Note: Written on the airplane coming home from CA, in an attempt to ignore the ear pressure that was attempting to kill me.
It started when Kaidoh became aware of the strange sensation that struck him every time he looked at Inui. When he caught a glimpse of Inui between classes, when they ate lunch and Inui smiled at him, when they were playing doubles and Inui turned to tell him their strategy, or when he spotted Inui standing by the fence to watch Kaidoh’s ranking match, it was always the same. It was like a jolt of electricity went through him every time, but it wasn’t a bad kind of jolt. It was like biting into something he didn’t know that he’d like and finding out that it was one of the best things he’d ever tasted.
Unaccountably, he found himself trying to feel that jolt more often. He lurked near the doorway of Inui’s classrooms, he purposely went running by Inui’s house, he tried to sit as close to Inui as possible during lunch, and he asked for Inui’s help with homework even if he didn’t need it. He wasn’t quite sure why he was doing these things, but at the time when he did them, it seemed to make sense. Everyone liked to feel good, at least as far as Kaidoh knew. Kaidoh felt good whenever he was close to Inui.
But then the more he felt that jolt, the more he wanted to feel it. When he finally started following Inui around school, he realized that he definitely had a problem. First of all, Inui was bound to realize, sooner or later, that Kaidoh was practically stalking him. Maybe he already had; Inui was terribly good at realizing things. Secondly, if Inui didn’t realize, someone else was bound to. Kaidoh suspected that Fuji had figured it out, because Fuji had started looking at him whenever he was looking at Inui.
Thirdly, of course, Kaidoh himself thought that it was a little weird. Sure, Inui helped him with difficult math problems, and they were doubles partners sometimes, and Inui did play tennis well and Kaidoh admired that, and Kaidoh did think that Inui was very nice most of the time, except when he made the regulars drink Inui Juice. But Kawamura and Oishi were nice, too, and Kaidoh didn’t feel that jolt when he looked at them. Kaidoh admired Tezuka’s tennis, but that feeling still wasn’t there. He’d played doubles with Momoshiro, and....well, whatever. The point was, Kaidoh didn’t know what to make of the strange feeling.
So Kaidoh started thinking about what he should do. His first thought was to ask Inui, which was what he almost always did when he couldn’t figure something out, but that idea made his stomach feel as though there were butterflies in it, so he decided to think of something else. Maybe he could ask Fuji, because Fuji seemed to know everything, in a weird way. But then Kaidoh found Fuji smiling at him oddly when Kaidoh turned away from watching Inui play tennis, and Kaidoh was too afraid to ask.
Kikumaru didn’t seem like a very good bet for advice, and anyway anything Kaidoh told him would be relayed to both Fuji and Oishi, at the least. Oishi was almost certain to overreact if Kaidoh told him, and possibly send Kaidoh to the nurse’s office. Tezuka...well, Kaidoh couldn’t trouble the captain with such a stupid thing. That left Kawamura, Momo, and Echizen. It wasn’t very hard to decide which of them to ask.
“Kawamura-senpai?” Kaidoh said, catching Kawamura while he was dressing in the locker room.
“Hm? What, Kaidoh?” Kawamura asked, blinking as he pulled on his shirt.
“I just wanted to ask you something,” Kaidoh said, shifting to his other foot. Now he was nervous about this, too.
“Okay,” Kawamura said with a smile that wasn’t nearly as creepy as Fuji’s.
“Whenever I look at Inui-senpai,” Kaidoh said, picking his words carefully, “I get a strange feeling.”
“Oh? What kind of feeling?” Kawamura asked, then, sympathetically, “Is it because of that juice of his? My stomach always feels strange when I think of it...”
“No,” Kaidoh said, shaking his head. “It’s not that. It’s a good feeling that I get especially when he smiles at me, but at other times, too. I don’t know...” he trailed off, because Kawamura was blushing fiercely.
“Um...Kaidoh,” Kawamura said, laughing nervously, “maybe you should talk to Inui about this, instead. It sounds like that would be a good idea.”
