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[HnG Fic] Fuseki 4/6

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

Chapter Four: Chit-Chat Before Bedtime

An hour after saying goodnight to Isumi and Waya and casually mentioning to his mother that it was late and a long and dangerous route back to the hospital for their recovering guest, Hikaru helped a freshly bathed Sai sit down on his bed and instructed him to lift his arms so he could place a t-shirt over his head.

“This is tedious,” Sai grumped when Hikaru had to grab each appendage and press them through the armholes himself.

“You’re weak because God gave you a sickly body. Not your fault. Besides . . .” Hikaru’s gray-green eyes flowed over Sai’s body before it disappeared under the shirt he guided down. “You’ve got nothing to be ashamed of.” Patiently Hikaru lifted each of Sai’s legs to slide on a pair of his boxer shorts.

“It’s still embarrassing,” Sai mumbled. His cheeks were rosy from the bath and his discomfiture. His friend had leaned him forward so that Sai's forehead rested on Hikaru’s shoulder while Hikaru pulled the shorts up. For a second Hikaru’s hands had rested on his backside, it had felt like a caress, but Sai was sure that he was imagining things. There wasn’t a detectable dirty thought in Hikaru’s mind despite his comments.

“It’s not,” Hikaru insisted with a smile. “Do you want to go to sleep now or stay up?”

“Stay up for a little while. I’m tired but not ready to sleep yet. We haven’t seen each other in a long time.”

“Yeah, about that,” Hikaru began as he rearranged Sai’s docile body beneath the summer bed sheets. He stacked his pillows behind Sai’s back and helped him recline. “Where were you all this time? I searched and searched all over. It’s been a year and a week, Sai, since I last saw you.” Hikaru settled himself onto his bed beside Sai having decided to make a pallet on the floor later. Sai inclined his head towards Hikaru’s shoulder and let it rest there. He smiled when Hikaru didn’t brush off the contact.

“Well, if you’re referring to why I wasn’t here when you came in earlier I’d have to say that was Gabriel’s fault for putting me so far away from your house in this condition. If you’re talking about in general — I was in line.”

“In line,” Hikaru repeated stupidly and then scoffed. “You have to wait in line to see God?”

“A lot of people die everyday,” Sai replied offhandedly, conveniently forgetting that the wait had nearly driven him insane with its inanity.

“Did you see Him?” Hikaru exclaimed excitedly.

“Who? God?”

“Uh huh!”

“No.” Hikaru’s face fell and Sai hurriedly gushed to bring that animated look back to him. “But I did see Saint Peter the Disco King and Samurai Gabriel the Archangel.” He concentrated on the images he’d seen and managed to project them to Hikaru through their bond.

Hikaru’s eyes gleamed. “Wow,” he breathed.

“Yeah,” Sai agreed. “And the Pearly Gates . . .” Sai focused on the memory.

“Yes?” Hikaru closed his eyes to get a better visual.

“So cool,” Sai replied and sent the image.

“It’s very beautiful. But why in the hell does it look like the God of the Western culture’s place?”

“When you’re basking in the glow of Heaven it’s like everything you’ve ever wondered about has been made plain and you get it all of a sudden.” Sai’s eyes were unfocused as he delivered that cryptic message.

“Get what?”

“Everything,” Sai offered vaguely.

“Get what?” Hikaru reiterated anxiously. “You haven’t answered my question.”

“The thing every god or gods or spirits of just about every civilization have in common is that they’re all powerful and all knowing, or at least have some mystical powers and are a bit wiser so that they seem all knowing, right? Sai remarked instead.

“Yeah, I guess so,” Hikaru reluctantly agreed wondering what that statement had to do with anything.

“And they may be male or female or have many different characteristics and names but when it comes down to it there is only one god masquerading as all the others so people of different backgrounds can understand Him to the best of their ability.”

“But why did Heaven look like that? And I don’t want some deep philosophical answer.”

“Alright,” Sai conceded. “The simple answer is that I wanted it to.”

