Disclaimer: The characters portrayed in this fan-made work belong to their respected creators. The writer gets no physical profit or currency from this.
Kaidoh respected Inui-senpai in a lot of ways. He was a brilliant tennis player- a brilliant person, really, both on and off the court. His intelligence was astounding, that much he knew: Kaidoh had often heard teachers speaking reverently of him as their student. His maturity was beyond that of many of the regulars, sans Tezuka. Inui-senpai had a certain charisma about him as well - something that drew people to him, in spite of his… admittedly sadistic tendencies. Kaidoh, being the opposite, couldn't help but admire that. People weren't drawn to him; they were repelled because they found him intimidating to the point of frightfulness.
Not to insinuate, of course, that Inui-senpai wasn't intimidating. Kaidoh had several bad encounters with "misplaced" water bottles to ensure that. But that was a little off-topic.
It was true: Kaidoh admired Inui in all those ways and more, but despite that he couldn't help but wonder:
Where in the world did Inui acquire his taste in bandanas?
When Inui had caught him on his way home with a gift for Kaidoh's birthday he had been more than grateful, thanking him profusely, insisting that he really shouldn't have done so. He could tell by the lumpy texture of the parcel that it was an article of clothing, undoubtedly a bandana. He was thrilled by the fact that his senpai had gotten such a thoughtful gift for him. However, when he'd gotten home and opened it, he found that it was a rather… unique color.
All right, that was being kind.
The bandana was an unimaginably bright, unmistakably blatant, honest-to-goodness, neon light-worthy shade of royal purple that rivaled the most gaudy of clothing. And that was including Mizuki's from St. Rudolph's, which was definitely saying something. This was the kind of color that made your eyes hurt if you just looked at it for too long, the kind of color that if you painted your walls with it you'd go blind in a week.
Being ever the optimist, Kaidoh's first thought upon opening the gift was "At least it wasn't pink." But… purple? He knew his senpai's tastes were a little bit eccentric, that was true, but it was more suited for that diva of Hyotei than for him.
Still, it was a gift from a senpai, and a gift from Inui-senpai on top of that. That alone was enough to make him accept the bandana with the utmost gratitude and sincerity. He was grateful; truly he was, as he knew that his senpai had taken the time to pick it out for him specially.
So now he was left with the dilemma of what to DO with the thing.
Kaidoh lay on his bed, staring at the ceiling. The recollection of the memory and the situation at hand was leaving him strangely drained. He was never this tired even after he would go running. Kaidoh sighed. He had two options at this point. He could wear the bandana, or he could not wear the bandana. It was as simple as that. In spite of this, neither one of those prospects were very appealing at all.
If he wore the bandana, it would make his senpai happy. That was a definite plus and almost enough to stop him from considering anything else all together. However, if he wore the bandana, he might get the off-hand remark from certain members of the tennis team. No big deal.
Translation: The dunk smash idiot (and Kikumaru-senpai when he got bored) would never let him hear the end of it. Ever.
He wasn't really worried about wearing it during school hours, considering that it was against the dress code. Sadly, it had to be said: he didn't have that many friends to worry about being made fun of in the first place.
If he didn't wear the bandana, his senpai's feelings might get hurt. Once again, that was enough to make him want to just swallow his pride and wear the stupid thing. If he didn't wear it, his senpai would probably ask him about it-politely, of course, as typical of the data player -which would undoubtedly be awkward. Kaidoh would be forced to lie and say something like a dog ate it or he simply lost it. That would involve lying to Inui-senpai, which was not happening under any circumstances. Lying to a senpai was wrong, but lying to Inui-senpai was absolutely unacceptable.
But if he didn't wear it, he would also be spared of Momoshiro's incessant remarks and that stupid laugh he got when he thought something was just so ridiculously funny. That laughter usually surfaced when it was related to making Kaidoh feel embarrassed or idiotic. Suffice to say it usually didn't work, but if he would avoid it he could. Kaidoh was a bit disgusted with himself. Since when was he so worried what people thought of him? He was Kaidoh Kaoru, not some air-headed fashion-obsessed drone. Kaidoh Kaoru did not concern himself with such things. He tried to tell himself that appearances didn't matter, and that it wasn't really important, but it was getting harder and harder to do the more he dwelled on it.
Kaidoh held the bandana in his hand, clutching it with his fist. "At least it's soft," he thought to himself, rubbing the material between his thumb and forefinger. There was no doubt in his mind that the gift was special to him, and it always would be, but… why did it have to be, of all things, the gaudiest shade of purple on the planet? He could deal with dark purple, or maybe even lavender, but this was ridiculous. It was nearly the same shade as the nail polish he gave to his mother for Mother's Day when he was ten, for crying out loud!
It went without saying that back then, Kaidoh didn't know much about nail polish. Not that he knew much more about it now.
