This, however, is a ghost story. :)
Good for the Soul by Halrloprillalar
InuKai, PG, 5400 words.
Kaidoh doesn't like ghosts. That doesn't seem to matter.
Disclaimer: Konomi, not me.
Crossposted like a trick-or-treater in a Draco Malfoy costume.
Good for the Soul
Kaidoh was running. It was his usual before-school run on his usual before-school route. The weather was fine, he was in good condition. But he kept thinking there was something in his peripheral vision. Only when he turned his head, there was nothing there.
The usual before-school route was carefully planned to end up in front of a house where a friendly cat lived. Five minutes playing with the cat always set Kaidoh up for a good day at school.
She was out waiting for him. But when he got closer, she arched her back and hissed at him. Was there a big dog around? Kaidoh looked, but there was no-one. When he turned back, she had run away.
That was upsetting. Kaidoh couldn't understand it. Did the cat hate him all of a sudden?
"I think it must be me. Cats never like me."
Kaidoh screamed, which made him feel embarrassed later, and his legs started moving before his brain clued him in as to why. But when it finally did, Kaidoh agreed that running was the best thing he could have done. A voice in the air when Kaidoh was all alone! A disembodied voice! An unnatural voice! Run away!
As he was running, Kaidoh was torn between feeling afraid and feeling foolish. Wasn't it likely some sort of trick? A radio? Or maybe someone standing in the shadows that Kaidoh just hadn't seen? Sure, that was it. Nothing to worry about. Really.
Kaidoh stopped and leaned against a wall. Well-paced jogging was one thing; flat-out running for your life tended to tire a person out.
"What are we running from?"
And he was off again. This time it wasn't just a disembodied voice, it was a disembodied person! A floating, translucent person! A ghost! Run away!
"You're not trying to run away from me, are you? Because that's not actually possible."
The voice was right in Kaidoh's ear, even though he was pelting down the sidewalk, fast as he could go.
"I'm not going to hurt you. So stop running and let me introduce myself."
Kaidoh didn't want to be introduced to a ghost. But neither did he want to keep running like that. He made himself slow down, and then stop. His chest was burning and his legs were shaking. He wasn't sure if that was from the ghost or the running. Probably both.
The ghost bobbed in front of him. Aside from being half see-through and not touching the ground, it looked like a normal person. A boy, probably sixteen years old or so. He had a green jacket and a metal cuff around his wrist. Maybe the cuff was some sort of ghost thing, chaining him to the earth so he couldn't pass on.
"Do you like my cuff?" the ghost said. "I got it downtown before I died. They're really fashionable. Or they were a few years ago."
"Oh," Kaidoh said. He wasn't sure how to talk to a ghost. Was the ghost going to try to drag him into the spirit world? Or rend the flesh from his bones?
"I'm Murakami Kin," the ghost said. "And you are?"
"I'm Kaidoh Kaoru." Kaidoh hoped that giving his name to the ghost wasn't letting him in to some sort of spiritual contract. But it seemed impolite to refuse.
"Pleased to meet you," Murakami said. "I'll be haunting you from now on."
"From now on?" Kaidoh didn't like the sound of that.
"Until I can pass on, at least."
"But why are you haunting me? I don't even know you!"
"Ah," Murakami said. "You see, I died very suddenly. A cement block fell off a building that was being renovated and hit me on the head. My parents sued the construction company for a lot of money. They should have had things secured with safety cables, but they didn't. They also got fined by the city. So now they're out of business."
"Shouldn't you be haunting the company president or the worker who didn't put the cables on?" Kaidoh was getting confused.
"No, the reason I didn't pass on is that I died with regret. I never confessed my feelings to the girl I loved."
"Did you want me to write her a letter for you then, Murakami-san? I can't do that now or I'll be late for class."
"No, I had my brother take care of that for me. But then I found out that I still couldn't pass on until I had completed a certain task." Murakami paused. Kaidoh waited. Murakami waited.
