Summary: You didn't need to play in person for you to be recognized. Shindou Hikaru may not have played anyone personally, but he still left his own mark in the Go community, possibly even the whole world. And as usual, with Sai's phantom hands guiding him. Inspired Amaranthais fic titled 'Lively Shadows'
Disclaimer: HnG isn't mine. We all know that. And the idea also.
Note: Inspired by Amaranthais fic titled as "Lively Shadows". May sound the same as hers. I've got permission though. Unedited. No Beta. Slow update.
Shindou Hikaru had been depressed for some time now.
Sai is gone. He just disappeared as suddenly as he appeared in his life.
They promised each other. No leaving. They would always be together until the end. They had probably even thrown the word forever then, believing that what they had promised would be the truth. That it would happen.
After all, Sai was a ghost. He stayed for a thousand years. Surely, surely he'd wait for him until he got old and wrinkly and then they would both go to wherever it is dead people go. It would only take a few short years than his thousands did.
Or they could haunt the Goban together. But that idea was not feasible in his eyes. He often wondered how Sai retained even just a little bit of sanity without anyone talking to him after Torajirou died.
But then he disappeared just like that. He didn't even say a proper goodbye. He only said words too confusing for him to understand at that time since he still believed that they'd be together.
And then the promise was broke. And it was so easy too.
Remembering it only made him feel depression again.
He ignored everything around him, mourning for weeks on end as he just stared morosely at the previously haunted Goban board.
The board that brought Sai to him, to his life.
And also the one who had blatant evidence that Sai really is gone since the blood stain on it was now no more. The board now clean.
But still undoubtedly clean.
. . . . .
"Hikaru!" his mother had been hovering over him in worry as he isolated himself from everyone. He didn't know what happened to his studies. He didn't know if he was finally expelled for being absent for so long or if his mom called the school to excuse him. He didn't even know if he still had his captaincy in soccer.
He neglected everything in his grief.
But Sai was like the fixture of his life. He was already used to him by his side. Always the calm one holding and balancing his own hyperactive attitude just as he balanced Sai's childish ones.
They actually fit together. A human child and a ghost.
He always thought that if it weren't for Sai, he probably wouldn't have grown from his immature, careless, callous and selfish self before.
He was thankful for Sai's appearance in his life since he taught him, a lot. He appreciated everything around him more than before and it was because of the Heian, Go-obsessed noble.
But he also despised it. Not Sai, never Sai. He was actually the best thing that could have happened to him despite their initial bad start. But he despise the situation he was now in. The one they both were in.
If Kami-sama were to take him away anyway when they already had an understanding, when they already have such a deep, personal bond, when they both already promised to be with each other until the end, why did he allow him to even see the ghost?
"Hikaru," his mom said from the door of his bedroom softly seeing him sitting in seiza looking at the Goban once again, different from the tone she used before when she first came onto his room.
"Mom," he acknowledged her presence. It was probably an improvement than before when he didn't even pay attention to his mother. His father was in abroad finishing his work contract of two years there before he could even return to them.
His mother came and sat on the opposite of the Goban, right in front of him in proper seiza form. It startled him into looking up to her warm, concerned eyes.
Because the place she was sitting in was usually occupied by Sai. Or empty, as he had come to be familiar with when Sai just… faded away from his life.
"You can't stay like this Hikaru," mom said. He didn't speak. He didn't want to. He just stared right into her eyes. "You're mourning," still, he didn't say anything. Mom sighed again but continued, her eyes looking directly in his eyes, portraying that what she would say next should be listened to.
"You're mourning. I don't know who, or why I haven't known about the person you're mourning. But Hikaru… you can't just waste away. Think about what the person you are mourning would think seeing you like this," he was suddenly struck with a mournful after-image of Sai looking at him with his sad, violet eyes as his mom said it.
He blinked rapidly at the image.
And it was gone.
There was silence in the room for a few short minutes before his mother started again.
"When you're grandma died," she said in a soft voice. Startled, he listened intently at what his mother was going to say. After all, she's telling about her experience with people she lost.
His grandma died even before he was born so he was also curious about what his mom was going to say about her. After all, very rarely does his mom speak about grandma.
"I was really sad. I think I went through with depression, just like what you are doing now," she gave him a wry smile. "You really are my son Hikaru, prone to dramatics," she teased. He couldn't help but give his mother a mulish pout despite it still tinged with distress. He wasn't dramatic.
"I didn't eat and sleep properly. I didn't go to school. I just stayed in my room like what you are doing right now. I couldn't just return to my previous routine. Because your grandma was gone. Mama was gone and I wouldn't be able to hear her laugh anymore, I wouldn't be able to sing to her anymore. She wouldn't be braiding my long hair anymore," his mother stopped suddenly and looked outside his window.
She had tears running down her cheeks silently and he couldn't help but feel guilty.
Because he was the reason why his mother felt it necessary to speak about her experience when grandma died before just so he would know she could sympathize even though she didn't know who he had been mourning. Just so he won't mope around and waste.
He felt warm inside knowing his mom loved him this much.
You're right Sai. I really am lucky to have my mom as my mother, he thought to himself.
He stood up slowly and sat right beside her. He held her trembling hands tightly on his own, comforting her from the grief she was in. She turned to look at him and smiled.
