Disclaimers: Maybe... if I marry Obata-sensei... or something... As for now they are his and Hotta Yumi's.

Warnings: Oh, just happy angst and shounen-ai. You know what's that about so it's your choice to read it.

Notes: Then again... not much to say here. This could be a one-shot, or it could be continued. I don't know, depends on my mood, I guess? Leave your comments, please ^_^

~~~~*** HIS VOICE ***~~~~

China.

What the hell is he doing in China of all places? And not only that, but... why the hell did he go without saying goodbye? We are best friends! ...or are we? Damn, I knew he was down after the exam. And still...

I couldn't bring myself to call him. I think I needed some time on my own, or it might be him the one who needed time on his own. And now I am here, sitting all alone, in my darkened room, and brooding. He is in China, and I feel stranded. What should I have done? I passed, and he didn't, and I still feel guilty, because somewhere inside I know he deserved to become a pro. I think he's better than me. But he is too kind, and that is why he isn't yet part of the world to which he truly belongs.

But that is not the only thing that hurts. He left without saying a word. It's true that I was weak and maybe even mean. He might have thought that I didn't care about him, letting myself be dragged into the awesome feeling of having accomplished one of my goals. I should have called him, I should have been there... but I kept on thinking that it would seem as if I was just being sympathetic... And there's Shindou too. Suddenly he was there, and he was coming to Morishita-sensei's lessons, and I almost spent more time with him that I did with Isumi-san.

Isumi-san...

I have never been able to drop the 'san', or even call him by his name. A stupid, obvious blush would spread all over my face, and I would just kind of stutter. Damn it. But he doesn't seem to care. He would just smile at me, and I would feel my heart beating suddenly faster. I guess that's why it hurts so fucking much that he didn't say goodbye.

I can't help but think that he hates me now. Because I'm the one standing here, I am the shodan, and he can't even be an insei anymore. Yeah, I've been told that he won't quit, that he's already in such a high level that he doesn't need the lessons anymore. That he just has to find himself. Find himself. Have I ever tried to find myself so I could become a professional go player? Did I ever need it? Does it matter at all? I feel weird, asking myself all these stupid questions that don't have an answer... Only because I miss him so much.

And because I'm suddenly lost without him. And I'm scared... both of feeling lost because he is not here and also because my mind keeps mumbling stuff about he not coming back. And I don't mean coming back to Japan, but me. What if he forgets about me, or realizes that I'm not that good anymore, or decides that he has to get over me so he can achieve his goals...

I wouldn't stand it. When did everything turn out to be like this? When did I start depending on him that much? When did I fall for him? Isn't that this feeling? Isn't it because I'm in love with him that I feel so crushed now? Isn't it because of that that I'm looking at the silent, lonely phone, waiting for a call? It's been a week since he left to China, and he hasn't phoned. Maybe I should track the Chinese Go Institute number down and give him a call. I need to hear his voice.

Oi, listen to me... am I pathetic or what? Suddenly angsting like a silly girl, sitting here all alone.

I should go to sleep. Or even better, to study, because I should live up to the expectations I've raised. I know I am not Shindou. It seems he is a prodigy, just like Touya Akira. Well, maybe not like Touya Akira, who is as strong as the higher dans already, but Shindou has something... a kind of inner strength, a different aura surrounding him that neither Isumi-san nor I have. I have only felt that strange sensation when playing Touya in official matches, or during the rare games I have played against some of the highest dans, like Touya-sensei or Kuwabara Honinbou.

I'm ranting now. My eyes are glued to the phone, still silent. And I reach for it, to raise the handle from the hook and start looking for the Chinese Institute's phone number.

And I do just that. I can't believe I'm actually doing just that.

After some minutes, I have the numbers in a piece of paper. The lights are out, and it's getting dark, so I can barely see them. I know I'm not going to call him, but I need so much to hear his voice. To hear him telling me that he's ok and that he's coming back... to me.

Did he need it that much? Being alone? Running away? No. I shake my head. He is not running away. He would never do something like that. He is just on a quest. Or something like that.

What if I went to China? Wouldn't it be just great to appear there, smiling at him, waving my hand, and asking him to come back home.

Home. Lame, stupid, cheesy sentences like "home is where the heart is" are running through my head, and I can't help but smile as I think of Isumi-san's face if I were to appear before him.

