Notes: ok, so back we are, bringing you a new chapter. Hope you people will like it... I must say I fought with this thing for a long time, and I'm still not settled with it, even though it finally kind of looks like I wanted it to. I hope you don't mind the first paragraphs are just Hikaru's POV of the last thing that happened in the last chapter. It was an important meeting, and I needed to let you know what Hikaru thinks of it, so it's easier to understand what's going on inside his head. Just take it as a little summary to get you into the story after waiting so long for a chapter. Then, just go ahead and read. And then review. We really love reading your reviews!!

Disclaimer: Does our IDs say our names are Hotta Yumi and Obata Takeshi? We'd wish...

Warning: fluffyness... and purring... ^_^;;

Chapter 5: Sai.

What's going on? This looks like a bad dream. Suddenly we are all in the middle of the street, fighting. I was just walking Waya to the subway station, after strolling together for a while, and we bumped into Isumi-san and Touya, who, weird enough, were spending time together. Then Waya snapped and started a fight. I've never been this clueless about what's happening with my friends. So I just try to make them stop, saying that it's way too late, and that I have to wake up early and stupid stuff like that, which seems to work, as miraculous as that may seem. Waya then walks towards Isumi-san and grabs his arm, leading him towards the subway.

"I guess I'll see you Friday, right?" Isumi-san says looking at Touya apologetically.

Damn. I shrug. Maybe Touya didn't hear him. I mean, I was planning to invite them to a party, to celebrate that I'm now living alone and stuff. But I am mad at Touya, and I didn't feel like inviting him. I sigh.

"Wha..."

Touya is looking at me confused.

I am about to lie to him. To say that we were planning to go have lunch together or something like that. I mean, he lied to me and said he didn't give a damn about it, and I'm still mad at him. Still, that would make me the same as him, and that's too low. And that's not a way to fix things, right? So now is the time to show that he's important to me, and that I don't want to lose him. I've been moping all day, for God's sake, because he didn't want to play me. I wince. What's wrong with me?

Then I am suddenly scared. My eyes meet Touya's and I try to imagine my life without him. Why does it feel so unbearable? Why does it feel like losing Sai all over again, or even worse? I'm panicking, I don't think I would be able to play ever again, if Touya wasn't there on the other side of the board. Even if the only way to find Sai is fighting to death over a goban, if there's no Touya Akira, it all seems useless... When did I become so dependent on him? That's wrong.

"Oh, yeah! I forgot!" There must be a limit on how many times a person can use that excuse and get away with it. But I would say Touya is buying it. I frown a little. Maybe he wants to buy it. Maybe he's feeling as awkward as me, and he wants to put an end to this awful situation. Yeah, keep dreaming. I walk closer to him. I need to know what's inside his eyes. "Touya, I'm having a party at my apartment this Friday, like a house warming thing. It'll just be me and some friends. You wanna come?"

He frowns. I can't help but tease him a little.

"I was going to tell you this afternoon at the go salon, but..." I stop when I see him blushing. I shouldn't push my luck. Anyway, I can't help but smirk. Touya seems to be thinking about a thousand things at the same time.

"Shindou! Come on!" Waya shouts. I just ignore him. This is important.

"So you'll go?" I shouldn't push him. I know, but I need to know what's going on inside his head.

"Hai"

"Good! It'll start around eight-ish. I live on..." I wince at the relief in my voice. But Touya doesn't seem to notice for he's almost glaring at me.

"I know where you live" he interrupts me.

Damn.

Can I make a bigger fool out of myself?

"SHINDOU!" Waya is annoying.

"Well, see ya Friday!" I sort of beam at him. And I'm not faking it. I mean, the relief is overwhelming. Seems Touya is not that disappointed with me. Seems we are still rivals. I can't wait to play him again.

"SHINDOU!"

"GEEZE! I'm coming!" I shout. Waya is really annoying. I smile at Touya, who is standing there, looking intently at my face. I thought he was going to say something, but the words seem to have died in his throat. I turn around and run up to my friends.

"What the hell is wrong with you?" I ask Waya, he's still holding Isumi-san's arm roughly. He almost glares at me. That sort of annoys me. "You're acting like a jealous boyfriend" I say without thinking.

