to get through, it was his own. If he could dump his struggles onto someone else's shoulders, he would definitely do so if that would help him feel better about himself.

The bell signalling the end of lunch rang, and as Kazuya got up from the chair he was sitting in, Eijun grabbed onto his arm tightly, looking up at him with big, warm, golden eyes. "Hmm? What's up?" Eijun stood up slowly, getting on his tiptoes to place a kiss on the taller boy's forehead. "Take care of yourself, Bakazuya." He mumbled, a dark blush spreading across his tan cheeks as tried to avoid making direct eye contact with Kazuya.

"Will do, Bakamura." He chuckled, ruffling the pitcher's soft, brown locks as he said his goodbyes to the first-years.

Eijun couldn't concentrate in class, staring off at the clock on the wall, mind drifting elsewhere. 'Every time I look at him, Miyuki just seems to look more and more miserable and I can't do shit to help him. In the mornings, his eyes are always puffy and red like he's been up crying...what should I do? It's not like I can say,"You'll feel better soon" and everything will be okay, urgh...maybe I can ask the senpais about this, as long as I don't use Miyuki's name or situation...'

"Sawamura-kun, it's your turn to read the next section," the teacher sighed, exasperated with his constant dazing in her class. Eijun could be a bright student when he was focused and concentrated on the assignment, but lately, she'd noticed he seemed to be distracted by little things such as looking out the window at the scenery or up at the clock that hung right above the classroom door. She would have to keep him after class to discuss the issue privately and figure a way to solve it. His grade was taking a beating and he needed this class to be promoted to the next grade level.

Eijun's face flushed a deep red as his attention was focused back to the textbook in front of him. What page were they on again? What section was he supposed to read? Desperately, he glanced over to where Haruno was sitting over by the window, hoping she could offer assistance. It seemed that fate was on his side, as she turned her textbook to where he could see it and tapped her finger on the biggest paragraph on the whole page.

As he stood up from his seat, he took in a deep breath to fill up his lungs, before he read the section out loud, feeling awkward as all eyes in the classroom were glued on him. Leave it to the teacher to have him read the depressing paragraph about death and destruction; he had a feeling she didn't like him very much and this was enough proof for him; he felt it was unfair that he was reading twice the amount of words the other students before him had read. As he read it out loud to the class, he could almost relate it to how Kazuya must feel everyday; low and breaking apart at the seams. Feeling like a tornado was twisting around inside of his head and destroying his positive thoughts in the process.

When his turn to read was over, Eijun sat down, placing the textbook back on the desk before he grabbed his pencil to draw brackets around the paragraph. This one reminded him of Kazuya, but was there one that would describe how he felt about it all? What exactly did he feel anyways? What did he mean when he told Kazuya that he loved him that summer evening in the bullpen? After all, the catcher had never once verbally told him that he loved him...

The bell signalling the end of class rang, and the sound of multiple chairs scratching the floor were heard in the classroom as the students gathered their belongings up to take home with them in their schoolbags. As Eijun was about to gather up his things to head back to the dorm and get changed for

practice, the teacher told him to stay behind.

"Sawamura-kun, you've been dazing off in class, and it's going to hurt your grade if you continue," He knew that his attention span was going to reflect poorly on his grade when they received their report cards, but with his constant worrying about Kazuya, it was becoming harder for him to pay close attention in class. He supposed he could tell her the truth about his relationship stressing him out, but the words wouldn't form correctly in his mouth. "I'm just...really stressed out with school, baseball, and my personal life all mixing together. I'll be more productive in class, though, I promise!" Eijun flashed her a smile, trying to prove that he could balance them all out in due time.

"Hahaha, what's this about?" Eijun jumped at the sound of Kazuya's voice echoed in the empty classroom, the sound of it bouncing off the walls and going straight into his ears. He wasn't sure whether to be relieved that Kazuya was here or paranoid of the teacher suspecting that the source of his problems and stress were from the bespectacled boy who'd just arrived moments ago.

"Well, if it isn't captain Miyuki-kun himself. You seem to be in good spirits today. So tell me, what's a second-year like you doing on the first-years floor?" Eijun was astounded by how well Kazuya seemed to be known around the school by both students and faculty members. But they didn't know about the real boy behind the front he put up, they just knew the fake. And that was how Kazuya envisioned it to be.

"I came to get Eijun, of course~" Kazuya's voice was like icing on a cake; it was sweet and the best part of the pastry, but once the icing was all gone, all you were left with was the cake with a colorful stain on top of it from where the icing had been licked off. It was only there for simple decoration, but once removed, it rendered the pastry to be rather bland to look at and therefore would become unappetizing in the eyes of the beholder.

The teacher seemed to swoon for the icing on the cake, not thinking twice about how Kazuya looked appearance-wise, just as long as his tone was cheery, they'd fall for it without ever thinking that they were being fooled by how good the catcher strung his words together with the sickeningly, sugary tone he used to manipulate people.

"Since you're the captain, it should be in your best interest to take your teammates, especially the younger ones, into consideration more often," She sighed, running her fingers through her thick, brown hair in an exasperated manner. Kazuya seemed puzzled at the statement, turning to Eijun for an explanation looking like a little, lost puppy; though, Eijun could only shrug his shoulders in uncertainty with a look of confusion on his own face.

"Miyuki-kun, you're a smart kid; I've had you in my class last year, for crying out loud, you should be able to decipher what I said without having to turn to Sawamura-kun for help." Her patience was growing thin and her tone was just barely balancing on friendly, ready to lean over into the snappy area at any given moment. Kazuya could only stand there dumbfounded, feeling the weight of her words come crashing down on his shoulders, adding excess baggage onto them in the process. He felt so hopeless and humiliated as he stood in front of his old teacher with a stiff face and wandering eyes, trying to focus on anything but her face.

'Miyuki doesn't look too good...should I intervene and get him out of there before he completely falls apart? Probably...' Taking a quick breath, Eijun gave Kazuya a quick pat on the back as a physical reassurance that he was still there to back him up and wasn't going to let him embarrass himself any further with the conversation.

"I've been slacking off, but I promise I'll do better! And also, Miyuki-senpai, shouldn't we get going? Coach will be mad if we're late for practice." Grabbing Kazuya's arm, he tugged on it slightly to get the taller boy to snap out of the daze he was in and move his feet so he wouldn't fall over if Eijun tugged on his arm any harder.

