Kaidoh never sat next to Inui. Benches, bleachers, buses, a meeting in a classroom. Anytime they were in a group, if Inui was seated first, Kaidoh would sit down somewhere else.

Inui didn't have enough data to be statistically accurate, but so far, there seemed to be no particular bias towards any other seatmate. Just against Inui.

That was interesting.

When Inui wasn't already sitting, Kaidoh tended to pick a seat alone, or at the edge, leaving one or more empty places around him. If Inui sat down next to Kaidoh, Kaidoh would tense almost imperceptibly, then relax.

That was more than interesting, it was encouraging.

When Oishi dragged them all on his mountain climbing expedition, most of the boys clustered on the train to play cards. Inui thought about joining in, but people usually got annoyed with him when he played poker. So he went further down the car to find Kaidoh.

It was late and the train wasn't full. Kaidoh was sitting by the window, staring out into the darkness. Inui sat down beside him and Kaidoh looked over.

"Kaidoh," Inui said and he could feel that moment of tension.

"Inui-senpai," Kaidoh said.

If Inui had known about the outing in advance, he would have planned this interaction to maximize the chance of a positive outcome. No matter how much data Inui gathered on Kaidoh, Kaidoh was still tricky to deal with, still unpredictable. So Inui was courting him by inches, slowly and carefully.

Now, he would have to improvise. Inui smiled at Kaidoh, then pulled out a book and started to read. That should let Kaidoh know that Inui wanted to be with him, but without putting too much pressure on him. Kaidoh turned to look outside again. The train rolled along and Inui found the motion soothing, like rocking in a hammock.

After a while, Kaidoh shifted in his seat and Inui glanced over at him. Kaidoh's head was back, his eyes were closed, and he was leaning to the side. Towards Inui.

He's asleep, Inui thought, but when he listened to Kaidoh's breathing, he wasn't so sure. Inui turned the page, but he wasn't reading now. He watched Kaidoh out of the corner of his eye and saw him slide a little closer, head dropping at an angle.

Inui did a quick calculation and decided that there was minimal risk of negative repercussions. He pushed the armrest between them up out of the way. And then he pulled Kaidoh's head down onto his shoulder.

Kaidoh's breathing sped up a little and the muscles in his arm tensed briefly. Inui smiled to himself. Kaidoh was just pretending to sleep. Maybe Inui had been taking things too slowly up to now.

Their arms were pressed together and their knees touched. Inui moved his leg so that their bare calves brushed each other. He rested his cheek on the top of Kaidoh's head. He closed his own eyes to give him some measure of plausible deniability, if anyone else found them like this.

And then they just sat, leaning on each other, breathing quietly.

This was the closest they had ever been, the most intimate. Inui was hyper-aware of every place they were touching. He felt warm, cold, excited, calm, a whole mishmash of things that were hard to separate out and categorize.

If only they were somewhere private, then Inui could put his arms around Kaidoh and kiss him. He could pull the bandana off of Kaidoh's head and touch his hair. He could lie down and press their bodies close together and ... well, maybe it was better that they weren't alone, just yet. Inui still couldn't rush this.

But maybe he could have just a bit more. Inui put his hand down onto the seat and moved it over until he found Kaidoh's hand. Then he ran his pinky finger over Kaidoh's, up and down, in a way that nobody who was sleeping would do.

Kaidoh shivered. Inui could feel it everywhere they touched. Their hands lay together for a minute, then Kaidoh stroked his finger back against Inui's.

Inui couldn't help grinning. He moved his head a little, rubbing the top of Kaidoh's head with his cheek. Then he pushed his hand under Kaidoh's, just slightly, and they sat like that, close and silent, for the rest of the trip.

They climbed the mountain side by side. Kaidoh wouldn't meet Inui's eyes, but he didn't shy away from him either. When the sun rose and morning light spilled over them, Inui wanted to shout, to yell out the feelings inside of him.

When they all got on the train again, Inui sat down by the window, just to see what would happen. He pushed the armrest out of the way and waited. He could hear the other boys talking, as they found seats and settled in. Kawamura came and sat across the aisle from Inui. He curled up in the seat and started to snore almost immediately.

The train began to move and Inui sighed. It looked like the trend hadn't changed just yet. He stretched and took out his book.

"Senpai?" It was Kaidoh. He held out a can to Inui. Grapefruit juice.

"Thank you, Kaidoh," Inui said and smiled at him.

"It's nothing," Kaidoh said and sat down. Next to Inui.

"It's a beautiful morning," Inui said.

"Yes," Kaidoh said.

Inui finished his drink. Maybe now would be a good time to have some conversation with Kaidoh. Just general topics, like movies or music.

"What kind of music do you like, Kaidoh?" Inui said as he set down the can.

There was no answer. Kaidoh was asleep for real this time, his drink slipping from his grasp. Inui rescued the can before it spilt.

Then he sat and looked at Kaidoh, at his closed eyelids and his open mouth and the strands of hair hanging over his forehead. Inui wanted to kiss Kaidoh's cheek. He wanted to take the chain Kaidoh was wearing and put it around his own throat. He wanted to ride the train with Kaidoh forever.

Gently, he moved Kaidoh's head onto his shoulder again. He rested his cheek on Kaidoh's head again. He closed his eyes. They both slept all the way home.