Lessons in How to Make a Bishounen Snap
~ A Hikaru no Go fanfiction ~
Disclaimer: Hotta and Obata are the manga-ka behind this wonderful series, even though I think the entire fandom is in a state of SHOCK right now....
Notes: If this was shorter, I'd say this was a spamfic. As if is, it's humor. It's me blowing off stress from the angst and overwork... I really don't have any funny projects, so... here goes. In other words, expect this when I need to kill off some of my braincells. Of course, feedback is appreciated. And yes, I have more of Pawns and Alter Egos just about ready to roll, along with the closure to the Sakurazakumori Subaru cycle.
PART ONE: Classes, Obsessed Teachers, and the Formation of the Touya Akira Fan Club
I missed the first day of school. It had fallen on the day an important Go match and I had a choice: either attend my first day of classes and try to reschedule a game in my already too-tight plans, or play the game and be disoriented after missing the introductory classes.
My decision, of course, was obvious.
So I found myself in the principal's office, listening to a belated orientation. The principal was not a Go fan, and did not understand what my job was, but he did understand that I was famous in some circles, and allowances should be made. Toriyama High School was not a Go school, but being able to claim me as a student was a coup for them. Along from my high grades, I was a valuable addition to their student body.
Still, I wondered if I was doing the right thing, attending high school. Shindou had chosen not to, and part of me was tempted to do the same. Scholastics had always come easily for me, but I wondered if I would be pushing myself too much, going to one of the top private schools in the city on top of my career. My parents hadn't pushed me either way, but I wanted to at least make the attempt. Go was my life, but it was tied to Japanese literature and history, art and culture. I wanted to know about these things and others as well, and if I didn't take the time to learn them now, I knew I never would.
The principal, a balding man named Reiji, shuffled the papers on his desk. I had come in early to speak to him and make the final arrangements. It probably should have been done before I registered, but my schedule had been too tight. "Touya-kun, I understand you'll be missing quite a few days of classes due to your work."
I nodded, feeling the silky strands of my hair brush against my cheeks. "I know. Probably about half of the schooldays during some months, less in others. I'll try to make test days, but I'll need make-ups. I'll make sure the school has an advanced schedule."
He considered me, tapping a finger against his chin thoughtfully. I studied his hands - it was a habit of mine. I always examined people's hands, because I knew how to read them better than faces. A faint redness in his joints told me he probably would suffer from arthritis in a few years. His hands were clean and soft, and the carefully clipped nails told of a meticulous personality. "Are you sure high school is right for you?" he asked.
I really felt awkward at that moment, since he was asking exactly the question that was plaguing me. "I need to do this," I said softly. "Education is a precious thing."
The principal seemed to soften. "It is. I'm glad you realize it. It will offer you many career opportunities in the future."
I blinked a bit, but bit my tongue. When I was younger, I had blown up at the ignorance of the way of Go. I remember the second time I met Shindou with biting clarity, which had taught me that not everyone knew about my world. I was set for life in a vocation I loved. This man was merely expressing one of the common points of view that Go was merely a game.
"Maybe," I said neutrally. "I'm making a living wage now." And then some, I thought with amusement. With my prizes from tournaments and tutoring, I was making enough to support a family of four in comfortable style. When I started to win title matches (as most people believed would be inevitable), my wages would skyrocket.
"Shall I take you through your classes?" he offered. "Your first one just started, so they'll probably treat you like a transfer."
I nodded, feeling my customary shyness threaten to overwhelm me. It was my curse, the inability to speak. I was introverted, like many serious Go players, and I suffered from self-consciousness when I wasn't around a goban. I rose to my feet, following the shorter man as he led me down a series of snaking hallways to my classroom.
I glanced up at the 1-C over the sliding doors as Reiji-sensei went in to get the teacher. A nervous hand reached up to tug at my collar, and I glanced down at my new uniform. It was solid navy with a white shirt underneath. I had bought one that fit right off, rather than one that was too-large to be grown into, the way many students did. I would be able to replace them easily with my salary. I hardly ever touched the money I earned, and I figured that I could at least treat myself to properly tailored clothes.
The teacher came out moments later, and I smiled at her. She was a woman barely into her thirties, wearing her long black hair fastened to the nape of her neck. She was pretty in a comfortable sort of way. "Hello, Touya-kun," she said. "I'm Sakurada Sakuno and I'm your literature teacher. If you come in, I can introduce you to the class. Did you manage to get books?"
I held up my book bag. I had replaced it after three years in Kaio, even though my old one had hardly been worn. I had indulged, figuring high school was a major transition. I hadn't needed to, because my belongings rarely wore out. I was careful with my things - Shindou would have said anal compulsively meticulous."They're in here," I told her.
