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FIC: Kaidoh Infinity
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prillalar wrote in inukai_exchange
Title: Kaidoh Infinity
Author: venivincere
Recipient: Everyone!
Rating: PG
Word Count:2,604
Summary: Three Things Inui Sadaharu Wants To Do with Kaidoh Kaoru (and One He Actually Does)



1. I want to room with Kaidoh

When he gets the text from Tezuka telling him about the practice matches in Osaka, his first thought is, "I want to room with Kaidoh."

Inui overhears Ryuuzaki-sensei talking to Osamu-sensei about accommodations before getting on the train but he's too far away to hear much. He thinks they'll stay in dormitories, because where else would Osamu-sensei be able to get rooms for free but at the school?

::------::

The list is titled "Things I Want To Do with Kaidoh". He writes it in green marker on the first page of Kaidoh ∞, the secret notebook he starts when he realizes he'd like to kiss Kaidoh just as much as he'd like to play a set with him. He thinks the list should have an appropriate number of items on it. Three, or maybe five, or ten. A proper list's worth.

Actually, there are 41 things off the top of his head that he can think of that he wants to do with Kaidoh, but a lot of them are similar in nature. Like items 12 and 23: take Kaidoh to Inui's favorite ramen stand, and take Kaidoh to Inui's favorite yakitori restaurant. Also, things like items 14, 33 and 38: go running with Kaidoh, play a set with Kaidoh, train in the river with Kaidoh. Things he does almost every day with Kaidoh, anyway. Since most days he's already doing the things with Kaidoh that he wants to be doing, Inui takes this as proof that most of his time with Kaidoh is special. So he works on narrowing down the list to things that are different from the every day, and sufficiently different from each other (for an arbitrary value of sufficient).

Inui's revelation about Kaidoh happens in the hospital during Nationals, when he's swathed to the teeth in bandages and feeling physically shredded. He's known for awhile that Kaidoh is special to him, but he hasn't dared think of him as more than a favorite kouhai; Kaidoh, before this, hasn't ever given him a reason to think otherwise. But this is Nationals, and Kaidoh is here with him when he wakes up in the hospital room, instead of watching what could be the most important games of his middle school tennis career. Kaidoh, who is so dedicated to his game and to the team, is here with Inui, instead of observing and supporting Seigaku. So Inui dares to let his feelings run wild, and they rush all over his body, and it's a good thing the bandages are plain cotton because otherwise they might melt. Aside from family, Kaidoh's the first person Inui has ever imagined he could love forever.

It's a combination of three things, thinks Inui, that make him feel like he's surviving on ecstasy: winning Nationals, falling in love with Kaidoh, and pain medication. This proves to be wrong when, three days after the Nationals win, he stops taking pain meds and he's still floating an inch or two above the ground and not tasting anything he eats. When he gets the text from Tezuka, he starts Kaidoh ∞ and his list. He wonders how long this euphoria will last and if he'll still feel the same when it fades.

::------::

He sits next to Kaidoh on the train, which ends up being super irritating because Momo's on the other side of Kaidoh and, naturally, their arguing raises the decibel level in the carriage 127%. It might have been less of a problem in a different train, but Seigaku have the carriage to themselves and they are at the zenith of their exuberance. Nevertheless, Inui has faith Kaidoh will grow out of letting himself be baited by Momoshiro before next season (because otherwise the team will be doomed), but right now waiting it out is giving him a headache that Inui Analgesic Remix #9 is not taking care of. He throws himself into his statistics and tries hard to ignore it.

Several hours later he's not so sure Kaidoh and Momo will ever grow out of it.

"Where's the giant Buddha? Where's the deer?" yells Momo. "Where's Koushien?"

Kaidoh gives Momoshiro a look that would curdle milk while Kawamura answers, "Momo, Koushien is in Nishinomiya."

"Why don't you study a little geography, dumbass?" says Kaidoh.

"What! Don't tell me you know anything about it!"

"Don't act like we're the same," says Kaidoh, and it's clear to Inui he's baiting Momo all over again.

Inui snaps. He frowns, and says, "Well, then, Kaidoh. In what region can you find Nishinomiya, where Koushien is?"

Kaidoh turns bright red and Inui can tell first, that he doesn't know the answer to Inui's question, and second, that he's angry, confused and a little hurt that Inui would call him out like that. Inui's a little shocked at himself, too; usually he thinks before he says anything, measures the angles, estimates the potential responses, analyses things first. Kaidoh's the only person he knows that can get him to just react, kneejerk, without thinking. He's mortified but at the same time he hopes it puts paid to the arguing for a little while. His head hurts and he's Kaidoh's senpai, after all. Kaidoh will probably forgive him, or at least, let it slide.

