Author's notes: Hello minna! This is a non-shounen ai/yaoi fic, so if you refuse to read anything, which isn't a romance between Akira and Hikaru, you may now click on the "back" button on your screen.
Disclaimer: I do not own Hikaru no Go, nor a Goban or stones, for that matters… I'm writing this just for fun.Sai No More
I won't play anymore…
"Akira…"Why did you become a pro? Wasn't it to fight me?!
"Akira…"I came to tell you this: I'm not quitting Go!
The fifteen-year-old boy shook his head to clear it. He turned his gaze towards his father. "What, father?"
The older man sighed. "I've been calling your name for three times now and you didn't seem to notice. It seems like you were deep in thought. Did you think about you next move, perhaps? It's your turn."
Akira looked at the Goban that lay before him. It indeed was his turn to play, but he didn't notice. He had other stuff on his mind. 'What was wrong with Shindou back then? Why did he quit Go for a while, and the made a comeback? He had a faraway look in his eyes when I saw him then, and he looked sad. What happened?' It had been about six months since the problem with Hikaru, and Akira didn't know why was he thinking about it now? And he couldn't get it out of his head! It affected his game greatly.
He put the stones on the Goban without any concentration, his thoughts in another place, until when he actually thought about the game he played now, he saw a huge gap between him and his father. That didn't happen for a long time. He was losing…and big time. His eyes widened a bit and he bowed. "I resign."
His father stared at him with a suspicious look. "Did something happen? You seem to zone-out a lot lately."
Akira nodded sadly. "I was just wondering-"
"-What happened to Shindou?" His father finished. Akira stared at him, shock written all over his face. 'How does he always know?'
"Listen, Akira. Whatever it was, he's over it. There is no point in getting into it now," his father said while picking up the stones and placing them back in the goke.
Akira stared at the floor. "I know that, but…" he sighed. "But I want to know what was so bad that he wanted to quit."
His father got up from the cushion. "Then why don't you go to his friends? I think they might know."
Akira frowned. "Yeah, but-"
"But what?" His father cut him short.
Akira sighed again, and the got up too. "Never mind. I'm going now- tell mom I might be late for dinner." His father nodded while his son walked slowly towards the door, his look determined. 'I'll find out what happened to you, Shindou! Just you wait and see.'
Akira decided to start his search in the Japanese Go Institute. He knew he might find some clues there. He heard that Shindou visited there a few times while in his "retirement", and Akira wanted to check things out. He decided to get Waya's address there, too. He came to the conclusion the Ochi didn't mind Shindou quitting. Heck, he was sure the little bastard was happy about it! Isumi was in China when in happened, so he was quite sue he didn't know anything.
He entered the institute through the automatic doors, and the counter came to his view.
"Ah! Akira-kun! Konnichiwa!" said the woman behind the counter with a smile. "What can I do for you today?"
Akira smiled back. "Konnichiwa. I was wondering if you could give me the address of Yoshitaka Waya, please."
The woman titled her head to the side a bit, curios. "Waya? Didn't he become a pro just last year?"
Akira nodded. "Yes. I need to talk to him."
The woman went to the back room, and Akira could here noises of drawers opening and closing. A short while later, the woman returned with a note in her hand. :Here you go." She said.
Akira took the note, bowed and replied "arigatou gozaimasu", and then left.
A man joined the woman behind the counter just in time to watch Akira's figure leaving the place. "That Waya…he's good, but certainly not good enough for Touya Akira. Why did he need his address?"
The woman shrugged.
Yoshitaka Waya opened his apartment's door, his eyes half-closed. He spread the futon on the tatami floor and lay on it, closing his eyes and welcoming the warmth of the blanket. It was an exhausting day. First, he had a match in the Go Institute, and it was a tough one. He lost, but since he concentrated a bit too much, he was a little tired. Then he had to go to his sensei for a study session, and then he had to walk a few miles to get to his mother's place for dinner, because he forgot his money and couldn't buy a subway ticket. When dinner was over and he began his short journey home, the rain and wind started.
A hard day indeed.
