Aishuu Offers:

Lessons in How to Make a Bishounen Snap

A Hikaru no Go fanfiction Disclaimer: Hotta and Obata, as always.
Notes: Thanks to Sailor Mac for looking this over. This one is for her, and Tam-chan, and all those people who were patient with me. Thanks to everyone who commented on the first half at the start of this month. First person who mentioned Brightly Burning gets a go ke to the head.

Part Five: Fan Club Pins, Unwanted Commentators and Shindou Hikaru's End Game

My mother has a favorite saying: just take things one day at a time.

It's advice which I had been fervently trying to apply to the situation, but unfortunately for me, I was a Go player. Go players are not of the mind set to take things "one at a time" since we tend to plan at least fifteen moves ahead.

Maybe that was why I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. All I could see was the fact that even if I managed to survive the festival, I would not be in a position to solve any of my problems. My high school life looked like it was going to be a perpetual cycle of me being hit on by people of both genders, conned into playing games by a psycho sensei, and being completely socially inept when it came to everything else.

It was going to be a long three years. Dropping out was starting to look like a viable option, but I had an amazing stubborn streak. There was no way that they were going to make me run away.

Though I seriously reconsidered when I arrived at school for the festival.

Since I had already been assigned a role, the class didn't ask me to arrive early to help with the set up. All that I needed to do was arrive half and hour before the festival started to give a final look-over of the arrangements. I'm sure that they realized they were pushing their luck as it was. I seriously considered checking with the Institute and seeing if there were any tournaments that needed help that day, but my sense of responsibility kept me from chickening out like that.

That morning, I made my way through the hallway of school, which was filled with students dressed in fantastic costumes and bright decorations. I felt a bit drab in my plain uniform, but after seeing someone dressed as a lobster race by, I considered myself fortunate. It wasn't like tutoring wasn't something I hadn't done before, right?

The classroom was hardly recognizable. The desks had been stowed somewhere, and tables had been brought in and lined up, and spread with neat cloths. Coffee was brewing in a corner, and a small counter had been set up by the doorway. Girls fluttered around in glittery costumes with short skirts that looked more like cosplay costumes than anything Ichikawa would be caught dead in.

Maaya spotted me immediately, of course, and Emi materialized by my side, intent on performing her duties as my bodyguard. I was getting used to her presence, really, since she was quiet and unobtrusive usually.

Maaya, though, was wearing a bright green outfit with a full skirt - and cat ears. It was very hard not to laugh. She looked absolutely ridiculous. The thing about her, though, is that she had no sense of modesty, for she plowed through three of our classmates in her determination to meet me.

I tried to keep my eyes on her face, because her skirt was riding dangerously high as she spun past Fujita, who was locked in a deep conversation with two other classmates of ours, Kiriji Daisuke and Hanagawa Hiroshi.

"Touya-sama!" she said happily as she settled in front of me. "I have something to show you!" She shoved her hand in her pocket and produced a pin that looked like a white Go stone with my last name emblazoned in gold on it. "Isn't it cute?" she squealed.

Cute was not the word I was thinking. Horribly tacky and terribly embarrassing were more along the proper lines, but I didn't have the heart to shoot her down. "What... what is it?" I asked in trepidation, though I had a feeling I already knew.

She was oblivious to my less than enthusiastic attitude. "Fan club pins! They finally arrived - we've had them on order for weeks, but since we're using real Go stones, it took a while to get them custom made."

I stared at the Go stone, thinking of how they were profaning my beloved game. "You... made pins out of Go stones," I said a tad flatly.

"A whole set worth! And we're almost out!" she announced happily.

There were 361 Go stones in the average set. I felt myself go pale. I didn't realize that my fan club was that large and that reality scared me. I was being stalked by over half the female student body....

...and then Fujita walked over with a gentle smile that was just a tad too intimate, and I amended the thought. Half the female body, plus a few extra.

Transfer, I thought. Or a private tutor.

Fujita, though, was on business. He ignored Maaya, who sniffed at him disdainfully. "Touya-kun, there's been a change of plans," he said, and he seemed to be a bit apologetic. "Last night-"

"Is this Touya Akira's classroom?" I heard an irritable voice ask from the door - a voice that I would recognize anywhere.

I actually pinched myself physically, ignoring the confused looks Fujita and Maaya gave me. This could not be happening. He could not be here.

