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[HnG Fic] Hoshi 4b/4

HOSHI | by: ken
Word Count: 1956 | Complete: almost | Beta: no
Pairings: Maybe Sai + Hikaru, Akira + Hikaru, Ko Yeoung-Ha + Hikaru *shrugs*
Disclaimer: Hikaru No Go © Hotta & Obata. i do not own.
Read: Chapter 4b: (picking up where the last part left off)

Kouyo turned down the hallway which would lead him to the director’s office and paused. Outside of Shinoda’s office stood Ogata beside Fujiwarano Midori. Kouyo frowned deeply. He had no idea what Ogata was saying but Fujiwarano, though shorter, seemed to be derisively looking down her nose at him. Kouyo moved towards them. He could only hope Ogata had the good sense not to try to pick up Fujiwarano, everyone knew she didn’t date. In the event that Ogata was, however, Kouyo had no problem interrupting.

“Ogata, Fujiwarano, good to see you. What brings you here?” Kouyo greeted them with a polite smile. Fujiwarano returned it, her eyes full of gratitude; Ogata looked annoyed. Kouyo figured Ogata had gotten what he deserved.

“Touya Meijin, I haven’t seen you in a while,” Fujiwarano said.

“I’m hardly Meijin anymore,” Kouyo demurred.

“I think once you’ve held the title as long as you did, you have a right to always use it.”

“You’re too kind.”

Ogata cleared his throat, eyes narrowing. “And what are you doing here so early, Touya?”

“Dropping Akira off for his match,” Kouyo answered smoothly. “Figured I’d speak with Mr. Shinoda while I was here.”

“Oh, he’s just gone to fetch a student,” Fujiwarano replied. “I was with Sakurano and Isumi yesterday and they mentioned an insei here who’d fallen in the ranks from second to fourth since her friend was admitted to the hospital.”

“That sounds horrible,” Kouyo said.

“It does,” Fujiwarano agreed. “But with her friend withdrawing from the institute due to his illness, she’s now ranked third, and as long as she doesn’t lose anymore matches she’d be set for the pro exam. I just wanted to stop by and encourage her. It’s been a while since there was a female shodan, you know.”

“What rank was her friend then, if his dropping out affected her position?” Ogata wondered.

Fujiwarano spared him a glance. “Oh, Mr. Shinoda said he was ranked first.”

“Then who is first now?” Touya asked.

“That would be Isobe Hideki,” Mr. Shinoda answered as he came upon the group. “He was the child Meijin tournament winner for quite a few years. He’s quite good, though not the prodigy your son is.” Shinoda inclined his head toward Touya and smiled. “I believe Touya played him a few years ago and insulted him--”

Somehow, Touya Kouyo was not surprised.

“—I don’t think I’ve seen anyone as focused on beating Touya Akira since Shindou,” Shinoda admitted with a slight shrug.

Kouyo nodded. This was good news. Perhaps if Akira had someone else to focus on he wouldn’t be experiencing these extreme mood swings when it came to Shindou.

“Who was ranked first before Isobe?” Ogata asked in a tone that could be mistaken as polite interest if one didn’t know him as a well as Kouyo did.

“Oh, that would have been Fujiwara Sai,” Shinoda replied. He turned to Fujiwarano and explained. “Nase’s friend. She’ll been right out, by the way, she was recording her win for the day when I found her.”

“Thank you,” Fujiwarano murmured.

Kouyo tried not to seem too eager as he prodded Mr. Shinoda for more news. “So, S-Fujiwara is in the hospital?”

Mr. Shinoda sighed; face falling into a disappointed frown. “Oh, yes. Such a shame about that boy. He’s brilliant. He was only here for a few weeks, but everyone loved playing him and the level of dedication the students have all shown after a game with him is an absolute marvel. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who could inspire a love of the game the way Fujiwara does.”

Somehow, Touya Kouyo could relate.

It was then Nase Asumi approached with a bashful “You wanted to see me,” directed at Mr. Shinoda as she took in the three pros all staring at her as though she were the second coming of some religious deity. Before Ogata and Touya could say anything, Fujiwarano was already stepping forward and introducing herself, asking Nase to lunch so they could talk. The girl declined unless Fujiwarano wouldn’t mind making a stop first. “I’d like to visit Fujiwara, and I think only Shindou can flaunt visiting hours,” she explained.

Later Touya Kouyo could not say how he and Ogata Seiji had managed to weasel their way into the luncheon for his mind had fallen into desperation mode the moment he learned Nase knew where Sai was and could lead the way.




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.

