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[HnG Fic] Fuseki 3/6

FUSEKI | by: e.N Black
Word Count Total: 19,119 | Complete: 06.25.2004
Pairings: Hints of Sai + Hikaru, Akira + Hikaru, Ko Yeoung-Ha + Hikaru
Disclaimer: Hikaru No Go © Hotta & Obata. e.N. Black does not own.

Chapter Three: The Way, the Truth, and the Life

As they sat around the dinner table eating fried noodles and steamed vegetables Waya Yoshitaka unabashedly studied Fujiwara Sai. Yes, the guy was pretty. Yes, he could see where Isumi would begin acting as stupid as the insipid, simpering females that flocked around him for lessons. No, he didn’t like it. Yes, he could quite easily get over it. This was the guy who had put Touya Akira in his place. Never mind that he was also the guy Touya had disregarded Waya to play instead; Sai had won. He had put a hurting on Touya’s pride the same way Touya had unwittingly hurt him. Sai had elevated from potential friend-thief to . . . well . . . potential friend-thief that would instantly be forgiven of all transgressions. But there was one thing Waya had to know. One thing that he was certain Isumi wanted to ask also but was too polite. Good thing I’m here.

“So, Fujiwara,” Waya began almost innocently. “Where have you been all this time? There are people on at least three continents looking for you.”

Sai lifted his gaze from his plate to Waya. A string of noodle and sauce hung from his lips. He shook his head and slurped up the noodle, his eyes fell back to his plate. It had been a long time since he had been able to eat and this was everything he’d imagined food to be. He didn’t want to spoil it by shifting through the memories that had been imbedded in his head by God. But it was rude not to give an answer. “I’ve been here,” he murmured, failing to specify where exactly ‘here’ was.

Waya’s eyes narrowed at him as he considered Sai. He had not spent the last couple of years speculating about this guy to not receive any answers now that he could. He opened his mouth to continue but Hikaru cut him off with a quick, “Leave him alone.”

Isumi’s eyebrows shot upward and Mrs. Shindou squirmed as she sat. Hikaru was never short with Waya, this was a first.

Hikaru ignored the shocked expression on Waya’s face to regard Sai. He looked so young with his hair down and free. He wore absolutely no make-up. Hikaru had pegged Sai as older when they’d first met, but actually giving him a full assessment now he could quite easily see where that mistake could be made; Sai was tall for his years. His mind was telling him that they were the same age, but somehow Hikaru couldn’t trust it. His head had been teaming with activity since his mother had announced Sai’s presence. Dual memories laced through his head. One side said that he’d met Sai when they were three years old but the truth as he knew it was that they had met nine years after that. However, on some scale both memories felt true. There was more though. Lots more exactly like that of him and Sai growing up together — but it just wasn’t possible. And there was one more thing added to the equation; something that shouldn’t be happening now that they each had their own bodies. The spot in his brain where Sai had nestled was also active and he could hear . . . things. He could feel things as a double sensation.

Double . . . Sai . . . can you hear me?’ he wondered.

Less than a second later Sai was looking into Hikaru’s eyes. ‘Loud and clear,’ he answered.

’Why? How? There are all these pictures and memories and stuff in my head all of a sudden.’

‘Not just you,’ Sai remarked.

’Why?’ Hikaru repeated.

’Because God gave me a life,’ he answered, smiling as he slurped up another dangling noodle.

‘There are lies in my head,’ Hikaru thought with some concern.

’No,’ Sai disagreed. ‘When I was being popped back and I was in the place between Heaven and here I heard one of God’s angels whisper that God is the way, the truth, and the life. And if God is truth then nothing He says can be a lie, right?’

‘I suppose . . .’ Hikaru reluctantly allowed.

‘Hikaru,’ Sai thought softy, fondly, ‘God says I exist; He found a way using His truth to give me a life. I’m not complaining.’

‘I’m not either it’s just that . . .’

‘I know,’ Sai’s mental voice whispered soothingly.

‘It’s weird,’ Hikaru finished in just as quiet a mental tone. When Sai thought soft thoughts it was as though Sai’s arms were wrapped around him with his graceful fingers filing through Hikaru’s hair. It made him feel better. ‘I guess we’re supposed to tell God’s other version of things, huh?’

‘I don’t think it would hurt anything.’

Their entire conversation had happened in milliseconds. The time it took to pass thoughts rather than speak was apparent; Waya was just recovering from his upset and finding his voice again by the time they’d finished.

“Shindou,” Waya started irritably but Hikaru cut him off again.

“The hospital,” he grumped.

“What?” Mitsuko and Waya queried simultaneously. Isumi said nothing but the look he gifted the two with was more than eloquent.

“I was in the hospital,” Sai clarified. In fact God had given him an extremely pathetic life that was Hikaru-centric. Sai supposed that was more than fair. He liked thinking that he and Hikaru had been brought up together instead of in two completely different eras. His old life had ended badly; it was far more pleasant to think of this one in comparison, even if he had been battling diseases most of it.

“All this time?” Waya demanded.

Sai nodded. “All my life,” he murmured and before any more objections could be made he expounded. “My mother left me at the hospital shortly after I was born. I was very sickly and I’d developed cancer later on.”

“Oh my . . .” Mrs. Shindou gasped in surprise.

“I was so sick I couldn’t be moved to foster care and nobody wants an ill child. So I was a ward of the state and as such I was taken care of by the free clinic part of the hospital.”