Life wasn't that kind, though. Shindou Hikaru was at the door, talking to Chieko, who looked bowled over by him.

Oh, crap.

The idea of the damage his careless mouth could do made my imagination - limited though it was - kick into overdrive.

"Excuse me," I murmured to Fujita, and then darted for Shindou, rudely grabbing him by the elbow and dragging him back into the hall before he even had a chance to register my presence. The chaos of the festival swirled around us, but it was better than letting my fan club officers have unlimited access to our conversation.

"What are you doing here?" I asked icily. Had Ogata or Ashiwara informed him of the festival, and sent him to keep me company? It seemed like the kind of thing they would come up with, and I would kill them both.

Shindou, though, seemed confused. "Aren't you expecting me?" he asked cluelessly.

"No," I bit out.

Shindou looked down at the sheet of paper he was holding in his hand. "Um, I'm supposed to be here. The Institute assigned me to give a demonstration with you today," he said, holding out a piece of paper. He waved it in my face. "I thought it was a bit weird, since it only arrived yesterday, but it's official. I was hoping you'd be able to explain it a bit better."

I snatched it out of his hands, and sure enough, Shindou Hikaru and Touya Akira were scheduled for a demonstration match at Toriyama High School at 10 a.m. on Friday with - Waya Yoshitaka and Ochi Kousuke commentating?

Oh, hell.

"Ogata-sensei has a nasty sense of humor," I said, realizing who had to be the one who set this up. I was never, ever talking to the man again. He seemed determined to push me completely over the edge.

"Huh?" Shindou asked. "Is he around here?" He looked a little bit panicky.

I quirked an eyebrow. "Don't you like Ogata-jyudan?" I teased. I knew Shindou had a tendency to get a bit nervous around him, and it was fun to watch Shindou get uncomfortable, since he was so used to disconcerting the rest of us. Misery loves company after all, and if I was going to be embarrassed, I was at least going to get some of my own back first.

"He's still obsessed with Sai," Shindou groaned. "No matter how many times I tell him I am not Sai, I do not know Sai, I cannot arrange a match between him and Sai, he keeps pressing."

I smirked. I knew Shindou was lying, but pressing Shindou was a sure-fire way to send the bleach straight to his brain and see him go completely air-headed. "Uh-huh. Do you want to go to the classroom? We can set up, since apparently it's an assigned match. I wonder why I didn't get one-"

"Because they knew you'd be here?" Shindou suggested, starting off at my side. "This is your school?" He craned his head around curiously. "You always choose nice places."

"I have the grades for it," I told him, trying to bait him. It was quite well known that Shindou was less than stellar when it came to academic pursuits.

He smiled a bit. "I'm glad to be out. I get to play Go all day long, make money for doing it, and I'm gonna catch up to you while you waste your time in school," he threatened.

That was a concern of mine, but I wasn't about to let him know it. "I highly doubt it. I've been studying all my life, and while you may have some talent, that can never be a substitute for practice. And I'm still practicing."

"Who won our last match?" Shindou taunted.

I refrained from reaching over and throttling him through years of exposure to his attitude. Instead I leveled a cool look at him, which I knew he found more infuriating, anyway. "That's one out of how many?"

He grumbled and I pushed the door open, and we walked in.

Dead silence.

Oh, not again, I thought.

"Shindou, we'll perform the game in the front of the room, I guess?" I suggested, looking around. "Do you know if Waya or Ochi is bringing a display board?"

My voice fell into the silence, and then Maaya came up to us. "Do you play Go?" she asked Shindou. Her eyes were scanning him avidly, and I realized suddenly that half my fan club might be persuaded that Shindou Hikaru was really a better person to adore. I pursed my lips as I considered Shindou, realizing for the first time that Shindou might be attractive to females.

YES! THIS MIGHT BE A GOOD THING! my thoughts screamed.

I put a hand on Shindou's shoulder and propelled him at Maaya before he could answer. "Yes, he does," I said. "He's actually not half bad. How about you show him around and introduce him while I see to setting up?" I suggested wickedly.

Shindou looked like a puppy I had just kicked. "Um, Touya-"

"I need to do some stuff," I said and waved them off. Unlike me, Shindou was good at meeting strangers and would have them eating out of his hand without even trying. I was liking this plan more and more.