Eijun lead the way down the hallway, trying not to move too fast so Kazuya could keep up, but occasionally quickening his pace so they would be out of earshot from the classroom. As they neared the empty stairwell, Eijun paused in his step, glancing back at Kazuya's face and feeling his heart crumble inside of his chest at how despondent the catcher looked.

"Miyuki..." His voice was soft and comforting to the other's ears, almost breaking the dam that held back the flood in the light brown eyes of the boy currently standing in front of him, crumbling away little by little as each day passed by and all he could was stand by and watch it all unfold around him like he was a bystander.

Eijun hated seeing this hopeless side of Kazuya; it wasn't the boy he admired and allowed himself to get to know the different sides of. Closing off the space between them, he stood on his tiptoes, wrapping his arms around the catcher's neck, resting his head on the taller boy's chest, shutting his mouth of saying any words that wouldn't help the situation; all Kazuya needed was to know that he was there for him and that he wasn't going to let him suffer through this all by himself.

Kazuya didn't hesitate to reciprocate by wrapping his own arms around Eijun's waist tightly, letting his head fall on the pitcher's left shoulder as he choked back a sob that tried to escape from the back of his throat. He couldn't cry in front of Eijun; he didn't want to look like a fool in front of the person he gave his heart to.

Eijun reached a hand up to run his fingers through the catcher's soft, brown locks, noting it seemed to be greasy and in need of a good wash, but that didn't matter to him. All that mattered to him was making sure he could get Kazuya to smile for him like he'd done so many nights ago when they'd had that pillow fight in the catcher's room. He wanted him to smile like he had nothing to worry about and reassure him that he was still the same guy who influenced him to become apart of Seido's baseball team the day he'd gone to visit, when he was unsure of what to expect, and the moment they'd met one another on the field, something inside the both of them sparked, like they were destined to meet one another.

"I can't promise you that I'll be able to solve all your problems, won't have to face them alone. You'll always have me and I'm not gonna ever leave your side...and even when you're off to college, I'm still gonna visit you every single day just to annoy you and hang out with you, no matter how far you are from me...and when I graduate from here, I'm gonna join the same school as you, so we can be a battery again!" Eijun confided, voice cracking as big tears poured down his face, snot running out from his nose, as he held Kazuya closer to him, afraid of letting him go and having him fly far away from him like he was a bird that was returning to the wilderness to be with it's own kind.

And if Kazuya was a bird, he could flap his wings in a mad attempt to be set free, furiously peck at his body, and squawk as loudly in his ear all he wanted, but there was no way he was ever going to be free from him. Even if he managed to escape, the pitcher would track his trail down to the ends of the earth and back, no matter how long it took or where it would take the two of them.

Whether they were a battery, a couple, or merely friends, there was no changing Eijun's thoughts about him; he'd find new ways to enchant him and make him want to live another day, no matter how rough life got for him, he had something to live for and that something was irreplaceable.

Eijun took in a deep breath as he opened the door to his old room, having been invited by Kuramochi and Zono to hang out with the rest of the first-string for a change, instead of hoarding Kazuya all to himself. He was greeted with the sight of familiar faces that belonged to members of the first-string, whose bodies were sprawled out along the room, some doing homework or playing a game against Kuramochi and Haruichi. He chose to sit next to Kazuya, who'd surprisingly jumped all over the opportunity once Kuramochi brought it up at the dinner table.

"I was wondering when you were going to show up," Kazuya remarked, a tired grin plastered on his face as Eijun sat down next to him on the floor, curling up next to his side like how a house cat would do with it's owner on a plush sofa. "Oh, shut up. You're lucky I bothered to even come here; I have homework that needs to be done, ya know?" Eijun retorted with a scoff, causing the catcher to let out a small chuckle as he leaned his head on the pitcher's shoulder.

"You wouldn't leave me alone; you nearly flooded the hallway screaming at me about how you were gonna stalk me until the day I died, huhu." Eijun felt his cheeks burn with embarrassment as he thought back to how emotional he'd been in the hallway a few hours ago with Kazuya, trying to stay strong for the older boy's sake, but failing to do so.

He'd never actually seen the catcher cry before, feeling as though he was the biggest asshole ever to wish he could see Kazuya let his emotions pour out and allow him to provide emotional support for when things got too hard to handle, but that was irrational thinking; the catcher never let any of his repressed emotions show, as it would be a sign of absolute weakness as Seido's captain.

"Shut up, Miyuki..." Eijun sighed, wrapping an arm around the catcher's waist and pulling him closer to his own body, ignoring how Kazuya's body tensed up as he touched him, as it was quite a common reaction, even when he'd cling on to his waist at night; slowly, he'd start to relax in Eijun's hold, knowing that he was fine and that the pitcher was only trying to make him feel comfortable. The bullying from middle school made him weary of being held or touched around his waist, sending distress signals to his brain, but Eijun made him feel safe. He'd pull him closer, never working his hand any further downwards.

Nobody had anything to comment on, minding their own business to get their schoolwork done. It was peaceful, surprisingly, with the video game volume being the only thing blasting through the small, semi-crowded room, drowning out the soft conversations that floated through the room. How Furuya could nap through the loud sound effects was a mystery itself altogether. The ace pitcher was a heavy sleeper when practice was rough on them, and could probably sleep through a typhoon and then wake up the next day in a field on the outskirts of town, wondering where everybody went.

The peace was broken by the sound of someone pounding on the door with all their might, breaking the conversations between the boys in the room, everyone glanced over at Kuramochi sitting in front of the TV set to get the door and end the loud noise, due to it being his room. With a twitch of his eyebrows, he paused the game, snapping out a,"Door's unlocked, fucking asshole!" before un-pausing the game reverting his attention back to the screen. The door opened with a squeak of the hinges, and a small, familiar, dark chuckle emitted through the room.

"Is that any way to greet your boyfriend that hasn't seen in three days, You-i-chi?" Ryousuke stood in the doorway of the shortstop's room, a full, plastic bag from a local convenience store in his hands, with a cocky, yet malicious, smile plastered on his face. They hardly found time to be together, due to the strict baseball and school schedule Kuramochi was on and Ryousuke studying for exams, doing homework, and applying for colleges. But those things didn't matter at the moment; for now, it was time to make-up for all the lost time.

The grin that spread across Kuramochi's face was so wide, Eijun internally feared for his senpai's face would rip in half in some freak smiling incident. But then again, if smiling that wide was worth the pain and facial destruction for Kuramochi, he shouldn't question it; whenever Kazuya would praise him, he'd get so giddy from the appreciation and couldn't help but beam at the catcher who would hold back a grin of his own, but often failed and ended up laughing.