Kaidoh hissed. "What is the task?" Did all ghosts ramble on this much? Murakami wasn't scary, he was just boring.
"I have to convince one hundred men to confess their feelings to the girls they love. And you're the last man. Or boy." He looked Kaidoh up and down. "You're a bit young, but here I am, so there must be a girl you have special feelings for."
It turned out Murakami was scary after all. "There is no girl," Kaidoh said.
"There has to be a girl, otherwise I wouldn't be here."
"I said there is no girl."
"Come on, Kaidoh-kun, you should just admit it so we can get on to you confessing your feelings and me passing on."
"Are you accusing me of lying?"
"Please don't jump to any--"
"Kaidoh Kaoru does not lie!"
Murakami floated back a little way. "All I'm saying is that you must be repressing your feelings. You need to admit them to yourself first."
"There is no girl. And now I have to go to school." Kaidoh picked up his bag. "Are you going to haunt me during class too?"
"Yes, but don't worry. No-one else can see or hear me. Just concentrate on finding out which girl it is you like. I don't want to stretch this out any longer than necessary."
"Neither do I," Kaidoh muttered and stalked off to school, with Murakami drifting along beside him.
School was horrible. Kaidoh always tried to pay attention and make good notes, but with Murakami there, it was impossible. The ghost floated up and down the aisles, talking to Kaidoh the whole time. "How about this girl, Kaidoh-kun? She's very cute. Don't you like her?" Kaidoh glared at Murakami to shut him up, but then the girl thought he was glaring at her.
Kaidoh didn't want to get every girl in the class annoyed with him, even though he didn't have special feelings for any of them, so he gave up glaring and tried to concentrate on the class. But Murakami talked so loudly, Kaidoh could barely hear the teacher.
"None of these girls?" Murakami said. "Well, I'm sure we'll see a lot more at lunch time. We'll walk around the school and you can point your special girl out to me." He peered at Kaidoh's notes. "That's all wrong, you know. I can teach you a trick to factor that equation faster."
"Shut up," Kaidoh said. Oh, damn.
"Kaidoh!" the teacher said. "Is there something wrong?"
"No, sensei," Kaidoh said. "I apologize for causing a disturbance. It won't happen again."
"See that it doesn't."
"You really shouldn't cause trouble in class," Murakami said. "I thought you were a nicer boy than that."
Kaidoh wanted to hit Murakami, but that was a futile gesture, even if they weren't in class. He wanted to write "Die!" on a note and show it to him, but Murakami was already dead. And under the circumstances, "Go to hell!" seemed entirely too literal. So he just tried to block out everything and get through the day.
Lunchtime wasn't much better. Kaidoh stayed in the classroom, even though Murakami harassed him to go out and find more girls.
"Would you please shut up when we're in here?" Kaidoh whispered. A few people looked over at him, but he ignored them. "I can't concentrate when you're talking all the time."
Murakami got a hurt expression on his face. "I'm just trying to help you out, you know. It's all for your own good."
All for Kaidoh's own good! And not at all for Murakami's? But Kaidoh still didn't know what the ghost's powers were so he decided he'd just have to bear with it until he could get rid of him.
Murakami was a little quieter during the afternoon, although he kept giving Kaidoh advice about his chemistry experiment that kept Kaidoh from hearing the proper instructions. The result was a small toxic cloud, but no-one breathed in much of it. The teacher told Kaidoh to re-do the lab during his break the next day.
"If you had just listened to me, this wouldn't have happened," Murakami said.
Tennis club was not quite so horrible. Sure, Murakami floated around checking out the girls who always came to watch, and sure, he got in the way when Kaidoh was trying to practice his serve and caused Kaidoh to bean Momoshiro in the head with the ball, but that was more like a benefit. Kaidoh kept to himself as much as possible and there were no major problems.
Afterwards, Kaidoh went for his run. Murakami streamed along beside him, advising him on his pacing. It was a lot easier to ignore the ghost when there wasn't anything else Kaidoh was trying to listen to. When he was running, he could just shut everything out. Maybe he could learn to deal with this.