“Oh...” Kaidoh said, dismayed. “Thank you, senpai...maybe I’ll do that.” As he walked out, he thought that Kawamura seemed to know what the feeling meant, but just wouldn’t tell him. He wondered why. Was it a bad thing, that he liked to see Inui?
That night, he went home and checked his email, and found out that he had a message from Inui. The email had links to some sites about cats, and some sites where he could practice his algebra. Kaidoh got that feeling again, and went to sleep thinking of Inui.
Kaidoh slowed down as he passed Inui’s Honors Science classroom, inconspicuously peering in through the window in the door. He couldn’t see anyone besides the teacher, though.
“Visiting Inui, Kaidoh?” Kaidoh jumped and stared wide-eyed at Fuji, who had somehow fallen into step beside him.
“F-Fuji-senpai,” Kaidoh said, trying to stop his heart from thumping so fast.
“I’m sorry for startling you,” Fuji said sweetly, not missing a beat. “Isn’t your next class all the way across the building?”
“Yes,” Kaidoh said guiltily, feeling as though he’d been caught stealing or peeking into the girls’ locker room, not that he’d ever done that. “I was just-”
“I’m sure Inui would love to know that you wanted to see him,” Fuji said, gazing at Kaidoh with an unsettling intensity. “Don’t you think so? You are his favorite kouhai, after all.”
“I am?” Kaidoh asked, startled. “I mean...did he say that?”
Fuji chuckled. “Not in so many words, but everyone knows it’s true...well, we’d better get to class, ne, Kaidoh?” And as quickly as he’d arrived, Fuji disappeared down another hallway, leaving Kaidoh speechless.
Kaidoh wondered if that was true. Was he Inui’s favorite kouhai? Kaidoh hadn’t thought about it before, but he was pretty sure that Inui was his favorite senpai, even though that seemed disrespectful to his other senpai. Kaidoh thought about it all the way back to class until he ran directly into a wall, and then he tried thinking about where he was going instead, but his mind kept on picturing Inui’s smile.
Kaidoh was fairly sure that he was going crazy. He was angry and snapped at everyone who said one thing wrong, he couldn’t concentrate on his schoolwork, and he was avoiding Inui like the plague. The sight of Inui kept sending a shivery jolt through Kaidoh, and dammit, Kaidoh wanted to know why. Kawamura’s nervous laugh and that talk with Fuji hadn’t helped; they’d just made Kaidoh mad because everyone seemed to know what was going on, except him and possibly Inui.
“Kaidoh, are you all right?” Oishi asked worriedly after they finished a practice game. “You didn’t play your best, today. Are you sick?”
Kaidoh hissed, even though Oishi was just trying to be nice. He swished his racket violently through the air. “I’m fine, senpai,” he said, stalking off of the court.
“Kaidoh.” And there, of course, was the root of the problem himself: Inui. Inui held out a water bottle. “Do you need a drink?” Inui’s voice betrayed concern, and Kaidoh knew why. Kaidoh hadn’t played very well at all, way below his usual standards, and Inui knew it even better than Oishi did. “Or perhaps a towel? It’s a warm day, I know...” Inui cut off when Kaidoh glared at him. “Kaidoh, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing!” Kaidoh snapped, and immediately felt bad but couldn’t take it back. “I’m sorry, senpai. I’m fine,” he growled, knowing that he didn’t sound too sorry. Before Inui could say anything else, Kaidoh was stalking away from him, too. Even when Kaidoh was mad, the sound of Inui’s voice made him feel strange.
Kaidoh kept walking until he was around the back of the clubroom. He thought about smashing his racket against the wall, but he stopped himself when he thought of the damage that would cause. Instead he just leaned his forehead on the cool brick wall. Hopefully no one would find him back here, and they’d think he’d gone home. The only person who would possibly think to look for him back here was...
“Kaidoh?” Kaidoh shut his eyes tightly. Maybe if he didn’t answer, Inui would go away. He didn’t really want Inui to go away, though. What he really wanted was...he wasn’t sure what he really wanted.