----

Sai signed off from Internet Go before anyone else could challenge him and set his laptop on the nightstand beside his hospital bed. Hospitals. Sai officially hated them. It was one thing to have the memory ghosting around in his brain with no real reference, and quite another to lay in a hospital bed day in and day out with needles taped into his veins. He understood how he had gotten such a completely obscure life now. Who would think to check the hospital for a Go player no matter how good? Sai felt completely forgotten about and cut off.

It was an odd feeling to be sure. Before this life Sai had been content to only play Go to the exclusion of all else. He was passionate about it, and he was good at it and if he could persuade the person he haunted to love it too, then there wasn’t more that he could ask for. However, after breathing the air again, feeling the sun again, talking to different people, making friends, eating ramen and ice cream, there was no way he could return to such a solitary existence. Sai looked to the clock and expelled a breath in annoyance. It was past time for Hikaru to show up and it wasn’t like him to be late. Sai being admitted to the hospital and separated from Hikaru for the first time was not the way they’d wanted to find out the range of their connection. As it was, Sai could detect when Hikaru was a block or two from hospital grounds, but nothing before that.

Fortunately Hikaru wasn’t his only visitor. Sai had been incarcerated almost a month now and Fukui visited him on the weekends. If Waya and Isumi were scheduled for games at the same time as Hikaru, they too would accompany him when he stopped by. Even so, he hadn’t seen Nase. Hikaru had assured him that she had spent the first week visiting. Not that Sai would know as that first week he’d spent unconscious. The second week, after he’d awoken, the doctors had told him that he had mycoplasma pneumonia, the mildest form of the sickness. However someone with his delicate health couldn’t risk any kind of infection. He was scolded for not coming in earlier, but Sai couldn’t say that he’d only felt sick for a minute or two before he’d fainted when they claimed he’d been ailing for a week or more with how badly his respiratory organs had been compromised. His doctor cautioned that his immune system wasn’t what it should be and any bacterial infection had the potential to turn deadly no matter how mild. Sai supposed that made sense. There were a lot of diseases, air-born toxins, he hadn’t been exposed to in one thousand years and he’d jumped right into the thick of them at a Go institute -- a place where hundreds of fingers touched the same stones daily. Honestly, it was a miracle he hadn’t gotten something worse, though admittedly, ‘worse’ probably would have killed him again.

There was a knock to the door before it eased inward. Sai looked up from his nap expecting a nurse to be making rounds, but instead was treated to Nase poking her head through the opening and glancing around until she met his eyes. “Hey,” she murmured.

“Hey,” Sai repeated with a smile.

“Sorry I haven’t been by in a while.” She squeezed through the tiny opening and quickly closed and locked the door. Sai looked askance at her behavior and she huffed in exasperation. “I know I should probably be honored and all that,” she muttered as she approached Sai’s bed. “But Touya Meijin and Ogata Judan followed me here. I was just supposed to eat lunch with Ms. Fujiwarano.” She sat in the chair beside Sai’s bed and smiled at him. “It’s good to see you awake. I was really scared.”

Sai shrugged. He understood completely. After he’d woken up that first time to see Hikaru clinging to his hand all unkempt hair and dark circles under his eyes, Sai had vowed to get better as quickly as possible and try not to relapse again. “Really happy to see you,” he replied.

“So, I just wanted to say thank you.”

“Why?”

“The last thing you said before you passed out.”

Sai looked at her blankly.

Nase reached across the distance and briefly squeezed his hand. “You said you would ‘make sure I had a place’. And then you dropped out of the institute and, well, inadvertently you gave me a spot though I’d been about to throw it away because I was frustrated. So, I just—thank you for being my friend, even when I don’t deserve it.”

Sai shook his head. “You’re my friend, Nase, you don’t have to thank me for it and you definitely don’t have to earn it.”

Nase stood, leaned over Sai and carefully hugged him. “I’ll come see you tomorrow,” she said. “I don’t want to keep Ms. Fujiwarano waiting. And I’m sure Touya Meijin and Ogata Judan only came along to see you anyway.”

Sai nodded. That was probably the truth, and likely a long overdue meeting on all of their parts.

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Author Babble
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it is May 5th people, and yes i am capable of keeping a deadline, do not ever expect it to happen again. in fact, don't ever expect me to write a multi-chapter fic that isn't complete by the time i start posting ever again, if i ever again write fanfic.

There is one small part from Hikaru's perspective that ties up all loose ends to be posted later today (quite possibly tomorrow only because i have stuff interrupting my typing time right now >_<, but i figured i'd better post what i have before i stop and so you get this). so, once more with feeling, in a bit. and then i'm done, fo'reals.