Then he went to the park to meet Inui.
They had been training together for a few weeks now. Inui knew just what exercises to give Kaidoh, just how many he should do, how hard he should work, what he should eat, how many hours he should sleep at night. And it really worked. Kaidoh was improving at a rate he hadn't been able to manage on his own.
"Are you going home now?" Murakami said. "I haven't seen your family yet. Or are you going to go meet a girl?"
"Shut up," Kaidoh said.
"A date, right? Excellent." Murakami started to hum a pop song. "Do you know this song? It was number one the day I died. It's really romantic. Maybe you could sing it to the girl."
"I don't sing," Kaidoh said. "And I'm not meeting a girl."
Murakami sang all the way to the park. Murakami couldn't sing. Talking was way better than this. But best of all would be complete silence.
"Murakami-san," Kaidoh said. "Can I ask you for a favour?"
"What favour? Do you need dating tips?"
"No! I'm going to do some more training. Would you please not bother me while I'm training? You can..." Kaidoh shuddered. "You can give me some dating tips later on, okay?"
"Oh, sure," Murakami said. "A ghost can always tell when he should leave someone alone. We're very sensitive that way."
"Thank you." Now maybe the whole afternoon wouldn't be ruined.
Inui was already there when Kaidoh and Murakami arrived. "Kaidoh," Inui said and closed the notebook he was reading.
"I'm sorry, senpai," Kaidoh said. "Were you waiting long?" He dropped his bag onto the grass.
"Ah ha!" Murakami shouted, right in Kaidoh's ear. "So it wasn't a girl after all."
Kaidoh jumped. Inui looked closely at him. "Are you all right?"
Stupid Murakami! "Yes, I'm fine. I just had a bad day."
"Something I can help you with?"
"I guess it doesn't have to be a girl, so long as you confess your love," Murakami said. "Though I wouldn't have suspected you of something so unnatural."
"No, senpai, it's fine." This was worse than ever. And the shameful thing was that Murakami was right. Kaidoh did have feelings for Inui, inappropriate though they were. He didn't know how that had happened, but one day he had just realised that he liked being around Inui, that it gave him a warm feeling whenever Inui put his hand on Kaidoh's shoulder, that Inui made Kaidoh happy.
It was hard for Kaidoh to deal with. It seemed so wrong that he could have such feelings for another boy and for his senpai at that. But it was useless to try to suppress them or get rid of them. He just had to make sure Inui never found out.
So how did Murakami know? It wasn't like Kaidoh did or said anything that could possibly hint about his feelings for Inui. It must be his ghostly powers.
"All right," Inui said. "But let me know if there's anything I can do."
"I am never wrong," Murakami said. "Quick, tell him how you feel."
"Thank you, Inui-senpai."
"Shall we begin, then?" Inui stood behind Kaidoh and put his hands on Kaidoh's shoulders, helping him with a stretch.
"I didn't think you were a coward, Kaidoh-kun." Murakami crossed his legs and hovered in front of Kaidoh as he was stretching. Kaidoh bit his lip. He had to keep a normal look at all costs, no matter how much Murakami provoked him.
"You seem tense today," Inui said. "Stop for bit." He started kneading Kaidoh's shoulders and back, digging in with his fingers and working at the knots in the muscles.
Murakami leered at Kaidoh. "Enjoying that? I suppose he's good-looking enough. Of course I really can't tell with guys."
Kaidoh was furious. This was the most amazing thing -- Inui touching him like this, so close, so intimate. And he couldn't possibly enjoy it because of Murakami invading his privacy and smirking at him. Well, he couldn't enjoy it as much as he ought to. He was still enjoying it a fair amount. He closed his eyes so he couldn't see Murakami and then he was enjoying it even more.
"Tell him as soon as he stops," Murakami said.
"Is that better?" Inui said.
