Disclaimer: All characters and specifics of "Hikaru no Go" are copyrighted Hotta Yumi, Obata Takeshi, Shueisha and Studio Pierrot. All rights reserved. This fanfiction is property of Shikami Yamino and is not intended for any monetary purpose nor an infringement of copyright laws. No one is to post/host/use any aspect of this fanfic without explicit permission from the author.

Notes: I should be studying and working on my assignments... but this idea popped into my head while reading the manga and wouldn't leave me alone until I'd written up a plan. And then I really couldn't concentrate anymore because Akira and Hikaru decided to be cute and act out bits of the story in my head ^^;;; The result was this little tid-bit to appease my muses and let me study in peace *L* Mostly likely to be continued after I've finished my assessments -_-;;

Hikaru no Go: "Blind Descent"
by Shikami Yamino

Part 1 - Ramen

A sunny mid-November afternoon found the ground floor of the Japanese Go Institute in Tokyo a hive of activity. Amatuers and spectators of all ages crowded the open halls, some playing or watching, others intently listening to the explanations of the exhibition games. The available go professionals, especially the younger ones, also sought to make an appearance in the spirit of promoting the game. In the words of Ogata 10-dan, the new wave of young go players needed a constant inflow of new talent. It could not afford to be allowed to stagnate if Japan was going to even have a chance of competing with go power-houses Korea and China in future international tournaments.

Nineteen year old Shindou Hikaru politely nodded at a teenaged girl after his nth consecutive game of shidougo as she moved away from his table. He had been accosted by the organisers as soon as he had walked in the front doors that morning, and firmly planted at the shidougo tables with the plea that playing a high-level young pro would encourage more youngsters to try go. But it was now almost mid-afternoon and his stomach had been growling for the last two games while his legs kindly informed him that if he didn't stand up and let the blood circulate soon, they would make sure that he wasn't getting anywhere by walking tonight.

Pushing back from his seat before anyone else had a chance to snag the seat in front of him, Hikaru looked up and down the long table. Waya and Isumi-san were still deep in the middle of their games to his left. Though judging from Waya's fidgety position, Hikaru decided that they weren't going to last there much longer either. To his right, striking blue eyes under a fringe of midnight-dark hair caught his own green ones as Touya Akira also rose from his seat.

Hikaru grinned and gingerly walked over to his long-time rival and friend, mindful of his rebellious legs. "I'm starving! Wanna go get lunch?"

Akira nodded once in reply and the two rising stars of the professional go world made haste for the exit.

Once outside, Hikaru raised his arms above his head and let out a long groan. "Man... I never thought I'd get of there. Shidougo's all well and good but my legs were growing numb!"

"Growing old already Shindou?" Akira smirked, well used to the other boy's rambling speeches.

Hikaru narrowed his eyes. "You can't talk! You arrived late!"

"Don't forget we still have that exhibition game later this afternoon," Akira reminded.

A smug grin was all he got in return.

"No way I'd forget that! It's my chance to crush you in front of an audience!"

Akira raised an eyebrow in just that fashion that rubbed Hikaru the wrong way and hid a smile as Hikaru almost bristled like a cat right in front of his eyes. "We'll see who crushes who."

Spying the ramen stand in the distance, Akira speeded up his steps, hoping to turn into a side-street and avoid what was sure to be the other boy's destination. It wasn't that he had anything against ramen. Quite the opposite. He probably liked ramen just as much as the next guy on the street; just as long as that guy didn't happen to be a young man with bleached-blonde bangs going by the name of Shindou Hikaru.

Sure enough, even after just one step in a different direction, he was stalled by a loud voice calling his name.

"Oi! Touya! Where are you going? I thought we were going to lunch!"

Akira turned. "We are. But we're going for 'lunch', not 'ramen'."

Hikaru frowned. "What's wrong with ramen?"

"There's nothing wrong with ramen," Akira said with a roll of his eyes. "But with you, every time we go out for food, it's always ramen!"

His frown turning into a light scowl, Hikaru retorted, "It's not *always* ramen!"

"Oh yeah? Name a time!"

After a moment's thought, Hikaru's dark face cleared up to be replaced by a mischievous look. "There was that time when we went to McDonald's!"

Akira blinked and could feel a slight blush beginning to spread over his cheeks. He was then mortified as his companion started laughing.

"Man, Touya! I still don't think I've ever seen anyone eat a hamburger and fries that neatly in my entire life."

"I'm just naturally neat!" Akira protested, willing the light blush to go away.

Hikaru stopped laughing long enough to cast an incredulous look Akira's way. "Touya, you asked me where the knife and fork were."

