Disclaimer: I don't own Hikaru no Go.

Rated PG-13 for language and blatant shounen-ai, but no graphic yaoi.

Notes: I keep starting fics in this fandom and not finishing them. I'm really really really sorry! (As if anyone actually remembers me. :-P) It's not that I've forgotten, it's just... I have other priorities, and the longer I procrastinate, the more I lose interest. I do intend on completing everything I post here, however.
This one is just going to be three short chapters, with a possible longer one-shot sequel, so hopefully I will persevere and actually finish it soon. XD Anyway, I'm a BIG Yang Hai/Isumi shipper and fangirl. (Sumiwaya/Wayasumi pairing is BLEH. :-P) I... need... more Yang Hai/Isumi!!!! And well, more fics centered around these two characters, period. (Enough with the Aki/Hika/Sai-centric stuff! XD)


Somewhere

He hadn't wanted to go. He had no desire to baby-sit three stuck-up brats for who-knows-how-long for some lame overseas team tournament that was probably rigged, anyway, to provide maximum profit to the company sponsoring it. These things always were. There could be no worthwhile go to be found in such a phony setup. True go lay in China, where it had all begun, and where it would always remain.

(Specifically, within his computer, which held all hope for the future of the game, in his own not-so-humble opinion.)

Everyone knew Japanese go had been declining for years, not only professionally, but also in the eyes of the general public. To put it simply, there was a blatant lack of interest among the younger Japanese generation. There was no new wave of talent in Japan, no young stars to compete with the emerging Korean prodigies and the constant stream of gifted, hard-working Chinese youth. The height and glory of Japanese go had long passed; it was time for China to resume her rightful place at the top of the go world. (Or so they all said.)

Which he mostly thought was a total load of B.S., really. Weiqi was weiqi, no matter where it was played. It was, he supposed, just the Chinese way of doing things, to goad the students into striving even harder, becoming the best of the best. Still, there was a part of him that took pride in his culture, his country, his beloved China, and it was that part of him that still listened to the B.S. he was fed, year after year. Tournament or not, he had absolutely no interest in going to Japan. He had seen the world already. He just wanted to stay home. (With said computer.)

But in the end, they had finally managed to... persuade him. ("Yang Hai, you're the only adult closest in age to our representatives who isn't busy with tournaments right now." Because you've been wasting all your time tinkering with that stupid computer of yours instead. "Yang Hai, your stats seem to be suffering lately." Because you've been neglecting to attend those aforementioned tournaments. "Yang Hai, there have been rumors that you harbored a foreign student in your dorm last summer, against our policies..." So you'd better go -- or else.)

Isumi. Somewhere far away, on a not-so-distant island country...

In the end, he'd agreed only because he really did want to see Isumi again. (Yes, only. It really was a pity they could no longer come up with better threats for him.) He was curious to see how the former insei was doing, if he'd remembered his advice, if he'd passed the professional test at last... Although, of course, Yang Hai had no doubt that Isumi had indeed passed -- he had, after all, been the Japanese player's teacher over an entire summer. He wondered, too, about the boy named Waya. The kid who was supposedly a Le Ping look-alike. Isumi's good friend.

It really was a pity that Le Ping (who had finally become pro, thanks to Isumi's influence, and admittedly, more of Yang Hai's goading) hadn't made the team. It would have been absolutely hilarious if annoying little brat Le Ping had a showdown with an older, Japanese Le Ping. He had no doubt that their own brat was stronger, though, of course. (But Waya beat Isumi. Waya passed the test, and Isumi did not.)

At any rate, the thought made him laugh out loud. The three dolts he happened to be chaperoning -- who, thank God or Allah or Guan Yin or the spirits or the government or whoever the hell he was supposed to thank, were actually old enough and mature enough to take care of themselves -- cast uneasy glances at him, but said nothing. No one ever messed with Yang Hai. Except for, perhaps, Le Ping, who always ended up getting what he deserved, anyway. It was well known, especially among the younger pros, that Yang Hai, despite having fried his brain from fooling around on his computer all the time, retained very sharp wits, as well as an equally sharp tongue. And a very sadistic sense of humor. And... Well, it was best not to go there.

"Yang Hai," ventured Lu Lee, who, at five dan, was to be first board. "How much farther is it to the hotel?"

"How should I know?" replied Yang Hai nonchalantly. "Ask the driver." It was about the tenth time he had been asked that question so far, and he was getting rather annoyed. It wasn't like the Cup was that big of a deal. On second thought, it probably was, for these three. None of them had ever stepped foot out of China before. The first time competing in another country was always taxing, Yang Hai knew. Especially if you did not understand the language. Why else would he have bothered to learn how to speak so many different languages in the first place?