The ex-second baseman strolled over to where Kuramochi sat in front of the controller, setting the plastic bag aside as he made room for himself on the shortstop's lap, blocking his view of the TV screen. Kuramochi's smile faltered as he twisted his body to try and see around the smaller male, but Ryousuke mimicked his every movement, blocking his way with his head every time the shortstop tried to peer around him.

"Ryou-san..." Kuramochi groaned, wanting to see the screen to finish the level he was on, but Ryousuke wasn't going to let him have his way. Reaching behind him, he tugged the controller out of his boyfriend's hands and into his own smaller ones.

"Looks like you're a total pushover, Youichi." Kazuya chided with a smirk on his face. A few of the boys laughed at the remark, but Kuramochi shrugged it off with a slight laugh, knowing he was fully smitten by the smaller, older boy on his lap to think up a rebuttal.

Eijun couldn't place the emotion, but it felt like he was being stabbed in the gut with a bunch of needles. The feeling would get sharper and physically hurt him more whenever he saw a couple doing normal, romantic things like when he saw Furuya brush Haruichi's long bangs out of his face to give the smaller boy's forehead a gentle kiss, and how the cherry blush would spread across his best friend's face as he giggled at the sweet action.

Sometimes when practice ended, he'd see Kanemaru and Toujou picking up balls together, when it was their turn to help the managers clean up the field, and their hands would brush against the others briefly and they'd both pause to stare at each other, faces contorted in a mixture of embarrassment and bashfulness; Kanemaru's face would turn blotchy red at the light contact and turn his head to look away at something else on the field, and Toujou would laugh it off with cheeks dusted a slight pink as he continued picking up the remainder of the balls.

It came back just as sharp and painful as he remembered, when he saw the old Iron Wall together again, even if what they seemed to think was just a casual hangout, it still stung worse than any bee sting he'd ever gotten running around the corn fields of the Nagano countryside with his old friends. Maybe he was just jealous that they weren't worried about the future or if the other was doing alright? He had no right to be jealous, though, he knew that being Kazuya's boyfriend meant he'd have to support him and learn not to be too pushy when he was feeling tired or obnoxiously needy when he detached himself from others, including him.

Turning his head to look at Kazuya, he couldn't help but feel that the smile he was wearing was fake, almost as if he were uncomfortable in the current situation. Retracting his arm from the catcher's waist, Eijun shifted away from him slightly, worried that he was making the catcher feel uncomfortable in front of their other teammates.

Sensing the lack of Eijun's warmth beside him, Kazuya blinked in confusion, letting his hand roam around the carpeted floor for where the pitcher might have moved. The anxiety was piling up as his hand was only met with the rough carpeted floor. He wondered how he must look at the moment, with his hand moving across the floor like an absolute retard, looking around for someone who must have been a mere five inches away from him.

He could feel his chest tighten at the thought of Eijun leaving him behind, breath hitched in his throat as the lump in his throat grew bigger, the sound in the room diminishing

At long last, his hand grazed the soft, cotton material of Eijun's old, gray, faded baseball t-shirt. It was light enough that the pitcher didn't notice anything, but as Kazuya grasped it, his fingers curling around the soft material firmly, Eijun felt like a downright asshole for making the catcher worry about where he was and almost causing him to have a slight breakdown in front of the others.

Placing a hand on Kazuya's fist, he gently pried the fingers off of his shirt, taking the larger, calloused hand into his own and squeezing it tightly to reassure the other that he was still there and hadn't left his side. He wondered, if it was vice versa, would the catcher do this same method to calm him down or would he make a snarky remark about it?

"It's okay, I'm here for you," Eijun murmured so only the catcher could hear him, giving the larger hand in his own an extra squeeze, noting how quiet Kazuya had suddenly become. He wasn't doing much for the older boy, other than breaking him apart without the intention to.

Kuramochi seemed to have a sixth sense for detecting problems in other people, and it wasn't a coincidence that he noticed how the two misfits sitting over in the corner seeming to be dejected from the rest of the group. It wasn't good for either of them, especially Kazuya, to stay in the darkness while everyone else was enjoying the light. He was going to force them to join the group, even if he had to use force to keep them in place.

"Hey, Kazuya, come with me to go buy drinks for everyone, will ya?" As he was calling over his shoulder to the moody catcher, he could feel the glare Ryousuke was giving him as he referred to the catcher by his first name, but he'd fill the smaller one in on everything after he'd kicked everybody out when curfew was about to be in effect. Leaning in towards his boyfriend's ear, Kuramochi mumbled, "I'll fill you in on everything later," before giving the ex-baseman a slight peck on the cheek to keep his jealousy in tact as he slid the smaller off his lap with ease before standing up and stretching his sore limbs.

Sauntering over to where the catcher was sitting in the corner of the room, he jabbed his thumb over in the direction of the door, staring Kazuya down until the other's eyes began to water behind his glasses from lack of blinking. With a sigh, he reluctantly let go of the pitcher's sweaty hand, standing up slowly onto his feet and shuffled towards the door.

As he followed the shortstop out of the dorm and into the cool, autumn night, he had a distinct thought of what they were doing out here and it didn't include fetching drinks for the other members. He followed Kuramochi further down from the dorm building, listening to the sirens of an ambulance off in the distance of the city, shuddering slightly from the thought of ever having to ride in the back of one of those vehicles.

"Why haven't you told Chris-senpai about this?" Kuramochi's back was still turned to him as he continued walking a steady pace, unaffected by the cool breeze, heading in no general direction. He wasn't sure he got the whole gist of the catcher's situation, noting how worn down he seemed nowadays as the captain, there was something more to Kazuya than he was letting on and Kuramochi was going to peel each the layers the catcher put up until he finally got an admission of there being something else bothering his friend.

"Youichi, please..." Kazuya hated using such a feeble, pleading tone with the shortstop, as it made him feel inferior to the other. He wasn't in the greatest of moods either, wanting to go back to his room and hide underneath the bed covers, hoping he'd be able to fall and stay asleep until the morning alarm woke him up. But that would be admitting defeat and not tackling any of his problems in hopes of finding a solution to end them all.

"Don't give me the crap, Kazuya. Something is up with you and I need to know what it is, otherwise, I can't help you. I know I'm not Sawamura or a therapist that's skilled with this shit, but just let me help you for once, you're going to break down and eventually hurt yourself if you keep going like this." Kuramochi was knocking away the walls he'd built to keep the intruders out, but the way the shortstop was giving it his all to help him when he kept shoving him away, it made him want to let the other boy in, just like he'd done with Eijun.