I heard Hiroshi's laughter and smiled a bit to myself as I moved forward to check out the goban and chairs. Ochi and Waya would be coming as well... I immediately discounted the possibility of Ochi, but maybe I could pawn some more off on Waya-

"You look thoughtful, Touya," Fujita said to me.

I smiled. "Just thinking of a couple of moves," I said. "I wasn't expecting to have to play a serious game today."

"What do you mean?" Fujita asked, coming closer. I tried very hard not to pull away, since he wasn't actually invading my personal space, but only watching as I polished the goban, and checking the go kes for the stones. It would be rude, and Fujita hadn't really made any overt advances.

"No one told me Shindou was assigned to show up," I said. I glanced over at him, not at all surprised to see him surrounded by a few of my more devoted fan club members. I grabbed a go ke full of stones off the table to keep my hands busy and to use as a subtle shield against him.

"Isn't it just a practice game?" Fujita asked curiously.

"Not between me and Shindou," I said.

True enough. The chance to play Shindou was making the day look a bit brighter. Maybe the festival would turn out okay-

"What are THOSE?" I heard Shindou say, and suddenly my good idea didn't seem so good anymore. I glanced over at Maaya, who was pointing out her Touya Fan Club pin, explaining, and I saw Shindou's hand rising to his mouth, obviously trying not to laugh too hard.

I glared across the room at him, trying to decide if intervening was a good idea. He merely winked at me mischievously, and I resolved to punish him by thoroughly humiliating him by beating him by ten moku.

Daisuke noticed my glare and shivered. "I wouldn't want to be Shindou right now," he said to Hiroshi, but it was loud enough to be overheard.

"It's a bad idea to get between the two of them when they start on one of their matches," a voice chimed in. "Bystanders get hurt."

"You make it sound like they're obsessed with each other - wait! They are!" another voice said melodramatically.

I turned, ready to snap out something downright nasty. It had to be Ochi and Waya, and while I knew Ochi had a right to be a bit bitter after I had used him as Shindou bait, Waya had hated me for the longest time and I had no clue why. It didn't hurt my feelings, but it was irritating.

The look on my face must have been downright hysterical, for Waya cracked up laughing and Ochi smirked. Daisuke and Hiroshi merely looked curious and a bit nervous. I didn't know either of them well - they tended to be quiet and fade into the background, having the kind of student life that I had always imagined would be mine.

Ochi looked as bland as ever, his hands folded across his chest as he stood next to the taller Waya, but Waya's eyes were darting around the room curiously. A slight smile danced over his lips, and I knew that my hell was now complete. He was going to have a blast at my expense.

"Yo, Touya," Waya said, coming over to stand next to us. He was dressed in a tie and suit and looking uncomfortable, but his eyes were sparkling as he surveyed the scene. "Want to let us in on what the deal is?"

No, not really, I thought.

It was one thing to tell Shindou I'd been set up by Ogata - Shindou knew the man. It would be quite another to tell a player who despised me for breathing that I'd been hung out to dry by my mentor as a practical joke.

"Shindou and I are giving a Go demonstration," I said flatly. "You're commentating."

Waya looked pained. "That's obvious. But why are we doing this at your school? Are you that special that-"

Oh, here it comes, I thought. The long lecture on why Touya Akira gets special treatment and how the Go Institute spoils him.

"Leave him alone, Waya," Shindou said, coming up to us. "I don't think this was his idea." He gave Waya one of those looks he used whenever he wanted people to take him seriously.

I was thankful for his support for all of five seconds before I heard a few of the girls start giggling. It took a few moments of confusion before I overheard snatches of what was going on. My attention drifted over to the rather unwelcome - though not unexpected - sight.

Kaidou-sensei had just arrived with a bunch of older men who looked like they were probably friends of his that were regulars at whatever Go salon he favored. There were about twelve of them, and they seemed a bit out of place at a school festival, but they way they were looking back and forth between Shindou and myself made my stomach knot.

The girls, though were staring in rapt fascination as their sensei did a wonderful impression of a fanboy, leading a group of old men in a giddy display of glee.

"I can't believe it!" Kaidou was saying. "The Go Institute has set up a special match between Touya-sensei and Shindou-sensei! This is going to be wonderful!" He clapped the most withered looking man on the shoulders. "Told you it'd be worth coming!"