Then I realize what I have just said, and feel the blood rushing to my face. Isumi-san looks away, and Waya lets go of his arm, muttering something like an apology. Then he looks at me.

"It's just that I can't stand that stuck-up jerk." he says. I frown. After all these years, Waya still doesn't like Touya. I respect that they don't get along. But I do not like it when Waya talks about Touya like that. "I hope you didn't tell him about the party."

"Of course I did. He is my friend."...or is he? I finish to myself.

"He said he had better things to do, right? Like playing all those important pro's, the ones that..."

"He said he would be coming." I interrupt rather dryly. I don't mean to sound so harsh, but I'm tired and confused.

Waya looks away. I walk up to him and put my hand on his shoulder.

"Let's go, ok? I'm tired." I say, fighting the urge to yawn.

Waya sends a resentful look Isumi-san's way and starts walking towards the subway again. I think I understand what's inside his head right now. I didn't know Isumi-san and Touya were such good friends. And, to be honest, it hurts me a bit. I always thought I was the one who knew Touya the best. After all I am his rival, am I not?

We are awkwardly silent. And, for once, I don't feel like saying anything to lighten our mood. So we reach the subway and stop there. Isumi-san looks at me and smiles gently.

"So... do you have a game tomorrow?", he asks. I shake my head. I'm about reaching enough points to be promoted to a 4-dan level. But I don't have a game tomorrow. And tomorrow is a game day for the higher-dans. I'm scheduled to play a beginner-dan next week instead. "Oh," he says "Then I guess I'll see you on Friday", Isumi-san finishes.

"Will you come to pick me up tomorrow, then?" Waya asks me.

We have decided to go shopping after his game. Stuff for the party.

"Yeah." I notice Isumi-san's clueless look. I play with the nasty idea of not telling him... as a sort of punishment because of what happened earlier. And as unfair as that is, I don't really feel guilty, or ashamed... nor do I give a damn. I think I'm too tired. Too many emotions these days.

"We are going to buy stuff for the party," Waya says "why don't you come along?"

I smirk. Waya is being freaking possessive.

"Sure" Isumi-san says right away.

And that's it. I yawn and smile apologetically.

"Well, guys, see you tomorrow then."

I turn around and walk to my house. Once there I take a quick shower and lie down in my futon. The silence is overwhelming. It's my second night alone and I feel painfully lonely.

My hand reaches the smooth surface of the goban that's lying at my side and caresses it briefly, before returning under the mattress. I turn around, leaning my head into my bent arm, and sigh.

"Ne, Sai," I whisper, my sleepy voice the only sound breaking the lonely silence "Is life really the same as go?"

Of course, nobody answers.

********************************************

"Doumo" I say while getting the bag from the hands of the shopkeeper.

I've arrived soon at the Nihon Kiin... kind of weird when it comes to me, isn't it? So I have decided to buy a set of go stones and a couple of go-ke for Shuusaku's goban. Having an empty goban at my side makes me feel somehow sad. It's like an unnerving feeling of wasting my time, or even betraying go's meaning. I don't really know where that comes from... but the thing is that having the goban Torajiro died over sitting in my room all naked like it is, makes me feel guilty, like being rude and unable to appreciate Torajiro's and Sai's sacrifices.

I walk to the elevator. I wonder if it will take Waya and Isumi-san much longer to finish their matches. The elevator opens in front of me and I almost bump into Touya Akira, who's coming out of it.

"Er... Touya!"

"Damn, Shindou... Do you ever look where you're going?", he says frowning.

I smile. Are we back to normal?

"Me? You stomped out of the elev..."

"I didn't stomp! I'm not like you, you know!!"

"Oi, what's that supposed to mean?"

Touya looks at the bag in my hand, then he seems to realize where we are.

"You didn't have a game..."

I smile.

"I'm waiting for Waya and Isumi-san. We're going shopping."

Touya blinks. Did I say something funny?

"Oh, well..." he seems a bit disappointed.

"You wanna come?"

Touya looks at me like if I had just said the most stupid think he's ever heard.

"I'm sorry, I have a previous appointment..."

"Oh... shidougo again?" I tease him, smiling evilly.