He's all set to let the issue drop, when Kaidoh says, "In the atmospheric region."

Inui flushes down to his toes with this overwhelming feeling of kawaiiiiii!!!11!!leventyone!!11!1!!! and by the time the heat dissipates he realizes he's already forgiven Kaidoh.

Tezuka hasn't, however, Inui surmises from the lingering eyebrow Tezuka gives him on the way to their accommodations. He wonders what's on Tezuka's mind and his head throbs harder. Practicing with Shitenhouji brings the ache up to a dull roar. Pollen hangs in the humid air. Inui sneezes a lot and is thankful he took pocket tissue from the freeter handing it out in the subway station.

His head throbs fit to burst later that night when they walk into a falling-down minshuku ("This minshuku is owned by Osamu-sensei's big brother, so behave!" says Ryuuzaki- sensei). The team is in one big room and Ryuuzaki-sensei is next door in a closet-sized space. The walls are paper-thin. The tatami mats smell slightly mildewed and the room's one tiny air conditioner ticks and wheezes and completely fails to take the humidity away. Kaidoh grabs a futon and squeezes in between Fuji and the wall. Inui's left on the other side next to Tezuka. He sighs.

The first thing Inui does when he gets his futon laid out is take out his penlight, open Kaidoh ∞, and put a line through 1. I want to room with Kaidoh. He hides the book back in his pack and stashes the penlight. With any luck and an antihistamine he'll get some rest tonight, and some time alone with Kaidoh tomorrow. He only recites to about the thirtieth digit of pi before he drifts off.


2. I want to take Kaidoh on a date.

They're supposed to have a little free time today. It's the perfect opportunity for Inui and Kaidoh to hang out together. Not so much a date, but… well, yeah. A date. Before he gets up, he unstashes Kaidoh ∞ and jots down in neat Kanji: 2. I want to take Kaidoh on a date. He hides the notebook in his pack and folds up his futon.

A couple days later they're supposed to have a practice with Shitenhouji in the morning, and the afternoon free. Inui sees his chance to collar Kaidoh and take him to Osaka Castle, maybe offer some good senpai advice about how to handle Momo and the team for best results. But practice ends up a disaster, and Tezuka calls it off. Inui's all set to follow Kaidoh and offer damage control, but Tezuka stops him.

"They need to work this out on their own," he says, "no interference."

Inui sighs. There's no way he can walk off with Kaidoh now, even for a date without any good senpai advice.

He decides to go shopping in the company of his own thoughts and looks for a camera to replace the one that had a mysterious encounter with Fuji. It still works fine except that every person he takes a picture of has a haze around them, even after cleaning the lens. Inui has decided to puzzle it out at a later date when he has time to tinker around with the camera and read a book on auras. Besides, he can't get Kaidoh out of his mind, and he's anxious enough to want to ignore Tezuka and seek Kaidoh out, anyway. Not to offer any advice, or anything. Just to have a little time alone with him.

He's passing by Shitennouji temple on his way back to the minshuku when Kikumaru slinks by with his head down and turns toward the temple gate.

Odd.

Inui follows him at a bit of a distance and watches him sit down under a tree in the garden. Kikumaru's got his legs pulled up to his chest, with his arms around them. His forehead is on his knees and his shoulders are shaking.

It's not unheard of, a member of the team crying. It's not common, though, and Kikumaru's about 25% more buoyant than anyone else Inui's acquainted with, so he figures it's something pretty serious. Which means it's likely about Oishi. Which means in the time it took him to wander downtown and look at the shops, Oishi must have died. Or maybe it's Kikumaru's mom, or something. Inui thrives on having a measurable degree of certainty about most things, and not knowing something as momentous as this is vastly unsatisfying, so he sits down next to Kikumaru, hands him a clean handkerchief and waits for the sobbing to subside.

He has no idea what to say or do beyond that. He wants to ask what happened, he wants to offer advice, he wants to put his arm around Kikumaru and assure him everything will be OK, but he's not a girl and he's socially a little awkward anyway, and by the time he thinks to ask a simple "are you OK?" Kikumaru has already started talking.

