InuKai, 2200 words, PG13.
In which Kaidoh is the object of unwanted attentions and there is conversation about cats.
NB: I used to get angry at the anime writers for torturing Kaidoh all the time. Then I found out that it's impossible not to. Sorry, sweetie! It's just because I love you.
The booth was big and round but it wasn't big enough and round enough for them all to fit in comfortably. Kaidoh aimed for the chair the waiter was setting up in the aisle, but Inui got behind him and gave him a push and Kaidoh found himself crowded into the very middle of the booth, shoulder to shoulder with Inui.
Not to mention thigh to thigh. Inui was pressing his leg tight against Kaidoh's. Right there, in front of everybody. Like Inui couldn't restrain himself for an hour, until he and Kaidoh went back to his apartment to review training strategies and watch movies and kiss.
Kaidoh moved his leg, but Inui's moved with it and Kaidoh stopped before he ran out of room entirely. Well, it wasn't likely that anyone could really see under the table. Anyhow, Kaidoh was almost as close to Fuji on the other side. They were all squashed in together.
And he did like being close to Inui. Even if Inui was annoying and inappropriate sometimes.
Kaidoh stared at his water glass and tried not to think about Inui's warm thigh, Inui's broad shoulder, Inui's elbow that brushed Kaidoh's arm when Inui put down his menu. Kaidoh took a drink and sucked an ice cube into his mouth. Maybe that would help.
Then Inui put his hand on Kaidoh's leg and Kaidoh choked.
He couldn't breathe. His heart raced. Everyone stared at him. Fuji banged him on the back. The ice slipped down his throat. Kaidoh could feel it freezing him all the way down. He coughed. People started to clamour. "I'm fine," Kaidoh said. Inui squeezed Kaidoh's thigh and Kaidoh kicked Inui on the ankle.
It didn't work. "You shouldn't chew on ice," Inui said and stroked Kaidoh's leg, up and down, up and down. As if Kaidoh weren't worked up enough already, from his near-death experience. Now he was half angry with Inui for putting him in this situation and half turned on by the movement of Inui's fingers and half jumpy with unused adrenaline. Which was too many halves, but it felt like that right now, like there was too much of himself to keep track of and control.
He picked up his menu and tried to find something to order. Kaidoh didn't really care for Western food so it was difficult. He wished they had picked a different restaurant. One with better food and bigger booths. He concentrated on breathing in and out, calming himself down.
Then Fuji put his hand on Kaidoh's other leg.
Kaidoh jumped and his knees hit the table, sending everyone clutching for their water glasses.
"Are you choking again?" Inui said.
"Please excuse me," Kaidoh said. "I have to use the bathroom."
Three people had to move to let him out. Kaidoh went into the bathroom and just stood there, eyes closed and hand on his forehead.
What was going on? Inui was just being Inui, but Fuji? Why would he do that? Was it an accident?
That had to be it. They were packed in so tightly that Fuji must have just brushed Kaidoh as he was putting his hands in his own lap. There was no other explanation that made sense.
An accident. Kaidoh had overreacted. That was all. Everything was fine.
He splashed water on his face and went back to the table. "Please don't bother moving," he said. "I'll just sit on the end."
"It's no trouble," Fuji said, smiling. He made Oishi and Eiji slide out with him and Kaidoh had no choice but to climb back into his seat. Maybe Inui would leave him alone this time.
Or maybe not. They were hardly all back in the booth before Inui put his hand back onto Kaidoh's thigh.
Kaidoh wanted to jam his elbow into Inui's side, but that would only draw attention. He was stuck until they were done with their meal.
The waiter took their orders. With any luck, the food would arrive quickly, they would all eat quickly, and Kaidoh could get out of there. He would still be with Inui, of course, but they would be sitting in Inui's bedroom, and Kaidoh didn't object to this sort of thing when it was done in private.
Inui was rubbing his thumb in a circle and kneading gently with his other fingers. In spite of everything, it felt good. Kaidoh let himself relax.
Which was a mistake because just then Fuji's hand slid back onto Kaidoh's other leg. It was clearly not an accident.
Before he could help himself, Kaidoh hissed. Everyone looked over at him. "Kaidoh?" Inui said.
"It's nothing," Kaidoh said. He picked up his water glass, but the ice cubes clinked against the side, taunting him. He put it back down. Fuji squeezed his leg and Kaidoh shivered.
What was he going to do? He couldn't say anything or do anything that would let anyone else know what was happening. That would just make things worse. And why was Fuji touching him like that, anyhow? Did he like Kaidoh?
This was too much. Kaidoh couldn't even think about it. Inui's thumb was still drawing circles. Fuji's fingers were brushing gently back and forth. Kaidoh's skin was crawling and he could feel his face getting hot. He wrapped his hands around his glass and held it tightly, gritting his teeth and staring down.
He just had to wait it out. When the food came, it would stop. And then he could get away. And then... Well, he would have to deal with that later, because it was taking all his concentration right now to not smack both his senpais right here in the restaurant.
Fuji started to move his hand up and down. Kaidoh jerked his leg away without thinking. Now his leg room was gone, his knees and thighs touching. It didn't stop Fuji either. His hand crept back onto Kaidoh's leg and began stroking it again. Kaidoh's heart was throbbing in his ears, he couldn't hear the conversation at the table.
This was bad. Very bad. And it could get worse quickly. Kaidoh was going to have to risk taking Inui's hand under the table, just to keep him and Fuji from--
Oh, shit. On one side, Kaidoh felt Inui tense, on the other, Fuji shake a little as he chuckled. Fuji's hand moved away, slowly, but away, finally, at last, gone. Inui waited a few seconds, probably to make sure that Fuji had stopped, then took his hand away as well.