Touya sighs. He opens his mouth to retort, but he closes it again when the elevator's door open in front of us, and some pros come out, greeting us politely. Ashiwara-san is among them. He smiles brightly at Touya and waves his hand.

"Ne, Touya-kun, do you...?"

"Hai. Let's go to Father's salon; we'll discuss yesterday's game" he interrupts.

Is it my imagination or has Touya looked at me, smirking mischievously? That attitude pisses me off and I'm about saying something rude when Ashiwara-san bows his head slightly and looks at Touya who says happily:

"See you tomorrow, Shindou."

And they leave.

Why the hell do I feel like I've just lost a battle?

I step into the elevator and go up to the floor where pros are playing their games.

"Oh, cut it out" I hear Waya say when the doors open and I walk into the foyer.

"But you know I'm right!" Kurata-san says teasingly.

"No, I just..."

"Well, you know I am the best, so it is not a big..." Kurata-san's voice trails off as he looks my way. "Oi, Shindou. How is it going?" He frowns naughtily "Did you find my autograph so I can finish signing it?"

I look away, sort of embarrassed. No matter how many years have gone by, he hasn't forgiven me for losing that half autograph he signed. It's not like I even wanted it in the first place!! Waya waves his hand.

"Isumi is coming in a minute..." a steaming Ochi passes them by, and shuts himself in the restroom. Really, some things never change. Waya laughs. "He just lost to Isumi... the brat."

Seeing Waya's gloomy face and Kurata's teasing voice, I acknowledge Waya just also lost this game.

"So what are you kids up to?" Kurata-san asks.

"Shopping..." I say, without committing myself too much.

"For Shindou's party!" Waya finishes. Way to go, man. Did you have to yell it out?

"Oh! A party! When?" Kurata-san is beaming.

I look away. At this rate he is auto-inviting himself. But Waya starts giving him information. Too much information. I sigh.

"Oh! I'll be coming too!" Kurata-san says happily. I knew it.

"You... you don't have to push yourself..." I say with a counterfeit smile, waving my hands in front of my face.

"Yeah, but I'll love to go! I'll bring a housewarming present too!!"

Feeling a dreadful chill going down my spine, I widen my smile.

"Really... you don't hav..."

"Hello!" Isumi-san interrupts us. Well, guess we'll have to do extra-shopping if Kurata 9-dan is coming...

I look gloomily at Waya and he rubs the back of his head laughing lowly.

"Well, see you tomorrow then, Shindou," Kurata-san says after he's done writing down my address.

I nod, sending another fake smile in Kurata's way and rolling my eyes. Then we head for the exit of the building.

"What's that?" Waya asks pointing at my bag while we go down in the elevator.

"Oh, a set of go stones for the goban my grandad brought the other day..."

We step out of the Nihon Kiin and Waya wraps his arm around my waist again. But then, he wraps his other arm around Isumi-san's waist, who blushes and looks away.

I smirk. Indeed, Waya is being possessive. His thumb slides inside the front pocket of my jeans and I remember Touya's disturbed look when, last night, he noticed that. God, that was awkward. For a moment I felt really weird. I didn't mind Waya's touch, I mean, I didn't even realize his hand was there. But when Touya stared at the arm wrapped around me and the hand tucked in my pocket, it felt like something more. Something I didn't want Touya to see. Why???

"Right, Shindou-kun?" Isumi-san says. I guess I spaced out. What is he talking about?

"Eh... I guess so..." I mutter, smiling.

"See? So if I were you, I wouldn't worry too much about it" Isumi-san finishes.

"So, Shindou, what's the big mystery with that goban?" Waya asks casually.

We've reached the convenience store and we're picking the drinks and snacks we'll be taking to my house. I'm not sure what kind of party this is going to be. I mean, I don't feel like having a big party. Just something familiar. With some drinks, some snacks, a bit of music, nice conversations going on... Just the usual stuff. Nothing like drunk people speaking too loudly or similar things. I mean, I've just moved into this apartment, and I wouldn't like to have the manager of the building scolding me so soon. I sigh when I see Waya taking a couple of bottles of sake and a another couple of bottles of beer. Isumi is looking intently at some Japanese snacks.

"So?" Waya asks again.

"So what?" I say. I'm not getting away from this so easily, it seems.

"The goban."

