All you guys must either: 1) hate me for taking so long to update, 2) love me for finally sitting down and writing this chapter. I've been incredibly busy… what more can I say? Mind you, I'm typing this up a few days before final exams begin. Blah. I won't make you wait any longer… here's chapter eight.
Disclaimer- Definitely Not Mine
Chapter 8- Being Used
Saeki bowed to the brown-haired teenager seated at the other end of the goban. Waya nodded as he helped to clear off the stones. Morishita gave a nod of content towards Waya.
"Waya, your strength is increasing. Good. You don't want to be falling behind."
But then after a moment, he suddenly pointed his fan at Saeki, who immediately panicked.
"Your next ooteai match is Tuesday. You'd better do much better that day!" Morishita barked.
It was just another day for the Morishita study group at the Go Institute, Hikaru thought as he stood next to Morishita. The study session had concluded ten minutes ago but Waya and Saeki had just finished their game, wanting to fight until the very end. Shirakawa had already left and Isumi, the newest member of the Morishita study group, had gone home quickly before heading over to Waya's apartment to continue training for his upcoming tournament.
Or so that was what Waya and he told Hikaru when they invited him along. The information that they found out from the talkative 2-Dans last week could not be withheld any longer. The sooner Hikaru knew, the better for him. It was one thing to gather information on one's professional life, but the personal aspects were meant to remain personal. Until something could be done about the woman, Hikaru had to be careful if he didn't want all of Japan to know about his personal life. Isumi hoped Hikaru and his girlfriend weren't doing anything foolish because that was what the media seemed to love.
Half an hour later, Isumi stood waiting outside Waya's apartment, looking at his watch anxiously. After looking up, he was relieved to see Waya and Hikaru making their way up the street. Isumi also took note that Waya was laughing at something Hikaru was telling him. In perhaps twenty minutes, Isumi thought sadly, that sunny mood would unfortunately change.
Once they got inside, Waya went into the kitchen to pull out some soda and chips and Isumi went to turn on the new air-conditioning system. Hikaru chuckled as he set down his backpack on the floor.
"So you finally got air-conditioning," he said amusedly.
Waya nodded as he emerged from the kitchen.
"My parents weren't thrilled that I stayed over with them it got humid this summer so they bought me an air conditioner for my birthday."
"That's right… your birthday is tomorrow," Hikaru mused as he opened the bag of chips Waya handed him.
"We're going to have to keep you away from Morishita-sensei's home tomorrow," Isumi said from the air conditioner on the other side of the room.
Waya let out a groan.
"Not more strawberry shortcake!"
Morishita's daughter was very fond of Waya and Saeki and dragged them to a cake shop whenever either of them received a Dan promotion or had a birthday. Hikaru and Isumi were wise enough to stay away from the Morishita household during those times but Waya found that their sensei's wife was a superb cook and he dropped by at least once a week.
"Speaking of girls, how's your girlfriend?" Isumi asked Hikaru as he felt the air conditioner turn on.
"She's trying to finish her homework right now since school reopens for autumn soon. But she came over last night and we played some Go. She's getting much better," Hikaru said, with a hint of pride in his voice.
"It's a shame she isn't going pro; Go Weekly mentioned a while ago that there are some really promising female insei," Isumi said, smiling.
"And a lot of people have been wanting to find out things about you too, being one of the more well-known Go pros after the Hokuto Cup," Waya added.
Hikaru looked confused.
"Really? I had a few interviews and I've done some teaching games, but that was it. I haven't heard or sensed that I have a lot of fans."
Waya and Isumi exchanged dark looks.
Seeing the expressions on their faces, Hikaru began to feel a bit uneasy.
"Hey! What do you two know that I don't?" Hikaru demanded.
"It's hard for us to believe, but we overheard some 2-Dans the other day and they were saying that somebody is following you around, particularly when you're with your girlfriend. And apparently, this person has been taking pictures hoping to sell them to newspapers and magazine companies," Waya said, choosing his words carefully. He knew Hikaru was the type to overreact.