Kazuya could only stare down at his shoes at his brain fumbled around with words as he tried to form a coherent sentence. It was harder to do with his friend than it was with Eijun, since Kuramochi was someone he saw in his classes everyday at school and also someone he trusted enough to let in on his secret.

"Where do you want me to begin?" His voice was hardly above a whisper as he tried to round up his scattered, jumbled thoughts. He wasn't very good at delivering answers without a question, so the responsibility fell upon Kuramochi shoulders to ask the right questions that wouldn't cause any painful memories to resurface.

"Let's just start off with the one I asked you before," Kuramochi motioned for them to sit on the bench in the courtyard, the streetlights flickering on, casting a bright, yellow glow as the two of them settled on the wooden bench.

"Alright, let's begin with the story-telling," Kazuya chided, a slight chuckle escaping his lips as he tried to make the tense situation humorous by cracking a joke.

One Year Ago

Kazuya had been feeling slightly under the weather the past few days, getting lightheaded upon standing from his chair had caused his vision to fuzzy up, the world spinning around in his head, dizzying him up, as he lost his balance and proceeded to crash face first on to the cool, tiled floor of the classroom. There had been lots of screaming and the intensity of the bright, classroom lights hurt his head as he was extracted from the floor.

He vaguely recalled waking up in a blurry, bright, white office, assuming it was the school infirmary, with a splitting headache. "Miyuki-kun, how do you feel?" The nurse had rushed over to his side, once she figured he was awake, with a glass of water and a white bottle presumably filled with pills bigger than an average Tylenol.

"I don't feel entirely too good...I feel like my head's splitting apart and I can't breathe through my nostrils," He'd admitted, raising an arm to shield his eyes from the blinding light above his head. He had wanted to curl up under the covers and go back to sleep to soothe the pain. As if it were an everyday occurrence, the nurse placed the glass of water and bottle of pills down on the bedside table before scurrying off to flip the light switch, succumbing the room to a dimmer setting.

"I've informed Takashima-san about your fainting spell and she's scheduled you a doctor's appointment to see if anything else is wrong with you," She explained in simplicity as she pulled the white curtain around his bed to give him a sense of privacy. "She said she'll come check upon you later, so for now, just rest up and if you need anything, just call." She sauntered off, heels clicking against the floor with each step she took until he could no longer hear them within his earshot.

Classes were most likely still in session, the hallways were too quiet for it to be the end of the school day. At least when school ended he wouldn't have to go to baseball practice, though, he would still have to return to his God awful dorm room he shared with the monstrous Azuma. The slugger snored louder than a gorilla and would berate him with his voice literally booming off the paper-thin walls of the dorm. Maybe once he felt better, he could text Kuramochi and ask if he could spend the night in his dorm.

The one thing that brought him some sort of solitude was thinking about the southpaw named Sawamura whose pitches he'd caught a month ago, never forgetting about the wondrous, golden-eyed boy with a smile that could light up an entire town and a voice that was slightly rough on the edges but still sounded as sweet as honey to his ears the first time he'd heard it, even if it was a directed insult towards Azuma who had been harassing poor Kawakami. Curse him and his forgetfulness for not asking the boy for his damn number before he had left to go back to Nagano or even contact information. He was stuck in a daydream where the southpaw was his pitcher and he was the catcher, taking the world by storm with their impenetrable battery, and taking each championship title for their team. Ah, if only dreams could be mended into reality.

Dozing off wasn't happening; his head was still pounding and no amount of darkness he'd submerged his face into could cease it. Rolling onto his stomach, Kazuya let out a faint groan as he stuffed his face into the welcoming, soft, white pillow. He wasn't anywhere close to drifting off into slumber when he heard heavy footsteps slapping against the tiled floor of the infirmary which he presumed belonged to a male nurse.

He heard the curtain slide apart with a slight clack and the thudding footsteps grew near his bed. The sound of the metal stool legs scraping across the floor were prominent that the intruder had intended to stay for awhile. A light jab to his head was enough to aggravate him in his condition, raising his head up from the soft pillow to send a menacing glare to the other inside the infirmary with him.

"Woah, you look awful..." Ah, it was only Kuramochi. He shared a class with the shortstop and sat behind him, often having to poke him with the back of his pencil to keep him focused in class or to wake him up when he'd dozed off while resting his head on his palm. Sometimes, the shortstop would get riled up if he continued to pester him by slightly moving the desk forward or unknowingly hitting the back of his chair with his foot when he stretched out his long legs. It mostly ended up with Kuramochi lashing out at him with eyes ablaze with rage, face heated red and a snarl evident on his lips.

He'd yell insults at the catcher that ranged from childish, witty ones that he would easily brush off with a snicker to vicious, derogatory remarks that stung in his heart and left him speechless at how heartless the boy could be when he was enraged.

"What do you want?" Kazuya huffed, smothering his face back in the pillow once again, blocking out the intense light that enhanced his severe headache. He could hear Kuramochi let out a quick breath from his mouth, almost as if he were about to enter the fighting ring. "The least you could do is thank me for carrying you here," His eyebrows twitched in frustration, wanting to smack the catcher upside the head of his lack of respect.

"That was you, huh? Well...I'll give you my gratitude if you let me sleep over in your dorm. Azuma-san is going to give me hell, if I go back to my room and do nothing but sleep," the pillow muffled his voice as he agonized over having to go back to the dorm he shared with the monstrous slugger who often forgot to tone down his voice, even after it was past bedtime.

"I'll have to run it by with my roommates, but I think they'll be alright with you staying with us just as long as you take the empty bunk underneath mine," Kuramochi mumbled as his fingers hastily tapped each button on his phone's screen, sending two separate messages to the senpais he roomed with, hearing back from both of them almost instantly. "They said you can stay with us," The impish look the shortstop gave him as he turned his face to peer over at him couldn't be anything good. He was up to something.

"Think you can get the nurse to let you out of here? We'll head to your dorm, gather your crap, and then we'll hike back down to mine and lounge around in there until it's time for dinner." Kuramochi was a master of plotting, but Kazuya wasn't sure the plan would fly with the shortstop's field partner, Ryousuke. The second-year was small and gentle-faced, but it hide his sharp, cynical tongue, fooling the first-years who dared to cross him because of his small structure.