"Oh, just some family treasure..." I lie blatantly. As I always do when it comes to Sai. Well, it was my grandad's treasure, so I'm not that wrong. I smile sadly, remembering Sai's childish look each time we came to this very convenience store to buy something. He loved to look at the candy's box near the cashier. He said they were flashy. Flashy of all things.

Waya is frowning. I'm spacing out again. I buy some of those girlish candy before we leave the shop.

"I didn't know you liked that stuff" Isumi-san says, pointing at the bag.

"They're flashy" I can't help but say. And then I burst into laughs.

Waya rolls his eyes, probably thinking that there is something really wrong with me. They walk me to my house and help me with the bags. I offer them a soda, and they spend a little time with me. It feels better this way. I mean, I'm too loud to be living alone, I guess. It's not like I don't like the silence and the freedom and the stillness of my own apartment. But I can't stop thinking that this would have been an awful lot better if Sai was still around. It's been three years. And I still feel his loss as if it had only happened a couple of days ago. Well, no, that's not the truth. I was frantic back then. Anyway, it still hurts. I wonder if this pain will eventually go away. They say time heals. But I still wake up crying from time to time. Not that I would ever admit this in front of anyone.

When they are gone, I take the wooden go-ke and set them over the goban. There, that's a familiar sight. This is something I can understand, something I can dive myself in, and, then, forget about everything else. I dip my hand into one of the go-ke and take a stone. Then, as I am about to bring it down, placing the stone in the goban, my hand stops dead. I look away, and drop the stone into its go-ke. And I walk lowering my head to the living-room. There I start recreating some games on my goban.

When I look at my watch is already seven. I was thinking about paying Touya a visit. After recreating lots of our games, I feel the urge to play him, but I guess it's too late. I find myself thinking, almost wishing that he will have been waiting for me all evening.

"Baka," I grin to myself. I don't want to think about that. I don't want to understand why I'd be happy if Touya was thinking about me. I don't need anything else to think about. And all this thinking... doesn't suit me, after all.

I'd better play another game by myself and then go to bed. Tomorrow is going to be a difficult day, after all. And Kurata-san is also coming, mattaku... he's even noisier than me, if that's possible...

*******************************************************************

"Hikaru? Ne, you are really out of it, and it's your party!"

I look at Akari and smile sheepishly. She insisted to come help me. Of course I invited her. I mean, she's my childhood friend, but sometimes she's a bit annoying, hanging all over me and stuff. We are too old now to play like that, and it's a little awkward. But I must say she is useful when it comes to cooking and preparing things for a party. I look at the clock, it really is about time the guests started arriving. She takes the little cute apron she's wearing off... (where did it came from? I know I don't have any cute aprons...) and pushes me to my room, saying something about changing my clothes. I sigh and go into the room, closing the door behind me. Then I put a white shirt and some dark trousers on. I know it's not really fashionable, but it's just a party among friends. And wearing a silk shirt like this is saying something when it comes to me. Touya Akira, Waya and Isumi-san, and all the students of Morishita-sensei are coming. As well as the school Igo club, Mitani included. I hear voices outside. People are starting to come. I comb my hair and step out of the room. It's Mitani. I greet him.

"Ne, Hikaru" Akari says in a low, amazed voice staring at me "You look awesome dressed like that..."

"Baka," I blush. She giggles. Great, can it be... is she flirting... with me of all people???

In less than half an hour almost everyone is already here. They seem to like my little place and to Waya's delight, they like the decoration a lot. Touya is standing in a corner, like if he was feeling a little out of place, and I start walking up to him. But then Isumi-san is there, and they are laughing.

What is this feeling? Why does it hurt?

I look away, and sigh relieved when the door rings again. Must be Kurata-san. I open the door and his smiling face greets me. I can't help but notice that he is carrying a little box with a big red ribbon and lots of little holes on it. I mean, he is giving it to me, sort of gently waving it in front of my face. So how wouldn't I notice? I blink.

"W...What... is this?"

"I told you I would be giving you a housewarming present, didn't I?" he smiles. I look at the box with a dreadful feeling.

"It's alive." I say. It's not a smart remark. I know it. But it is alive. We are standing in the doorway, and Waya has come to see what's going on.

"I hope so" Kurata beams.

