Title: The Second Hypothesis
Author: A. A. Incognito
Warnings: shounen ai
Note: Set several years in the future, but still in the actual PoT universe. Many thanks to Helen for the read-through and Feather Qwill for the beta. :)
Summary: Everything was just fine until she came along. Kaidoh hates her. Inui dates her. Or so Kaidoh believes. (Yes, this is quite firmly InuKai. Have I given you an unhappy ending yet?)
The Second Hypothesis
Kaidoh did not like Inui's girlfriend.
Neither he nor Inui had ever been ones to put a lot of stock in physical appearance, but she wasn't pretty by any stretch of the imagination -- not ugly, either, but... Her hair was boyishly short, and she had no chest to speak of. Kaidoh was certain that she'd be mistaken for a boy if she didn't wear skirts all the time.
She wasn't even all that smart; she and Kaidoh shared the same major and many classes, but she'd been at the university a year longer than him. From what he'd seen, her performance was almost painfully mediocre, and getting her to participate in class -- or even speak more than two words at a time -- was like trying to keep Momoshiro away from free food.
She had never played tennis before in her life.
And she called Inui "Sadaharu."
Kaidoh remembered his first time meeting her with annoying clarity. He and Inui had been on their daily evening jog when she'd called out to Inui -- "Sadaharu" -- and his senpai had stopped, just like that. Then he'd made Kaidoh stop, too, in order to introduce them.
Her name was Yanagawa Keiko, and Kaidoh hated her.
At first she'd been somewhat of a novelty in Inui's life, something he mentioned offhand to Kaidoh from time to time. But then Inui's free time (which previously had been spent with Kaidoh in their room) seemed to have been all claimed by that shy, quiet girl. Inui had come back one day from tutoring her and bemusedly told Kaidoh that Yanagawa had confessed that she liked him. The older boy had never officially called her his "girlfriend," but there wasn't really any other name for it. But, surely the newness had worn off by now -- so why was she still around?
Yanagawa was Inui's girlfriend, and Kaidoh had to be civil to her, because he liked Inui. Thought he was as dumb as a box of rocks sometimes, but no one was perfect.
In his own less-than-smart moments, he'd considered going out and finding a girlfriend for himself in retaliation, as if Inui would really care beyond the initial and inevitable surprise. The thought hurt Kaidoh more than he was willing to admit, but he was quite skilled in denial at this point of his life.
There was a rustle of bedcovers on the other side of the room, and Kaidoh rolled over to face the wall, cursing himself for being such a sentimental idiot. During the day it was much easier not to think about such matters with everything else going on, but at night, with Inui's breathing clearly audible from across the room, there was nothing to hold his thoughts at bay.
"Kaidoh, I can hear you brooding from here."
And then there was the disadvantage of Inui knowing him far too well, especially after they'd been sharing living quarters for almost two years.
"It's nothing," he lied, as usual. There was no other feasible option. He had to tell Inui that it was nothing even though it never was -- he knew it, Inui knew it, but Inui never pressured him.
"Why do you say that when it isn't true? You never lie about anything else."
Maybe he was making an exception tonight.
"It can't be tests, because you don't have one for another three weeks. You don't have any important assignments due for the next two and a half weeks. The tennis team is doing well. Your family is fine, or they were when you spoke to your mother two days ago. What is it?"
Yanagawa Keiko, he wanted to say. But he couldn't.
"I've given you several weeks to tell me now, and the only conclusion I can draw from your reluctance is that it has something to do with me."
He really was stupid sometimes, Kaidoh thought, then wondered if he'd been referring to himself or Inui. It didn't really matter, in the end.
"It's not nothing," he conceded grudgingly, just to get Inui to shut up, "but I can deal with it myself." Like hell he could. Maybe Yanagawa would find out she'd been betrothed at birth to some other man far, far away from the university and she'd have to go marry him. But then Inui would probably be unhappy...
"I'll keep asking you until you tell me," Inui said. "It is statistically impossible for you to hold out forever." There was another rustle of sheets as Inui settled back in, then silence, which was no doubt some sort of tactic to get Kaidoh to talk about what was bothering him.
Kaidoh didn't get much sleep that night.
"You're surprisingly resistant to this method."
On the positive side, Inui's sudden determination to ferret out what was troubling Kaidoh had him spending less and less time with Yanagawa -- but Kaidoh had begun to feel absurdly guilty about it, so he'd called in a favor from one of his teammates and got two tickets to a play at a nearby theater. He had presented them to Inui with instructions to take Yanagawa out, but it had been difficult to convince Inui to go. Though Kaidoh had eventually succeeded, Inui had stayed out with Yanagawa no longer than necessary.