He turned to his side and waited for sleep to come over him. He was almost in dreamland when the doorbell rang.
He groaned, sat up and rubbed his tired eyes. 'Oh, hell!' He thought angrily and opened the door.
He expected to see Isumi or Shindou standing there. Maybe even the owner of the apartment building.
But he certainly didn't expect to see Touya Akira standing in the doorway.
"Touya! What are you doing here?" Waya asked. He was pretty sure that it wasn't a match the Touya wanted.
Akira bowed. "Excuse me for coming without notice, but I had something on my mind lately, and I'd like to speak about it with you."
Waya titled his head in confusion and made a face. He hoped that Touya didn't come to spill his troubles in life. Yet, his Japanese culture demanded politeness.
"Come inside," Waya said a bit roughly. Akira obeyed.
Waya sat down on the tatami floor and signaled Akira to sit in front of him. "Then you'll have to excuse me for not having any kinds of food or drinks here. The payment isn't high," he said with a chuckle.
Akira was a bit embarrassed. He didn't like the fact that he had to talk about a serious topic with people he barely knew. "I'm really sorry for the disturbance-" he bowed once again. "-But I was wondering…do you know what happened to Shindou about six months ago?"
Waya stared at him with a questioning look. "You mean those weeks, in which he didn't show up for his matches and said he won't play anymore?"
Waya leaned backwards and stared at the ceiling, trying to remember. "I've never mentioned it to him, actually," he said. Akira was a bit surprised at that. Waya turned his gaze back to Akira. "Isumi-san told me that when he played him back then, it seemed like Shindou was struggling with something."
Akira's eyes widened. "Isumi-san played him?! When Shindou declared he won't play anymore?!" And here he was sure Isumi didn't even know anything about it…
Waya nodded. "I don't know exactly how he did that, but he convinced Shindou to play him. He said-" Waya stopped for a moment to think of what he was about to say. "He said he never saw Shindou acting that way." He wasn't about to tell him that Shindou cried.
"What do you mean 'that way'?"
Waya stood up and opened the door. "I think you'd better speak with Isumi-san about it. He knows better. After all, he was there."
"Maybe I should," agreed Akira and left the apartment, and when he heard the door lock behind him, he cursed himself for forgetting to ask Isumi's address, and then sighed heavily because he didn't feel like going to the institute again.
Isumi Shinichiro sat in his room and read some old Go magazines when his mother entered.
"Shinichiro? Somebody here wants to see you," She said.
Isumi lifted his eyes from the magazine and was surprised to see Touya Akira standing in front of him. "Touya! What are you doing here?"
Akira smiled a bit shyly, and stepped inside. He bowed. "Excuse me for coming without notice, but I need your help with something."
'With what?' Isumi wondered. 'I'm not good enough to play him.' "Sit down," Said the older boy. "What did you want to talk about?" he asked.
"Well, Waya told me you played Shindou during his 'I'm not playing anymore' period." Akira started.
"You've spoken with Waya?"
Akira nodded. "Yes, but that's not important. Anyway, during these last weeks I wondered what made Shindou do this, but I couldn't find an answer. It affected my matches, since I couldn't concentrate, and that cost me with a few loses. Even my father noticed my lack of concentration. So I was wondering if you could help me find out?"
Isumi thought for a minute. He knew he could trust the other boy, but he still hasn't told anyone but Waya about what happened to Shindou. He didn't know himself, but the boy's reaction that fateful day…it was something else.
"Why is it bothering you, anyway? Don't you see Shindou only as a rival?" Isumi asked, putting his Go magazines aside.
Akira sighed. "I don't know myself, but I feel as if there's a long complicated story behind all this, a story that has something to do with everyone who were in touch with Shindou. So please-" He didn't like it, but he bowed in a pleading way, his head almost touching the floor. "-Please tell me!"
Isumi thought for a few more minutes. Who knows? The kid might find out something that neither one of them was able to.
"After a short convincing effort, I made him play me," Isumi started. Akira lifted his head and stared at him, interested. "When it began he played as usual, even better than I could remember. That was until…" he stopped for a moment. "After I made another move, I saw he didn't respond to it. I lifted my head from the Goban, and I saw Shindou crying."