Hikaru winced at the onslaught of confusion that hit his brain. Why would a one thousand year old ghost from Japan want Heaven to look Western? “Okay give me the deep philosophical answer.”

Sai stifled his laughter. “Think of Heaven as a computer desktop; if you don’t like it, you can change it right?”

“Yes,” Hikaru replied. Since he was twelve he’d learned a thing or two about computers.

“Well, if I had wanted Heaven to look different, it would have looked different. But of all the scenarios I could have picked out I liked the simple golden road and the dazzling gates in the background and the sparkling clouds and that magnificent soft glow. It was soothing to look at and I was distraught to say the least.”

“Distraught?” Hikaru wondered.

“I was worried about you,” admitted Sai.

Fighting a smile, Hikaru managed to say, “Worry or not, I can’t believe you left a multi-desktop Heaven to come back here.”

Sai shrugged as he forced his exhausted body to roll onto its side so that he could cuddle up to Hikaru. He buried his head in the crook of Hikaru’s neck and shoulder and laid a slender hand on his chest. “Hikaru,” he began, “we’re friends right?”

“The best kind,” Hikaru concurred. He covered Sai’s hand with one of his own and lifted it to his lips in a thoughtlessly quick adoring kiss.

Sai, pleased with the action but loathed to call attention to it, instead nibbled his bottom lip in a silent debate that Hikaru couldn’t decipher in his mind. “In one thousand years you were my only friend,” he said after a minute.

“What about Torajirou?”

Sai shook his head slowly as he planned out the best way to say what he wanted to. He’d had a year and a week to take things like this into account without any distractions. It was more than safe to say that he knew his own mind. “No. Torajirou let me play Go because he realized my talent and knew that there was a possibility that he could become famous. It was more like a business arrangement that suited the both of us. He can’t compare to you.”

Hikaru had had no idea how much he had wanted to hear those words until Sai had said them. He’d always been jealous of Torajirou and how much Sai had doted on his memories of them together. He couldn’t keep the corners of his lips from tilting upwards and staying that way in a goofy grin.

“When I was in line I had a lot of time to think. And Heaven just isn’t Heaven without you, Hikaru.” The hand on Hikaru’s chest slid up his neck to cup his smooth cheek and caress it for a moment before falling back down weakly. Sai cursed his lack of muscle. God had a nasty sense of humor. He’d given him a body but no strength. He’d given fifteen years of life to him and a disgusting amount of hormones that he’d forgotten came with the territory, and no way to act on them. Maybe that was best for now.

Some minutes passed in which the boys merely sat together in silence, enjoying each other’s company. However, soon Hikaru was asking in a somber tone, “Were you really my age when you . . . died?” He couldn’t bring himself to say committed suicide. In the few minutes of silence he’d been rummaging through the memories in his mind, realizing that some of them were from God, some of them were his, and some of them belonged to Sai. Then he had seen the small ocean, Setonaikai, in which Sai had thrown himself. It was a vivid image that stood out from the rest no matter how hard he concentrated on something else.

“Yes,” Sai answered his voice just as subdued.

“You seemed older when we first met,” Hikaru accused. But he supposed he could have figured it out if he had really wanted to. Hikaru had never thought to imagine Sai without make-up and that stupid hat or those bulging clothes. Underneath it all was a smooth face that looked to have just lost its preadolescent plumpness. Sai’s body was proportional but thin and still filling out much like Hikaru's was. Sai must have had a sudden growth spurt before he had died, because even after Hikaru's own rapid development Sai was still half a head taller than him. Then Hikaru acknowledged that Sai had behaved just as immaturely as he had most of the time. No matter the argument, no matter how big or small, neither of them would admit when they were wrong. ‘I’m sorry’ hadn’t existed in their vocabulary. And when put like that, impossible as it seemed, a teenager had beaten Touya Meijin.