"He's not coming to Seigaku High," he says, between sobs. "He wants to be a doctor. He wants to try and get into Tokyo university someday so he's going to T high school. It's elite." Fresh tears spill down Kikumaru's cheeks and he takes in a hitching breath. "I won't get into that high school."

Ah. Kikumaru's got pretty good grades, certainly good enough to stay on the team. He's bright, but he's not a scholar like Oishi.

Kikumaru turns to Inui with the tears streaming down his face and asks, "How am I going to get along without him?"

It's not just a rhetorical question and Inui's frozen – he has no idea what to say. He doesn't know what to do with this level of grief. Inui knows Kikumaru and Oishi are close, but he's upset like Oishi really did die.

And then it clicks. Kikumaru's just as in love with Oishi as Inui is with Kaidoh; probably much more, really, because they've been together so much longer. Inui thinks about all the time he's spent with Kaidoh over the last year and wonders how he would feel not being able to see him every day. He gets a lump in his throat and he swallows around it, again and again, waiting for it to dissolve.

A short time later, Inui says, "It doesn't mean you won't ever see him again." It's probably true, even. T High School is only about 20 minutes away from Seigaku by train and 35 by bus, so theoretically they could meet outside of school. Somewhere. And Oishi isn't moving. They'll still have their weekends.

"But it won't be every day."

They sit there until Inui's handkerchief is a mangled mess in the palm of Kikumaru's hand. When they part company a short while later, Inui goes back to the minshuku, takes out Kaidoh ∞ and writes:

3. I want to keep Kaidoh by my side.

This isn't going to happen overnight, and it won't happen at all if Inui doesn't apologize to Kaidoh and tell him how he feels. So he also writes down:

4. I want to kiss Kaidoh.

Apologies are in order first, however, and as luck would have it, his first opportunity is on the train ride home. Once again, Seigaku have the carriage to themselves. As he waits in the aisle for Kawamura to heave a couple bags onto the rack above, he turns around to Kaidoh behind him and asks, "Will you please sit with me?" Inui's got good data on this. When presented with a direct request from Inui, Kaidoh is likely to comply about 97.5% of the time.

"Uh… sure, senpai."

He doesn't look Inui in the eye when he says it. Inui intends to fix that at the first opportunity, which comes to them more quickly than he imagined it would; Seigaku are tired from all the practice in the hot sun. Very quickly the motion of the train, and the comfort of the air conditioning and the soft, high-back seats has lulled them to sleep.

All except for Kaidoh, who grips the arm of his seat and looks out the window, up the carriage, anywhere but at Inui, whose turning in his seat to face him.

"Kaidoh, I'm sorry," says Inui. "I was wrong to snap at you."

Kaidoh's got his eyes firmly planted in his lap and his cheeks are pink. His left thumb is kneading the palm of his right hand.

"It was wrong of me—"

"It's OK, senpai."

Inui can barely hear him over the clack and whirr of the train. He leans closer, and says "It's not OK, Kaidoh. It's not—" he draws Kaidoh's right hand into his own and kneads the palm himself. Kaidoh took a lot of heavy shots from Shitenhouji during practice that afternoon. He probably aches all the way up to his shoulder. He moves up to Kaidoh's shoulder and starts a therapeutic rub he's used on Kaidoh before, after practicing Hadoukyou returns. Inui can tell it's working when Kaidoh loses the vertical tension line between his eyebrows.

"I like you, Kaidoh," says Inui. He leans in close and rubs with both hands, thumbs digging into Kaidoh's shoulder and his fingers in the soft heat of Kaidoh's armpit.

"I… like you, too, senpai," says Kaidoh. He's still not looking at Inui and his cheeks have gone past pink into red.

"I mean, I value… I need… I want to build you up. And I ended up tearing you down."

"Senpai. It's OK." Kaidoh brings his hand up to Inui's and holds it to his shoulder. "You believe in me."

Kaidoh does look up this time, and Inui's mouth is very close to Kaidoh's when he says, "You make me believe in myself."

They meet in the middle in a brief, dry press of lips once, twice, just long enough for Inui to memorize the chapped surface and surprising softness of them, and then Momo snorts and changes position in the seat in front of them and they jump away from each other. It's a matter of moments before Kaidoh slips into sleep, his head heavy on Inui's shoulder., Inui replays the sense memory of Kaidoh's lips and tries to drown himself in it. It isn't enough.

He takes out Kaidoh ∞ and writes:

5. I want to kiss Kaidoh again.


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Awww, this was so sweet. I love how Inui took notes on what he wanted to do with Kaidoh.