"Eh?" Akira couldn't believe it. Shindou was crying? Because of one meaningless match? "He cried because he was losing?" He asked.
"I don't think so," said Isumi and stared at the floor. "He stared at the Goban and said 'this move…he used to play like that.' I was never able to find out who is 'he'."
If Akira thought that the mystery was about to be solved, he was mistaken, and big time. Now it was even more mysterious.
."And then he cried even more, and said that he is allowed to play. I didn't understand what he meant when he said he's 'allowed' to play. Then he declared that he's going to play thousands of games against everyone. I decided not to ask questions and just dropped the topic. He had a hard struggle with himself."
Akira also stared at the floor. The things he heard made him feel a little nausea, but he was glad, that it wasn't him, who saw Shindou break down. He had a feeling that Shindou lost someone important to him. "And that's it?" He asked.
"That's it," Isumi answered. "When we were done he ran out to see you."
Akira nodded, and remained on the floor for a bit more, thinking. 'Isumi didn't hold the answer. On the contrary- now I'm even more confused.' "Arigatou gozaimasu, Isumi-san." Said the other teen and bowed, and then headed out.
"Oi!" Akira stopped and turned to Isumi. "Let me know if you find something."
Akira nodded with a smile and left.
'Now where?' The evening approached, and Akira knew that if he won't find an answer soon he wouldn't be able to sleep, since after the talk he had with Isumi he was even more curios. It seemed like Shindou had a struggle with his soul, not his mind. 'What happened to you, Shindou?' Akira wondered.
On his way home, he passed by the Go Institute. He stood in place for a few minutes before he decided to enter. As soon as he was inside, he heard yells.
"Ahh! It's a disaster!!!" Someone ran down the stairs, his face a bit pale. "The kifu from the room! The kifu were stolen!"
"What?!" The people in the lobby said in unison.
"When?" Amano asked, getting ready for another article in the world of Go.
"Last night, I guess." Said the man (whose name shall remain unknown). "I opened the room and it was half empty!"
"Ah!" said a woman behind the counter, remembering something. "There's a security camera there! Quick- get the tape and see who the culprit is!" The other man nodded and signaled Amano to follow him into the editing room. They ran upstairs, Akira right behind them.
"Were all of them stolen?" Asked the boy while running.
"No," the man answered. "But most of them were!"
They entered the editing room and rewind the tape.
When Akira saw the figure in the movie, his eyes widened. "Sh-Shindou!" He called. 'Could he be the culprit?'
But Shindou just sat in the room and went through some old kifu, talking to himself. His voice was quiet, and Akira could only make out words like "Torajiro", "Genius", "Play" and "Sai".
'Sai! Then Shindou…Shindou knows Sai!'
They watched the tape in silence. Shindou could be seen wiping something from the kifu. Dust maybe? And then, suddenly, his body tensed and he held his hair, a scared expression on his face. He talked quietly and with a quivering voice, and then screamed, and they all made these words out, that he's an idiot.
Then he shouted, tears streaming down his cheeks, that he'll let Sai play all the games from now on, and that he himself won't play anymore.
Then he looked up, and pleaded god. Akira knew that he would never forget what followed:
"Onegai, Kami-sama!" He shouted, his voice quivering. "Return things to the beginning! Return time to when I first met him! I won't play anymore, so please!"
He stood and stared into nothing for a few more moments, waiting for the bright light, which will take him back in time. And then, when nothing happened, his arms fell and he screamed a loud sob.
The tape ended there.
Akira knew that that scream, which was filled with sadness, regret and anger, would echo in his mind for a long time.
The three of them stared at the snow-screen. "Shindou-kun…" said Amano quietly.
"I guess no one bothered to put in a new tape," the other man said. "Poor boy."
Touya Akira could only stare.
After a few more minutes of silence, Amano got over his shock, which wasn't too great, and turned on the light.
"Now we'll never know who the culprit is," said the other man sadly, sitting in one of the chairs and buries his head in his hands.
The silence, which followed, broke when the door opened.
