Summary: Seigaku's resident data man finds the greatest surprise of his life… inside his shoe locker.
Author's Note: This is based on a PoT chibi mini theater. If you haven't seen it, try checking out the vid (if it's still available, that is.) It's hilarious. :)
Chapter 3: Fuji's Handiwork
Pok! Pok! Pok!
Inui tried hard to concentrate on gathering new data on his teammates but the resonating sound of tennis balls around the court annoyed the heck out of him. It wasn't like him to lose his concentration over a very minute reason such as the sound of tennis balls. He's used to it, hearing the sound every single day- during morning and afternoon practices, out of schedule practices, official matches, et cetera.
He glanced at his notebook. It was empty. Blank. The sight of the empty page baffled him inside.
He contemplated hard on how one blasted letter could have an effect like this on him. It seemed like he was already on the verge of obsessing on finding out who this 'Anonymous' was. On normal circumstances, there wouldn't be a need for him to play detective. It definitely wasn't up his alley because first, there was the undeniable the fact that he lacked the skills on how to interact with the female species on matters not related to school. Second, he was not well-acquainted with how real life romance works. He might get an idea or two from watching movies but it's never the same unless one has experienced it.
He shook his head to bring himself to the reality—he was observing a practice tennis match. He moved to another spot where he could see Eiji and Echizen going at it in a practice singles match. 'Ii data..' He muttered in his head. He tried hard to concentrate as he watched as his teammates moved flawlessly. Eiji and Echizen, whom he lost to on both occasions was a very interesting pair to observe. He could get tons of data from this practice match alone but no matter how hard he tried, he could not grasp anything.
Inui let out a sigh. He gave up. He closed his notebook and grabbed his tennis racket. I guess I should just play the stress off. He made his way to a vacant court where he saw Fuji sitting alone on a bench, cooling himself down with a cold cup of water.
"Inui! great timing," he said, with that eerie grin on his face whose meaning Inui could not read. "Care to have a rally with me?"
"Sure." Inui said, hiding the suspicion. "I was just looking for a match partner."
"Great, all's settled then." Fuji smiled.
"Okay, so what are we doing here, Rin?" Natsumi stared at her friend in disbelief. "What are we supposed to accomplish by coming here?"
"You don't want to catch a glimpse of your knight in shining armor? Well, that's kind of a surprise." Rin put her fingers on the iron fence. "Believe it or not, I have become accustomed to your routine. Y'know, 'cause we've practically been inseparable?"
Natsumi watched as Inui returned the balls being hit by Fuji. He looked different than his usual self when he was in the courts. The Inui she was seeing right now had more passion. She loved that about him.
'Damnit,' She snapped out of her reverie. "What was I thinking?"
"Looks like you're enjoying the pay per view," Rin crossed her arms, grinning at her friend. "Want to stay a bit longer?"
Natsumi glanced at the data master again. As much as she wanted to, she had a mission to accomplish. "You know I can't." She turned her back on the courts. "I have to find that cursed thing until it lands in the possession of scrutinizing, evil eyes."
Rin shrugged her shoulders. "Suit yourself. I'm just right behind 'ya."
"Na, Inui." Fuji said, returning another ball. "How's your day so far?"
Inui cringed at the hidden innuendo in the word your and missed the ball. "It's going quite well. Nothing special." He replied.
"That's too bad." Fuji's eyes momentarily wandered to another direction. Inui missed the ball at the sight of the tensai's blue eyes. "We'll never know, what you're looking for is just right around the corner." He said, his eyes still fixated on something at the left side area of the court.
Inui picked the ball up. He shot a glance at where the tensai was staring at but there was nothing there. 'This is getting very cryptic,' He eyed the tensai before he hit a high-speed serve.'Somehow, he does have something to do with this. I'm about 57% sure.'
Fuji returned the ball with ease. "Cat got your tongue?"
Inui returned the ball. "I never said anything, Fuji."
"Exactly my point." Fuji hit the ball on the far end corner of the court. Inui had miscalculated and missed.
"Game to Fuji 1 game to love!"
Inui sighed. "Damn you."
"This is your idea of conducting your search mission?" Rin complained, stacking 50 pieces of test papers on a table. "I don't think you'll find anything here, trust me."
"Well, I have to start someplace, right?" Natsumi said, segregating the papers before handing it to Rin. "Maybe it's just somewhere in this office."
"Seriously, Natsu. I wouldn't mind helping you out but," she looked at the wall clock. "Look, it's almost 5:00 pm. You know I have a family event tonight, don't you?"