5. I want to kiss Kaidoh again.

Hee!

Thanks! Glad you liked it.

Oh, I really like how this turned out! I love their nervous sweetness on the train, espeically. :)

:-D Can we add an Author Note -- thanks to Hal for the best beta? :-)

I really like the way you did Inui's thought process, it's data-y yet boyishly simple ("I want to kiss Kaidou.") Though, didn't he do two things? room with Kaidou and kiss him?

and the Golden Pair part killed me *tears* Eiji took Oishi's news so well out there with the deer that you have to figure he'd have some kind of breakdown later when he didn't have to be strong and supportive of Oishi :(

I think Inui wanted to room with Kaidoh just the two of them, like in a dorm room. Instead, he was all the way on the other side of a room packed with people. :-D

Thanks so much! I can't help but think Eiji must have been a wreck inside, that whole trip.

Oh, this is precious. I love how you hit just the right balance with Inui, both sweet and serious, because he really is both. And you made me remember how much I like Kikumaru, too! The idea of him crying and anyone looking at him thinking, OMG, Oishi must have died! had me laughing because it's just so true! And of course I just wanted to pet him. Anyway, marvelous fic!

I really do think Inui can jump to insane conclusions sometimes. F'rinstance, he persists in thinking Inui Juice is healthy. So of course, Oishi must have died. :-D Thank you so much for your kind words!

But this is Nationals, and Kaidoh is here with him when he wakes up in the hospital room, instead of watching what could be the most important games of his middle school tennis career.

that is such a good point! I was so flummoxed by INUI IN HEAD TO TOE BANDAGES that I never fully assimilated the massive InuKai inherent in that scene before!

Inui is completely adorable in this; high on love, fed up with Momo & Kaidoh's fighting (who wouldn't be), trying to comfort Kikumaru (poor Eiji!!!). I really enjoyed it!

Thank you so much! Yeah, that scene in the manga... I really was thinking something must be going on between them because if it were me, there's no way I'd miss those matches otherwise!

This was soooo cute, ah! I loved it.

Kaidoh's the first person Inui has ever imagined he could love forever.

I gave a big ol' "Awwwww" at that line. Also loved the bit with Eiji (even though it had my heart breaking!), and the end was utterly perfect. ♥

He's still pretty innocent and can think like that. :-D Eiji broke my heart, too. It was like I could see inside his brain when Oishi told him. Oh, ouch. Thanks for reading and commenting! :-D

This was absolutely gorgeous. The flow is so smooth, and it hasn't a touch of unnecessary melodrama. It all fits together perfectly. Putting to memories!

Oh, you've made my week with your lovely comment! :-D I have other PoT fics here, if you're interested: http://archive.skyehawke.com/authors.php?no=115 Thanks so much!

I had a lump in my throat from Aside from family, Kaidoh's the first person Inui has ever imagined he could love forever onwards and Eiji just about broke my heart :( This was so lovely, and Inui's voice was perfect - only the thirtieth digit of pi :D

I don't read the manga - did these things you mention - Eiji etc - happen in the new chapters?

Oooh! Oh oh oh! You have to see the Prince of Naniwa OVAs -- it's a series of two 1/2 hr eps. They go to Shitenhouji for a few days to practice after Nationals. It's a lot of crack, but it is there that Oishi reveals to Eiji that he's going to a different high school. Eiji took it well, but you could see in his eyes that he was really sad. But he put his best face on it for Oishi. Defnintely see them -- they're worth it! :-)

OMG, and I'm so rude -- thank you so much for your kind words! :-)

Not at all! Thank you for pointing me in the right direction - I sort of gave up around OVA 16/17, but now I have a reason to go on.

I loved, LOVED!! the reference to the infirmary scene at Nationals and how you used it to justify Inui's realizing he's in love with Kaidoh. Also, the cocktail of things that kept Inui high until there was just one left.

The scene with Kikumaru crying was beautiful, unexpected and simply awesome. I liked it best of all, even better than the InuKai itself. But I also liked Inui's list and wishes, and having to sleep next to Tezuka in the end. :D

I would have liked to know why that morning practice with Shitenhouji was a disaster, so much as to be called off by Tezuka!

"Nevertheless, Inui has faith Kaidoh will grow out of letting himself be baited by Momoshiro before next season (because otherwise the team will be doomed)"

So true! Let's hope they know how to keep their arguments private as captain and vice-captain. ;D


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