I close the door. I don't really know if pets are allowed in this building. I look at the red ribbon again.

"I don't want a pet" I whisper, going pale.

Kurata-san is pouting. I wince. You've seen nothing disgusting if you haven't seen Kurata-san pout. And you're fortunate in that case, I must add. It's so disturbing I can't help but get the box. It's light. And something is moving inside... Maybe... a ferret? I don't have a cage to keep it...

Now, almost everybody is looking at us. I open the box and a little black head, with white patches around two big purple eyes stares at me. Then the fluffy thing mews. Ok, it's cute. But I don't want a cat. In fact, I don't want any pet. Even if it's a cute black kitty with purple eyes. Akari is sighing, and wooing and trying to get it out of the box. I'm stunned, I don't know what to say.

"Isn't he cute?" Kurata-san beams. "I just happened to find him and his siblings and they so need a home. It's kind of cruel to separate them, but I just can't keep five kittens.

"Five..." I say. I hope my brain will start working again soon. Because I need to tell him that I don't want a pet. And that he must take it with him. Back to its siblings.

"Yeah, of course, he will keep you company. You don't know how lonely one feels when they have just moved on their own..."

The kitten is on the floor. He's looking around with big scared and sort of amazed eyes. Somehow it reminds me of Sai. It was the kind of look Sai would have in his face each time something impressed him. He runs a bit and then hides behind someone's feet. I look at the owner of those feet. It's Touya Akira. And he is smiling. He is smiling. I had never seen a smile like that on his face. And it's cute. His hard, icy eyes are filled with something like tenderness and he is getting on his knees to pick the little intruder up, caressing his fluffy ears with that kind of look that is sending shivers down my spine. And I'm not the only one who's taken aback by this image, because I can see Waya frowning and Akari saying something like "Isn't Touya-kun cute?" to her friend Kaneko.

I look away. I guess that little furry thing is staying, after all. Kurata-san is smiling pleased and Touya is muttering something into the kitten ears.

"What will you call it?" Waya asks, sighing, perfectly following my train of thoughts.

"Sai." I say. Then I gasp. I have said it without thinking. It's because the amazed purple eyes reminded me of him, but... oh, well, too late now to worry about it.

"Sai, you say... like that go legend."

Touya's head snaps up when he hears me pronounce the name that's so familiar to me. He is looking intently at me. I know I owe him some explanation. But I'm not ready to tell him. I wonder if I will ever be.

"Yeah, that way we won't forget about him" I say. My voice is filled with love. And by the look on Touya's face he's noticed it. Maa, he's the one who knew something was going on, back there, right? I smile naughtily. I wonder if Sai would get mad because I've named a kitten after him.

"Ne, Sai..." Waya teases him with a finger, and Sai tries to scratch him, rubbing himself against Touya's chest. It's so funny everybody is laughing, and Waya is steaming. "I guess he doesn't like me..." Waya sighs, rolling his eyes.

"Ne, Hikaru, would you bring some ice from the kitchen?" Akari says, looking at the table. "There's not a single cube here, and Kurata-san might be thirsty."

"Hai..." I walk towards the kitchen while everybody else is busy playing with my new roommate. I kneel on the floor to get the ice bag out of the freezer. As I stand up, I gasp, since my back is bumping onto something. I look over my shoulder at Waya's blushing face. "You surprised me!" I say, laughing nervously. I set the bag with the ice over the counter top and turn around to look at Waya. Now my back is pressed against the wall, and Waya is even closer. I feel my heart beating faster. Sometimes I don't know what's inside his head, and he makes me feel so awkward. He smiles, with a naughty look in his eyes. I see like in slow motion how his arm moves towards me, and I can hear the sound of his hand leaning on the wall at some place between my neck and my shoulder. I guess I'm blushing.

We are both silent. Waya is sort of serious, but his lips are showing something like a smirk, and it's giving me the creeps. I can't help but remember the touch of his hand on my back, and my hair, and I shiver a little in anticipation, trying to push those thoughts away.

Then, another image crosses my mind. Touya looking awkwardly at his hand casually tucked into my pocket. A disturbed look painted all over his face. This is wrong. Why, I don't know. I don't want to know. I just don't want to think that I like being so close to a guy who's been my friend for years, while my mind is set on another guy who's been my rival for years too. It's just wrong. It's disturbing, and it's not natural.