To both Waya and Isumi's surprise, Hikaru looked lost in his thoughts.
"I've been followed?'
"Doesn't it worry that you're being followed?" Waya asked exasperatedly, burying his face in his hands.
Isumi had a stern expression on his face.
"That person following you is preventing you from having the private life everybody deserves."
Hikaru nodded, signifying that he understood. "But still, I was never under the impression that I was being followed."
"You need to have a reason for the person to stop following you," Isumi advised.
"Well, I'm not quitting go just because I want this person to stop following me," Hikaru said stubbornly.
"Something has to change," Waya said in reply.
"I don't know how, but I'm going to find out who is following me," Hikaru said stubbornly.
Akari walked out of the local grocery store, her hands laden with shopping bags containing the food that her mother had requested. She was glad to be able to get out of the house for a while; the post-summer exams were coming up soon (not to mention the end of summer vacation) and she had been doing homework and studying feverishly for the past three days. Akari and Hikaru hadn't been able to spend time together lately because of her schoolwork… she had hoped to bump into him while on her way to and from grocery shopping, but no luck. Despite that, one thing managed to cheer her up: along with the food, she managed to buy the last available copy of Go Weekly. On the front cover was Touya Meijin and his son Touya Akira, whom Akari had met a couple of times before. Akira had accompanied his father in China for the past month and a half, having received numerous invitations to play against highly esteemed Chinese pros. The Japanese Go Institute was not pleased that Akira was out of the country for such a long time, but accepted that after an experience in China, he would be a far better player than he was before he left.
'And that would inspire Hikaru to work harder,' Akari thought cheerfully as she walked home.
After helping her mother put the groceries away, she went upstairs to read through Go Weekly before going back to study. Akari sat down on her chair and turned the cover page of the magazine. There was an insert… probably a new company trying to get the attention of the Go Weekly readers. Eager to see what they had to say, Akari scanned the article titles and pictures. It seemed okay, Akari thought, as she looked through the paper. However, she changed her mind once she reached the third page. Was she going crazy? Or was she really looking down at a picture of Hikaru and herself in an embrace?
Hikaru made his way to the Fujisaki household as soon as he could. After he rang the doorbell, Mrs. Fujisaki let him in, looking rather anxious.
"Hikaru? Akari's been unusually quiet and unresponsive since she went up to her room. Could you go check that she's okay? She won't let me or her father into the room."
Perplexed by the thought that he would be able to reach out to Akari more than her own parents, Hikaru made his way upstairs and knocked on Akari's door.
"Akari? Open up," he said firmly.
But Akari did not answer. After about a minute, Hikaru grew a little worried; he had spoken loud enough for her to hear him.
"Don't shut us all out," he tried again feebly.
Then he felt the door open and found himself in Akari's room. Hikaru sensed something was wrong. The lights were off, the window blinds were shut and Akari hadn't greeted him with a hug or anything similar. Rather, she was looking at him very coldly. Fear swept through his soul; Akari must have found about the pictures as well. Hikaru moved to touch Akari's face, but she recoiled.
"So, you've finally shown your true colors," Akari said, with no emotion but the deepest loathing in her voice.
Hikaru's eyes widened as he saw a side of Akari that he had not seen or heard of before. Sure, they had arguments in the past, but Hikaru had never seen her like this before.
Akari darkly turned her back to him.
"I'm ashamed to have gone out with you; horrible that I had worn my heart on my sleeve to just to be used."
"I didn't use you, I swear. Waya and Isumi just told me about it a few hours ago!" Akari was stonily silent and did not move to look back to him.
Hikaru looked past Akari and noticed that a Go Weekly was on her desk. 'So the pictures were featured in Go Weekly,' Hikaru thought. 'I'll have to talk to the editor.'
"I can clear this up," Hikaru said, hoping to reach out to Akari. "I'll talk to the editor and make sure that he doesn't accept any more pictures."
This was something out of a nightmare… something that Hikaru never thought would happen to him. Then it got worse.
"Hikaru, until that's all over, I wish not to see you."