Disclaimer: I don't own the characters. Konomi Takeshi does. I'm merely playing with them for the moment.
A/N: Ever since the 1st of December, I have been posting one fic/update a day over at my LJ, lumelle. These updates have been in series of five fics sharing a theme.
The first series of five was fics of the first five TeniPuri pairings I ever wrote.
The Ninety-Three Percent
According to several studies, only about 7% of human communication is done through actual words. While the informative value of words is certainly important when the purpose of communication is solely to convey pure facts to another individual, their role is rather insignificant when it comes to maintaining social relationships.
Words do not always even mean what they appear to. Tone of voice, body language, even the slightest changes of intonation may give the other party the message that the words are to be interpreted differently from their dictionary meanings. Besides this, the non-verbal messages can tell about the speaker's intentions, mood, and feelings about their subject and the person they are talking with, along with countless other things of varying importance. In Internet and other such environments where these messages fail to reach the recipient their absence may lead to grievous misunderstandings if substitutes, such as smileys, are not employed.
Inui knew all this in both theory and practice. He knew Momo's and Kaidou's threats to each other rarely, if ever, carried more than slight irritation nowadays. Just as well he knew that Eiji didn't mean anything bad with his teasing, that Echizen wasn't quite the annoying brat he appeared to be, and that Tezuka actually had human emotions most of the time. (Not that the captain was about to show them.)
Lately, though, his studies in the field of non-verbal communication had been concentrating mostly on one person in particular. He'd first started to pay attention to the said person when he had realized that, with this one individual, words rarely reached even the 7%.
Kaidou was indeed a very interesting specimen.
In practice and extra training, during matches, even during the occasional – though rare – evening spent together just killing time, Inui kept watching Kaidou whenever the other boy was nearby. He studied the expressions, sounds, everything. Slowly he came to learn which frown meant anger and which only signalled concentration, which variation of the infamous hiss carried which kind of message, what was the meaning of fixing the knot on the bandana. His mental dictionary of Kaidou-speak grew day by day as he continued his observations, which pleased him greatly.
He never expected others to take notice.
"Inui? Could you help me?" a bright voice asked.
Inui turned towards the other boy. "What is it, Eiji?"
"Well, I asked Kaidou what he does when he's not practising, and he just gave me this weird hiss nyaa." This was followed by a semi-skilled imitation of the said hiss. "Could you help me figure out what he said?"
"It's hard to be sure without hearing it first hand," Inui said. "Did he raise his left eyebrow by any chance?"
Eiji nodded. "Yup! And then there was this odd sigh-like sound in the end. You know, the one where he goes, 'Fshh.'"
Inui nodded. "In that case, I'm 73% sure he meant to say, 'Not to be rude, senpai, but I fail to see how that is any of your business,'" he told the redhead.
"Oh. Well, thanks, Inui!" Eiji grinned. "Fuji was right, then! He said you speak fluent Kaidou-ese, nyaa."
The corner of Inui's mouth twitched. "Hardly," he replied. "I doubt anybody but Kaidou ever could. I'm merely doing my best to learn a word or two."
"You mean, a hiss or two, nya." With a wink and a laugh, Eiji was on his way again. There was a 82% chance he was going to tackle his darling Oishi within the next five minutes.
It wasn't until a moment later that Inui realized the possible implications of Eiji trusting him to act as a Kaidou-Japanese interpreter.
The other regulars, Inui realized, had somehow come to regard him as a Kaidou-expert. Of course nobody said it in as many words, but there were enough hints in the non-verbal 93% of communication for him to draw such a conclusion.
He wasn't exactly sure how to feel about it, however. On one hand, he was pleased that he was assumed to share such a close bond with Kaidou, almost like the few times Eiji had been even more hyper than usually and the others had immediately turned to Oishi for a slowed-down version of the redhead's ten-mile-a-minute speech. On the other hand, it frustrated him that while he felt he was still struggling with the basics of Kaidou, the others expected him to translate every hiss and grunt. He couldn't, not yet. Even on best days he could only reach about 78%.
100% was naturally impossible, but he was determined to reach at least a 85% average.
"You don't seem too good today, Kaidou," Fuji observed. "What's wrong? Has something happened?"
"Let him be," Momo said. "He probably just missed while trying to kick a puppy on his way to school." Despite the words, his tone and body language spoke of slight concern and a great deal of curiosity.
Kaidou hissed, causing Inui to raise an eyebrow. The hiss was significantly angrier than he had expected, even with being accused of hurting something small and cute. Momoshiro had hit a nerve – but why exactly? He was determined to find out.
Letting Kaidou fight with Momoshiro would hardly get him an answer to the question. Therefore, it was in the best interests of his data to distract Kaidou from his aggression towards the other second year. This was accomplished fairly easily by asking Kaidou to warm up with him, although it meant a 86% chance the younger boy would take his aggression out on Inui. Ah, well, he could bear it – perhaps better than most others.