Kurata and Ogata stood there, carrying boxes.
"What were you watching? And why are you so quiet?" Asked Kurata, a bit curios.
"Kifu were stolen," said the man. "We checked the tape from the security camera, but…"
"Ho, there's no need to worry!" said Kurata, smiling. Akira, Amano and the man found it strange. Kurata was known as a hyper and a happy person, but to be happy when a bunch of valuable kifu are stolen is over the red line.
"Ogata and I moved them. The rest are in these boxes." Said Kurata and pointed to a pile of boxes in the corner of the room.
"Why?" Asked the man, embarrassed by his mistake.
"They want to paint the room, so they asked us to move the kifu here." Kurata said.
"Akira-kun. What are you doing here?" Asked Ogata, placing the box he carried in the corner.
"When I entered the institute they said the kifu were stolen, so I went here to watch the tape with them," Akira answered, cursing his luck. Why did it have to be Ogata in the doorway? He waited for the questions; he knew there would be some. Ogata was not a very trusty person.
"Why were you here? You don't have a match today," Ogata said, becoming suspicious. The boy was acting strange lately.
Akira started sweating. "I-I was just searching for someone's address."
Ogata still wasn't pleased with the answer, but decided to drop the topic.
"Go home. I met your father, and he said your mother wants you to come back home. It's getting late," Ogata said and then left with Kurata.
"Right away," Akira said. He had other plans in mind, though. He had one more place to visit, and that place holds all the answers.
"Excuse me, sir," Akira turned to the man. "May I have this tape for today? I'll make sure to return it by tomorrow."
The man thought for a moment, and then nodded. "Sure," he said, ejected the tape and gave it to Akira.
Akira bowed his thanks. "Arigatou gozaimasu," he said and left the room. 'Wait for me, Shindou! I'm on my way over to you,' Akira thought, determined. The first stars twinkled in the sky, which became blacker by every passing second.
Shindou Hikaru placed the stones on the Goban reluctantly. Even though it had been months since Sai disappeared, Hikaru still felt lonelier than ever. He sighed heavily while he played an old kifu of Honinbou Shuusaku. He took the advice of the man, who led him to the kifu room for the first time, and decided to learn Shuusaku's kifus. After all, it was Sai, who played them.
'Sai…you certainly were a genius,' he thought sadly.
He heard the doorbell from downstairs, but he didn't care who was it at the door. After a few moments the door to his room opened, and Akira stood in the doorway.
Hikaru's eyes widened. "Touya! What are you doing here?" 'He's always coming out of the blue! What's with him?'
Akira shook his head, a bored expression on his face. "I'm getting sick of hearing it," he chuckled.
Hikaru titled his head. "Huh?"
"Never mind," said Akira. "Shindou," he stared at the other teen with piercing eyes. "I came here to ask you something, and I want you to answer me truthfully."
"Ask," Hikaru said without caring.
Akira took a deep breath. "Why didn't you show up for your matches six months ago?"
Hikaru stared at him, silent. Then he turned his gaze to the floor. "It's none of your business."
"It certainly is," Akira said, making Hikaru annoyed, but before he could replay Akira talked. "Does it have anything to do with…Sai?"
Akira saw Hikaru's body tensing, and knew he was right.
Hikaru started sweating. "No! Absolutely not!" Hikaru sucked when it came to lying.
"I don't believe you," said Akira in a serious tone.
"Then it's your problem!"
After a moment of silence and staring at each other, Akira said: "You have a video, right?"
Hikaru was a bit surprised. "Yeah. Why?"
Akira just nodded and went to the video, inserted the tape and turned on the television.
They watched the tape. Akira preferred to watch Hikaru and not at the screen. After all, he saw that tape already, and Hikaru reacted in an interesting way to what he saw on the screen.
Hikaru's green eyes were glued to the screen and his lips quivered. A small sob escaped his lips and he shut his eyes, fighting the tears.
"Where did you get it?" He asked quietly.
"I have my sources," Akira replied, ejecting the tape. "Hikaru," his tone was serious, as if he's about to lecture a kid for doing a bad thing. He kneeled so he could look Hikaru in the eyes. "Did you know Sai?"