"Yes, thank you." And it was better. Even though the stupid ghost was still there, Kaidoh felt happier than he had all day.
They started stretching again and then onto the rest of their training. Kaidoh just tried to block out Murakami, like he was an annoying opponent or fan or something. Kaidoh needed to practice that anyhow.
"You're making good progress, Kaidoh," Inui said when they were getting ready to leave. "I think we can increase your training soon. And I have some more formations we can practice on Sunday."
"Thank you, senpai," Kaidoh said.
"Say it now," Murakami whispered in Kaidoh's ear. "He looks like he's in a good mood."
Kaidoh picked up his bag and started for home.
At supper, Murakami was quiet. He explained to Kaidoh afterwards that family time ought to be sacred and it wasn't his place to interfere.
"Your family seems really nice," he said. "I'm sure that if you were killed by a falling block of cement, they would sue the construction company too. That's how much they care about you."
"Thank you," Kaidoh said. For once he felt almost friendly toward the ghost.
Kaidoh got through his homework without too much interference and his evening run was fine. He was getting better at ignoring Murakami. Then he started in on his weight training.
"So, you're pretty buff, aren't you?" Murakami said. "Is that to impress Inui-kun?"
"No," Kaidoh said. "It's for personal discipline. And tennis."
"You're pretty harsh with the personal discipline, I've noticed." Murakami floated around the room, looking at all of Kaidoh's things. "Maybe you should loosen up a bit. I think a little romance would help with that, don't you?"
"Murakami-san," Kaidoh said. This was probably a good time to try to find out a few things. "What kind of powers does a ghost have? Can you move things around and possess people?"
"Well, a lot of ghosts can, but my powers are pretty weak." Murakami looked embarrassed about that. "I can only appear to the person I'm haunting. I can't change my appearance, even though I would really like to bleach my hair. I think that looks so cool, don't you?"
"Mm," said Kaidoh and kept on with his dumbell curls.
"I can't move things around much either. Watch." Murakami went over to Kaidoh's desk and stared really hard at it, frowning and clenching his fists. Kaidoh's pen moved a centimetre to the right.
"That's more than I can do."
"But if you were a ghost, you could probably move the whole desk across the room. I don't have very strong psychic powers at all, so I'm a very weak ghost. But you seem quite psychically sensitive. So you would probably make a great ghost."
"I don't want to be a ghost." Kaidoh couldn't imagine anything more irritating after death than to have to hang around and irritate other people. Well, maybe he would haunt Momoshiro for a few days. But it would get old fast.
"But you're going to be one, you know. If you got hit by a cement block tomorrow, you would become a ghost. And do you know why?"
Kaidoh thought he did, but he didn't volunteer his opinion.
"Because you would die with the regret of unconfessed love, just like I did!" Murakami hovered in front of Kaidoh. "So you see, I really am trying to help you."
"Thank you," Kaidoh said. "But why don't you go help someone else?"
"I can't. I got pulled here and I have to stay until you go through with it. Or die. Either one will work. Then I can finally pass on."
This was not good. There must be something that Kaidoh could do. "What if I wrote him a note and put it in his shoebox?" That was risky, but as long as he didn't leave his name and nobody saw him, it would be all right.
"As long as you sign it, that will do."
There went that plan. "I can't do that."
"But why not? I know it's not easy, but it's not something you should put off either."
"I don't want to talk about it."
Murakami floated closer. "I know it's personal, but I'm your ghost. You can tell me anything. Think of me as an older brother."
Well, maybe if he told Murakami, Murakami would leave him alone. "You said it yourself: it's unnatural. It's inappropriate."
"I know I said that," Murakami said. "But love is love. I take back what I said. I'm sure it's fine."
"Just because you think so doesn't mean that Inui-senpai will think so. And he's been so good to me, it would seem wrong to burden him with this." And most of all, what if Inui didn't want to have anything to do with Kaidoh afterwards? "I think it's best that I don't say anything to him."
"But what about me?"