It had actually started when he had left his home in Yunnan for Beijing, to join the Institute. A country boy's first time in a bustling city like Beijing was always overwhelming. Most astonishing for Yang Hai had been all the different dialects he had heard in the streets and at the Institute itself -- although it was all Chinese, many of the sounds flew past his ears, unintelligible. Cantonese, Shanghaiese, Mingnanese... He had a good ear, and soon learned to distinguish the subtleties between each of the different dialects, even learning to speak a few of the major ones. He never fully ridded himself of his own native accent in exchange for the crisper tones of the city, however; retaining, instead, his informal drawl. Most of the kids from the countryside never did lose their accents. (Exception: those who wanted to become news anchors on television.)

He had then learned English because English was the primary language of the rest of the world, in business and international affairs and just about everything else, and so a basic understanding of English was one of the required subjects they were taught at the Institute, when they weren't playing go. Later, when he had discovered the Internet and all its treasures, he had started to teach himself more English, as English was most definitely the predominant language on the Internet. He had then gone on to practice spoken English with the rare go-playing American tourist who came along every now and then (rare, but they indeed existed), and in his spare time, at the hottest tourist districts in the city.

Along the way he had added Japanese and Korean, for the international tournaments in which he was occasionally chosen to be a Chinese representative. To tell the truth, neither had been too hard. Both the Japanese and Korean language used a fair amount of Chinese characters, which made the only hard part remembering what sounds matched with each character matched with certain meanings. His training in understanding the various Chinese dialects helped there. After the horribly taxing, confusing, and frustrating experience of (almost) mastering English, it was a relief to find the two other languages so simple.

Unfortunately, his three charges did not have the privilege of being smart enough to learn so many languages with such relative ease. (Or perhaps they just had not been smart enough to realize that taking the effort to learn them was worth it.) He pitied them.

"Relax," Yang Hai added at last, almost reluctantly. He hated mothering them. He really did. "Especially you, Lu Lee. You're too tense -- no wonder you've been playing so badly lately!"

Lu Lee glared. "I am not too tense." Yang Hai swore the kid was pouting, and tried to keep from smirking at the sight. Ah, well. Not his problem if the stuck up ass wasn't going to listen. If it had been Isumi... Isumi would have listened. Isumi always knew when to listen, and take other people's advice. (And also when not to take it. Example: The time Yang Hai had tried to get him drunk.) Isumi was also shy, and kind. Too kind. (Example: the first rematch against Le Ping.) Almost a complete pushover, even.

It had been a long time since Yang Hai had met anyone like the Japanese player. Most in the highly competitive Chinese professional go world were ruthless. Not cruel, not conniving... but simply ruthless. Perhaps it was different in Japan, now, where the competition was not quite as fierce. The older Japanese pros were an exception -- they had grown up in a different time.

Yet within Isumi he had sensed a certain strength. Solidness, behind the soft, gentle heart. Determination.

He would not have helped the former insei if he had not seen this. In making that decision, he had broken countless rules that he and others had already broken before, no doubt; only this time, he had broken them all at once.

Yang Hai did not regret his decision.

"Ahhh," said Zhao Shi, stretching. That brat. Maybe it was a good thing Le Ping hadn't made it. Zhao Shi had actually been standable until that kid had come along. Zhao Shi had been one of the kids who were sweet and polite and did everything he was told. But of course, the ones that looked sweet on the outside were always the worst. "I hope we play Japan first. I don't wanna play Korea. They're really strong."

Not that the boy had ever played any Koreans, anyway. Though it was true -- the Koreans' games were tough, even vicious. Take your mind off the game for even a second and you were doomed, if your opponent was a Korean. Seriously. Yang Hai knew, from first-hand experience.

Wang Shi Chin, second board, and the most mature of the three, shook his head. "I'd rather get the games with Korea over and done with. Then we can relax for the games with Japan."

"Whatever," replied the younger pro. (Since when had that kid picked up Le Ping's attitude?) "I sure hope the food's good here, though. I don't wanna play on an empty stomach, but I don't wanna eat something icky either. And..."

"It's not," interjected Yang Hai coolly. And it really wasn't. Too bland.

Zhao Shi moaned. "Awww, that sucks..."

"And you should take every single game seriously, not just the ones with Korea."

"Awww..."

It was going to be a long ride. Yang Hai sighed. He was tempted to start counting the hours and minutes left before they boarded the plane returning to China. But he decided that it was not worth his time.

If only they had let him bring at least a laptop...

He would have to find the time to sneak off to an Internet café somewhere, he decided, before he confirmed his charges' suspicions of his sanity.

Tsuzuku

:::

It wasn't until he saw a familiar tall, slender figure off in the distance as they neared the hotel when a strange thought struck him.

He hadn't realized how much he had missed him.

:::


Next chapter: Yang Hai meets Waya. Isumi takes Yang Hai on a "date." Doubts and awkwardness. How do you reacquaint yourself with someone you hardly know, yet who you simply know too well? Also, Chinese food vs. Japanese food. And closetyaoifangirl!Nase. Heehee.

Also, I haven't read/watched Hikago in a loooong time. So I barely remember anything about the Hokuto Cup. Anyone want to point me to a detailed synopsis? Thanks! (Otherwise I'll just have to mess around with details.)