The tennis player sighed, holding the bandana to his chest. He supposed he only had one option. He'd deal with what happened tomorrow, and it would probably be unpleasant, but he was sticking with the decision. His eyes fluttered shut, turning to his side. He was going to wear the bandana, and that was the end of it. Without another thought, he drifted to sleep.
Kaidoh went through his schedule regularly, the constant reminder of the bandana in the back of his mind during each of his classes. Said bandana was currently in his sports bag in one of the smaller pockets, folded up neatly for practice in the afternoon. He constantly thought about it during the day. He knew it didn't really matter, he knew it was trivial, and tried his best to keep it in mind all day. It was a good thing that his resolve and discipline to his morals were about as rock-hard as Momoshiro's head. Otherwise, he would have backed out of it and thrown the thing out of the window a while ago.
After the bells rang to signal the end of classes, Kaidoh packed his books and picked up his sports bag from his locker, placing it over his shoulder. He eyed the pocket where he kept his bandana warily. He took a deep breath, letting out a hiss, heading off to the tennis court's lockers.
Kaidoh stepped into the locker room, uplifted to find that nobody was there yet. Not to say, of course, he had arrived early on purpose or something like that. It had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that it was more likely for him to be bothered in the locker room than anywhere else. That would just be ridiculous. Without further thought on the manner, he quickly stripped himself of his school attire and donned his regular's uniform. Since it was getting warmer out, he had decided not to wear his regular's jacket and settled with just the polo. He pulled a sweatband out of his pocket, tugging it onto his wrist.
Last but not least, his classic head adornment that had become his signature: the bandana. Kaidoh unzipped the pocket of his bag where he had kept it, and hesitated but a second before quickly tied it around his head. He strode swiftly to the doorway of the locker room, thinking he was in the clear. Which he would have been, except in his haste bumped rather hard into somebody in haste and landed on his rear.
"Sorry," Kaidoh began, "I wasn't-"
"Watch where you're going, Mamushi!"
Kaidoh looked up and groaned inwardly. Of course it had to be him.
"It's because you came barging in," Kaidoh growled, stepping to his feet. He wiped a bit of dust off his shorts, staring Momoshiro straight in the eye.
"You were the one who-" Momoshiro stopped suddenly, and to Kaidoh's horror, seemed to notice the… new addition to his wardrobe.
"What the hell is on your head, Mamushi?" He laughed, pointing at it unabashedly.
Kaidoh would not be embarrassed, would not be embarrassed, would not be embarrassed... "It's a bandana. Are you too stupid to tell?"
At this point Momoshiro was practically choking with laughter. Kaidoh hoped this would get him to shut up, but that wasn't happening any time soon. "What did you do, Mamushi, raid your mother's closet? It looks like you tore a corner off of a dress and put it on your head!" Kaidoh thought at this point he would be satisfied and let him on his way like he always did, but he supposed this was too good for Momoshiro to pass up. "Bet'cha hand-picked it yourself, eh, Mamushi? Is it a favorite you only wear on special occasions?"
All right, now Kaidoh was beginning to get ticked off. Not only was Momoshiro trying to humiliate him, (he would die before he said it was working, but it was starting to) he was also indirectly making fun of Inui-senpai. Whether he knew that or not was, at the moment, completely irrelevant.
"It was a gift, you buffoon," he hissed, grabbing the front of Momoshiro's shirt. "And it is my favorite one. You got a problem with that?"
Momoshiro's eyes widened a fraction, before letting out a dismissive "Tsk!" No doubt this would have been much more condescending if his shirt wasn't currently firmly clutched in Kaidoh's fist. "Whatever, Mamushi," he scoffed with a grimace. "Now let me go."
Kaidoh released his grip, thinking he'd gotten his point across sufficiently. He privately smirked to himself, knowing that he'd definitely won the argument "Fine." Without another word, Kaidoh stepped out of the locker room, making sure to bump into Momoshiro's shoulder hard as he passed. Like hell he was taking talk like that lying down.
All of the other regular's reactions to the bandana were expected. Oishi-senpai, Fuji-senpai, and Taka-senpai were too good-natured to say anything about it. Although, he had to admit, Fuji-senpai had given him a conspicuously odd smile. Then again, that was how he always looked. Echizen had eyed him oddly for a moment before pulling his cap down slightly over his eyes. He thought he saw heard Kikumaru-senapi giggling behind his back on several occasions, but that didn't really bother him. Kaidoh knew for a fact that Tezuka-buchou didn't think twice about it because, frankly, he was Tezuka. Something like that wasn't of his concern because it had nothing to do with tennis. As for Inui-senpai, Kaidoh had been too busy during practice to speak to him directly.
Kaidoh slung his bag over his shoulder, stretching. Practice had been getting tougher lately, but he didn't mind. He'd just have to adjust his training schedule accordingly. With a yawn, he started heading home when he heard a voice behind him.
He turned to find a familiar figure leaning against the wall of the clubroom. Had he been waiting for him? Kaidoh's cheeks dusted pink, though he blamed it on the weather.