The ring of the phone starts me. With my heart beating fast, I answer it.

"Hi. This is Waya." I say, my voice shivering. There are some seconds of total silence and then his voice greets me.

My eyes widen. I can feel them opening so much that I think my eyeballs are going to pop out and fall to the tatami that covers the floor of my room.

"I... Isumi... san" I whisper.

"Yeah. How are you?" he asks. I can't tell what he is feeling just by hearing his voice. He sounds like he always sounds. He's the model of the Japanese man. Calm, quiet, cold, inexpressive. His voice is like him. Low, soothing. The kind of sound that can just relax me. I could spend the whole day just listening to him. Letting his words embrace me and wash away my fears.

"I... am doing well. I won my first ooteai match..." I say. And then I realize what I have just said, and suddenly feel like slapping my own face. But I can feel the smile in his lips as he congratulates me. "What... what about you?" I ask, almost with fear.

"I am studying a lot here. A lot of Chinese pros gather in the Institute and I can watch them and play a bunch of them everyday. I think I am improving..." he says.

"Anou..." I start. My voice is barely a whisper.

"I am going to take the exam. I am going to pass this year. I'll prove it to myself that I can do it..."

"I see..." I say, relieved. My heart is still beating faster than usual inside my chest, and I don't really know what to say. All I can think of is some sappy "I miss you". And I can't tell him that.

"I miss you Waya..." Isumi suddenly says. His voice is low, and I can, at last, get what he is feeling. And it's a sad emotion, the one he is displaying with that sentence.

I think I'm blushing. Anyway, it's like my face is burning, and my heart is going to leap out of my body, falling down to the tatami too, to keep my eyeballs company. Not a nice view for the one who would have to find my corpse lying here, with a stupid smile plastered across my face, and a hand grasping the telephone with such force that my knuckles are white because of the effort.

"Waya?" Isumi-san says. I realize then that I've been silent all this time.

"I do miss you too..." I say a bit too quickly. "You left without saying goodbye..." I'm sounding like a girl. I know it.

"There is a lot I would like to talk to you about. You know, I've been feeling like you were leaving me behind. Like I didn't matter anymore, because you were starting a new life, one I couldn't reach, a life where there's no place for me." He laughs, bitterly. "I know it sounds weird. But that's what I've been feeling since the day everything was over." Isumi then stops.

"I... Isumi-san..." I whisper. I'd like to stop stuttering.

"Anyway, I wouldn't want to talk about that by phone. I'd rather tell you in person once I'm back in Japan. I just wanted to let you know that I'm never giving up. I am going to become a pro this time, and I will walk the same path you are walking now." He laughs again, and this time he sounds really amused. "I guess I am too used to you. How long has it been since we first met? I won't let you walk away while I'm here looking at you from behind."

I smile. If he only knew how much I want him to walk with me.

"I'll be waiting" I say, my voice hoarse.

"Are you ok, Waya?" he asks concerned.

"Aa. I'm just..." I need the right words.

On second thought, I just need some words. Because I'm silent again, feeling too many things I just can't say to him.

"Good luck on your games, Waya." he says finally. "I'll call you again, I must go now."

"...I'll be waiting" I say again, feeling stupid. Damn, I think it's the first time in my life that I've been at such a total loss for words.

"Yeah, this year for sure. It's a promise." he laughs softly.

"A promise." I repeat.

"Then... talk to you later."

"...Isumi-san?" I stop again.

"Hai?"

"I... I would never leave you behind." I say goofily. If he finds about my feelings he's going to... well, I'm pretty sure it's going to freak the hell out of him. And I'm being way too obvious. "I mean... you're the one who left without a word..." I add in a rush.

I can hear his soft laughter again. "I'm sorry," he says "I didn't mean to worry you..."

Some minutes later I'm again sitting alone in my darkened room, still looking at the telephone. I don't really know if I just dreamt all this conversation.

But there's no point on sulking and wasting my time when there's so much I must do to keep walking the path I've chosen.

And so I crawl to my goban, and start recreating some games under the streetlight luminescence that's coming through the wide-opened window.

Isumi is coming back, and I'm sure he will be a scary oponent. He has always been. And I want to be ready...

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The end?

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