"No," Hikaru barely managed to say, his voice quivering. The tears finally came.
"Shindou!" Akira yelled, making Hikaru back away a bit. "Stop it! I gave you the proof- I know you know Sai! Now tell me who he is and what he has to do with you wanting to quit Go!"
Hikaru, his eyes still closed, shook his head. "No!!"
Akira felt the blood rushing to his face. "If you won't tell me, I'll look for Sai all over the world so he'll tell me!"
Hikaru's eyes shot open at this, but his tears kept on streaming down his face. "There's…" he began. Akira waited for him to finish the sentence. "There's…" His entire body shook this time, not just his voice. Then suddenly: "There's no more Sai!"
He was crying now.
Akira's eyes widened. "Eh?" He asked in surprise. 'No more Sai? What does he mean?'
"Sai…" Hikaru breathed in short gasps, trying to calm his crying. Yet, every time he wiped his eyes more tears came. "Sai disappeared."
"What do you mean?" There was panic in Akira's voice now. Can it be that Sai the legendary player, who beat him and his father, disappeared?
He had to wait a few more minutes to get an answer. "Ghosts' place is in heaven." Hikaru said quietly.
Akira was still confused. "Huh?"
"Sai's soul wasn't in peace when he killed himself, so he couldn't go up to heaven. He wanted to play more Go in the living world, so even though he died thousand years ago, he was back…"
"Don't talk nonsense!" Akira couldn't understand. Why couldn't he just tell him the truth? Everybody knows there's no such thing as ghosts, not to mention ghosts that play Go!
"I'm not!" Hikaru said louder.
"But there are no ghosts!"
Hikaru was silent for a moment. "Do you remember the first time we met, Touya?" He asked.
"Yes..." How could he forget? He was beat by a beginner in his own age! "But what that has to do with it?"
"It was Sai, who played," Hikaru said quietly.
Akira couldn't believe his ears. He suddenly remembered, that he's been told that it was Hikaru's first time playing. It took a while until Akira found his voice again. "Cut the crap already!"
"That's no crap! Then how can you explain that I beat you twice, and then, on the third time in the tournament, you beat me so easily?"
That did make Akira wonder. Now and then. "I bet you probably just wanted to make a fool out of me then!" 'That bastard…'
Hikaru sighed. Akira sure was stubborn. "The mysterious power behind Shindou Hikaru was-" Akira's eyes widened even more. "-Sai of the Fujiwara."
"Y-You…" Akira stammered.
"And now, that Sai is gone. I don't know why or how…but I managed to find him. I found him, Touya! And then I decided to play again!" He smiled, passion in his eyes.
Akira looked about, searching for any signs of ghost. "You found him?"
"His in my moves, in my Goban. He's always with me, Touya!" Now Hikaru had the piercing look.
That move…he used to play like that. That was what Isumi-san told him. And suddenly…it all made sense. He still had a hard time believing the ghost story, but something deep inside him told him that it was the truth.If you'll chase an illusion of mine, someday I'll suppress you!
"The-the illusion I chased after back then…" Akira was in total shock. His mouth was gaped, his eyes wide and he felt sweat on his face.
"Was Sai," finished Hikaru.
They sat in silence. Akira thinking of what he just heard, and Hikaru was deep in memories.
"I miss him," Hikaru said suddenly. "A lot."
Akira stared at him, speechless. Then he smiled. "I'm- I'm sure you'll meet him again."
Hikaru shook his head. "Ghosts' place is in heaven. Sai…Sai is in heaven now." Hikaru lifted his head and looked up, towards the sky and heaven above. "His soul is in peace now."
Akira could see tears shimmering in Hikaru's eyes again.
"Yes," Akira nodded in agreement. "And I understand that your soul is in peace too?"
Hikaru nodded. "It took me some time to get over it, and I still miss him terribly, but-" he looked at Akira again, this time smiling. "I'm sure that there are a lot of Go players in heaven. I'm sure he's happy there." He turned his gaze towards the sky again.