"What are you..."

Waya is not moving. He is just staying there, like that, cornering me between the freezer and the wall, his body so close to mine that I can feel its warmth. Or maybe I'm imagining things.

"Oi, stop playing around," I say. I place my hand in his chest and push him. He doesn't resist. The touch is electrifying and I gasp. Then I take the bag with the ice and run away from the kitchen, feeling ashamed. My face is probably red. Isumi is looking at me, and I smile while I give him the ice and excuse myself.

I hear Waya's footsteps when he comes out of the kitchen. He also approaches Isumi-san, and I, then, get away from them. I see Touya playing with Sai in a corner, and I walk up to them.

"So Sai, is it?" he says. He doesn't look at me.

I nod. He is still not looking at me, but at the kitten, that cute smile again in his face.

"I wouldn't have thought Touya likes kittens" I say, sort of changing the topic.

He looks at me and smiles gently.

"That only shows there's a lot you don't know about me."

I grin. He's right. I caress Sai's ears and he purrs a little.

"I guess I should be happy that he likes me better than he likes Waya" I laugh. "Otherwise, I would have to hire you as his caretaker..."

Touya's eyes harden. I wonder if I have said something wrong. His lips are pressed in a thin line, and I'm already missing that tender smile. I would like to be able to bring it back. I shake my head. I guess Waya's weird behaviour in the kitchen has just left me thinking weird stuff... yet again.

"Well, you're right" I say, smiling happily, "So I don't know anything about you. I just know that you like to play go even more than your own life, and that I annoy you big time. So I want to fix that."

Touya looks at me surprised. I lean on the wall, and slide down to the floor, playing with Sai. I notice with satisfaction that he also sits down. I'm silent. I'm waiting for him to ask me to go on. Am I teasing him again? Maybe, it's so fun...

"What do you mean?" he says, clueless.

"Oh, like... what do you do when you're not playing go."

He looks away. I raise an eyebrow. It can't be that he doesn't do anything other than playing go.

"Touya?"

He doesn't answer. Then he looks at me with stingy icy eyes.

"Are you making fun of me?"

I open my mouth, then shut it again. I look at the floor.

"That's not my..."

"You know that go is my life. That I live only to play and what my goals are. I thought you already knew that I'm looking for the Hand of God and thus I can't afford to have any distraction that..."

"I know that..." I interrupt without looking at him. "But you should relax from time to time. Like going to the movies, or to the karaoke or simply having a walk with your friends."

"I see no point on doing that kind of stuff..." Sai is rubbing against Touya's leg and he's patting his head absently.

"Then why did you come here?" I ask. And right away I regret it. I know he was just trying to get over the awkward situation we were stuck in. "Forget that. It was stupid." I whisper.

From that point on, the conversation is lighter. We talk about go, about my promotion to 4-dan, about Sai (the fluffy one). I'm having such a good time, I don't notice the time is going by and the people suddenly are getting ready to leave. I've been a jerk during all the party, paying attention only to Touya, and forgetting about everyone else. I did it to run away from Waya, in the first place, but then I got sucked into a nice talk, and I've been really having a good time. Akari seems disappointed for some reason, while Waya and Isumi are talking, both of them sitting in the couch. Isumi-san laughs, and I feel relieved to see that he's not that gloomy anymore. I apologize to Touya and stand up, approaching the people who are leaving. Kurata-san gets near me and smiles.

"You are amazing" he says. I blink. I don't have any idea of what he is talking about. He's waving his hand dismissively. "Well, if you haven't realized it yourself, I guess, you're just a fool." He adds, teasingly.

"Oi, what was that for??" I ask frowning.

I look at the clock. It's really late, the time has gone by really fast. I walk Kurata-san to the door and open it to let him leave. All the students of Morishita-sensei but Waya walk out with him. We have a meeting tomorrow, so I guess they just want to go home, and have some sleep before attending his class.