The man gave a slight scowl. "It'll be fun watching your pupil get trounced."

Kaidou and about three-fourths of the group gasped in shock. Finally Kaidou found his voice. "Touya-sensei isn't going to lose, Murasaki!"

"Shindou's better than he is. Shindou's hitting his stride, and Touya isn't going to be able to ride the family name anymore!" Murasaki said smugly.

Ouch. That was one of the things I hated most. While I was very proud of my father, my achievements were my own.

Kaidou was extremely offended on my behalf. "Listen, you thirty-kyu! You wouldn't know talent if it stared you in the face!"

"You're so stuck on tradition that you can't see that a new age is here for the world of Go!" Murasaki spat back. The two men were nose-to-nose, and looked like they were about to come to blows.

"Wanna bet on it?"

"5,000 yen says Shindou wins!"

The men started to place wagers, goading each other nastily and teasing each other horribly. They started to compare Shindou and my recent records, talking about our styles and personalities, and I felt like a horse in some kind of race. I was tempted to ask if they wanted to inspect my teeth.

The sour look on my face must have been quite telling, because Ochi looked at me in a manner that could have been taken to be almost sympathetic. "Are they like this all the time?"

"Usually there's only Kaidou-sensei."

Waya was trying hard to muzzle his laughter under a hand, and failing miserably. "You have one of your biggest fans as your teacher? I bet you're getting all A's!"

It was not my fault that I managed to drop the go ke I was holding on Waya's foot. Really!

"I'm sorry, Waya. It slipped," I apologized as the dark stones bounced all over his feet, but he was too busy hopping around over getting his foot smushed. The go ke wasn't that heavy, so I thought he was overdoing it a bit. Then again, he was wearing sandals instead of proper shoes... "Could someone help Waya clean this up?" I asked, raising my voice so it broke cleanly through the room, and then there was about ten girls in ridiculous costumes practically crawling all over Waya in an attempt to find those pesky little stones.

"Gloating is rude, Touya," Shindou whispered to me as we headed to the game board.

"He had it coming." I couldn't wipe the slight smirk off my face.

"He's commenting today, and you just pissed him off. Real bright."

I shrugged. It wasn't like Waya didn't already detest me.

The appointed hour was inching closer, and Shindou and I took our seats. Space had been clear so people could attempt to watch us, but the game would truly be displayed using the velcro Go board that Waya and Ochi had brought.

I could feel that sensation of calm that I only knew when playing Go start to wash through me, relieving me of the stress of class and peers and teachers. All that mattered was the game, and I was playing Shindou. Shindou, too, seemed to be going into what I thought of as he "Go mood." He was irritating as hell away from a goban, but when he got serious, he was probably my best friend. His face lost that smile which I was always tempted to smack off of him, and the set of his shoulders firmed up.

Of course, the momentary piece that I knew had to be disrupted by the crowd which was gathering. Usually it would take an atomic bomb to distract me from a game, but when Waya opened his mouth, I knew that this battle would be a match about who could keep his concentration.

"Welcome to the first Toriyama High Go Tournament! I'm Waya Yoshitaka, and this is Ochi Kousuke, and we're going to explain what's going on." Ochi sniffed a bit at how casual his introduction was. "In the blue, we have fan favorite Touya Akira, who is going to play my best friend, Shindou Hikaru! Who happens to be the one with bleached bangs and the Go! Go! Go! Shirt."

The girls laughed at Waya's lighthearted style, but I again considered the possibility of homicide. I wondered if they would let me have a goban in prison...

Shindou sighed and raked a hand through his hair. "Can we start now?" he asked in an irritated voice.

"Yes, yes! What the players are going to do now is nigiri to decide who has what color stones. In Go, black gets to go first, which gives that player the advantage. To even things out, a komi of 5.5 stones is set. That means black has to win by six stones to win the game."

When we drew our stones, I wasn't surprised to end up with white. I played white more often than not in our matches - as it should be. White was still a bit harder to win with.

I tuned it out as Waya rambled about the goal of the game, considering what moves to play. Was Shindou going to go for a conventional opening, or try to throw me off using one of his stranger plans? I really wanted him to play the Tengen opening just once, because I'd like to see-

"Don't they look cute?" I heard a girl say in a voice that was a bit too loud to be polite. "It's like seeing light and dark angels together!"