“How did you meet Hikaru then?” Isumi asked. If the guy had been in the hospital his entire life there was no way he could have met Hikaru under normal circumstances. But then the whole day had been rather bizarre. First Hikaru had been behaving oddly earlier, acting as though he was waiting for someone that wouldn’t show. Then this gorgeous creature sitting before him popped up from seemingly nowhere and could play Go more than well if the rumors were true. Isumi covertly watched Sai and Hikaru. The former was avidly eating his meal while Hikaru seemed more than content to just watch him do so as he picked at his own food. A whimsical smile was etched onto Hikaru’s face and Isumi had to wonder what they were to each other. He hazarded best friends at least, a student to teacher complex was a definite possibility, but there was just something about the way they looked into one another’s eyes. It was as though they saw more than anyone else ever could in each other. Isumi wondered if the hormones that had activated upon seeing Sai would mind too terribly if he sat this pursuit out. It didn’t look like he would win even if Sai and Hikaru turned out not to be . . . lovers.

“We met when we were three, I think; sat together in the children’s clinic because Hikaru had the flu.” Sai was saying when Isumi came back to himself.

Mrs. Shindou sucked in a quick breath as she was struck by an epiphany. “You’re the little boy who held his hand.” Sai nodded. “Every time we were in that part of town Hikaru just had to come see you.”

“Right,” Hikaru confirmed.

“You’re still friends after all this time,” Mitsuko said with no small amount of awe in her voice. These were facts, hardcore facts. Sai had been the little bald-headed boy who had boldly latched on to Hikaru’s hand to comfort him. They had looked at each other and offered shy smiles. Sai’s hair had grown back beautifully since then. No wonder it was so long; he was finally able to grow it without it falling out from the chemotherapy and other treatments. She wouldn’t cut it either were it her. “You’re the one who got him into Go,” she stated, having just remembered what Isumi had said about Sai being the reputed best.

“Yes, that’s right too,” Sai replied. He pushed his empty plate away and not a complete second later Hikaru was standing and carrying it over to the sink with his own mostly full plate.

‘Mom wasn’t too thrilled about it, remember?’ tickled Sai’s mind from Hikaru’s. Sai figured he could at least explain that part before turning in for the night. Geez, Gabriel said I would feel worn out but this bone deep weariness is a bit much.

“He actually hadn’t liked the game,” Sai said as Hikaru sat back down beside him. “But he learned to play it for my sake.”

Mitsuko’s mouth pursed together in a fashion that could be considered either positive or negative as she processed what Sai had just said. It made perfect sense and it was all facts.

“You taught Shindou how to play?” Isumi repeated slowly. His mind was replaying an earlier conversation. His curiosity was piqued. He just had to know how much he had helped Shindou; had to know why he’d needed help. Where was Sai then?

“At first he would just place the stones for me when I . . . when I couldn’t. But soon he began to ask what exactly he was doing, so yes, I guess I did,” Sai answered humbly.

Hikaru almost snorted at Sai’s modesty. Wasn’t he remembering those humiliating defeats Hikaru had suffered because Sai hadn’t toned down his expertise?

“Are you a Shuusaku fanatic too?” Waya questioned.

“Sai’s the original Shuusaku fanatic,” Hikaru corrected.

“I’ve got one more question,” Isumi continued confidently. “And you can just tell me to shut up if it’s too personal.” He’d been aiming his question at Sai but both he and Hikaru looked attentively at him. “If you’re the one who taught Shindou how to play, how do you feel about him forfeiting all those matches last year?”

Waya stared at Isumi in gape mouthed fascination, shocked that he had actually been so bold as to ask the question they had been contemplating before. He supposed it was because Sai was being so accommodating in answering their inquiries that had prompted him, but still, Isumi was a more subtle breed of person.

Sai closed his eyes briefly as the knowledge came to him from somewhere deep in his mind. He hadn’t known about Hikaru skipping matches after God had called him back. He had been right to worry about Hikaru the entire time in line. He now knew the truth — Hikaru had believed not playing would bring him back, and when that hadn’t happened Hikaru could only find solace in playing to remember him.

There was no need to go into that; his altered memories gave him something completely different to say. “Last year about this time I had slipped into a coma that my doctors weren’t sure I’d wake up from.” Sai ignored the gasps from the three who hadn’t known. “The doctors and nurses all said that Hikaru came to visit me everyday, all day. He’d sworn that if I couldn’t play then he wouldn’t play either. So I can’t say that I’m upset because I know why he did it and I’m glad . . .” Sai turned from Isumi to gaze directly at Hikaru. There was a genuine wide smile on his face. “I’m glad that I mean so much to him.”

Isumi’s head dropped back down to his mostly empty plate. What’s it like to have that kind of commitment? he thought, casting a considering glance Waya’s way from the corner of his eye; they had yet to begin planning their trip to China.

Hikaru hadn’t wanted to play because while he would have been going to his matches his friend, the one that had taught him how to play and appreciate the game was lying in a hospital bed and could die at any moment. This same friend was probably the one playing cheerleader for Hikaru while he was a struggling insei; he was probably the one that had encouraged him to take the exam. And Hikaru would have given it up, his career, his love for the game, everything, to have his friend back, awake and healthy. Why does it have it make so much sense? One thing was for sure though. Even if Sai and Hikaru weren’t dating now, it wouldn’t be too much longer before they were.