Now he was sitting on his bed, his gaze boring into the back of Kaidoh's head as he sat at his desk and tried to do homework. Kaidoh ignored the urge to either turn around and glare at Inui, or to sink even lower in the chair and hope whatever the older boy was planning would just... go away. Far, far away. Because Kaidoh was not going to admit anything to Inui anytime this century, no matter what happened.
An hour passed thus; Kaidoh trying to concentrate on calculus, Inui watching him steadily. What the hell was so interesting about the back of his head? Kaidoh's pencil lead snapped. Inui made an amused noise behind him, and he could take it no more.
"Was there something you wanted?" he gritted out from between clenched teeth, still not letting himself turn around.
"Does it have something to do with Keiko?"
And now there was a hole in his paper to go along with the gray lead smear that he hadn't bothered to erase.
"Why would you think that, senpai?"
"Would you like an enumerated list?" The sound of pages turning made Kaidoh realize Inui was flipping through one of his notebooks -- he really did have a list. Probably in ascending order of most important evidence to least, derived from who knew what calculations. "One: you are under the impression that I have entered a serious relationship with her. Two --"
"What do you mean, 'under the impression'?" They were dating, or whatever it was they did, there was no way to deny it. He couldn't have been so horribly wrong all this time, right? Right.
"Kaidoh, she did say that she liked me, but liking does not equate a serious relationship, or even serious feelings. There is an 85 chance that she only persists in her attachment to me because I remind her of someone from her hometown that she is unable to see frequently. And while I am fond of her as well, I cannot see myself entering into a significant relationship with her."
"Then why have you been going out with her so much?" The question had left his mouth before he could stop it, and he would have banged his head against the wall if it hadn't involved getting up from the desk. The desk was safe. It wasn't conspiring against him or trying to drive him insane with ambiguous serious-not serious relationships.
"You don't remember me telling you about her uncle's laboratory?"
...Inui might have mentioned something like that, now that he thought about it -- Kaidoh had acquired the unfortunate habit of tuning out his roommate whenever he begun a sentence with "Keiko and I" for the sake of his sanity. His silence must have been answer enough for Inui, who spoke again. "Ah, I see. That explains a significant portion of the list. But I have still been unable to deduce why my association with Keiko agitates you to such an extreme."
Inui wasn't just dumber than a box of rocks, he was dumber than Momoshiro.
"The first conclusion I came to was that you liked Keiko yourself, but judging by your coldness toward her and general avoidance of her presence, that can't possibly be the case. I did draw a second conclusion, but I lack confidence in that hypothesis."
"What is it?" Kaidoh asked dully, gaze fixed on the desk. He didn't think he would ever be able to look Inui in the eye again.
"I... haven't convinced myself it is a viable theory yet, so I don't know if I should share it with you." Was that actually uncertainty in Inui's voice? Kaidoh couldn't remember a time when Inui had doubted his own ability to analyze and understand any given situation. "I'm not entirely positive that I was able to keep my personal feelings from influencing my hypothesis. And if it is true, I don't see how I could have overlooked it for so long."
"What is it?" he asked again, determined to hear the answer.
"Could I not have this conversation with the back of your chair?"
Kaidoh flinched, but forced himself to turn around and face Inui. Facing Inui didn't mean looking at him, however, and the carpet was just as interesting as the desk.
He looked up automatically at the sound of his name and was mentally kicking himself for it when he realized that Inui was blushing. Blushing? No. Maybe he was sick.
"Do you like me?"
This was not happening. This was not happening. He'd fallen asleep at his desk studying or something, because he was not having this conversation with Inui and Inui had not just asked him if he... if he... No. It wasn't happening. His life had been surreal for the past two years; maybe he'd wake up and still be in junior high, still playing tennis with everyone from Seigaku. Finding out he'd been accepted to the same university as Inui after attending separate high schools, the pleasure he'd felt when their odd friendship had picked up like it had never been absent, Inui asking him to live with him -- had any of it happened?
Then there was a hand under his chin, tilting his head up, and he was being kissed, right there at his desk with Inui leaning down. When Inui tried to move back, Kaidoh noticed he had two handfuls of Inui's shirt clenched in his fists and decided to make use of it to pull his senpai back down. He was vaguely aware that Inui was kneeling on the floor in front of his chair, hands braced on Kaidoh's thighs as they kissed. Neither of them was very good at it, but it didn't seem to matter, and stopping was the furthest thing from his mind.
"Well, now I have evidence to support my second conclusion." He could feel Inui smiling as their lips brushed again. "I never thought you would be the jealous type; I'll have to reanalyze my data on you." Of course Inui would be thinking of data at a time like this. Maybe he wasn't dreaming, after all.
"Yes?" Still smiling.
"I... I think your second hypothesis is probably right."
Oh. Oh, it is SOCLOSE to 2,000 words it HURTS.