Natsumi rolled her eyes. "Fine. It's okay. Go do your family thing." She said. Rin looked at her apologetically. "No seriously, go. I'm not mad or anything. Really."
Rin smiled. "Okay then," She said, standing up. "I'm leaving this to you. Good luck on your mission!" She winked at her.
Natsumi chuckled. "Yeah right."
Approximately 20 minutes later..
"Sorry for the intrusion." A deep, male voice said as the faculty room door slid open. "I'm here for the paperwork duty, Yamino-sensei."
Natsumi halted stacking the papers. "That voice..."
"Ah, if it wasn't the great math genius Inui." Yamino-sensei exclaimed. "Come! sit here beside this girl."
Natsumi froze for the second time today. What the heck. Why now? She raged inside her head. Now, her plan of finding that letter is completely ruined. How the hell can she look for it when the recipient of the letter was sitting right beside her? Oh yeah. Maybe she can just ask him, 'Hey, Inui-kun. Did a letter written in a stationary pad happen to accidentally land in your hands, by any chance? You know, something written by anonymous?'
In her wildest dreams.
Back to reality, Inui was pulling a chair and positioned it right next to her. She pretended not to notice the impossibly tall figure sitting right next to her.
"Oh, you have paperwork today too, Hoshizora-san?" He politely asked, breaking the ice.
"Yeah, apparently." She replied. "He happened to pass by me on the way outside." What the hell was that reply, Natsumi! You stupid girl! This is the first time you've spoken casually in three years! Go think up of a better comeback!
"Ah, I see." He said. "We should do our best with these, then."
Silence. Crickets. Crickets.
"Um," Natsumi started. Think, Natsu, Think! "Don't you get tired doing all these by yourself everyday? You just came from tennis practice and all."
"Nah. I got used to it." Inui checked the test papers in front of him. "It has already been part of my routine."
"Of course." Natsumi arranged the papers that Inui had already checked. "But seriously, Yamino-sensei should designate at least one companion for you around here. It can get a bit lousy when you're alone."
"Ah, it does, especially when all the papers you're checking are the same." He said. "It gets a bit fun sometimes when I chance upon my teammates' papers. It's Ii data for me."
Natsumi chuckled. "As expected of the tennis team's manager, you don't miss a thing."
"Of course." Inui smirked. "It's all for their own good."
Natsumi raised her brow. "Really? And taking note of their test scores is good? Sounds stalker-ish to me." She said teasingly.
"Why not?" He replied. "The regulars need to maintain their grades to a certain level." He said, in defense to Natsumi's teasing. "It helps if I tell them the areas where they are struggling so that they would work hard on it more. That is the point of all the data I collect." Other than blackmail material, I suppose.
"Wow," She stared in awe for a bit, but snapped out of it right away. "I mean, that's really kind of you, Inui-kun."
Inui's glasses gleamed. "Not really. It goes both ways."
"Right." And we're back to the creepy stalker mode, She thought. Natsumi stood up and grabbed a stack of papers from the shelf. "That would be to your benefit, in a way."
"Sometimes." Inui said. "By the way, since you're here, would you mind checking those papers over there at the other table?"
Natsumi smiled. "Yeah, sure. No problem."
"Arigato, Hoshizora-san." He said, going back into checking mode.
At the rooftop somewhere in Seigaku..
"Good thing you finally showed up." A girl's voice said.
"Yeah, sorry to have kept you waiting," Fuji said. "Is she already where she's supposed to be?"
"Yeah." Rin came out of the shadows, leaning on the wired fence. "So, how's Inui-kun taking all of it?"
Fuji sat on the floor next to her. "He's obviously distracted, but he hides it well. The change isn't so noticeable except to me, of course, since I brewed this whole thing up." He positioned his elbow on his flexed knee. "How about Hoshizora-chan? Does she have any idea that Inui has her letter already?"
Rin smirked. "Not the slightest bit. She's adamnant that she might have dropped the letter in the faculty room." She glanced at Fuji with a doubtful look. "Do you really think this will work?"
"Trust me, it will." Fuji said. "There is no such thing as impossible.. only difficult."
"You talk in riddles, Fuji-kun." Rin said. "But seriously, how do you expect to accomplish your plan in just one day? I know it's your birthday present for Inui-kun but dude, I doubt he'll fall in love within less than twenty-four hours."
"I never planned for him to fall in love in a day, Rin-chan." Fuji said. "But through meeting this friend of yours, he will. Soon."
"Yeah right, Fuji-kun. We don't even know if my friend is his type." Rin said. "It's not that I don't have confidence in her. Natsu's pretty cute, and she's got a brain too. But that's just the point, maybe Inui doesn't like Natsu's type. Maybe he likes nerdy, glasses-type kind of girls."