I blinked, trying to regain my focus, but another voice spoke from the other side, one which made my back stiffen in reflex. "That 5,000 yen is going to be mine!" I heard Kaidou say to one of his cohorts. "His skills are heavenly! Did I tell you he's been playing me?"

"Only a hundred times," Murasaki replied. "I don't think it's all that special, though. Go pros will play anyone if you give them enough cash." The way he said it made me sound like a prostitute, and it was very, very hard not to start twitching.

Deep breath, breathe, Akira, I told myself.

Shindou waited with amazing patience for Waya to finally turn to us and proclaim the match beginning. His lips curved just a bit as he fearlessly took the tengen.

Dammit, I hated when he did that. It was going to be one of those games.

I heard Waya sigh, and mutter something under his breath about how Shindou was being difficult. "Ah... yes. What Shindou just did is take the tengen, which is the center space of the board - it's not a common move, because it cuts off a lot of potential moves for territory."

"Shindou's moves are now going to have to either gain influence or connect later on - which Touya isn't going to let him do easily."

"Touya never lets Shindou do anything easily," Waya said.

Could they just shut up? I wondered as I finally decided to counter by taking 3-4... to which Shindou quite quickly replied, mirroring my move across the board. Our hands started to come faster and faster, and I felt something start to unwind inside of me. This was Go; this was something I could understand and...

"Slow down!" Waya ordered abruptly, piercing through my focus. "This is a demonstration match, not speed Go!"

I jerked my eyes away from the board, wondering if I could get away with strangling him. I wouldn't kill him... no, but maiming sounded good.

Shindou was undeterred, not even pausing as he made the next move. I heard, more than saw the move, and my fingers responded instinctively, still going at the whizzing pace.

"Well, it looks like we're being treated to a demonstration in speed Go. While pros often play with timed hands, this is a version which stressing reaction over thought-"

"I wonder if they're replaying a game they've done before?" Ochi chimed in.

"Why would we do that?" Shindou asked, puzzlement in his voice, and played a hane.

"Because you want to look cool?" Ochi said dryly to what should have been a rhetorical question.

Normally Ochi's rancor would have rolled right over me, but I was already irritated and jumpy. I opened my mouth to deliver a stinging retort, but Maaya beat me to it.

"He already is cool, you horrible, ugly, little gnome!" she shot from her place in the front row, punctuating her words by stomping her foot. Behind her, Emi started to crack her knuckles threateningly, apparently deciding that I was about to need her.

Ochi turned bright red, and I watched in macabre fascination. It really looked like he was about to have a heart-attack. The older crew that Kaidou had brought began muttering disapprovingly about "kids these days."

"Wh-you-" Ochi stuttered, too incensed to think clearly. He took a deep breath, and straightened his glasses. "At least I don't win because of my last name," he said clearly.

Utter silence met his statement. The stone I was holding slipped from my fingers and fell on the board, ringing ominously against the kaya. Not surprisingly, it landed in the worst possible position, and I stared at it numbly. I had always heard insults about being too proud of my father, but no one ever accused me of not having the skill myself. It was one of the worst insults that had ever been flung my way.

Shindou looked at the board nervously. "Um, you can redo it," he offered.

The idea was anathema. No Go player worthy of his dan ever "redid" a move, forced mistake or not. "I'll play it."


"I said I'll play it," I growled, even though I knew I was committing to losing the game. My hair brushed against my cheeks as I leaned forward to study the board, hoping to find a way to keep from suffering a brutal loss. I just needed to treat this like a handicap....

Shindou shook his head, but attacked the right. "Your loss. It's not going to be fun to beat you like this."

Over our conversation, I heard Kaidou-sensei start to yell at Ochi, and Waya inserting some choice comments that just inflamed them. I heard the rustle of fabric as my fan club advanced, only to be stopped by half of Kaidou's friends, the ones who had been rooting for Shindou. Voices started to rise, and a tension headache began to throb across my forehead.

"Just because you don't have half the talent of Touya-sensei-"

"-what you're wearing is positively immodest! In my day-"

"You still haven't beaten him, have you?"

"Shindou has ten times the talent, and you don't see him hanging off of Daddy!"