She gave me a smile. "Well, we did introductions yesterday. You'll have to introduce yourself and I guess others can introduce themselves to you later - I'm in the middle of a lecture, and it'd be getting off track if I fall behind in my lesson plan."
"I had a prior obligation. It will happen frequently. I'll be doing lots of make-up work,"I explained, since her quirked eyebrow told me she was wondering how a student could miss orientation day.
"Really? Well, come to the teacher's room after school and we'll discuss it. If it's okay with the administration, I'm sure something can be arranged."
I nodded as she turned to the door. The principal smiled at us and we left him. I swallowed hard, but forced my face to remain smooth. It's no worse than dealing with the press, I told myself. I mean, it's just a bunch of teenagers...
The class turned curious eyes on me as I lingered in the front of the room. Sakurada-sensei didn't write my name on the board, but merely turned to the students. There were about forty, and I glanced around to see if anyone had recognized me. The girls all seemed giggly and the boys indifferent, which I figured was a good thing. I didn't want this to go the way my life had at Kaio. The last thing I needed was a repeat of my first year of middle school.
"This is Touya Akira. He wasn't able to make it yesterday. Touya-kun, how about you introduce yourself?"
Public speaking, the thing I dreaded most. It had taking years of coaching from my father to get used to it, but there was something different about being among my age group. I wasn't a professional, merely fifteen years old and socially stagnated.
"Touya Akira. My favorite subject is Japanese literature and I like to play Go," I said, knowing I had to sound like a complete nerd. I didn't want to make a big deal of my accomplishments, realizing that would create alienation. I bowed briefly, looking at the teacher, hoping she would let me sit down.
She saved me. "There's a seat in the back of the room. Your classmates can introduce themselves later."
"Thank you," I murmured, then turned to walk towards the indicated place. It took everything I had to force myself not to run, because I could feel all the eyes on me. I settled in quickly, opening my books and listening as she began to lecture.
It was easy enough to follow. Father had always been fond of classic Japanese, and so were many fans of Go. The Tale of Genji was a staple I had read three times already, and even though she was just starting into it, I felt as though I was revisiting an old friend. The wonderful thing about literature is the new discoveries and nuances you find each time.
She randomly called on students to read, and I winced occasionally inside as they struggled over the antiquated words. It was meant to be read at a rhythm, not a stuttering halt. She didn't call on me, though, and I wondered if I was relieved or not. It would have been a pleasure to do it right. This was supposed to be one of the top schools in the city, but apparently I hadn't made it into the advanced class. I supposed my attendance record had been against me.
The next classes went by quickly, and before I knew it, it was lunch... and time for the inquisition. I pulled the lunch my mother had made for me out of my bag, but I knew I was about to get hit from ten different sides with questions.
Sure enough, three girls pushed their desks over immediately. I looked at them, wondering exactly what they were going to ask of me and if there was any way to get out of it. "Hello," I said cautiously.
"Hello!" chirped one with a butterfly hair tie in her hair that fluttered when she turned her head. "I'm Fuyata Chieko, and these are my friends, Tai Risa and Wakahara Maaya. We thought you'd be lonely on your first day, so we decided to keep you company."
And interrogate me, I thought. "Um, that's nice of you." I glanced around, noticing the guys watching me and the girls watching the trio, and everyone seemed to be envious. Oh, Kami-sama... I prayed. I'd just been declared as the most desirable guy in class. That did not bode well for making friends.
Risa laughed. Her laugh was a bit high-pitched, and grated unpleasantly. "Well, how about you tell us about yourself?" she asked. "Why did you miss yesterday? After entrance exams, I thought no one would want to!"
"I had a prior commitment," I said softly, hoping that would draw her off.
"Oh?" Maaya leaned closer, and I caught a hint of delicate lavender perfume, a lavender that went perfectly with the pale violet nail polish she was wearing. "That was poor scheduling."
"Unavoidable," I said. I poked at a bit of rice, feeling my appetite leaving.
A match against Kurata-8-dan, certainly nothing I wanted to miss. For the first time, I had defeated him, overcoming his legendary intuition. I was now going to advance into the finals of the Honinbou match, playing Kuwabara. I fully intended to win my first title. Shindou was going into the finals of the Kiseki match, having edged me in our semi-final game, and I refused to let him take all the glory. Shindou was my rival, and if he got a step ahead of me, I knew he wasn't going to let me forget it.
Shindou was many things, but the one thing he wasn't was tactful.
Chieko was the one who took up the thread of conversation. "If you need notes from yesterday, I can make you photocopies of mine. We didn't do too much, but missing the first day puts anyone off-balance."
I nodded. "That's kind of you." I studied her face, wondering if she would be a good person to ask to get the notes from regularly, since I anticipated missing at least two days of classes a week, due to games. Thursdays were definite, and Saturdays as well.
"It's not a problem! Anything for a classmate! If you need anything, feel free to ask any of us!" she said so cheerfully that I could heard the exclamation points after each phrase quite clearly.
