Fandom: Prince of Tennis
Word Count: 940
Summary: Inui/Kaidoh, post-manga. Inui struggles with the changes.
Disclaimer: PoT isn't mine.
A/N: Belated happy birthday to Seigaku’s brain, Inui Sadaharu! I haven’t written Inui/Kaidoh for a while, so this might turn out rusty. But I did put effort into it. Enjoy.
The middle school was familiar, yet at the same time there was a certain strangeness to it that alienated those who had left it forever, as if they no longer had any place in it. At least, that was what always seemed to Inui at first whenever he visited, and when he saw the tennis courts, all that uneasiness did not dissipate.
“Senpai!” Momoshiro waved from the center of the court, and everyone turned to face him. Momoshiro had changed. It was subtle, but nevertheless noticeable. “Come to watch us play?”
“Yes,” Inui responded, and took out a worn green notebook. He’d written in it sixty-seven times before. It felt familiar in his hand.
Momoshiro grinned as he approached Inui. “Still busy as ever, eh, Inui-senpai?”
“Data,” Inui answered, “is all I know.” He looked around.
“He’s inside the clubhouse,” Momoshiro said, then turned to the people on court. “Hey, don’t slack off! Any minute now Mamushi—I mean Kaidoh will arrive.”
“You’re busy fulfilling your duties as well,” Inui noted.
Momoshiro scratched the back of his head. “I can’t lose to Mamushi, you know. It’d make me look bad.”
Someone hissed. Kaidoh walked towards them, shooting death glares at Momoshiro and an inquiring look at Inui.
“Kaidoh,” Inui said. “I’ve come to watch the both of you play.”
Kaidoh hissed again. “Do as you wish.”
He entered the court, with Momoshiro following him. “Ten laps around the court!” he suddenly said in a commanding tone vaguely reminiscent of Tezuka’s.
Inui wrote it down.
Kaidoh looked at him just as he glanced up, and their eyes met. Kaidoh’s eyes were unreadable from that distance.
Even he, Inui realized, had changed too.
Days passed, the notebook got filled, and he bought a new one. The new notebook in his hand felt foreign, and he had a feeling that he stole it from someone else. Nevertheless, Inui kept on writing. Both Kaidoh and Momoshiro handled their duties well, although they still quarreled on court and sometimes forgot they were the authority figures. There were lots of things Inui was itching to suggest—training menus, possible doubles combinations, Inui juice punishments, among others—but he didn’t. He wasn’t part of the Seigaku club anymore. They would come to him for help when they wanted to.
One day Inui chanced upon Kaidoh alone in the court, and he almost went in before remembering that he had no place there anymore. Kaidoh sensed his presence, turned, but said nothing.
“I’ve come to gather data,” Inui said, although it was not needed.
“Don’t you have practice?” Kaidoh asked.
“I didn’t join the club—yet.”
Inui did not answer. He had seen Kaidoh here before, being the captain of the club, but only now did he really feel how much that responsibility had changed his former kouhai. Kaidoh did not slouch anymore. There was also that commanding aura around him. And, most significantly, he was more confident.
Senpai. “Go ahead and practice,” Inui said.
“Inui-senpai.” Kaidoh shifted his weight. “If you—I mean, after practice—can we…uh…”
So much for thinking he was more confident. “Train together?” Inui suggested, dismayed to find that a note of hopefulness had crept into his voice.
Kaidoh shook his head. “Walk home,” he said, then blushed. “Together.”
“Are there things you want to ask?” He still sounded hopeful.
“I’ll wait for you to finish, then.”
Minutes later the Seigaku club members started pouring into the court. Inui stepped back from the fence. He could only watch.
Practice ended, with Inui’s notebook half-filled with data that he might not need but which Kaidoh and Momoshiro would find useful. Inui wanted to stop doing this, to focus on his own way into the high school club. He could not.
Kaidoh was out the door before Momoshiro.
“Mamushi, you damn cheater!” Momoshiro accused, brandishing the keys angrily. “It’s your turn to lock up!”
“Shut up!” Kaidoh shouted, waving a fist at him. “You didn’t lock up yesterday, idiot!”
“Even so! Today’s your turn!”
Inui chuckled. Some things never changed.
The walk home was awkward. Kaidoh walked without looking down at the ground, and Inui paged through the notebook.
“There are things you wanted to ask, then?” Inui began.
“Uh, yes, senpai.”
“Horio isn’t for doubles,” Inui said.
Kaidoh blinked, looked at him.
“Arai isn’t, as well. You should consider them as possible Singles 3 players. Except you have to—“
Chastened, Inui stopped. He pushed up his glasses. This was a difficult situation. “I’m sorry.” He opened his bag and put the notebook inside.
“I had wanted to discuss them with you, to develop a program that might strengthen their singles abilities. Also, Horio gets scared too much.” Kaidoh said. “We still need your help. But that wasn’t what I wanted to talk about.”
“What is it, then?”
But Kaidoh had fallen silent. He was struggling to say something. Inui waited patiently. Even when they arrived at Kaidoh’s house, he was still waiting.
Kaidoh fidgeted. “Inui-senpai.”
Kaidoh gave up, straightened, took a deep breath, looked at him. “Thank you for walking with me.”
Inui blinked, nodded. Kaidoh turned away from him, and he watched Kaidoh enter his house before he decided he needed to get going.
He pulled his phone out of his pocket and waited. He had walked two blocks before Kaidoh’s message appeared.
SATURDAY AT THREE. WE SHOULD EAT OUT, SENPAI.
Perhaps there were times he wasn’t needed by Seigaku’s new captain. But then again, Kaidoh needed him, the way he needed Kaidoh. Inui smiled to himself and pocketed the phone. He could not wait for Saturday.
Yay fic! it feels so good to be writing stories again. ♥