It was a sad but accepting smile. And he couldn't help but think how oddly beautiful his mom was at that moment.
"But your grandpa, papa… he tried to move on. He continued his life. It wasn't good at the start but he tried and he moved on. And he took me along with that," she said. "I hated him at first, because how could he move on, looking like he did it so easily when mom died?"
He could sort of understand what his mom was saying. He even sometimes asked the question to himself multiple times. How could he move on when Sai left him? When he wouldn't be coming back, ever?
"Papa just gave me a brittle, understanding smile. Like he could understand my point and wasn't angry with me even though I was so disrespectful that time. It was painful to see Hikaru," she faced him and cupped his face on her soft, warm hands. "You had the same smile. And it hurts me more than before, because I don't know why you had it. You never told me,"
It struck him right there, seeing his mother's concerned eyes, that he was only selfishly thinking about himself.
First with his grandpa and how much of a conceited brat he was stealing his things to sell just for a few money to play arcade with his friends.
Second, with Sai and how he was such a selfish kid whining all the time when all the Heian noble had wanted was to play Go.
And then now, with his mother. Worrying her about him as he just selfishly, seemingly shut everyone out.
Maybe this was the reason Kami-sama took Sai away from him?
"There was something that burned into my mind that snapped me out of my grief, something that your grandpa said," she continued looking at him with intense eyes that he had only ever seen today. "Mitsuko, mama may have been already been dead, but it's up to us, the living to remember the past, the memories they were able to share to us and honour it,"
He was again struck by the wisdom and knowledge on his mother's eyes.
And what she had said penetrated into the seemingly impenetrable wall of distress he had unconsciously surrounded himself since Sai's death.
"I understand mom,"
She graced him with a beautiful smile.
. . . . .
Slowly but surely, he forced himself to get back to his previous routine before Sai left.
Only, it was bereft with his enthusiastic, childish and naïve view of the modern world. It just made him regret how much he took for granted everything Sai's presence had given him.
He returned back to his school. He was accepted back again despite his two weeks stint of disappearance, but not without any trouble. He had to finish a number of assignments and quizzes he missed in those absent days. It was frankly horrifying.
But he persevered and finished them, studying almost in a frenzy to be able to pass his year.
His position in the soccer club was also threatened since the coach couldn't give him back his captaincy if he wasn't in the proper condition. He may have been the best player in their school, but that was before his absences. He had to get his body back in shape since he had never practiced in those days.
Thank goodness his mother really did called the school and told them that he was sick or he would really be expelled.
There was no time contemplating anything other than those things, no time for his depression to come back with a vengeance. He threw himself on the things he needed to do and didn't think of anything else.
He got to the normal schedule of his studies in no time. With his almost manic way of studying, it wasn't really a surprise. He also got his captaincy back and he was thankful that his hectic days were now over and he was able to return to normal pace of his life.
Of course, without Sai in sight.
And as much as he could still feel pain and grief with his disappearance, he was able to at least move on.
Slowly. Little by little. But it was getting there.
To the point that he was able to log in to NetGo again under Sai's account.
. . . . .
And what a pain that was.
There was actually a hundred and more people visiting his account, leaving in private messages of where he was and why he hadn't been logging in and playing anymore.
He was just so thankful that there was an 'invisible to everyone' option in the log in section and that he did clicked it. That meant no one would notice he was logged in. Though he had done it so that no one would challenge him into a game since before, when Sai was still around, many would challenge them to play. Though they didn't know why.
He was actually dumbfounded with the visitors the account had. He couldn't comprehend why.
So he had done his research. He went to the forums and there he saw a forum dedicated only to Sai!
"What the-?!" he murmured incredulously to himself when he looked through it while still logged in onto Sai's account in one of the internet café's close to his school.
He clicked it and was able to read on the posts that was there.
The Saint of NetGo. That was Sai's moniker.
And he didn't even know. He had no idea about that.
When he let Sai play using NetGo, they never engaged other people in talking. What's the point when the account was purely Sai's and he didn't want anyone even knowing about Sai's existence at those times.
Because then, he would be discovered.
And he really didn't want the Go community to find out about him since he had already set his life even before Sai came.
Get good grades, grab some scholarships in soccer, and play it professionally. He may have been derailed when Sai suddenly appeared and always whined to him to let him play. He may have become hooked with it because of Sai's absolute love for the game. He may have even become obsessed with it since it clearly improved his already strategic and analytical mind, along with how good he felt when playing it even when he always lost to Sai.
But his goals hadn't disappeared. It just… got hold back.
They just returned back with a vengeance when he became a high school student. And he became absentminded with it though he still let Sai play games in NetGo.
So he really didn't know that there was any hype with Sai playing.
He immediately logged out the account, wiped the history of the computer and the beat a hasty retreat back to his home.
Even when Sai was a ghost, he still left impact in the Go community. Though he was obviously only known to play in NetGo.
He felt that he had to let others know Sai on a personal level.
He mulled that thought over until he went to sleep.
Alright pips! See this? I know I've just recently posted my first-ever HnG fanfic titled as Master in the Shadows just this Sept. 03 but I couldn't help it. This tickled me to no end. I asked Amaranthais if I could play with her idea (Read the Note above). She graciously allowed me and I'm so happy she did.
How is this?