"And what will Kominato-senpai think of you skipping practice, hmm? Aren't you madly infatuated with him and would do anything to please him; even if he ordered you to lick his cleats until they appeared brand new?" Kazuya taunted him, noting how the shortstop didn't even reconsider his plan upon hearing his words. Rather, he seemed keen on whatever punishment the second baseman could dish out on him. All Kazuya could think of was how much of a masochist the shortstop was.

Their conversation was cut short when the clack of heels against the floor sounded closer to them, a familiar voice calling out, "Miyuki-kun, are you awake?" Takashima's voice was faint, almost as if she weren't sure if she should speak any louder in fear of waking him up. Propping himself up by using his elbows to support himself, Kazuya gradually sat up, motioning for Kuramochi to hand him his glasses from the bedside table.

"Ah, come in, Rei-chan," Kazuya called out to her as he adjusted the glasses on his face, ignoring the pounding in his head, forcing a smile on his face when the curtain was pushed aside, Takashima stepping in, wearing an expression that deemed she'd been worrying about him. "Ah, Kuramochi-kun, that was very heroic of you for carrying him all the way down here. I'm sure it must have been difficult for you." Kuramochi was not only a sucker for Ryousuke, he seemed to pull out a completely different character as soon as Takashima entered the room.

"Not at all, Takashima-san. I was just as surprised as the rest of the class when Miyuki suddenly fainted; so, I volunteered to bring him to the infirmary and stay with him after classes ended." Kazuya could feel the bile protruding in his throat as he heard the shortstop speaking to her with such respect and exaggerating the truth - or rather, he thought the other was blowing it out of proportion; he was swinging in and out of consciousness at the time, due to hitting his head.

Takashima seemed to buy it, though, letting a deep sigh escape her lips in relief that he was alright. "Miyuki-kun, coach said you can take the day off, and I'm going to schedule you a doctor's appointment for tomorrow, but I need permission from a parent or guardian in order to do so." Kazuya could feel a lump on his throat growing bigger, as the two other people in the room pinned him down with their inquisitive gazes. Takashima's gaze was impatient, wanting to phone the doctor and schedule his appointment as soon as she could, while Kuramochi's was almost pitying him for casting his gaze down at his hands clenched in the blanket.

"It says on your personal records that your parents are divorced, but there isn't a number for either one of them," Kazuya felt his face heat up in mortification of the fact that he was going to have to inform her about his family situation. "Rei-chan, my mom died when I was seven, so you won't have a number for her...and my dad doesn't own a home phone because he works most of the day." He explained to her, unable to look her in the eye out of sheer embarrassment. Takashima was smarter than him, though, adjusting her glasses as if this was all common to her.

"Miyuki-kun, since your father is a busy man, surely he would have a cellphone on him, right?" Her eyes were sending sharp signals to comply or things wouldn't look bright for his next two years at Seido. Gulping, he gradually nodded his head, taken aback by the severe pain that seemed to spread across his entire forehead due to the bobbing movement. Slowly massaging his temples, Kazuya caved in,"I don't know it by heart, but his number's stored in my phone, but I left it in my room to charge..."

Kuramochi flung up from the stool he'd been sitting on, causing the other two to glance up at him in question of the action. "I can go get your stuff for you, if you want," He offered with a flustered smile, rubbing the back of his head sheepishly. "You did say you wanted to spend the night in my room, so I'll just go get your things and when your headache is gone, you can just come meet me there." The shortstop held out his hand as a sign that he should hand over the keys to his room, though, as Kazuya dug through the pockets of his uniform pants, he felt an embarrassed flush creep up along the back of his neck as the realization that he had left his keys behind in his room when getting ready for school that morning.

"Ah, it seems like I left them in the pocket of my sweatpants," He mumbled, his mood taking a downwards slope as he thought of the only other person who had a set of keys to the room, but that person wasn't someone any of the first-years wanted to walk up too and ask for something that wasn't baseball related. He roomed with the older slugger and despised every minute of it; Azuma was demanding and his weight kept accumulating as he snuck junk food into the dorm room and proceeded to eat it during the middle of the night. Kazuya wondered if the third year even considered himself to be at an unhealthy size for a baseball player, but never questioned it, fearing he'd get locked out of the room again.

"No problem~ I'll just go get the keys from Azuma-san then!" Kuramochi was ruthless, he thought. He was like a lovesick puppy in front of Ryousuke, had freakish kinks and fetishes, but he must have balls of steels to casually say he was going to get the keys from Azuma, of all people. "Kuramochi, you don't have to - fuck..." He'd moved his head too fast to the right, the headache worsening in the process. While Takashima was fussing over him, nearly shoving an advil down his throat, Kuramochi had slipped out of the room unnoticed.

"Miyuki-kun, don't be so rash," She scolded, shaking her head slightly, taking the vacant stool the shortstop had been occupying moments before. Crossing one long leg over the other, she pushed his bangs back out of his face, lips pursed as she noted the warmth coming from it. "'re a little warm, so I think it's best we get you some cold medicine." The last time he took cold medicine was when he was in his first year of middle school and his father had forced him to stay in bed because of a bad cold he'd gotten from Mei when he was sick, and the medicine in the cabinet they had was the thick, cherry flavored syrup and he despised the taste of it; cherries definitely didn't taste like an expired mouth-wash.

He hadn't expected the shortstop to come back so soon with his cell-phone and keys in hand, wearing a wide grin in the process. "Here's your stuff," He could only sit there and blink in wonder about how Kuramochi was able to persuade Azuma to give him the keys to his room.

"Ryou-san was a big help; he asked Azuma-san if he could borrow something but needed the keys and Azuma-san just handed them over. He was too busy running laps around the field to care about what Ryou-san wanted to "borrow", so he literally just took them out of his pocket and handed them over." Oh, that explained how he was able to get the keys. Kuramochi was only a first-year, yet he held some type of value in Ryousuke's eyes, whether the pink-haired second-baseman reciprocated the same feelings as the shortstop did for him. If only he could have been on a friendly level with Chris; the older catcher had made no attempts to be sociable with him, except for the time when he'd had an awful case of the stomach bug and had been in and out of the boys bathroom multiple times, stomach cramping and feeling like he was never going to get any better; Chris had given him some advice by telling him to drink lots of water in order to stay hydrated, but that had been all.