"Soon enough Inui will be in high school and I'll probably never see him again. And then I'll meet some appropriate girl and like her. I'll confess my feelings to her and then you can go." Now that was depressing. Kaidoh hoped he'd at least be able to see Inui occasionally.
Murakami sighed. "I don't think it really works like that."
Of course Murakami didn't understand. "I have to go to sleep now."
"Could you do me a favour first?"
"Would you put the TV on for me? I don't sleep, so I get bored at night."
Kaidoh hissed at Murakami. But he turned the TV on and set the volume low. Then he stuffed his fingers in his ears and tried to sleep.
School was just as horrible as the day before. This time Murakami confined himself to a running commentary on Kaidoh's teachers, his curriculum, his note-taking, and the sad state of youth today.
But he tried to help Kaidoh with an English test by looking at all the other student's papers and then giving Kaidoh the answers. Kaidoh would have known the answers just fine by himself, but now it was like he was cheating. So he had to write down the wrong answers so he wouldn't be dishonest. There was something not quite right in his reasoning, he could tell, but Kaidoh couldn't work it out logically.
At tennis club, Murakami kept dancing around Inui, trying to draw Kaidoh's attention. Kaidoh's performance got worse and worse and he got sharp comments from some of the other regulars.
And when Kaidoh met Inui in the park, Murakami started to sing that same stupid pop song. Or at least Kaidoh assumed it was the same one. It had the same lyrics, anyhow.
That was the last straw. Clearly, something had to be done.
"Inui-senpai," Kaidoh said. "I have something to tell you."
"Oh, I knew you'd come around," Murakami said. "I know you're nervous, so I'll tell you what to say. Repeat after me: 'Inui-senpai, although it is forward of me, I feel that I should let you know of the strong regard I have for you.'"
"What is it, Kaidoh?" Inui turned to look at Kaidoh.
"'Your gentle spirit has touched my heart and your kindness toward me has caused a feeling to take root within me. Day by day, it grows stronger--'"
"I'm being haunted by a ghost."
Inui looked surprised. Murakami looked like he was choking on something.
"Can you help me get rid of it?"
"There's no such thing as ghosts, Kaidoh." Inui frowned.
"I can't believe you would betray me like this!" Murakami shouted. "After all we've been through together!"
Kaidoh felt his face grow hot. He know how he must sound. "No, it's true," he said. "He's been haunting me since yesterday. He hangs around all the time and he won't shut up. Do you know how to exorcise a ghost?"
"You've been like a brother to me. I've treated you with such kindness. And this is what it means to you?"
"That can't be true," Inui said.
Not Inui too. "Kaidoh Kaoru does not lie!"
"No, no," Inui said. "I didn't mean that at all. I just think that maybe you're overworking yourself and the stress is making you imagine something that's not there."
Kaidoh hissed softly. He didn't know how he could convince Inui otherwise. Unless he could get Murakami to do his pen-moving trick. But Kaidoh didn't think Murakami would be inclined to be cooperative right now.
"I know." Inui put his hand on Kaidoh's shoulder. "Let's skip training for today and we'll go do something fun. That will help you relax."
Murakami was laughing now. "Too bad, boy. You're stuck with me. Now maybe you'll reconsider."
"All...all right," Kaidoh said. He wasn't sure if this was a good result or not. He was still stuck with Murakami, but he was going to go out with Inui. If only Murakami had never shown up! But then, they would be just training as usual.
It was all far too complicated.
They changed and went out to an arcade. Kaidoh was normally pretty good at video games, but with Murakami hovering behind him, shouting out advice and bragging about all his high scores, Kaidoh lost easily to Inui.
Next they went to a bookstore and Inui showed Kaidoh a book he thought Kaidoh should read. A novel. So Kaidoh bought it. It would be something to talk to Inui about later, even if he didn't enjoy it.