Akira stared at him for a few more minutes, and then got up.
"You're leaving?" Hikaru asked.
"Yes," Akira said. "I got my answers."
"I'll walk you to the door," Hikaru was about to get up, but Akira stopped him with a wave of his hand.
"There's no need to," he said. He didn't want to disturb Hikaru's memories.
Hikaru stared at him for a second, blinking in confusion. Then he nodded and said "Ja ne."
"Ja ne," replied Akira and left.
"Somehow I feel…" Hikaru said quietly to himself. "I feel…relief." 'Sai…' He lifted his head back up, and returned to gazing at the blackening sky, something he did often six months ago.
On his way down, Akira met Hikaru's mother. She held a tray with two cups of tea, probably for Hiakru and himself. "Touya- san, are you leaving already?"
Akira nodded with a smile. "Yes, ma'am. I got what I wanted."
Hikaru's mother frowned. "And my son didn't walk you to the door? That boy…I'm sorry, but he can be rude at times."
"That's alright," Akira said. "I asked him no to. He suggested it, though."
"Oh…goodbye then," she said, smiling.
"Goodbye," Akira waved and left the house.
"And that's it…" Akira took a sip from his soda can. He sat in the Go Institute, Isumi and Waya in front of him. He just finished retelling what happened to him with Shindou a few days before.
"I can't believe it! Shindou had a ghost? He cheated?" Waya took this hard. He always considered Shindou as a friend, but he never even thought that the other boy was a cheater!
"At the beginning, yes," Isumi said. "But then he played by himself."
"Yes," agreed Akira. "He also yelled in that tape, that he'll let Sai play all the games from now on."
Waya seemed a bit sad for a moment, pitying his friend. "But Sai is gone forever." He sighed sadly.
"Thank you, Touya, for telling us," Isumi said, smiling.
"You asked me to, Isumi-san." Akira got up from his chair. "I must go now."
The other two merely waved their goodbyes. Akira was on his way towards the exit when he remembered something. "Oh, yeah," he turned to Waya and Isumi again. "Don't let Shindou Know that I told you. He didn't want to tell me, even though I had a proof, so I don't think he wants others to know."
The other two nodded in agreement.
While he walked down the busy street, Touya Akira began pondering the events of that day. 'I never knew it would hold such a deep meaning in it, this ordeal. Shindou refused to play, because he thought Sai would return if he didn't. And yet, he returned only when Shindou played.
Yes…He had such a faraway look back then, six months ago. He couldn't tell anyone, because no one would believe. He could get in trouble, too, because people might think he cheated, so he just didn't show up for matches. That boy had such a mystery around him…now it's all gone.'
His train of thought was cut when he bumped into someone and fell. "Hey! Watch where you're-" he started, but was never able to finish. "Shindou?"
"Touya?" The other boy said, looking at him from above. Akira got up and dusted himself off.
They both felt awkward to meet each other again. Hikaru was awkward because he cried in front of Akira, and Akira was awkward because he saw Hikaru breaking down in front of him.
"So…" Akira said.
"So…" Hikaru replied.
Both of them fell silent. Hikaru decided to break the silence. "I never got the chance to thank you," he said.
"What? Thank me for what?" 'I haven't done anything. He should be angry at me, for making him tell me something he didn't want to tell.'
"I feel as if a Go stone weighing fifty pounds got off my chest. Thank you for making me tell you." Hikaru smiled.
Akira stared at him for a moment, not believing his ears, and then smiled too. "Any time", he said.
'I was mistaken,' Akira thought. 'There still is a mystery behind this boy.'The End
Author's notes: So…did you like it? It's my first Hikaru no Go fic, and I think it came out well enough. I spent a lot of time writing it, and much effort. I apologize for any spelling/grammar mistakes.
Please review ^^;
Some more notes…: I called Isumi "Isumi", because I don't like the sound of "Shinichiro", even though "Isumi" is his last name.
I used Amano, Ogata and Kurata because these are the only names I could remember ^^;
I wanted to use the man, who led Hikaru to the kifu room for the first time, but I don't know his name ^^;