"On second thought, maybe it's better that we head straight to my room so you can lay down; you can just text me what you need and I'll store it in your travel bag." Kuramochi suggested, carefully observing how flushed his face looked. "Sounds good to me, Kuramochi." His head felt like it was splitting as he slid the covers off of his body, swinging his feet over the side, cringing slightly as the pain worsened. "Just lean on me, Miyuki, and I promise that I'll try my best not to drop you." Kuramochi murmured, as he helped Kazuya onto his feet, helping him sling his arm around his shoulder to keep him from face-planting the floor again.

"Ahaha, you better not, or you'll never get that date with Kominato-senpai~" He'd tried to crack a joke to ease the awkward situation they'd found themselves placed in, the short stop letting out a slight snort at his joke. "Like that would ever happen..." For once, he almost wished he could take back what he'd said to Kuramochi, as he was in a similar situation himself where his crush was just a hopeless dream he'd never expect to come true. At least Kuramochi had somewhat of a shot with Ryousuke; Sawamura didn't even live in Tokyo, nor had they bothered to exchange phone numbers or email addresses in hopes of keeping in touch.

"Alright, I'm about to head up to your room and get your stuff, so just text me what you want me to pack up and bring down here." Kuramochi had the catcher's empty travel bag slung around his shoulder, a worried expression stretched out on his face from his position next to the bottom bunk Kazuya occupied. "I will, don't worry," He groaned, wanting to bury his face into the soft pillow and block out the world around him.

"Alright, don't be such a dick. If Masuko-san comes back, don't worry about him asking you anything, he already knows you're staying with us for awhile." Another groan came from him. "Just go already..." He could almost see the smirk on the shortstop's face as he drove the real Miyuki Kazuya out of hiding. "There's the arrogant catcher; I thought you were dead." Kuramochi laughed as he exited the room, having some humanity to shut the door behind him softly, instead of slamming it shut and making him suffer.

He appreciated the concern from his friend, but there were bigger problems that he hadn't the courage to face or tell anyone about. If he didn't scratch at the marks he'd made on his arms, it felt as if ants were marching up and down his skin, irritating his concentration as he tried to ignore the invisible ants and focus on other things, but in the end, he always gave in to the urge and locked himself up away from the world, seated on the cold floor in a stall in the boys bathroom, blood trickling out of the self-made wounds, salty tears trailing down his face, hand holding the bloodied razor, fingers stained red and curled around it like it was a lifeline. It was his lifeline; the razor was the only thing that helped him keep his grip on reality and from losing his mind to the darkness eating away at the little sunshine that was left shining in his bleary life.

Maybe Seido wasn't the right place for him to be; he should have gone to Inashiro with Mei, like everyone in his life had wanted and expected of him. Mei had been his best friend for the three years that they were in middle school, and though they had their petty fights and disagreements with one another, he actually felt somewhat alive being with the blond southpaw then he did at this very moment. If he'd gone to Inashiro, he'd be closer to Koshien; he'd be with other baseball players at his high level; he'd still be friends with Mei, and maybe, just maybe, his dad wouldn't berate him as often as he did if he'd chosen the other school.

"Miyuki-kun, I'm sorry that I'm not able to go with you to your appointment, but Chris-kun is going to get his shoulder examined to see when he can start physical therapy, so you can just ride with him and his father." Takashima had somehow been roped up with looking over baseball applications to see who of the hundreds of boys who applied would make a good addition to the team. He'd been stuck having to wait with Chris in the school office for his father to show up to take them to their appointments, and all he could think of was how awkward it was to be seated next to the older catcher, whom he hadn't spoken to in awhile.

"How are you feeling?" Chris' gruff voice caused him to slightly jump in his chair, snapping him out of his thoughts. Turning to look towards his senpai, he shrugged his shoulders to answer the question. He still felt like crap, but at least the painful headache had subsided. "I heard that you collapsed in your classroom yesterday. What happened?" He felt his stomach flip as Chris' cold eyes looked him over, probably wondering why he was wearing a red hoodie and dark jeans when the weather hadn't even started to cool down.

"Um...I got really dizzy when I stood up, my vision blacked out, and I hit the floor," He'd tried to fill in the blanks, using what he'd heard from Kuramochi, but it was a lost cause; Chris was just being polite, he supposed. He had taken the starting catcher sort from him, without a fair fight, so Chris had every right to hate him for that, though, he still wished he could have a lengthy conversation with him, like how Kuramochi could with Ryousuke or Maezono with Jun.

A heavy silence befell upon them as he tried to shift his chair away from Chris, noting the depressing aura emitting from the second-year wasn't going to help him in overcoming his own depression. He wanted to talk to Chris about what he was going through, but he didn't want to cause the other catcher anymore problems in his life; Chris had his injury to worry about, his father paying expensive medical bills just for him to be able to play baseball again, and school; he couldn't add to the list of problems, just because he was a boy who had trouble expressing how he felt with his words and took it out on his own skin.

"I heard from Tanba that Kuramochi carried you all the way to the infirmary. Is that true?" He nodded his head, fingers fidgeting with the strings of his hoodie, avoiding Chris' watchful gaze as he kept his own down towards his feet. "Miyuki, are you okay?" Chris asked him, sounding concerned for his health, for once. He'd been asked that question far too many times before, and the answer was simple. "I'm fine, senpai~" The fake smile that he'd mastered over the time he'd spent at Seido plastered on his lips, eyes focused directly on the target he was lying through his teeth to.

'Don't worry about me, senpai. I'm nobody special...'

"You must be Miyuki-kun, right?" The doctor asked, as he pulled on the clear, latex gloves on his hands. Kazuya sat on the examination table in just his boxers, face reddened in embarrassment, goosebumps lingering along his skin from the cold air in the room. He never liked doctors; they reminded too much of death and it all traced back to losing his mother at the tender age of seven. He'd never understood why she'd get a divorce from his father; in the pictures he had seen in the old scrapbook, and ended up packing and taking with him to Seido, they seemed quite content with one another; almost picturesque, but then he came along and destroyed their marriage by causing his mom to get very sick when she had been pregnant with him.

"Takashima-san told me you've been experiencing some health problems," The doctor wrapped the blood pressure cuff around his arm, telling him to relax, squeezing it around his arm to check if his blood pressure was alright. "Miyuki-kun, you need to relax," Easier said than done, he'd thought to himself as he took a deep breath in, hoping it was just his nerves acting up that caused his blood pressure to be so high.

"Hmm...we'll come back to checking your blood pressure later, let's move on to checking your blood sugar," Internally, he groaned to himself; he wanted the doctor to hurry up with the examination so he could leave. The slight prick in his finger caused him to wince, the beep of the portable machine indicating that it had a reading.