I step back when I close the door, and trip over someone. I turn around apologizing to find a blushing Touya Akira waving his hand, and looking away. He opens his mouth. He's probably going to say he's leaving, and I suddenly don't want him to, so I brashly ignore him and walk over to Kaneko-san and Akari who are taking stuff from the living-room to the kitchen. It's only Waya, Isumi-san, Mitani and them in the house. Well, and Touya Akira. Mitani is yawning, his bored face looking at Kaneko-san and Akari.

"Ne, you don't have to do this..." I say, stopping Akari. I place my hand in her shoulder and she blushes. "No, really, you've been here all day, helping me, and that's enough. I can manage the rest of it. Go home, you surely are tired. And I bet you have some homework to do." She's got into an important university, and she's been complaining a lot about the loads of homework they need to get done everyday.

"Oh, but I don't mind helping a bit more..." she looks away, blushing. Girls are so weird.

I smile gently, and kindly brush a strand of hair out of her face.

"I can do it alone. I'm a big boy, don't you know it? Even though mom says I'm an irresponsible child and I shouldn't be living alone, because I only eat instant ramen. I mean, do you know how damn good is that instant ramen? And you need to have some skills to..." I realize what I'm saying and shut up. Once again, I'm just making a fool out of myself. But that instant ramen is good. Really.

"I'll come around to make you some food, ok?" she says, happily.

"You don't have to..." I look away, embarrassed, and I'm shocked when I see the look in Touya's eyes. He's sort of angry, frowning, but he's also... sad? He's holding Sai against his chest. And when he realizes I'm looking at him, he just looks down at the kitten and pets him.

Finally Waya, Isumi-san and Touya are the only guests left. It seems Waya is being as possessive as ever, and he doesn't want to leave before Touya does. In fact, Waya's staring at Touya from his place in the couch, while Isumi-san talks happily to him.

"Shindou... it's time for me to leave too..." Touya whispers, well aware of the look in Waya's eyes.

"You don't have to..." I say, wishing he would stay a little longer.

Touya laughs sarcastically.

"You don't have to be very smart to know that he doesn't like me around his friends." he says, stressing the word friends. I wonder what he means.

"Touya... when I asked you before... about what you do besides go... I'm sorry if it looked like I was teasing you. Let me make up to you for it."

He looks at me shocked. It seems he doesn't really know if I'm bullying him. I walk him to the door, and he lets go of Sai, looking at the kitten as he gets away from us. I would like him to look at me, but he seems to be really interested in Sai. I grin. After all, it has always been like that, I say to myself, feeling a bit hurt.

"I mean..." I add, feeling awkward. I was about asking him to go to the movies or bowling or something, but it suddenly feels like asking him on a date. I don't know why it feels like that. It's the first time I think some stupid stuff like that, when asking a friend to accompany me somewhere.

"You don't have to make up for anything" he says, still not looking at me.

"Yeah, I know..." I grin. "Anyway, I need to take Sai to the vet, and then I'll go to buy some stuff for him, and he likes you a whole lot... And, oh, well, maybe you would like to come with us? I'll treat you to dinner. And I promise we won't have to eat ramen." I add, with a sheepish grin.

Waya and Isumi-san are walking towards us. For some reason I don't want them to know. I would like to keep this a secret from them. And this is the first time I want to keep a secret from my friends... (Sai, the heiyan courtier, doesn't count, of course). I stare at the ground.

"Alright" Touya says.

I look at him. He is smiling. I love that smile, it makes me want to smile too. And so I smile back.

"Cool."

"What's cool?" Waya asks.

"That Touya will be lending me a Shuusaku's compilation of kifu's I haven't seen before" I lie.

Touya grins. I don't know if he's disappointed because I haven't told them the truth or he's relieved because of that.

The three of them leave my place at the same time, and I just throw myself into my futon, after changing into my night clothes. I look at Sai and threaten him with a painful death if he leaves some 'gift' on the carpet of my room and he mews back, curling in the corner of my futon.

I smile at him. After all, he's kind of cute. And his intelligent and amazed eyes look like his... I think sleepily. Then I laugh lowly. Sai wouldn't like to be compared with a kitten... If only Sai was here... If only...

"Why did you leave?" I ask to the silent room, almost asleep. Yet again, there's no answer. I smile sadly, and give in to the sopor that's washing over me.

Tonight, though, the silence is broken by a kitten's purr.

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Hope that didn't suck too much! Review please! Thanks!