“To a twelve year old I’m huge,” Sai said with a small smile. The smile faded quickly however. “In my day, children grew up faster. I guess that’s because back then people died sooner. But since I was a member of the court and taught the emperor himself, I had to be very well behaved — conduct myself in a certain way. There were certain rules back then.” He sighed tiredly, as though he dreaded the task before him. “I suppose I should tell you the parts of the story I left out now before you pluck it from my brain.”

“There was more?” Hikaru asked not needing Sai to elaborate on the subject.

“Yes. I didn’t want to tell you because you were so naïve, so young,” Sai answered. He collected his thoughts again and realized there was no easy way to say it. “Remember the other Go player I told you about — the one that cheated?”

Hikaru nodded.

“The reason he told the emperor he only needed one Go instructor was because I had been young, and . . . pretty and . . . I’d refused his advances.”

“You mean that old fart had been hitting on you?” Hikaru bristled. He had the whole picture in his mind thanks to the link. He could see the other Go player; the man had looked like a snake and behaved like a weasel.

“Yes,” Sai answered. “There was another stipulation to that game besides the winner got to stay . . .”

“What was it?” Hikaru prompted with trepidation when it became apparent that Sai couldn’t find the words.

Sai’s fingers plucked at Hikaru’s t-shirt. “That if I lost then I would visit his rooms before leaving,” he answered in an empty whisper. “I was confident that I would win and I’d wanted to be rid of him so badly that I agreed . . .” Sai exhaled loudly. “It wasn’t so much that I had been charged with cheating after the game; I probably could have found work in any of the surrounding villages, or even some other country. I even tried sneaking out of the palace before the time he had ordered me to meet him, but he’d had people loyal to him watching me. They dragged me to him and held me down while he —. It was just . . . after he touched me . . . I saw the ocean and I just couldn’t get clean enough.” Sometime during his monologue Hikaru had pulled him closer and was running Go-stoned fingernails through Sai’s long hair in a comforting manner. “That’s why I drowned myself,” Sai finished quietly.

He had no clue what to say to that. Sai had recalled the entire the story without the slightest inflection in his voice. It was as though it had happened to someone else. But Hikaru supposed that was natural. It had been a thousand years since the incident for Sai. Time had blunted the pain. However, Hikaru had the brutal images in his head now, Sai’s memories — though blurred — weren’t pretty. His body had begun to ache dully in all the places Sai had been ravaged. He would have gladly killed that bastard for Sai if he weren’t already dead.

Hikaru had to concede that all in all he’d led a pretty sheltered life. He could see why Sai had left these details out when he’d told the story the first time. However, now that a few years had passed it was easy to see that Sai’s story had been too simple the first time he'd recanted it. Yes, Sai loved Go — it had been his very livelihood. And in knowing that, it was easy to conclude that under most circumstances Sai wouldn’t have killed himself if he'd still had the chance to play. What had happened to him, being raped like that . . . He now fully understood why Sai had once told Hikaru that he knew Go better than love.

The only words he could think to offer still didn’t seem enough. “I’m sorry that happened to you,” Hikaru genuinely whispered. “That’s probably why God is so lenient with you,” he remarked after a second of thought, pleased that it didn’t sound overly stupid and callous as was his wont.

“Probably,” Sai conceded. He wanted to change the subject. He’d just spilled his guts; he didn’t want to wallow in them now. It had taken him twenty years of wandering before he could finally put what had happened to him far from his mind, and he’d been able to mourn the loss of being able to play Go more fully. “So how’s it going with Touya?” he asked since the subject was on courtships — whether they were pleasant or not being irrelevant.

“Hopeless,” Hikaru answered simply, glad for the slight change in topics. “Touya may be a Go genius but his people skills are seriously lacking. I told him I could probably like him if he wasn't such a jerk, but he blew me off.”

“Maybe he doesn’t like boys,” Sai suggested though it sounded ludicrous to him. Everyone — if only for a little while, if only for a second — found members of their same sex attractive; or at least they had once upon a time. Today’s society tended to find that aspect of human affinity to be taboo. Times sure had changed.

“Probably,” Hikaru easily agreed. There was nothing in his mind, speech, or body language that hinted that he was willing to fight that charge. He seemed to have accepted it as the gospel truth and was rallying for moving on.