"Blood sugar is fine," The doctor murmured, pulling the strip out of the machine and tossing it into the trashcan. "I'll get you a bandage for your finger," The doctor walked across the room towards the medicine cabinet, opening it up and pulling out a box of bandages. Grabbing one, he put the box back on the shelf, closing the cabinet door before strolling back over towards him.

"Do you own a cat?" Leave it to the doctor to call out the elephant in the room. "No, I live in the dorms at school, so no pets are allowed." He was growing paranoid as the doctor examined the self-inflicted wounds on his arms, hoping the subject would be dropped. "Is that so? I think that your baseball coach should learn about your bad habit. I'll need to take pictures of your arms for your coach to see, but only if you're alright with it."

"Do what you must..." His secret had been found out. The one he'd tried so hard to cover up with long sleeves and trying to keep others from knowing the details of his private life. If he was on his best behavior at school, maybe he could bypass having someone try to counsel him.

His life wasn't worth the struggle of having to get up everyday and look at the ugly scars he'd created; his father was an asshole who would disown him once he found out he was gay, and he had no one to talk too about how insecure he was about his sexuality - Kuramochi might hear him out, but he'd doubt it; they weren't that close to each other just yet and there's no way he could ever talk to Chris about it.

'It's stupid of me to even think, but...I wonder what Eijun's doing.'

Present Day

"Eijun-kun, that's not fair! You cheated!" Haruichi pouted as he put the last finger he'd had up down, all while the pitcher smirked at him from his spot on the bed next to Furuya, who'd been out a few rounds ago. "How is it cheating, Harucchi? It's true that I haven't had my first kiss yet." The surprised look from his best friend caused his smirk to grow even bigger; Kazuya must be rubbing off on him.

"I'm surprised that you and Miyuki-senpai haven't kissed yet," Haruichi was astounded that the couple hadn't kissed yet; Eijun wouldn't lie to him about not having a first kiss just yet, not even ashamed of it, so he shouldn't question the relationship; Eijun seemed to be happy with taking things slow and steady with Miyuki and when asked what he liked about the relationship, he'd be hard to shut up as he grinned at the questioner as he told them only positive things about it; how Kazuya made him feel like he was the most important person in the world and how the relationship was going at a very pleasant pace, as Kazuya was not rushing him into doing anything he wasn't comfortable doing.

"Me and Miyuki are taking our relationship slow, sweet, and steady, unlike you and Furuya! And I still can't believe you two did...that!" Eijun felt queasy just thinking about his two best friends engaging in sexual activities, and from the grim look on Ryousuke's face, who had been sitting in between Furuya and Haruichi, he definitely wasn't too delighted learning about his younger brother's sex life.

"Haruichi...I'm horrified with what I've just learned about you." Ryousuke's tone was thick, almost sickened by what he'd discovered about his younger brother. Eijun could only hope that he didn't cause a downfall in his best friends' relationship from asking all those personal questions, most of which had become very inappropriate when Ryousuke suggested they "turn it up" a notch, as they waited for Kuramochi and Miyuki to come back.

Haruichi's face was blazing red, the embarrassment growing more and more as his older brother and Eijun kept the topic burning alive by speaking every thought that came to their mind. At least Kuramochi wasn't here to rub salt to the wound, or else, he'd never be able to look his fielding partner in the eye, and God forbid if Zono found out about it; the first-baseman was his roommate and partially acted like he was his parent by telling him the whole,"abstinence is the way to go", as if he hadn't heard it from Ryousuke or his parents dozens of times when entering high school.

"Aniki -" Haruichi started, but was quickly interrupted by Ryousuke clicking his tongue in annoyance. "Don't "aniki" me, Haruichi. We'll talk about this in the morning, for now, you three get to bed." To Eijun, the prominent frown on the third-year's face looked more sullen at how he'd reacted to the news than infuriated at his little brother not telling him about it.

He swallowed the lump in his throat as he watched his smaller best friend mutter something under his breath about his brother being unfair, shrugging Furuya's hand off his shoulder as he stood from the bed, keeping control of his emotions as he calmly walked out of the room with Furuya trailing close behind him, leaving Eijun all alone in a room with a ticking time bomb that could blow up at any moment if he said one thing out of line.

He felt sorry for Kuramochi; he'd ruined his night by upsetting both Kominatos, with one being his boyfriend and the other his partner on the field. From what he had conjectured from earlier, his roommate had planned to spend the night making love with his boyfriend, not trying to get the cold shoulder and silent treatment from him.

He had nothing else to do here, figuring he should leave the fuming Ryousuke alone to cool down, and that's what he did. He couldn't do anything to make the situation any better, always ending up causing more problems for people along the way; from his parents having to pay for the things that his baseball scholarship didn't cover, Chris-senpai always having to look out for him when his grades started taking critical hits from all the naps he took in class to feel rejuvenated, to causing a discordant between the Kominato brothers, though, he always knew the person, whom he burdened with never ending problems, was Kazuya.

The walk back to the dorm he shared with Kazuya was silent and lonely; the moon was hidden away by the fog, not a single star shining in the darkened sky for him to make a wish upon. None of this would ever have happened if he had said no to Kataoka's request, claiming he wouldn't be able to do it because it would cause problems for the team.

Those haunting words still echoed in his head,"If you fail, Sawamura, Miyuki may just end up killing himself." saying no to the coach's request would have been like going straight up to Kazuya during practice and straight up telling him, with a broad smile, that he wouldn't care if he killed himself. He couldn't ever imagine doing that to Kazuya, his captain, his catcher, his friend, and more significantly, his boyfriend.

"Eijun!" His morbid thoughts were broken by a familiar voice calling out for him down the path, a smile finding its way to his face as Kazuya's face came into view, illuminated by the dorm lights. He couldn't quite say why, but his feet suddenly started to pull him forward in a mad sprint to go wrap his arms around his boyfriend and snuggle his face into his broad chest. And that's what the did, nearly knocking Kazuya off balance in the process, though, he could see the traces of a smile slowly creep up on the taller boy's lips, finding it hard to be mad at him.

"I thought you were in Youichi's room?" Eijun frowned, glad his face was hidden in the older boy's chest as he started to recall that he'd accidentally caused drama; Kazuya didn't need to know all the details at the moment, just that Furuya and Haruichi were probably going to end up getting dragged into Kataoka's office on account of their poor performances sometime before the game with Teito to resolve their issues or risk getting benched.