Then Inui bought Kaidoh supper. They sat in a booth across from each other and Inui made conversation and Kaidoh tried to answer, but it was hard when Murakami was sitting beside Inui, alternately making his arm appear through Inui's head and chanting, "Tell him, tell him, tell him," at Kaidoh.
It was so awkward and Kaidoh sounded so stupid. Inui would probably never want to do this again.
Afterward, Inui suggested they go see a movie, but Kaidoh couldn't bear to think what Murakami might do in the theatre. Fly up in front of the screen and act out the parts in the film, probably. Or use his meagre powers to drop popcorn in Kaidoh's lap.
"I should go and do my homework," Kaidoh said. "Thank you, senpai, for treating me."
"My pleasure," Inui said. "Are you more relaxed now, Kaidoh?"
"Yes," Kaidoh said. Which was a lie. A big fat lie. Which was just the thing Kaidoh never told. Damn that ghost!
"I'm glad," Inui said and smiled. "You can do your run tonight if you like. Or just stay in."
"This would be a good time to tell him," Murakami said. "He seems happy."
"Thank you," Kaidoh said again.
"See you tomorrow."
"Why didn't you tell him?" Murakami said, when they were on the way home.
"I already explained that," Kaidoh said. "If you have to haunt me, then haunt me. But don't expect me to confess to Inui."
"You're so set against it. But what if he also loves you?"
"I don't think so."
"He might. The other 99 men had a 70% success rate with their confessions. Of course, that was with women. I'm not sure how your special circumstances affect the odds."
Maybe he should just call Inui and ask him to do the calculations. Inui-senpai, if I confessed my feelings to you, what are the odds that you will accept me? Kaidoh laughed. At least that would be accurate.
Murakami kept up his usual remarks about Kaidoh's homework and made various other suggestions for notes, poems, flowery phrases, and romantic gifts Kaidoh could use to reveal his love. Kaidoh just ignored him.
As Kaidoh was drifting off to sleep, head under the blanket to block out the TV, Murakami whispered in his ear. "I just think you'd be happier."
Kaidoh got a zero on his English test. He didn't create any poison gas in his make-up chemistry experiment, but it was still a poor effort. At tennis, his serve was worse than ever. If he didn't get back to normal soon, he was going to be off the regulars.
Training with Inui was hard. Murakami recited a ream of poetry, which he claimed he had written himself (and it was bad enough that Kaidoh believed him). But mostly, Kaidoh felt self-conscious. Self-conscious about his feelings, self-conscious about how awkward he had been around Inui the last few days. It made him slow, it made him clumsy. Inui didn't say anything but of course he had to notice.
"Kaidoh," Inui said. "I heard you were having trouble with your chemistry."
And of course Inui knew that. Kaidoh nodded, looking down at his feet. Just one more failure to bring to Inui's attention.
"Why don't you come over after dinner and I'll help you with it?" Kaidoh looked up. Inui held out a folded piece of paper. "Directions."
"Thank you, senpai." Kaidoh's already mixed emotions were churning like a blender now. Under other circumstances, he would be incredibly happy over an invitation to Inui's. But Murakami was sure to spoil things. Kaidoh didn't have an excuse not to go, though.
"This is perfect," Murakami said as Kaidoh walked to the bus stop. "You should plan what to say in advance, so you aren't stuck for words."
"I'm not going to tell him," Kaidoh said. "Would you just shut up and leave me alone for one evening?"
"Sorry," Murakami said. "I can't. This is my job."
"Being annoying is your job?"
"You think I'm annoying?" Murakami looked hurt. "I prefer to think of it as persistent. You need persistence if you're going to amount to anything. You should really take that to heart."
Kaidoh didn't answer. On the bus, he hunched down in his seat and looked out the window. His stomach started to hurt. Maybe he should call and say he was sick. But he wasn't sick and he'd lied to Inui once already.
Inui's father wasn't home, but Kaidoh met Inui's mother, who gave him a cup of tea and told him he was a nice boy. Murakami inspected the decorating and furniture and pronounced it average, but not tacky.