The board in front of me grew distant, and I knew then that all I wanted was to leave. I wasn't sure where I wanted to go, but Belgium was starting to sound good. For the first time in my life, I didn't want to finish a game.

"Touya?" Shindou asked in concern. "Are you okay?"

"They're too damn loud for me to hear the voices in my head," I muttered. I had no clue where it came from, but it sounded good.

Shindou froze. "Touya?" He looked genuinely shaken, and it struck me as hilariously funny.

I started to giggle, which I hated doing since I sounded like a girl. "The voices in my head that tell me where to play," I said, unable to let it drop.

Shindou set the stone he was holding back in his go ke. His face was ashen, probably because it was painful to watch his number one rival lose his tenuous grasp on reality. "Touya..."

I smiled at him. "What? The voices know a lot about Go. Maybe the spirits of my ancestors want to have another chance at finding the hand of god..." I actually cackled. "It works, doesn't it?"

Somewhere in the middle of my ramble, the classroom had fallen into one of those lulls that seemed designed to let everyone hear you embarrass yourself. I smiled serenely as I placed my next stone, knowing I had just completely shot my reputation. The sick look on Shindou's face made it almost worth it.

Maaya wailed, before rudely grabbing me from behind and spinning me around. "Poor Touya!" she cried, pressing my face into her chest. "It's been too much stress, being the best, hasn't it? Don't worry, we'll take care of you!"

My face started to turn purple as she rubbed her chest against my head in what was supposed to be a comforting manner. Waya started to snicker, and I shoved her away, accidently touching her breasts.

I stared at my hands in shock. I'd never touched a girl there before.

Maaya shrieked, forgetting about wanting to mother me, wrapping her arms around herself protectively. "Pervert!" she shrieked, completely ignoring the fact that she'd been pushing herself off on me.

Chieko and the others weren't as loyal to Maaya as they should have been.

"You slut! He'll have to marry you!" one who I didn't recognize wailed, clenching her fists angrily. "How dare you take Touya-sama for yourself!"

"I did not! You saw him touch me!" Maaya was affronted at the implication she would betray her sisterhood of stalkers.

"Only because you made him!" Chieko said angrily.

"I did no such thing! Just because I'm closer to Touya-sama then all of you-"

"Hey, I'm closer than any of you!" Fujita said loudly.

Kaidou's friends apparently decided to just ignore the catfight (which looked on the verge of descending into hair-pulling and scratching) and turned on each other, with Waya and Ochi in the thick of it.

"Just because you never made it out of the insei, don't think-"

"It's my job to tutor idiots."

"Didn't Touya tutor you?"

"He's tutoring me now, and-"

My head was threatening to explode. Shindou still looked like he was about to faint. "Shindou? Are you okay?" echoing his words of a moment earlier.

He shook his head. "I- well, no one is paying attention... I have to go!" He was on his feet and racing for the door.

Oh, no... he wasn't doing this again! I thought angrily. There was no way in hell I was letting him leave when I knew I couldn't. Without even thinking, I grabbed the nearest object and threw it at him.

I knocked Shindou Hikaru out with a go ke.

I watched in morbid fascination as the container struck Shindou on the back of the head, spilling out small shell chips all over the floor. Shindou teetered precariously for a second, before toppling forward onto his face. The sound of his body hitting the floor was the only noise as everyone, attracted by the crackle of spilled stones as they scattered to the floor, watched in horror.

Now I'd really done it.

Everyone's eyes turned to me as I blinked slowly, trying to think up some reasonable excuse for my actions, but failing miserable. I took a deep breath, then wiped my face clean of all expression.

"He didn't resign properly," I said primly, before beginning to clear the board. Since white's go ke was on the floor, I merely set the shell stones aside even as I neatly slid the slate ones into the go ke Shindou had been using.

It was Daisuke who managed to find his voice first. "He's scary," he whispered to his sidekick, Hiroshi.

Scary I could live with. "Waya, would you be so kind as to drag Shindou out? I believe he was on his way somewhere," I said coolly, using the voice that intimidated so many of my opponents.

Waya swallowed and nodded, grabbing Ochi by the arm. "Let's get while the going's good," he whispered in a sotto voce which I still managed to hear. "Touya's snapped..."

I watched them leave with narrowed eyes. "Would anyone like a shidago game?" I asked innocently, blinking at the crowd.

For some reason, no one volunteered.