Trying to hide his embarrassment, Akira whirled and marched off the in the direction of the ramen stand. "Forget it, let's just go eat."

Hikaru stood on the footpath chuckling for a few seconds more at that amusing memory before hurrying off after Akira. "Oi! Touya, wait up!"


Minutes later, Hikaru and Akira sat at a table munching on their ramen just as a loud voice interrupted them.

"Shindou! Touya! Thought we'd find you guys here."

Ignoring the pointed glare that Akira threw him, as if to say 'See? Even they know you're always here!', Hikaru turned to wave Waya and Isumi over.

Quick to collapse ungracefully into an empty chair, Waya Yoshitaka didn't hesitate before following Hikaru's example and loosening his shirt collar and tie. "I'm bushed! They just wouldn't stop coming!"

As Hikaru agreed and both began to lament their morning, the dark-haired Isumi Shinichirou smiled indulgently at his brown-haired companion. He then took his own seat quietly, nodding a greeting in Akira's direction. "Touya."

Akira nodded back, not bothering to hide the amused glint in his eyes at the other two boys' lively banter. Sometime between his seven years of rivalry with Hikaru, four of which had been spent in a tentative but strong friendship, he and Waya had come to some kind of understanding. Despite this, Akira still found himself getting along better with the older Isumi. "Do you have anything planned for the afternoon sessions Isumi-san?"

Isumi shook his head as he gave both his order and Waya's to the waitress, seeing as Waya was too busy in conversation to notice. "No... and after that morning, I'm reluctant to play any more shidougo." He allowed himself a small grimace. It hadn't escaped his attention that most of the young people crowding his shidougo table had been of the female gender, many with only the bare minimum skills in go.

Catching the grimace, Akira smiled sympathetically at the older pro. It was a well documented fact ever since Isumi became pro at the age of 19 and began attending go conventions as a pro that most females aged 15-25 who attended preferred to flock to wherever he was at. Now at 22 and still 'unattached', the problem had been steadily worsening, causing Isumi to avoid a fair number of go conventions.

Casting a quick glance at the animated Waya, Akira had to amusedly wonder what the other pro thought of Isumi's popularity. Their relationship, as far as Akira could remember, had always been extremely close. But during their trip to China together last year, something had changed. And though it wasn't obvious to the general public or to many of their friends in the pro go circle, the change was pretty blatant to Hikaru, and thus in turn, Akira.

Isumi didn't miss the brief flicker of Akira's eyes to Waya and hid a small smile. So much for attempting not to be obvious about it. Yet perhaps he shouldn't be so surprised that Akira, and maybe even Hikaru, had figured out his relationship with Waya. Darting his own eyes curiously from the quietly eating Akira to the excitedly talking Hikaru, Isumi pondered the true depths of their relationship.

It wasn't as if he was the only one with female problems. Waya had had quite a number, but had always purposely frightened them off with his loud and boisterous personality. Touya was yet another; the only difference being that Touya never noticed the sheer number of females who tended to hang around him, afraid to approach. Not that Isumi blamed the girls. The intensity of the air around Touya anytime he was near a goban was one that only go professionals would understand. It was an air that demanded respect from his fellow pros but also served as a surprisingly effective barrier against the majority of female advances.

As for the other half of the equation, Isumi had to smile. For Shindou, there had been no one but Touya in his sights ever since he became an insei at thirteen, maybe even longer than that. It was the basis of their rivalry and subsequent friendship. But now that there were obvious signs of liberties being allowed each other that neither would allow anyone else, Isumi suspected that there was more to the relationship than perhaps even the two in question knew about.

The return of the waitress with two more bowls of ramen effectively put a halt to Hikaru and Waya's conversation. Taking the opportunity, Isumi said to Akira, "But since we're not doing anything, maybe we should come watch your exhibition game with Shindou."

"Yeah! Come watch!" replied an ecstatic Hikaru. "I'm gonna crush Touya today!"

This raised Akira's head from his food to glare at his friend. "Who says I'm not going to crush you?"

Hikaru smiled like the cat that ate the canary. "Just a feeling I have."

An angry retort from Akira effectively began the verbal war and Waya rolled his eyes at the two as he dug into his ramen.

Isumi chuckled lightly. Whatever the relationship between Shindou and Touya, it certainly didn't stop them from fighting like cats and dogs every once in a while.

End Part 1... to be continued.

Author's Notes: An extremely uneventful but necessary background-setting part to what will turn out to be a pretty fluffy fic ^^;; In my opinion anyway. Let me know what you think.