SEE CHAPTER ONE FOR DISCLAIMER AND WARNING.

Notes: Just for the record, I found two minor typos in chapter one, so I went back and fixed those. Also, I made up Harumi's name… since the manga never states what it is… just fyi.

Also, to those of you who celebrate the Lunar New Year (and understand Chinese), it's a little early, but:

Gong xi fa tsai… hong bao na lai!! :-P (Yeah, my pin yin sux. It's a combination of han yu pin yin and some other funky pin yin system.)

This is My Life

Chapter Two: Never Give Up

            I first learned how to play go from my great-uncle. He's gone now – he died of cancer when I was nine, only a year after I started playing. I never was that close to him… But I guess I was the only kid he knew who actually showed any interest in go, so he was pretty fond of me.

            Go was always his greatest passion, though he was never a very strong player. Only about thirteen kyu or so, at the most. But he loved the game, and I think he died happy, knowing that at least somebody from his family had taken up the game in his place.

            My parents supported me – they always have. They were glad that I had found such an intellectual, rewarding hobby. They even found me a teacher: Cho-sensei, a Korean immigrant. But… I don't think they ever realized how serious I became about go. Even when I decided to become an insei, they still thought I was just doing it for fun.

            And I guess, in a way, they were right.

            March came and went, and Iijima-kun left. At first I was glad: I no longer had to put up with his constant complaining and worrying. And yet… it got lonely. Waya-kun and Shindou-kun were pros now, and Isumi-kun had quit already, months ago. Honda-kun suddenly got a lot more serious about go and didn't have as much time to hang out anymore, and I'd never been that close to Komiya-kun or Adachi-kun. There was another girl insei I used to hang out with sometimes, but she'd quit as well.

            Whether or not I wanted to admit it, I'd known Iijima-kun for six years – we'd both passed the insei entrance test at the same time – and we'd been close. He had been the only friend I'd had left. And now he was gone.

            Well, Fuku was still around… (But he's almost four years younger than me!) He's a cute kid though. I was glad he hadn't left yet… He always manages to cheer me up with his ever-present grin.

            But still.

            Why did I have to be left behind?? (Damn it!)

            And then it was time for the Young Lion's Tournament, and Shindou-kun didn't show up. Waya admitted that Shindou (that brat!) hadn't showed for his game earlier in the week, either.

            I was pissed. Thoroughly pissed. (Well, not as pissed as Touya Akira… But that's a different story.) I was extremely worried about him too (Could he be sick?), of course, but still. How dare he? How dare he! He had passed the test his first time around, something most insei could only DREAM of, and he wasn't showing up at his games? There were many of us who were a thousand times more dedicated, and more deserving of shodan, I thought. (Isumi-kun, for instance, but Isumi-kun…)

            Shindou must be sick, I decided. And if he wasn't, well…

            Why did it seem as if everyone around me was just giving up?

            "Sensei, I'm thinking about quitting!" I announce as I stalk into the playing room in my teacher's house for my lesson.

            "Hm?" he asks, without looking up from the board he's replaying games on. "Quitting what?"

            I grumble inwardly. "Quitting as an insei, what else?"

            "Ah, so desu ka?" he says, nonchalantly. Even though Cho-sensei's already lived in Japan for almost ten years, he still has a slight accent. He was already thirty when he came here, though, so I guess it was kind of hard for him to learn a new language.

            But seriously, I know you're not that dense… Quit acting so clueless, sensei! Sheesh!

            "Well, I'm thinking about quitting as a teacher and moving back to Korea…"

            "Sensei!!!!!" I whine.

            "What? Something wrong?"

            Fine! "Never mind," I mutter.

            "If you want to quit, go ahead," he says. "Why, do you need my approval or something?"

            AAAAARGH.

            "… Never mind…"

            "Or is it because you don't really want to quit but you don't want to admit it so you want me to say something so that you have an excuse to keep going?"

            AAAAARGH.

            Sensei looks up at last, an amused smile on his face. He pushes up his glasses, which have been slipping.

            "So, why do you want to quit, anyway?"

            After glaring at him for a moment, I launch immediately into a very long rant. "… six years and I'm still an insei… last time's pro test passers… all younger than me!... And… and also… you know Shindou-kun? Apparently he's quitting too because he didn't show up at the Young Lion's Tournament and I checked his record and apparently he hasn't been showing up for his other games either and remember how Isumi-kun and Iijima-kun have quit too… And Isumi-kun quit the Nine Stars Club too… And…"

            Sensei winced. "Okay, okay, calm down!"