"I got tired and wanted to go to bed early," He lied through his teeth, knowing full well he'd be caught as he didn't have the key and the room was mainly locked. "Good thing I forgot to lock the room. I hope nobody ransacked our stuff." Kazuya laughed, the skittish look on Eijun's face going undetected. It settled his nerves to see the catcher cracking a joke about forgetting to do a simple task. If this was any other day, Kazuya would have freaked out over it and then jumped all over Eijun's case by asking why he hadn't reminded him to lock the damn door.

"You seem cheerful," Eijun started carefully, raising a brow at the catcher's new found happiness. "It's almost unnerving..." He mumbled the last part, earning a pinch to his cheek from the older boy. "Let's just say me and Youichi had a nice talk~" Kazuya's tone was light and genuine, causing Eijun to have more questions than answers. He wanted to stay in the loop of his boyfriend's social life without coming across too demanding or that he didn't trust him to spend time with other people; he spent most of his free time with Kazuya, more than any of his other friends, and to say that he didn't like the closeness would be a lie.

Pushing himself off of the catcher's chest, pouting slightly at the vague replies Kazuya gave him, he was about to make his escape when he felt a pair of hands caressing his cheeks, Kazuya's face looming in closer to his, breath hot on his face. "Don't tell me you're jealous of Youichi? You've got absolutely nothing to worry about, silly." Their noses brushed against each others in an affectionate nuzzle. In the romantic shoujo manga's he'd read, this would have been where the guy would lean in and kiss the crying girl and make her believe that he loved her. Their life wasn't a dramatized, romance manga, though. He'd read a few popular BL mangas, but as soon as he discovered a sex scene, he shut them almost immediately.

Unlike Kazuya, he was still unsure of his own sexuality. He was attracted to the older boy and liked the slow pacing of their relationship, but he wasn't sure if he could look at another guy on an opposing team and think that he was hot. He was too embarrassed to ask Kazuya any questions pertaining to sexuality or even sex in general, not wanting him to laugh at him and call him an idiot for not having his life in check.

He supposed he could always talk to his mom about it, but he couldn't risk it; Kazuya had once told him that his father would disown him if he found out he was gay and he'd heard all those hurtful, homophobic voice-mails, just imagining asking his own family about it, even though they had said they'd support him no matter who he liked, but what if they were just saying that because they didn't want Kazuya to think they were rude?

"C'mon, let's get to bed, I'm exhausted." While Kazuya was going to have a good night's rest, he wasn't so sure his night was going to be so peaceful with his unnerving thoughts about his sexuality and what would happen if he worked up enough courage to ask his family about it but they didn't except him? Where would he go for the holidays? What would become of his future if he couldn't go home to the countryside and visit without the whole town knowing he was disowned by his family?

He hated how he over thought all the simple matters in his life.

"Ryou-san, I'm back," Kuramochi was greeted with silence from his boyfriend as he entered the room, noting Ryousuke was sitting on his bed, still dressed in his regular attire, rather than one of the t-shirts that swallowed up his tiny frame, looking disgruntled. He definitely wasn't going to be doing any "catching up" with Ryousuke tonight. Whenever the older boy was in one of his moods, sex was out of the question, and Kuramochi wasn't one to push him into it.

"What's gotten you all agitated?" He sighed, settling down next to Ryousuke. He tried to wrap an arm around his waist to pull him in closer, though, he was rejected almost instantly when the ex-second-baseman recoiled. "If you don't tell me, I can't do anything to help..." For the first time in his life, Kuramochi was left with an uncanny feeling in the deep pits of his stomach that there was nothing he could do to help his boyfriend.

Ryousuke's eyes were fully opened, vivid cerise orbs lacking their usual fierceness; slightly puffy and reddened...had he been crying? If so, what about? Did he accidentally upset him somehow? "Ryou-san, please, tell me..." The worry was eating him alive; he had never wanted to see this side of Ryousuke ever again; the first time was losing to Inashiro, then waking up the morning after and getting a slap in the face from reality as they saw Inashiro on the news and in the paper.

"Haruichi and I got into a little spat over what he's allowed to do in his relationship," Ryousuke explained, expecting Kuramochi to back him up on his opinion, though, the shortstop had a different view.

"I'm not saying you're wrong for being upset, Ryou-san, or maybe I'm just being biased because I love you, but...Haruichi is old enough to decide for himself what he wants to do with Furuya; it's his relationship and I do think you should be more supportive of them." He knew it wasn't fair of him to say such things - he was Ryousuke's boyfriend, not his father - but he needed the other to hear it. He doubted their parents knew anything about what Haruichi and Furuya were up to when things escalated, and so it was up to Ryousuke to talk to his little brother about it.

"Did you give the same pep-talk to Miyuki earlier, hmm?" Ryousuke wanted him to talk, and so he shouldn't hear him sputter any bullshit excuses about what he'd discussed with the catcher; the boy needed help and not just from two people, unaware of the fact that a certain pitcher had blabbed to his best friends about the same issue, when the team had gone on a week-long trip to the inn. "Miyuki needs help, Ryou-san," The feebleness in his voice made him feel so childish, but he couldn't conjure up the strength to stomach the thought of his best friend mutilating his own skin and - God, he tried to avoid thinking about it - taking his own life.

"I don't know what to do, Ryou-san...I talked to him during our lunch break and...and those scars, God, there were so many of them on his skin..." He could have rambled on about it, but after being gently pulled downwards, head landing on Ryousuke's chest, the sound on his boyfriend's heart beating soothing his paranoid mind.

"Youichi, you're a good friend to Miyuki, and I'm sure he appreciates it. For now, just get some sleep." Ryousuke murmured, fingers combing through his boyfriend's messy, greasy hair, noting Kuramochi probably had missed his chance to take a shower when he was roaming the campus with Kazuya. "Hey, Ryou-san?" Kuramochi must get lonely being in the room all by himself, people coming and going as they pleased, but never staying long enough to keep the loneliness away. "You want me to stay in here with you for awhile? I'm sure that coach won't mind , just as long as you control yourself." If it helped Kuramochi sleep tonight, then so be it, he'd stay with him for as long as he needed.

So now Youichi and Ryou-san know!

It's finally complete...after all these months of procrastinating and trying to write, I finally got it finished before I went back to school. :'D (I'm in college now, hooray!)

To all the people who've reviewed, followed, and added this story to your favorites, you all are the best! Before I go back to school, I'll try to pump out one more chapter. :)