Inui knows very well that typical lovers's presents aren't what Fuji wants. He'd never even considered giving Fuji flowers or chocolates or jewelry, except the one time he'd run across a site listing different species of toxic flowers that grew only on the shores of the Amazon River. Those, unfortunately, had proved impossible to import.
There had been other things, however, that could be imported, or found, or...procured...in some other way. A bottle of French wine from the early 1900s, for instance, one with a particularly fascinating label and rich red color. A pair of stones with the fossil imprint of a fern in them, preserved in more exquisite detail than any he'd ever seen in a museum. A silk robe printed with the imperial Chinese dragon, that on closer examination by anyone with an experienced eye was a genuine antique from at least a thousand years ago.
Someone who has the right data can find anything.
To each of these gifts and more like them, Fuji had reacted in the same way. He'd smiled up at Inui in that way he had of making it seem as though he could look directly into Inui's eyes, despite the difference in their height. "Thank you, Inui," he'd said each time, and nothing more. He'd carried on with what he'd been doing, taking photographs of woodgrain or watering his cacti or sitting on the windowsill looking out at nothing and everything with a faint smile on his face.
So Inui had been forced to become more creative. He'd hacked into Fuji's websites, the ones he'd known about at least, which was well over half by his estimation. He'd placed a message into the source codes of each, encoded in a way that would probably stand up to examination by the intelligence agencies of most different countries. He'd made it so that his tampering wasn't detectable by any normal means.
Fuji had emailed him back about thirty minutes later. The email read:
Why thank you, Inui. But I've known that about Tezuka for years.
Inui hadn't really been surprised.
He’d made Fuji a special variety of Inui Juice, one that would never be sampled by anyone else. That one had been iridescent like a slick of oil on the pavement, and not all of the ingredients had been strictly legal in Japan. Not toxic, of course, because although Inui is reasonably sure that most poisons would have no effect on Fuji, he isn’t quite sure.
Fuji had accepted the pitcher, smiled, and said, “Thank you, Inui.” Then he’d set the pitcher aside. Inui hadn’t even had the pleasure of seeing whether it caused Fuji to pass out or not.
He'd tried kissing Fuji once, instead of giving him a more traditional gift. He'd simply walked into the room and suddenly attacked, as it were. It had been the type of kiss that bent Fuji over backwards, deep and thorough with Inui's hand on Fuji's ass, pressing
their hips roughly together. He'd bitten Fuji's lips and tongue, suckled at them until they'd been ravished and swollen. Then he'd pulled away and given Fuji a heated look over the rims of his glasses, through the green eyes that could make any man or woman melt.
All he'd gotten was that same little smile and that same little "Thank you, Inui." The effect hadn't even been ruined by Fuji's disheveled hair and clothing.
Now he sits up in his room all night, poring over the notebooks and notebooks full of useless information. There is no word on paper that can adequately describe Fuji. Even the physical statistics don't come anywhere near revealing the truth. No measurement or eye color or even a point-by-point analysis of Fuji's smile can do that.
Does Fuji want a pet of some kind? Not a puppy or a kitten from the local animal shelter; that would be more the gift that would be appreciated by Kaidoh, if not necessarily by Kaidoh’s parents. For Fuji, Inui’s mind goes first to crocodiles and foxes, although (or perhaps because) those animals are not generally kept as household pets.
He dismisses that idea. Two predatory animals in one house would not make for a good combination, and he can’t imagine giving Fuji an herbivore. He smiles to himself. Anything that might eat Fuji’s cacti would be unwise.
Inui suddenly has an idea. It’s not based around his data; it’s based around what he knows, which is something entirely different. He doesn’t stop to think about this idea for long. With Fuji, something like this has to be implemented, not considered.
His parents don’t wake up when he opens his bedroom door and goes downstairs, or possibly they do wake, but they don’t stop him or comment the next morning. They know that some things must be followed through to their conclusion, regardless (or because of) the time of day.
Inui takes his bicycle, which he hasn’t ridden in years. Before he’d ever attempted the bike, he’d written up numerous equations about balance and velocity and the effects of wind speed on one’s bicycling performance. He’d been confident in his data, and once he’d finished he’d gone straight out to the driveway to test his hypotheses. He’d promptly fallen off of the bike and skinned both knees. When he’d found that it took practice and the development of instinct to ride a bicycle, he’d given it up in favor of more constructive pursuits.
The thought makes him smile again. Fuji will never expect him to come by bicycle.
His watch reads 4:57 in glowing numerals by the time he reaches Fuji’s house. He would never disturb Tezuka at this time of night, unless, of course, Momoshiro had a date at such a strange hour. Nor would he disturb any of the rest of the team. At this time they would all be asleep, except on the night of a tournament, at which point he is too busy checking and rechecking his data to make social calls anyway.
Fuji is different. He doesn’t play by the rules, and neither do the other members of Fuji’s family, except for Yuuta, who insists on using those rules despite the fact that it goes against everything that comes naturally to a Fuji. In fact, Inui is reasonably certain that if he were to ring the doorbell, Yumiko would greet him at the door as she usually does, with a “Hello, Inui-kun.”
But he is expected to come in through the door.
He knows that there is a ladder in the shed in Fuji’s backyard. Without that knowledge, this plan would be more difficult to implement, though not impossible. The door to the shed creaks ever so slightly when it’s opened, he knows. He’s prepared for that, too. He’s brought a can of oil with him. The hinges open soundlessly after he applies that to them.
The ladder is the perfect height to reach the second floor of the house. Either it’s intended for window washing, or it’s intended for someone to use it to get in through one of the second floor windows. Given what he knows of the Fujis, Inui would say that it’s probably used for both, although the times he’s seen Fuji use it have been for different purposes altogether.
He places the ladder against the side of the house, as silently as he’s able. Unless someone was expecting to be burglarized, there’s no way that it would have woken anyone. Still, when he climbs to the top of it, he finds that Fuji is in the window, waiting for him with that smile on his face. The window is open, and the light breeze ruffles Fuji’s hair.
“Inui,” says Fuji. “How unexpected,” even though it’s clearly not unexpected, unless Fuji regularly sits in his window at five in the morning. Inui can neither believe that nor doubt it.
“Fuji,” says Inui calmly. He hadn’t been sure exactly what he was going to say. Right now, this very moment, it occurs to him what the right thing is; actually, what the only thing is. He smiles. “Thank you.”
Fuji’s smile widens, his expression almost delighted. “You’re very welcome.”
What Fuji wants cannot be explained, but that is the very reason that Inui continues to try.