Then Inui took Kaidoh up to his room to work on the chemistry homework. They sat shoulder to shoulder at Inui's desk and Inui explained the theory to Kaidoh. Kaidoh didn't have much trouble with chemistry usually, but he'd missed most of the lecture because of Murakami. So it really helped to have Inui go over it with him.
The only problem was that Murakami was still making it hard to pay attention to Inui. "This guy seems kind of boring," Murakami said, looking around at Inui's books and posters. "Obviously you like him, but I'm really not sure why."
Kaidoh gripped his pencil tightly. How dare Murakami say that about Inui?
"But it must be nice to be sitting there all cozy like that. Snuggle in a little more."
Kaidoh stared down at his notebook and inched away from Inui.
"I don't think he's right about that theory. That's now how I learned it."
Kaidoh gritted his teeth so hard his jaw started to ache.
"Hey, look at me!" Murakami floated over so that he was in the same space as Inui. It was weird to look at, like Inui had two faces at the same time. "Come on," Murakami said. "Give us a kiss." He made huge kissy-lips at Kaidoh. "Mwah. Mwah."
That was it. That was absolutely it. Kaidoh jumped to his feet, right in the middle of Inui's explanation about covalent bonds.
"Kaidoh," Inui said and stood too. Murakami stayed where he was, thankfully. They both looked surprised.
Kaidoh knew this was stupid. He knew it was inappropriate. He knew it was selfish. And he knew that it might mean he never trained with Inui again. But he could not stand Murakami around for one second longer.
"Inui-senpai," he said. "I have to tell you something."
"Not the ghost again," Inui said.
"No," Kaidoh said. He was going to do this. It was hard to get the words out, though.
"Go for it!" Murakami shouted.
"What is it?" Inui said. "You can tell me."
Kaidoh took a deep breath. "I like you," he said. "I'm sorry."
"Awesome!" Murakami gave Kaidoh the thumbs-up. "And I am out of here. Good luck, Kaidoh-kun." He floated up into the air and shimmered into nothing. He was gone. Finally!
"Yes!" Kaidoh said and raised his fist. He was feeling good now!
"Kaidoh?" Inui had a funny look on his face.
"Oh." That must have sounded beyond stupid. Inui hadn't even replied to Kaidoh yet and Kaidoh was already cheering. "I...it was really hard to say." And now the good feeling was gone and cold fear was there instead. Kaidoh's stomach was hurting some more. He tried to steel himself for Inui's rejection. He hoped that Inui wouldn't be too offended.
"It's all right," Inui said. He smiled. "I like you too."
"What?" Kaidoh wasn't sure he'd heard correctly.
Inui laughed. "I like you too," he said again. "So everything is fine."
And everything was. Kaidoh felt like a huge weight had been crushing him and now it was gone. He felt like the sun was rising inside his chest and warming him down to his fingers and toes. He felt like smiling. So he did.
Then Inui leaned down and kissed Kaidoh. It was just a brush of their lips together, just a brief moment of contact. And it told Kaidoh that this wasn't stupid, it wasn't inappropriate, it wasn't wrong. It was fine.
"Do you think you understand the chemistry now?" Inui asked.
Kaidoh tried to get his brain back to the concept of homework. "Yes, thank you for explaining it to me."
"It's still early," Inui said. "Do you want watch a movie?"
"Sure," Kaidoh said and smiled again. Anything that meant he could stay here with Inui. And without Murakami. Although Kaidoh was a bit offended that Murakami hadn't stayed long enough to see how things turned out.
Inui got out some cushions to sit on and went to his shelf to get a DVD. As Inui moved things around, Kaidoh thought he saw a book called Summoning and Controlling Spirits. But surely that couldn't be right since Inui didn't believe in that sort of thing. Kaidoh just had ghosts on the brain.
Inui put in the DVD and sat down beside Kaidoh. He picked up Kaidoh's hand and linked their fingers together. "Don't worry," he said. "It's not a ghost story."