“You said you’d lost to him the last I heard from you,” Sai had to say though, just to be sure.

Hikaru nodded. “Yes. I still lose to Touya but I’ve got bigger bowls of ramen than him to eat now.”

A picture of an auburn-haired Korean flashed through Sai’s mind. “Ko Yeong-Ha?” he asked not sure if the name that had been supplied was correct. He had focused on that ramen piece of the sentence Hikaru had just said. It was nice to know things hadn’t changed that much; that Hikaru still had that fixation.

“He insulted you,” Hikaru scowled. “I will crush him.” He seemed to consider something. “Will you help me?”

“Of course, but slow down. I’m getting too many images of this guy at once.”

When Hikaru had significantly calmed down and Sai was able to filter through Hikaru’s memories in chronological order, he offered an unsophisticated snort. The other boy hadn’t realized it yet, but that gleam in Yeong-Ha’s eyes whenever he looked at Hikaru wasn’t complete pompousness on his part. Ko liked being the center of attention, or more specifically he liked being the center of one person’s attention — Hikaru’s. Sai didn’t think he had read the Korean boy’s face wrong either. He’d seen that look before, plenty of times in all three of his existences. Ko liked baiting Hikaru and it was just his luck that he’d discovered the one thing that really boiled Hikaru’s blood. In his own twisted way, Ko Yeong-ha had been expressing his desire for Hikaru &mash; he’d been outrageously flirting. But, of course, his best friend had missed it utterly. Not that he wasn’t glad; Sai had no intention of idly sitting by while Ko Yeong-Ha seduced Hikaru away with his unfailing conceit, good looks and ridicule. Sai had just gotten his body back, and though it was weak and crippled at the moment, he would use it to fight to keep Hikaru with him. Sai lifted his hand to his bedmate’s cheek again.

“Where do we go from here, Hikaru?” he sighed.

The professional Go player knew that Sai wasn’t talking about the game, or Touya Akira, or Ko Yeong-Ha, or even their conversation topic; but meant their lives now that they were together again. “Well, tomorrow we’ll look for an apartment and swing by the hospital to get your things. I’m supposed to meet with Touya at his father’s Go salon. That should be interesting, huh?”

The former ghost nodded.

“Sai, I know you want to play Go, do you want to be an insei or an outsider when you take the pro exam?”

Sai blinked. He hadn’t thought that far ahead but Hikaru had asked a logical question. Fujiwara Sai had a life now to do whatever he pleased with it and Hikaru would be there also.

“It doesn’t matter what you choose,” Hikaru continued. And then added in a voice so soft Sai almost missed it. “I’ll take care of you.”

The one arm around Hikaru’s waist squeezed him in a hug. “I’ll take the insei test,” Sai decided.

“Okay,” Hikaru said with a smile.

It was like fuseki, Hikaru thought, only instead of the opening moves being for the game, they were for Sai’s new opportunity. Today Sai had gotten his life back. Tomorrow he would take steps to join the professional Go world. Next March he would graduate and in April compete for a spot on Team Japan for the May . . .

“Dear God . . .” Hikaru breathed as he realized something.

“What?” Sai asked.

“You’re my age . . . you’ll be able to compete in the Hokuto Cup Tournament next year.”

Sai shrugged as he yawned. It had been a long day; coming back to life had been exhausting. He knew nothing of the Hokuto Cup Tournament aside from what he’d gleaned from Hikaru’s thoughts &mash; which primarily consisted of: Ko Yeong-Ha would there and Hikaru wanted to win against him. Sai would figure it out when he woke. He tilted his head back and pressed his lips to Hikaru’s cheek in a soft kiss before resettling against him. Sai was asleep before his eyes finished drifting shut.

Hikaru blinked in shock but then couldn’t refrain from smiling. He patted Sai’s hair again and closed his own eyes. He knew he should make a pallet on the floor but he didn’t want to leave Sai’s side if he didn’t have to ever again.