“Kaidoh, something’s wrong.” It was a statement, not a question, on Inui’s part. Inui’s hand rested gently on Kaidoh’s shoulder, and Kaidoh jerked away from him. “Kaidoh, please tell me what’s wrong.”
Kaidoh still refused to look at Inui, and he heard Inui sigh heavily. “Kaidoh, I won’t leave until you tell me what’s wrong.”
Kaidoh wondered if Inui would say that to all of his kouhai, or if Fuji had been right and Kaidoh really was Inui’s favorite. Kaidoh finally turned around and looked at Inui. “Fine,” he spat. He crossed his arms defiantly. “I’ll stay here forever, senpai.”
“Then I’ll stay here forever too,” Inui said calmly. Now, Kaidoh was almost one hundred percent certain that Inui wouldn’t say that to Echizen or Momoshiro. He started feeling very, very nervous.
Kaidoh was stubborn, so he stood there for ten more minutes. Inui stood there too, watching Kaidoh carefully, almost like a cat would watch a mouse. The problem, though, was that Kaidoh really did want to tell Inui, so after those ten minutes, he uncrossed his arms. He looked down at the grass. “Senpai...”
“It’s because of you,” Kaidoh said vehemently.
Kaidoh could see Inui’s feet take a small step backwards because of the force of Kaidoh’s words. “Kaidoh...”
“Every time I look at you, I...” Kaidoh gestured with his racket, then hissed again. “I feel happy, senpai. I talked to Kawamura-senpai and Fuji-senpai, but they didn’t help!” That was about the extent of the speech that Kaidoh had been prepared to give, so he stopped.
“Really?” Inui asked, and he sounded puzzled. “You feel happy when you look at me, Kaidoh?”
Suddenly Kaidoh realized how ridiculously stupid that sounded, and started to shake his head. Then he thought better of it, because this whole thing was stupid and if he never told Inui about it then he’d just suffer forever. So he looked up and glared some more. “Yes,” he snapped. “Every time!” Then he noticed that at some point, Inui had gotten closer to him. Those butterflies started up again.
Kaidoh was going to step back, but the wall was there. Inui’s hand slid inexplicably under his chin, tilting his face up. Kaidoh wanted to close his eyes again, but he couldn’t.
“I feel happy when I look at you, too,” Inui murmured, and then he leaned in and kissed Kaidoh. That strange feeling exploded all through Kaidoh as Inui’s warm, dry lips pressed against his, but this time the jolt was stronger than ever before.
Inui pulled back very quickly, and Kaidoh stared at him. “Was that all right, Kaidoh?” Inui asked, sounding a little breathless. Kaidoh shook his head mutely. No, because that kiss had stopped way too soon.
“Ah.” Inui adjusted his glasses, something he did mostly when he was thinking or nervous. “Well...” Inui turned as though he was going to go, and Kaidoh felt something else, but this time he recognized it as panic. So, he grabbed Inui by the front of his shirt and hauled him back, not quite sure yet what he was going to do. As their lips contacted again, Kaidoh thought vaguely to himself, Oh...well, this is good...
Inui pressed Kaidoh back against the wall, his hands sliding to Kaidoh’s waist. Kaidoh’s right hand kept clinging to Inui’s shirt, and he wasn’t certain what to do with his left hand, so he left it by his side. Kaidoh closed his eyes this time, letting out a quiet, breathy sound as he felt Inui’s tongue on his bottom lip. He darted his tongue out too, by some kind of instinct probably. It was awkward, for a second, but then Inui’s tongue sort of twirled around his and it felt so good, if a little wet.
Then there was a whirr, a click, and a flash, and they both turned, gasping, to see Fuji, holding up his camera and smiling. “What a sweet kiss, don’t you two think? Wouldn’t a picture be the perfect way to announce the news to the tennis club?” Kaidoh and Inui could only stare after him as he walked away.
Kaidoh was finally happy. He finally knew why he was happy every time he saw Inui. But he never let Inui kiss him in public again.