"Maa. Just so you know, he likes mature women, preferably older." shifted position. "Your friend, however, is the exception."
Rin raised her brow. "And why is that?"
"I can't really explain it to you now but trust me, I know an exception when I see one and guys almost always fall for the exception."
"Right, and that kinda sounds familiar. Like it's from a movie or something."
"Saa." Fuji just shrugged his shoulders. "Either way, this revenge plan is going to be win-win. Plus, I get to enjoy the show."
Rin slowly looked down and shook her head. Fuji smiled at her innocently. "What?" He asked.
"You sadistic son-of-a-gun."
"Okay guys, that's enough for today." Yamino-sensei said. "You can just arrange those in the shelf over there."
Inui stacked the papers and proceeded to the shelf. Natsumi followed suit. She let out a deep and tired sigh, because in the end, her search was futile. She felt like she was running out of options, or maybe she was just paranoid. 'It might have been blown away by the wind or thrown away in the trash,' she said, reassuring herself. But then again, she couldn't shake off the feeling that it was just here, somewhere.
"Wow. And after all our efforts, there's still two more batches left." She carefully placed the papers on the shelf. "I can't believe you have been doing this kind of work every day." Natsumi said.
"I agree with that," Inui said, brushing out the dust from his hands. "But I have no choice but to do it."
"I could volunteer my services as your assistant, if you'd like." Natsumi blurted out. 'What the-? What the hell did you just tell him, baka?'
"I really could use some help, thank you. I appreciate it." Inui said. 'Hmm, maybe she could help me.'
'Whew.' Natsumi smiled. "So, shall we go?"
Bus station, 6:30 pm
"Here's my bus." Natsumi said, waving goodbye. "See you tomorrow, Inui-kun."
"Ah. See you." He watched as Natsumi went for the stairs. As she reached for the handle, he had this impulse to stop her.
"W-wait!" He exclaimed.
Natsumi's heart beat fast. 'Dang, Inui. What do you want from me now that I'm about to ride the bus?' She turned her head slowly. "Yeah?"
"Uh. Can I.. ask you a favor?" Inui said, looking nervous.
"Sure, what is it?" Natsumi replied.
"Oooooi! Ojou-chan, you getting on or not?" The bus driver yelled.
"Ah.." Inui stammered. Should I or should I not ask some friendly advice about this letter? "Are you free.. tonight?"
Natsumi's eyes widened in disbelief. "Huh?" This can't be real. Somebody pinch me. "Y..yeah, why?" She quickly narrowed her eyes, feigning a suspicious look.
"Well," Inui started. "If you'd like, I could go treat you to anywhere you'd like today. After all, it's my-"
"Hey Ojou-chan! Next time you go on a bus stop, make up your damn mind!" the driver yelled as he sped off the road. Inui was a tad annoyed with the driver.
"Ehrm." He looked at Natsumi, masking his annoyance. "After all, you were a great help to me today." He said, making up another reason. He realized it was weird to ask someone out because it was his birthday, much less, a girl.
"Uh," was all Natsumi could say. She was dumbfounded. Maybe she had done something very good in her past life that Kami decided to bless her in this lifetime's incarnation. Never in her wildest dreams did she ever expect to hang out with him- alone. It was like fate's handiwork that brought them to this situation.
"I know it's a bit awkward, asking you out of the blue, Hoshizora-san." Inui said. What was I thinking? "It's fine if you refuse. It was a very unnecessary and uncalled for request."
Take it or not to take it? Natsumi glanced at her watch. Her parents will probably give her the lecture of a lifetime when she gets home but what the heck. This might be her one and only chance to at least hang out with Inui and moreover, on his birthday. She couldn't miss the chance.
"Well, my bus left already so I don't think I have a choice now, right?" She said.
"You could actually wait for the next bus." Inui replied.
"And sit my butt out here for the next forty-five minutes? I don't think so." Natsumi said, grinning slightly. "I'm coming with you, Inui-kun."
Inui smiled in return. This year's not too shabby, after all. "Ja, think of some good place to eat then. Your pick, my treat."
Natsumi shrugged her shoulders. "Deal."
And here it is, chapter 3! Again, I am so sorry for the late update. Belated happy birthday to Inui, by the way! XD
Hope you guys liked this one. I sure hope Inui isn't OOC in this one. . I will try to update as soon as I can. Nevertheless, please let me know your thoughts my typing in a review! Constructive criticism, comments or just a simple review will be gladly appreciated! :)