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[hng]Hoshi, Chapter Three

alright children. not my best. been having a rough time typing this. after some thought, decided to leave everything as it was (didn't like the remix at all). final chapter should be out in the next few days.

Hikaru no Go is a product of Hotta and Obata; i am unworthy.
For Lottery Winner: Brett Boyette



It was a day just like any other when China’s amateur competitor Lee Lin Shin logged on to his computer to play internet Go. He absently scrolled through the list of probable opponents, deciding who he would play based on name alone. He saw the usual suspects, who were neither a challenge but not a complete bore either, like Queen and Ozzy. He briefly watched a game between Lao Zi and Maiden wondering if he would challenge the winner of that battle, but they were still in the early stages of fuseki and it would be a while. Continuing to scroll downward he stopped short when a name he hadn’t seen in a year blinked before him.

The last time America’s Michael Jones had seen Sai’s name had been a year ago when an imposter had used the name and made a mockery of the game they all loved. He didn’t think another person would do that after the electronic flames they’d sent the last guy, but one could never be too sure. There was only one way to find out, and that was to challenge this purported Sai. But he didn’t want to risk the disappointment of another fake.

Korea’s Kim had only seen Sai play twice in his lifetime. He’d felt cheated for a long time concerning that because the two games he’d seen were truly brilliant and he’d wanted a chance at him. When Sai’s name appeared on his computer screen he hesitated only a moment before issuing a challenge to the mysterious Japanese Go genius.

In Holland, on a break from teaching his students, Niels Caspar logged on to his computer for a quick and relaxing game against a competitor he could not see. What he found was Sai slicing Jeju Go Seoul’s fingers at the joints while he still held the stone perfectly on his fingernail. Jeju Go Seoul resigned shortly after that. Niels Caspar’s breath caught in his throat and he ran a shaking hand through his short blond hair. The Sai was back.

* * *

Shindou Hikaru fidgeted outside of the Go Institute and looked to his watch for the time again. Sai was late and he was worried. He’d left their new apartment for his usual Thursday match up four hours ago upon Sai pinky-promising that he would be able to find his way to the building at the right hour. He should have known better. Sai was much stronger now but was still prone to lapses in strength and frequent hospital visits for lungs unused to breathing, or too rapid a heartbeat. His weakness had conspired to keep him from taking the insei test and instead he spent his days at home playing ‘net Go unless they had something else planned or he had a pro exam preliminary match to attend. Today they were having lunch with Waya and Isumi who hadn’t been scheduled for games that day to celebrate Sai passing the prelims -- as if there were ever any doubt. Yashiro Kiyoharu had been seated beside him during the match ups. Since Hikaru hadn’t seen him in a while he’d decided to invite him along for the lunch also.

Touya had had a match too.

Hikaru didn’t know what to think about that. In three months Touya Akira hadn’t spoken a word to him. This wasn’t unusual, the bleach-blonde boy could recall numerous occasions over the years where he and Touya had refused to acknowledge each other’s existence. It was different this time. This time he had no idea what he’d done to offend Touya Akira. And he’d already tried to apologize, make overtures to reclaim their questionable friendship. Nothing had worked and he was tired. He was not going to beg Touya Akira to be his friend.

“Hikaru!”

Sai had a very distinctive yodel when it came to his name the boy decided as he looked up and saw his mentor waving an aqua and olive fan at him from a block away. Hikaru never would have thought those colors together would look good on a human being but Sai wore the matching tunic and hat as though an artist had mixed it especially for him. There was finally a ‘living’ hue to Sai’s cheeks, and as he reached Hikaru and threw an arm around him in greeting, Hikaru was happy to note the smile on Sai’s face was real and not forced passed a façade hiding pain.

“Hey,” Hikaru said.

“Told you I could do it,” Sai beamed. He looked around once. “Where’s Waya and Isumi?”

“Late,” Hikaru answered shortly.

Sai frowned. “But after all that, I’m definitely hungry.”

“Ramen okay?”

“Of course.”

“Waya will fuss for sushi,” Hikaru warned.

“Then he should have gotten here on time,” Sai countered.

It would probably still come down to Jan-Ken between them, Hikaru surmised. Isumi was pretty belligerent about taking Waya’s side in everything.

‘That’s because Isumi and Waya like each other.’ Sai’s voice drifted to him from their still active link.

Shindou shook his head vehemently. “No they don’t!” he snapped aloud, completely appalled at what Sai had said.

“Yes, they do. Thick numbskull that you are, you wouldn’t notice something like that.”

“Shindou, wouldn’t notice what?” Yashiro Kiyoharu wondered as he exited the Go institute and leaned against the wall beside Hikaru and Sai.

“A crush between two people,” Sai confided.

To his credit, Yashiro did appear to think it over before answering, “True enough,” with a decisive nod.

“Augh!” Shindou scoffed. “You’re supposed to be on my side. You don’t even know him.” He glared at the white haired professional player.

Yashiro shrugged. “You appear to, that’s good enough.” He offered a smile to Sai. “Yashiro Kiyoharu, nice to meet you.”

“Fujiwara Sai, nice to meet you too, Hikaru has mentioned you once or twice.”

‘Hikaru, why isn’t he reacting to my name like everyone else does?’

‘Yashiro’s from the Kansai Institute, he doesn’t know about you or all the trouble you caused that first time.’

‘Oh?’

For a moment Yashiro appeared offended. “Once or twice? That’s all? I’ll have you know I am the only one who can compete with Hikaru’s completely twisted Go at his level.”

“No you can’t, you haven’t beaten me once yet,” Hikaru boasted.

Rather than take the bait, Yashiro turned to Sai. “Hey, Fujiwara, you play Go?”