Kaidoh did not experience the sense of relief he had been hoping for.
The tension at the table was noticeable. People were starting to look over. Kaidoh kept staring down, trying to pretend he had no idea what was going on. Inui was still rigid beside him. Kaidoh wondered what he was thinking right now.
Then Fuji began to talk: "I found a stray cat today. I picked it up and cuddled it and stroked it. I liked it so much, I think I'll take it home with me."
"Do you think you can find it again, Fuji?" Eiji said.
"It might belong to someone already," Inui said. His voice was cold, without the edge of amusement it usually had. It gave Kaidoh a chill. "Just because you couldn't see the owner, doesn't mean the cat was a stray."
"The cat didn't have a collar," Fuji said. Kaidoh could hear the smile in his voice. "So it must not have an owner."
Pressure was building in Kaidoh's head. Blood throbbed at his temples and it was getting hard to see.
"Some cats," Inui said, "don't like collars."
Cats. A hundred cats were scratching at Kaidoh now, he was being smothered by their fur, deafened by their yowling. He swallowed hard and tried to keep still, but his muscles were tensing for flight, his hands were trembling.
"Some cats have more than one home," Fuji said. "They'll go with anyone who'll feed them fish and stroke their fur. If it's loyalty you want, Inui, get a dog."
And that was it, absolutely it, over, done, gone. "Excuse me," Kaidoh said, almost yelled, and threw some money down on the table. "I have to leave."
He was afraid they wouldn't let him out, but they did. He didn't look back as he went, not even at Inui. He almost knocked over the waiter bringing their food. And then he was out the door, into the fresh air, and away.
He took the bus home. He sat in the back and stared out the window. He felt better now that he wasn't being pawed at or talked around. But now he was just angry. Angry at Inui for annoying him, angry at Fuji for taking advantage. And angry at himself for being the kind of person who this would happen to.
Kaidoh didn't want to be that kind of person.
At home, he changed and went out for a run. He ran a little faster than usual, pushed himself a little harder, fueling himself with his anger. And when he was done, he was calm. Not happy, but calm.
He lay on the floor of his room and stared up at the ceiling. He remembered he was supposed to have gone over to Inui's. Well, Inui could have hardly expected him to after that. Except maybe now Inui thought that he and Fuji...
Kaidoh ground his teeth together and hissed. What if Inui really thought that? What if Inui didn't want to be with Kaidoh anymore? Annoying as Inui was, Kaidoh had got used to being with him. He admired Inui. He liked Inui.
Now Kaidoh was feeling guilty. He didn't really understand why, since he hadn't actually done anything. But maybe he had. Maybe there was something he had said or done that had caused all of this.
Maybe he should apologize. He got his mobile out of his bag and stared at it. He wanted to call Inui, but he didn't know what to say. A text message might be better. Only he didn't know what to write. Kaidoh's stomach hurt and his hands didn't want to move. He was going to lose Inui.
The phone rang and he almost dropped it. Kaidoh stared at the call display as the phone rang again. It was Inui. Kaidoh felt chilled and stiff, like that ice cube was still in his belly, growing larger and larger. Then he took a deep breath and answered the phone.
"Kaidoh," Inui said.
"Inui-senpai." Kaidoh swallowed. "I...I'm sorry. I--"
"I'm the one who should apologize," Inui said and the sound of his voice began to warm Kaidoh like a hot drink on a cold day. "Are you all right?"
"Of course," Kaidoh said. Maybe this would be all right after all. But there was still-- "Senpai, about...I mean, I didn't..."
"I talked to Fuji. He won't do that again."
Kaidoh got a little warmer. "Thank you."
"He said he was just teasing you."
"He knew," Inui said. "Or he guessed and now he knows. He says he'll keep it to himself."
"You don't think anybody else will guess?"
"If they do, I'm sure that between the two of us, we can convince them to shut up about it."
And that was probably true. Kaidoh smiled to himself.
"It's too bad we couldn't have lunch together," Inui said. "Momoshiro ate your sandwich. And I missed you at my place."
"I'm sorry, senpai," Kaidoh said. "Did you want me to come over now?"
"I'm afraid that would be inconvenient."
A flicker of cold went through Kaidoh. Maybe Inui really didn't want to see him after all.
"Because," continued Inui, "I'm standing outside your house."
And Kaidoh thawed completely. "Please come in," he said. "I'll come down right away."
Kaidoh took Inui up to his room and they sat down on the couch. Inui put his arm around Kaidoh's shoulders.
Now that Kaidoh wasn't worried any more, he began to get irritated again. "Senpai," he said. "Please don't do that any more."
"This?" Inui squeezed Kaidoh's shoulder.
"No, at the restaurant. I wish you wouldn't."
Inui laughed and pressed his face against Kaidoh's hair. "Should I get you a collar?"
Which was the exact opposite of Kaidoh's point. "I'm not a cat," he said and leaned away from Inui. "It's just when we're in public."
"How about a chip under your skin?" Inui nuzzled behind Kaidoh's ear. "Right here. Then I could track you."
"I'm not a child," Kaidoh said. "It's not appropriate. And what if someone notices?"
"Don't worry," Inui said. "I won't let anyone else tease you."
And with that, Kaidoh gave up, pushed Inui back against the cushions, and kissed him until they were both breathless.
Afterward, Kaidoh put his head on Inui's shoulder and his arm around Inui's waist and they just sat for a while. Inui stroked Kaidoh's hair.
"Aren't you going to purr for me?" Inui said.
Kaidoh shoved him off the couch.