            I pause, taking a deep breath. "Well it's true –"

            "Look, Nase-kun. Come over here."

            Grr. What now? I walk over, swinging my purse angrily, and kneel down before the goban.

            "First of all, Isumi-kun only quit as an insei because he's already reached the age limit."

            "But –"

            Sensei waves a hand at me. Translation: Shut up and let me finish. (Fiiiiine…)

            "He hasn't given up on becoming a pro, you know?"

            "How –"

            Sensei crosses his arms, sighing. Translation: LET ME FINISH. (Alright, alright already…)

            "I have my ways. Satisfied?"

            I nod, grudgingly, though I'm not.

            "I don't know if you've heard, but a group of the Nine Stars Club pros are taking a trip to China." Before I can speak up again, he continues. "Isumi-kun is going with them."

            "WHHHHAAAAAT? But –" Sensei clears his throat. Translation: I wasn't done yet…

            "Narusawa-sensei invited him. He believes in Isumi-kun's ability. And Isumi-kun accepted."

            I can only gape at Sensei. But – but… That means Isumi-kun hasn't given up yet! My mood lightens up. I really am happy for Isumi-kun! Happy happy happy! I'd felt so sorry for him when he failed yet again last time, and I'd been so sad when he left… But, well, now I was overjoyed!

            "Hontou!?!?!" I squeal, before shutting up immediately. I feel my cheeks heating up, though I have a huge grin plastered on my face.

            Sensei nods, smirking at my outburst. (Senseiiiiiii…!!!)

            "Now look at the board and tell me what you see."

            Huh? Oh yeah, I forgot. He was replaying a game. I try to sneak a peek at the kifu, but he snatches away the paper before I can see what game it is. Shoot! I haven't been looking over the game records for the title matches lately… so I probably won't recognize it, which is what Sensei is obviously expecting… (Uh-oh…)

            Wait! What the – !?

            "This – this is the game I played against Honda-kun during the pro exam last year!" I exclaim.

            Sensei's grin grows even wider.

            This… this game… It is truly a beautiful game. The best I have ever played in my entire life. Honda played well – he always does – but I played better, that game. My judgment, my attacking… he never had a chance.

            It was a perfect game.

            So beautiful.

            Why do I feel like crying?

            Sensei's voice penetrates my thoughts, soft and calm. "I have faith in your ability, Nase-kun. Therefore… I hope that you will never give up. Because it would be a pity if you did… Never give up, Nase-kun. I believe in you…" He pauses.

            "Do you enjoy playing go, Asumi-chan?" "Un, hai, ojiisan…" "Good…" A crinkled, contented smile. Heartwarming. "Good… I hope that you will never give it up… Because it would be such a pity if you did… Never give up, Asumi-chan, okay? If only for me…"

            "After all," continues Sensei, "I've been your teacher for eight years, so if you still don't have any ability after all that time under my instruction it would kind of reflect badly on me, ne?"

            I look up and he is smirking. (Ha. Ha. Ha. Veeery funny.) He bursts into laughter when I glare at him in response, and I can't help but smile as well.

            Damn you, Sensei.

Tsuzuku

Coming up next: "Chasing Foolish Dreams." The pro test, memories of an… interesting… conversation with Harumi, and an unexpected change in Nase's life… XD (will be a longer chapter than this one, I think…)

The conversation with her teacher came before she met with Waya and co. at Waya's new apartment, but after the Young Lion's Tournament, just for clarification. Yes, not all go teachers hold study sessions with a group of players. Some give private, one-on-one lessons. (Think Ochi…) About Nase's game against Honda: I didn't make it up. If you don't remember, she beat him… And I don't know what "great-uncle" is in Japanese (in Chinese there's a whole list of confusing names for like, every different relative…) so I just had her call him "grandfather." Close enough…

Also… should I do a list of terms or are you all okay with the Japanese so far?

Thanks to everyone who reviewed: Troy Thomas, Kamitra, Halcyon Clouds, Aeris, and The Merciless Torturer.

Troy Thomas: Thanks – I normally don't put long author's notes in the beginning. I got kind of carried away… lol. ^_^ And yeah, commenting on my own work – That's a habit I have to break. Also, thanks for the names of the insei!

Kamitra: Thanks! I'm glad you like my interpretation of her character! ^_^

Halcyon Clouds: Yeah, she's my fave girl character too, but like you said… There's basically only her and Akari. (But I do like Kaneko, the volleyball girl… hehe. ^_^) Thanks for the names!

Aeris and The Merciless Torturer: Hm… Iijima, eh? ^_~ Well, it's not as simple as you may think… :-P XD