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Author's note: This idea came to me in a dream, in lovely laser sharp quality as if it were the never made Hikaru no Go movie. Unfortunately, I had to go to work when I woke up, and I lost a lot of the clarity of details, but hopefully the two hours of research I did after work will make up for it. ^_^ I hope you enjoy this story, since I'm putting a lot into making it credible, accurate, and high quality.

This fic will be revised once I'm done into a single, oneshot story.

Disclaimer: Hikaru no Go belongs to Hotta & Obata, not me.

Credits: Research on Kyoto came from the books "The Diary of Lady Murasaki" and "Old Kyoto," the latter by Diane Durston. Both of them were invaluable in giving names to places and plotting out the locations of stuff. I may still have messed a few details, but I've never been to Kyoto myself and so lack the experience of the old capital . . . The "cheating fantasy" scene described late in this story is from the doujinshi "Tsukiyou-soushi" by the circle Heart X Hand. It's a hoot, and I wish I could claim credit to the idea myself . . . does that make this story a fanfic of a fanfic? I hope not.

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Modern Kyoto, 2002

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"Let's see." Shindou Hikaru, age fifteen, stood at Kyoto Station in the central portion of the ancient city, staring at a map. Beside him, Touya Akira and several other young pros looked impatient. They'd arrived from Tokyo a few minutes ago, and Shindou had been the only one who thought to buy a map beforehand.

"We're staying at the Riverside Takase Hotel," Akira reminded him.

"I know! It's about a fifteen minute walk . . . that way," Hikaru replied, and pointed northeast. "We could catch a bus, but it's a nice day outside, and we're not getting paid enough to splurge."

The other young pros sighed but privately agreed. It WAS a lovely day out; not too hot anymore, just perfect for strolling with the light luggage they'd brought along for the weekend festival. They'd been hired by the city of Kyoto to teach go at a booth the next day, which gave them today for exploring the city. An early morning train ride had been worth having a free day of sightseeing.

As they walked along, Akira forced himself to attempt civilized conversation. "Have you ever been to Kyoto, Shindou?"

"Nope, this is my first time. I can't wait to see all the Heian era buildings!"

Akira rolled his eyes. "You are an uncultured clod, Shindou. Nothing has survived the Heian court except the streets and the Imperial Park. Kyoto is a city made of wood. Things burn down." Hikaru looked so disappointed that Akira amended, "There is, however, a Heian court museum not far from the Park."

"Where's that?" Hikaru began peering intently at the map, and Akira pointed it out to him. Hikaru began turning the map this way and that, causing Akira to grow angrier and angrier until he finally snatched the map away from his rival.

"Look, if you want, I'll show you around the damn city myself. At the rate you find things, you'll get lost until our next game."

Hikaru looked rather embarassed, and mumbled, "Thanks."

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The Riverside Takase Hotel was in a section of Kyoto that was relatively cheap compared to the northern parts of the city, which is probably why the go pros were staying there instead of somewhere more expensive. It was also within close walking distance of the train station and the subway, making it good as a tourist hub. Other hotels in the area even welcomed foreigners.

Hikaru absorbed the sights with wide eyes, enjoying the beauty of the old city. Almost all the buildings were still made of wood, and the street they walked on was ancient cobblestone that had survived countless fires. Every other stop along the way he had darted toward different shops like a child.

"Where do you want to visit first?" Akira asked, once they had checked into the hotel.

"The old Imperial Palace grounds," Hikaru said immediately. Sai had taught there, almost a thousand years ago. Although Hikaru didn't believe that he'd find the ghost there or anything like he'd mistakingly thought about Shuusaku's shrine, he did honestly want to see the place where Sai, the living man, had once been. It was something he felt he ought to do.

"Very well. It's just a park now. We can take the subway at Marutomachi station, get off at Demachi Yanagi station, and walk from there." Akira looked at Hikaru curiously. "Any particular reason you want to start there?"

"Well . . . it was at the Imperial Palace that the game of go was first popularized, wasn't it? It's sort of my -- er, our heritage as go professionals."

Akira looked thoughtful as they started the walk to the Kyoto subway line. "I never thought of it like that," he said, his dark green hair swinging as he rubbed his chin.

Hikaru grinned. "In a lot of ways, the Heian court go players were the first professionals in the whole country." He sighed. "I would like to meet one of them," he said, almost forgetting and adding "again" to the end of the sentence.

"You'll need a time machine," Akira snorted. "Or a god who's in a really, REALLY good mood."

Hikaru joking bowed, Shinto style, right there in the middle of the street. "O-kami-sama," he intoned, "Grant this unworthy person the wish of meeting a Heian court go player in person."

"Shindou, not only are you uncultured, you are blasphemous too."

Hikaru laughed. "It's not like I swore in the name of Buddha or anything."

"Don't even joke about that!"

"Okay, okay, sheesh."

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The two boys hopped off the Kyoto subway with a spring in their steps. There was something about the old quarter of Kyoto; the rows and rows of shops and eel-houses that had been there for hundreds of years, the solid feel of old cobblestones worn down to smoothest rock, the beauty of wood and stone and art that imbued the very air, that inspired a sense of adventure in the young. They were traveling through time to a grander age just by breathing.

"Shindou, look, it's a go shop," Akira said, excitement in his usually calm voice. He pointed down the road that led to the south end of the Imperial Grounds. While the north end was surrounded by universities, the southern end was ringed with hundreds of stores. It was not surprising that there was one specializing in go, with what looked like a go salon behind it.

"We have to go in!"

Tourists or not, Akira and Hikaru were first and foremost go players, and like any hobbyists, they immediately flocked to specialty stores for their kind.

Inside was dim and rustic. The shop was at least a hundred years old. Rows and rows of old go boards, go stones, go books, and various and sundry go paraphanalia lined the shelves and walls. The shop owner looked surprised to see young teenagers walk in at first, then smiled brightly when he realized who it was.

"Touya Akira! And . . . Shindou Hikaru, isn't it? Well, what do you know? In my very own shop!"

"Hello," Akira said politely with a small bow. He elbowed Hikaru, who followed suit rather sloppily.

"What brings you two to Kyoto? The festival?"

Akira nodded, while Hikaru started poking around the go books. "The city asked several of us pros to come and teach in a booth tomorrow. We're sightseeing today."

"Ah, I see. Feel free to look around. We have some unique items that I'm sure you'll find interesting."

Hikaru ducked behind an aisle, and while Akira and the shop owner talked about happenings in the go world, they entirely failed to notice the brilliant flash of light that arced in the air for a split second. They did, however, hear the sound of several go stones crashing and bouncing on the wooden floor.

"Shindou, what are you DOING?" Akira yelled loudly, and peered into the aisle where the sound came from. But there was no Hikaru to be found. A bowl of old, mismatched go stones had tipped, and its contents spilled onto the shelf and floor, but other than that there was no evidence that anyone had been in that aisle seconds ago.



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End part 1