"Hello, Inui-senpai," he greeted, wary of meeting his eyes.
Kaidoh shifted his weight from one foot to the other. "Did you need me for something?" he asked, the timidity in his voice sounding strangely foreign.
Inui shook his head. "I thought we could walk home together," he responded.
Kaidoh paused a moment. "All right."
The two fell into step beside each other, indulging in a comfortable silence. Kaidoh glanced up at his senpai. The lighting of the setting sun allowed him to see past the glare of his glasses to his eyes. It had been one of the few occasions that Kaidoh found them visible behind the thick frames. They were a stark green, sharp and intense. They suited his senpai perfectly. It kind of reminded him of Inui-senpai's Penal Tea, though perhaps that was too negative of a comparison to associate with his senpai's eyes. Kaidoh blushed, realizing he was staring, and quickly looked away.
"Was Momoshiro giving you trouble before?" Inui asked suddenly.
Kaidoh blinked. How had he known?
As if reading his mind, Inui grinned. "It's rather hard not to hear the two of you once you start fighting," he explained, his tone a little bit playful. "I could hear the both of you from the other side of the tennis court."
"I see," Kaidoh murmured, slightly humbled by the remark. He didn't know that it was so easy to hear them from a distance. It was the Dunk Smash idiot's entire fault. He was always loud-
"Kaidoh," Inui said, interrupting his kouhai's train of thought, "he was giving you a hard time about the bandana, correct?"
What was he supposed to say to that? His senpai had obviously heard him so there was nothing he could do about it, but still. He didn't want Inui-senpai to be embarrassed because of something so stupid.
"Yes," Kaidoh admitted before adding hastily, "It's not like I cared, he was just being-"
"Kaidoh, it's okay," he interrupted, preventing Kaidoh from rambling any further. "It's rather embarrassing, but I have to admit something to you. I gave you the wrong gift."
Kaidoh started at his senpai, his mouth slightly agape. What?
"You see, my mother makes a sort of hobby out of crafts and such. She needed some material for one of her latest projects, and couldn't find anything just right. The bandana happened to be perfect in both dimensions and color. So I wrapped it up, thinking that I could give it to her as a surprise. She likes little gifts like that on ordinary occasions."
The second-year blinked. "That's very kind of you, Inui-senpai."
Inui laughed a little. "Well, unfortunately, I used the same wrapping paper for your gift as I did for hers. They must have gotten switched in my haste. I'm sorry."
Kaidoh shook his head. "That's all right," he insisted. Well, at least he knew his senpai wasn't completely off base with his tastes.
"However, now I can give you your proper gift now, if you'd like," Inui prompted.
Kaidoh considered his senpai a moment and nodded. In a swift movement, he untied the purple bandana, folded it and handed it to his senpai. Inui pocketed the cloth, smirking at his kouhai. "What?" Kaidoh asked, wary of his expression.
"Can I ask why you wore the bandana, Kaidoh? I don't believe that the color is exactly your… style, to say the least." Was that mirth in his voice? Kaidoh had the vague sensation he was being made fun of, but somehow didn't mind.
Kaidoh averted his eyes, heat rising once again to his cheeks. Why was it getting warmer as the sun went down? This was ridiculous. "Because it was a gift from you," he said shortly, preventing any further discussion on the matter.
Inui chuckled. "I see." The data player reached into the pocket of his sports bag; taking out a second parcel identical to the one he had given Kaidoh yesterday. He handed it to Kaidoh, smiling rather warmly. "Here. Open it."
The junior accepted the gift, opening it carefully for fear of seeming too eager. He knew what the gift was, but still, he was curious as to what it looked like this time. He was pleased to find that it was a perfectly normal bandana- blue, his favorite color. He smiled a little. He was about to speak when something caught his attention. One of the corners of the bandana there was a small shape sewn on it. At first glance, it could barely be seen.
He realized with a jolt that it was unmistakably a tiny heart. As small as it was, it would probably be invisible when Kaidoh wore it but the fact that it was there in the first place…
Even Kaidoh had a good idea of what it meant.
Inui's voice was quiet, though his expression didn't betray what he was feeling. "I hope I wasn't too…" he paused, looking for the right word, "…presumptuous in adding such a design for you, Kaidoh."
Kaidoh's cheeks were a deep rose red, looking very intently at the ground. Without a word, he tied the bandana around his head, shyly meeting Inui's stare.
"Thank you very much, Inui-senpai."
Inui placed his hand on Kaidoh's shoulder a moment, allowing it to linger a moment more than absolutely necessary. He smiled, the effect even more stunning with his eyes still visible. "You're welcome."
Author's note: What can I say? I'm a total sucker for Inui/Kaidoh. This was just a little blurb that popped into my head when I was looking at bandanas at some accessory shop. I saw a bandana like the one described here: the brightest shade of purple you've ever seen. It was pretty funny, but I'm glad because I got the idea for this story. Please review! Thank you very much for reading.