Now that he remembered it, Kaidou had been wet when arriving in the morning. It had rained outside, yet the younger boy hadn't had an umbrella. Inui knew for a fact he owned one, though. It couldn't even be that Kaidou had been training and been surprised by the rain -- it had rained all night and he had called the other boy early in the morning to warn him against practising outside. Despite the younger boy's tendency to ignore any kind of advice or warnings, Inui didn't think Kaidou would have disobeyed him on this.
During the phone call the second year had sounded perfectly normal. Something had thus happened to Kaidou between the phone call and the afternoon practice, most probably involving his umbrella. Interesting.
Sadly, the warm-up provided no further answers, nor did the rest of the practice. Both frustrated and curious, Inui didn't need to think for long before asking to join Kaidou for his run after the practice.
Kaidou was still quiet, almost appearing to avoid any form of conversation, not even commenting on the slight drizzle still persisting. Inui waited, patient like a man trying to tame some wild beast. With Kaidou, this often wasn't too far from the truth.
Finally, he did get his answer, though not through any form of inquiry or conversation. Rather, he quite literally almost ran into it, "it" being a little box of kittens beside the road. They were whining and barking quietly, though they were shielded from the last remains of the rain by a rather familiar-looking umbrella.
"I can't believe some people," Kaidou muttered, adjusting his bandana. "Leaving them out in the rain like that..."
He gave the kittens an almost longing gaze before hissing and continuing, running slightly slower than before.
Inui, for his part, looked at the little cats thoughtfully before following him.
During his observations, Inui liked to think he had come to understand the younger boy rather well. He knew of certain tendencies and feelings few people had any idea about. Nevertheless, even as his own view of Kaidou was slightly modified through these new discoveries, he wasn't sure exactly how to communicate it to the other. After all, words were often wasted on Kaidou. He preferred quite different methods of communication, and would certainly also prefer them to words when they were coming from others.
Ah, well. It just might be worth the try if only he was indeed reading Kaidou's little messages correctly.
"Kaidou," Inui called out as the younger boy made to leave practice. "I think I have something of yours."
Kaidou stopped and turned, his eyes widening as he saw the umbrella Inui was offering him. The hiss escaping his lips was most definitely that of anger. Just as predicted. "Inui-senpai…"
"Worry not, there was nothing left outside." Inui pushed his glasses up on his nose. "In fact… would it be too much of a trouble for you to come over? I believe I have something to show you."
Now, there was an almost hopeful gaze in Kaidou's eyes as he hissed and nodded. However, Inui didn't do or say anything to confirm or kill that hope. Better let the boy see for himself.
For all the time they spent together, it wasn't often that Kaidou came over. Usually, when they weren't practicing, they spent their time over at Kaidou's home, which was much larger and more comfortable and full of life. The small apartment where Inui lived mostly alone while his parents travelled for their jobs was hardly anywhere as attractive. This was, however, where they were headed now, Inui walking confidently before Kaidou.
He heard them as soon as he opened the door. Only briefly pausing to take his shoes off, he headed off to the living room. He'd have kept them in his room except the thought of one of the sharp-clawed little things getting loose and finding his precious notebooks was quite enough to give him nightmares. As it was, they were all still in their box, demanding his attention.
"When I went back, there were three of them left," Inui said, nodding towards the box as Kaidou approached almost cautiously. "I'm hoping the rest had already been given a good home."
"…I didn't even know you liked cats," Kaidou said, his eyes still intently on the kittens.
"I neither particularly like nor dislike them," Inui replied. "However, I know you like them... and that your mother is allergic." He smirked a bit, looking at Kaidou. "Am I correct?"
"…Fsshuuu." Kaidou lifted one of the three kittens into his hands, looking at it closely. The kitten meowed and patted his nose with one little paw.
"My parents are rarely home, so their approval is not a problem," Inui said. "However, I have to say I'm rather inexperienced in the care of young animals. Might it be too bold of me to ask you to help me in looking after them?"
"You mean… I'd come over here?" Kaidou asked as though trying to understand. "And help you – help you look after these three?"
"Precisely." Inui nodded. "I've come to understand you would rather enjoy that."
"…You shouldn't do something like this for my sake." He could have sworn there was a slight flush on Kaidou's cheeks as he set the kitten back into the box with its siblings. "It must be such a bother to you…" His gaze was oddly soft as he looked down at the box and its inhabitants. Rather endearingly so, Inui thought.
"Not too much of one, though." Inui looked at the younger boy sharply through his glasses. "After all, you like cats… and I like you."
It was a gamble, he knew that very well. A gamble based on a thousand words that were never said, on messages and declarations nobody would ever hear, all those little signs and gestures that he was confident he had read correctly but could never be exactly sure. If he was correct, the reward would likely be great; however, if he were wrong, he stood to lose quite a bit more than a pair of helping hands with the kittens.
Fortunately, Kaidou did not betray his data – not unless you counted his apparent attempts to distract Inui from gathering any more data on this particular subject.
Inui still wasn't distracted enough to forget to add into his mental dictionary the fact that, for Kaidou, a kiss meant "I like you."