"Um, thanks," I replied, inclining my head. "I'll do that."
Lunch dragged on, with the three girls flirting with me quite obviously, the guys casting me dirty looks, and my stomach twisting in knots. Thankfully, the period ended and chemistry started.
It was my math class where the day went completely to hell.
My math teacher, a man in his late forties starting to go to fat who would have fit in perfectly at my father's Go salon, walked in. I pulled out my textbook and opened it up to a fresh sheet of notebook paper. Math wasn't my favorite subject, but it was easy because counting was such an important part of Go. I tapped my pen against my chin, hoping the lecture would be interesting but doubting it. There were few teachers who were able to make math come alive.
"I understand we have a new student?" the teacher said as he picked up a piece of chalk. "Can you please stand so I can see you?" His voice was a melodic baritone that I knew would lull me to sleep if I didn't make an effort to concentrate.
I rose, a bit tired of the routine. "Touya Akira," I said to introduce myself.
His eyes went wide and the chalk clattered to the floor as it slipped from his fingers. "Touya-4-dan?" he whispered in shock.
I resisted the urge to smack my forehead only through sheer strength of will. It had all be going too well. "Um... yes?" I said.
He grinned at me, and I saw the passion in his eyes that only a true go afficionado could have. By now, the other students were staring at me like I had come from the moon and I knew all chances of anonymity were blown. "This is such a pleasure, Touya-sensei!" he said, and before I knew it he came bouncing down the aisle like a ten year old. "I saw your name on the roster, but I didn't think it was THE Touya Akira!"
I wanted a giant hole to open up and swallow me whole. Being addressed as "sensei" by your teacher wasn't a great way to win friends and influence people. I felt the blood rushing to my cheeks. "Um..." I looked around, trying to find some way out of it, but all I saw were a bunch of wide eyes.
Where were the alien abductions when you needed them? I wondered.
"I think I have autograph paper back in the teacher's room... Can I get you to..." he continued to babble.
I felt like a mouse who had been cornered by a cat. Just my luck, my math teacher is one of those Go fans who raises obsession to a new level. "Um..." I felt myself beginning to revert to the shy child I had been at twelve, before I had become a pro.
"Kaidou-sensei?" A voice said, interrupting him. We both turned to see Chieko rise to her feet. I wasn't sure what she was about to do, and I wondered if she was going to make matters worse. "Um, how do you know Touya-kun?"
He turned to stare at her. His jaw dropped as he stared at the students, who were all looking at us. "You don't know? Touya-4-dan is one of the premier Go players right now! There's talk that he's going to unseat the Honinbou in the next..." he prattled on.
Blank looks met him as he extolled my virtues, and all I wanted was an escape route...
Which didn't come.
It took me ten minutes of embarrassed standing, stammering and blushing before he finally remembered he had a class to teach. Ten minutes of hell. And then while he taught, my classmates kept casting me glances that range from inquiry, to derision to sheer dislike.
Oh, hell. Class couldn't end quickly enough for me.
The minutes ticked by, and finally we were released by the final bell. I hurriedly stuffed my school bag, trying to keep my notes neat, before rising to my feet, intent on making a break for the door.
Chieko and Risa stopped me, forming a solid wall. No one in class had left, and I was, once again, the center of attention.
"Kaidou-sensei seemed awfully impressed by you," Risa said. She raised and eyebrow curiously. "None of us have any clue what he was rambling on about. Care to explain?"
"Not really," I said, and I started for the door again, thinking about the haven of the Go salon or maybe going straight home and taking a nice, long nap. Naps were good things for escaping stress headaches and I felt a monstrous one coming on.
Chieko was agile enough to get to the door before I did, though, and she stood in my way, bracing her hands on the frame so that I would have to move her by force if I wanted to get out. "Let's rephrase," Chieko said. "An explanation is required."
Glancing around, I realized that all eyes were on me. My collar felt tight around my throat, and it was only through practice at dealing with the reporters that I retained my poise. I looked at her with the cool gaze that made my opponents feel off-balance, and was slightly satisfied as she tightened her grip, obviously shaken. "I play Go professionally," I told her, deciding that admitting the truth was required."Apparently Kaidou-sensei is something of a Go fan, and is a little bit enthusiastic."
Dead silence, and I knew that I was in deep. I mentally pinned a sign to my back that said "Go Geek" and prepared myself to be ostracized for the rest of my high school career. I had been prepared for it, but I had been hoping to make a few friends before my career became known. That had been part of my reason for going to high school.
"You... play Go?"One of the boys asked.
I looked over at him and nodded. "I'll be missing some days of classes to attend games. That's where I was yesterday."
There was dead silence, before Risa bounded up to me. "That is SO COOL!"
I blinked, unable to believe my ears. Say WHAT?