“Of course,” Sai answered enthusiastically.

“Then you can decide if I’m better than Shindou if you play me sometime.”

“I’d like that.”

Hikaru snorted. “Yeah, right. If you can’t even beat me you’re never gonna win against Sai.”

The door to the institute closed behind a short kid with auburn hair and snooty expression on his face. He pushed circular lenses further upon his nose as he asked, “Oh, really?”

“Yeah,” Hikaru responded before realizing to whom he was speaking.

Ochi Kousuke had been his opponent earlier that afternoon. After his defeat Ochi had disappeared to the little boys’ room as was his wont. Apparently he was done now and ready to inflict his glowing personality on the rest of humanity.

Hikaru expected a scathing remark and was just as shocked as Yashiro as they witnessed the permanent scowl on Ochi’s face drift in to a slack-jawed parody of expression. Beady eyes hidden behind large lenses had widened significantly. And there was silence.

“Hi,” Sai greeted.

But Ochi had been struck mute.

Shindou elbowed Yashiro in the gut. “I do so notice,” he stated.

Yashiro clipped the back of his head with a straight hand. “This one is ridiculously obvious.”

“What’s ridiculously obvious?” Touya Akira audibly mused as he passed through the Go institute’s doors.

“Nothing,” Hikaru and Kiyoharu both answered.

“Oh.”

“Hey, Touya,” Yashiro began before the younger Touya could move on. “We’re going to lunch as soon as Waya and Isumi arrive. You wanna come?”

Briefly, serious blue eyes met Shindou Hikaru’s. Hikaru lifted an eyebrow in acknowledgment but remained quiet. “Sure,” Touya accepted.

* * *

Stupid!

Just stupid, Touya raged. He marched up the pathway to his house. A bitter fight ensued between key and the lock before he realized the door was already open. Mood not improved, he shoved through the door, misjudged where he was in relation to it as he slammed it back resulting in clipping his elbow and getting his sweater-vest caught in the jam at the hip. He bit his lip to keep from crying out at the stinging pain racing from his elbow and pelvis to his brain, took a purposeful step forward only to realize he couldn’t, sling-shot from fast-forward to rewind to receive a doorknob in the gut and an instant headache as his forehead connected with the dangling metal bolt from the chain lock.

“Dammit!”

“Akira?” Touya Kouyo wondered as he left the sitting room with eyebrows drawn up to his hairline. “Are you alright?”

This was a stupid question as far as Touya Akira was considered. Of course he wasn’t okay. Foolishly, he had broken his resolve against seeing Shindou until his stupid infatuation faded. Foolishly, he had gone to lunch under the pretense that if it was Yashiro who had invited him then he hadn’t a reason to turn him down.

Lunch had probably been wonderful by everyone else’s standards. His rival, both his rivals had been having the time of their lives. Celebrating as if Rival Number Two didn’t win everything he wanted -- as though it were some great shock. And he’d watched, Touya Akira had, he’d watched as Shindou spoke with all, laughed with all, but still managed to make it seem like he and Fujiwara were the only ones at the table.

Touya and Ochi -- who hadn’t been invited but had decided to tag along anyhow -- had been seated further down. Touya knew he was really on the outs with this little group due to the spot, stuck as he had been beside the miserably spoiled Ni-Dan. And then Ochi had spoken; the typical whine about Shindou and all things pertaining to him spilling from his lips.

“Why is it always Shindou?” the short player had whispered to him. “First he’s some Go genius who came out of no where, you acknowledge him, the entire Go world notices him, and even pretty girls cling to him.”

Touya had been about to tune Ochi out until he’d heard that last part. “Girls?” he’d asked.

Ochi had stared at him as though a foot were growing from his ear.

“Miss Fujiwara,” Ochi had hissed in a tone that implied Touya was his mental inferior.

Touya rarely took any pleasure out of being deliberately malicious, but to inform Ochi in the same superior speaking to inferior tone that Fujiwara Sai was male had been the highlight of his entire rotten day.

Ochi had meekly excused himself with mumbles of ‘I’m going to be sick.’ Touya had been delighted. Served the brat right. He’d continued eating his meal and watching Shindou interact with the others, slightly jealous of their easy rapport, but happy to be indirectly included nonetheless. Waya and Isumi, who had been late but refused to offer explanation, had spoken of the Annual Amateur Go Tournament coming up and how they’d been commissioned by the institute to help out. Isumi claimed Shindou would probably be receiving the same summons in the near future. And then Sai, who had become ridiculously attached to Yashiro and vice versa in so short a time had questioned the white haired boy about his home life.

“You’re parents still giving you grief?” Hikaru had asked then.

Yashiro had nodded, rolled his eyes at the heavens. “Yeah, I’d move out but it’s too expensive right now. Maybe after I save up a little more.”

Hikaru had glanced at Sai, Sai had almost imperceptibly nodded. “Well, we have an extra room at our place,” Rival Number One had offered.

Touya still ground his teeth together every time he thought about it. He wanted to let the door finish what it started in banging his head against it repeatedly. Why Yashiro and not me?

It occurred to the younger Touya that he was still caught in the door, his head ached, his elbow throbbed, it felt like his pelvic bone was glaring up at him for its ill treatment, and his father was yet awaiting a response. “No. No, I’m not alright.”

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Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
myaru
Oct. 5th, 2006 11:10 pm (UTC)
I'd feel sorry for Ochi if he wasn't such an ass. Well done! And I didn't expect Yashiro to score the extra room.

But anyway, I enjoyed the chapter!
goldenrat84
Oct. 6th, 2006 04:57 am (UTC)
Sai's back online. I can't wait to read about the frenzy that develops.
Poor Akira, so close & yet so far.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )