The Right Moves
Disclaimer:I don't own Hikaru no Go or the characters in it.
Warnings:Yaoi, Touya/Shindou. Lemon warning for those reading anywhere other than fanfiction.net. If you're reading there and want the unedited version, check out either my site or mediaminer.org. Thank you, and enjoy.
It was a few weeks into summer when I noticed something weird about Touya.
Actually… I shouldn't say I noticed it, because I didn't. Waya was the one who pointed it out to me; if he hadn't brought it up, I'd have missed it.
"So, what are you doing this afternoon?"
I looked up from the game we'd been watching on the screen in the viewing room at the Go Institute - one that'd be over soon anyway. "Nothing. Why?"
Waya shrugged, not looking terribly impressed with the match himself. He and I were closer to the back of the room, so the fact that we were talking wasn't likely to disturb the people discussing the match at the front. "A couple of us are going to take in a movie - we thought it'd be good to take a break, since last week was so busy. Want to come along?"
I was about to agree, but got interrupted before I could.
"Shindou." Touya put his hand on the inside of my elbow from behind me to get my attention - not quite holding onto me, but with his fingers curled to fit. His hands were rough, but he had slender fingers. I was wearing short sleeves, and his skin felt pleasantly cool against mine. "You're still coming over to play me later today, aren't you?"
"I forgot," I confessed, then shrugged and shot an apologetic grin at Waya. "But don't worry, I'll be there. I know it gets boring when no one's around to beat you."
"Your mind must be going, Shindou," he commented, dryly, and patted me on the shoulder as if to humor me. "Especially if you think you can beat me. You're going to have to prove that."
"I will when we meet today," I promised, adding a cocky grin. "Probably more than once, too."
Touya gave me one of those condescending looks that spoke whole volumes - more to irritate me than because he meant it. His eyes didn't hold enough intensity to send any kind of thrills down my spine like they sometimes did, anyway. "We'll see," he said, and left us alone with a parting wave.
Waya stared after him for a minute, eyebrows up for some reason, then looked back at me. "He's pretty touchy with you, isn't he?"
That one went right past me. "Touchy?"
"Yeah, the whole 'hand on your shoulder', 'grab your elbow to get your attention'… that kind of thing." His eyebrows came back down again; it was obviously just a casual observation for him. "He doesn't do much of that with anyone else."
My response was so intelligent I'm still congratulating myself for it.
"Well, you are his rival." Waya shrugged, as if that settled it. "He's more familiar with you or whatever. Want to get sushi for lunch?"
"Sure," I said, lost in thought - then realized what I'd said. "Hey, wait! No!"
"Can't take it back!" He slapped me on the back and turned to go on ahead, grinning like a fiend. "Come on, hurry up!"
I cursed Touya under my breath and went along.
Really, though, that was just the first step. And I didn't think anything of it. Who would? So a guy doesn't like to casually touch people he doesn't know well. So what? I was his friend as well as his rival; we were pretty familiar with each other.
Then I got invited to have dinner with him and Ogata.
I wish I knewwhy I agreed to this… The 10-dan wasn't the kind of person I was generally all buddy-buddy with. Even when he was drunk, he was kind of creepy. Thankfully, he wasn't drunk this time, but he was creepy. "Can I get another water?" I asked the waitress.
"I hear you're on a winning streak, Shindou." Ogata blatantly raised his cigarette to his lips, ignoring the annoyed looks he was getting from people around us and the fact that the restaurant was probably a non-smoking establishment.
Places like that made exceptions for people like Ogata and Touya.
"Yeah." And I'll probably keep it up - at least I'm not going to die before I'm forty because of nicotine and alcohol addictions. "Did you tell him that?" I asked Touya, to avoid another awkward silence.
"No, he's been following your results," Touya told me with a faint hint of a smile, and faced his teacher again. "Can I see the desert menu?"
The small sheet of laminated cardboard was handed over - delicately. I mean, it was a small menu, and Touya and Ogata both have long fingers, but from what I saw, their hands didn't even brush.
Touya was also sitting about a foot away from him - incidentally a lot closer to me.
And yet, he'd known Ogata for… how long?
"Hey, Touya?" I asked him a bit later, when Ogata excused himself to use the bathroom. "How long have you known Ogata?"
"Ogata?" He smiled - Touya's eyes got soft when he smiled; it made him look deceptively kind. It could catch you off guard if you'd never seen him play - who'd expect a sweet-looking pretty boy to take you apart? "Since I was very young. He was a member of my father's study group even before I joined."
"So you're pretty familiar with him." I didn't say it like a question.
"Yes, very familiar. Why?"
That shot that theory straight to hell.
Well… maybe Touya just wasn't comfortable with Ogata like he was with me. I mean, most of the time the guy wasn't all that friendly. Besides, he was older. That made sense, right? Why shouldn't he touch me and not touch Ogata and -
That was when I first thought of asking myself just when Touya had started getting 'touchy' with me at all.
He didn't do it when we were fifteen… I don't think the year after that… Last year?Maybe he just got to know me better. I couldn't remember being suspicious, so it was probably something gradual.
Or maybe it happened recently and I hadn't had time to notice.
Why? Why would Touya start touching me? Was he trying to throw me off? Get closer so he could understand me better and figure out my deep dark secrets? No, that didn't make sense - it wasn't the way Touya worked. He didn't use tricks to win, and he liked to understand me through my Go rather than any other way.
So what the hell was going on?
I got my answer after a couple of weeks of wondering, from - of all people - Akari.
"I thought you wanted to play," I interrupted her conversation impatiently, leaning against the red stone wall that marked the outside edge of the high school she went to and waiting for her to say goodbye to some girl from her class. "Let's play already. I've got a full schedule, you know."
"I'm just about done - wait a minute," she assured me, glancing over her shoulder quickly and then turning back to the other girl. "I should go."
"Okay! I'll see you tomorrow." Her friend shot her a sly little smirk. "I still say he likes you, though."
"What? No way!"
I rolled my eyes upward and sighed - loudly. Girls!
"It's true - you know why?" The offending girl ignored my suffering and went right on talking. "He finds excuses to touch you all the time - you know, asking for your book so your hands will brush, or getting your attention by putting a hand on your shoulder. It's so obvious!"
I almost fell off the wall. "Touching someone means you like them!?"
She blinked at me, like she'd forgotten I was there. "Didn't you ever do that?"
"No!" Why hadn't someone told me this?
"Hikaru's kind of dense like that," Akari assured her friend, cheerfully. "Anyway, I'll see you tomorrow - come on, Hikaru." She turned me around and pushed me on ahead of her.
"Hey, wait just a - !" Indignation and curiosity had a short battle in my head, before the curious side ultimately won out. "Was that stuff true?" I demanded, breaking free of her hold.
"Sure - I read it in a magazine once." She gave me a strange sort of look, with a little smile. "I didn't know you were interested in these things."
"I wasn't," I assured her, wanting that understood. "At least, not until now."
This was going to require some thought.
Later on that night, I took a while to lie back on my bed, stare up at the ceiling, and get everything straight in my head so that I could figure out what to do about it.
What did someone do about a situation like this?
Okay, so according to the magazine and Akari's friend what's-her-name, Touya had a thing for me. Which was just plain weird. He and I were both guys. That sort of thing didn't happen normally. Well, maybe it did, but not to me. I'd never thought of him that way, had I? He couldn't expect me to return this… whatever it was… could he?
What was I thinking? Of course he could!
This was Touya we were talking about. Touya got everything he wanted, because he was convinced that he could as long as he put all of his effort into getting it. So that was probably the reason for all the touching.
Touya Akira was trying to get me to want him back.
It might even have worked… I started to get a bit alarmed at that. I was thinking a lot about Touya's eyes, and Touya's hands, and the way Touya looked when we played or when he smiled. It wouldn't have even bothered me; I'd probably disregard it until it got worse and Touya took over my entire brain! And then it'd be too late, and I'd end up making out with him in the bathroom at the Go Salon with the trash can leaned up against the door and his hands groping at my -
Gah! He's winning already! Stop!
This wasn't looking good at all. At that point, Touya's attack on my heterosexuality had already struck - and struck hard.
Well, I'm not going to let him get away withthat without a fight! I stared at my bedroom ceiling with determination. This was like a game now - he was making his moves, setting up the board so he could cut off my escape routes.
I was just going to have to come up with a good defense.
"What exactly were you thinking when you made this move in the corner, Shindou?" Touya eyed me across the board, frowning like he did whenever he encountered what he thought of as my idiocy. "It's the worst attack I've ever seen you play."
"It was supposed to bring you out like this," I countered, pointing. "It was a good move, you just made a mistake here" - my finger moved - "and I had to drop it for something else."
His frown deepened. "How is that a mistake if I gained control of that section and you had to defend again?"
I scowled. "Because it was sloppy - what if I'd - ?"
"But you didn't, did you?"
"You don't even know what I was going to say!"
"What does it matter what you were going to say? As soon as you say 'what if', it means it didn't happen!"
I leaned back in my seat and glared at him. His father's Go Salon had emptied out after our first game, and not enough of the regulars had come back to interrupt us. I didn't feel like storming out on him at that point, either.
His edge was probably dull that day.
"Another game?" Touya suggested, reaching out to clear away the stones. His voice was cool, but he wasn't angry with me. Even when we were fighting, he was hardly ever angry with me personally. I knew being around me made him feel alive - not just because I knew him that well, but because it was the same for me. No matter how huge the fight and how much of a towering fury I was in when I left, there was always that knowledge at the back of my mind that I'd be back. I couldn't stay away.
It was kind of a rival thing.
"Yeah." I started clearing away my stones as well.
I wasn't really expecting him to grab my wrist, so I couldn't think up a good defense right away. I blinked at him, and he smiled, turning my hand over and running an almost careless finger over it. And I shivered - a whole-body thing that went through me like a shock I just couldn't help.
"Wh-What are you doing?" I managed to pull my thoughts together and yanked free of his loose hold, staring at him wildly.
"Sorry." He was still smiling, trying to disarm me with that same soft-eyed look I'd started noticing recently. For some reason, his eyes seemed impossibly blue - maybe it was the weird lighting caused by one of the bulbs around our corner blowing out and not having been replaced yet. Touya's eyes mostly looked green, or sometimes a mix, but right then, they definitely looked blue. "I just remembered something - from back when I first met you. I could tell from looking at your hand that you didn't play often."
"Oh." I wasn't too sure what to think about that. Was it really just a sudden thought? Or did he plan this all along, as part of his plot to seduce me? I deliberately tore my gaze away from his eyes and shrugged. "Yeah, I didn't play much back then."
Stupid… you're letting him get in too many good moves. Just block him!
"You can see the change," he commented, as if nothing had just happened, and reached a hand into his stones. "Nigiri."
My mind was pretty far away from there at that point. Touya was playing more aggressively now. Did he know I'd figured out his strategy? Or was there some sort of checkpoint I'd missed, that marked when his hand changed. Maybe his plan was just to keep me off-guard until he could go in for a killing blow.
Well, I'm not about to let that happen, Touya Akira!My eyebrows came down. Just you wait - I'm not as easy to beat as you think!
The problem with defending is that you can't always tell what kind of attack your opponent's going to use. Most cases, you just have to wait and see. If you know the opponent or the game and either one's predictable, sometimes you can tell what's coming. Otherwise, you pretty much have to be ready for anything.
As far as Touya was concerned, I thought I was ready for anything.
Touya's behavior didn't really change much over the next week or so, though. He didn't try anything funny like grabbing my hand or molesting me in the bathroom. But my subconscious apparently saw a great chance for a mutiny and sided with him.
A few days after that, I had a dream about the thing with the hand.
This time, when Touya grabbed my hand, he didn't smile and comment on some incident when we were twelve. He looked up at me with the kind of expression he got when he was dead serious, and his eyes looked very blue.
"I can't play this game any more, Shindou," dream-Touya said in a low voice. Abruptly, he swept his hand over the board, clearing it, and all but climbed over the top. "I can't fight this incredible sexual energy between us… I must have you!"
Afterward, I thought that the real me would've run out of the salon screaming. The dream me leaned back against the chair that had suddenly become a pile of cushions and slid my hands up under Touya's shirt as he straddled me. His fingers started to work on the zipper of my pants…
And I woke up covered in sweat and completely freaked out.
Well… maybe I didn't wake up freaked out. The freaked out part came when I realized that my subconscious had let Touya do things to me. Worse, my subconscious had invited him to do things to me. Hell, it had even invented the Touya who did it in the first place - after all, it wasn't like he could invade my dreams.
I'm positive now that the moment when I lay there huddled in bed, clutching the covers and actually wondering about it… was exactly when extreme paranoia started to settle in.
And it got worse.
"What's the matter with you, Shindou?" Touya asked, with some exasperation as he cleared up the stones from our last game. "You're barely even half paying attention; either that, or you're playing this badly on purpose. Is there a problem?"
"Not… exactly that." You're the problem, Touya. I couldn't exactly tell him that the reason I couldn't concentrate was because whenever I was around him, I couldn't stop wondering what he was thinking. Was he planning something? Waiting for me to slip up and give him an opening? Maybe he was just biding his time and trying to get me to snap.
If so, it was working.
"I hope you haven't been playing this badly in your official games," he went on, pouring his collected stones back into the go bowl. There was an unconscious grace in Touya's hand movements that I caught myself staring at every so often when I was lost in thought and didn't know to stop myself. He really did have nice hands.
… And I'd just totally missed whatever he'd just said. "Sorry, what?"
Touya frowned, but dutifully repeated himself. "I said, it wouldn't say much for your opponents if you've been playing like this and winning."
"I don't get distracted in my other games!" I was more irritated with myself for being fascinated with him than him for saying something like that, but he deserved to be snapped at anyway.
He didn't react the way I thought he would, though.
Touya blinked, then smiled - a small, strange smile that made me pause for a minute. He was wearing a green shirt, and it brought out that color in his eyes. There was nothing sneaky or devious in that smile or in his expression, and for a second I wondered how I'd ever suspected him of plotting in the first place.
After about five seconds of staring stupidly, I realized what I'd just given away.
"I mean… only in unofficial games!" Damnit, why wouldn't he stop smiling? It was very distracting! "If we played officially, I wouldn't go easy on you. I've got things on my mind, that's all."
"Shindou, I know what you meant." He didn't lose the smile - which meant he didn't buy it. "If you're having that much trouble, why don't we set a condition on losing to keep your attention?"
And… he'd lost me. "Condition?"
Touya looked thoughtful for a minute. "The loser buys a meal for the winner?" he suggested, and looked up at me with that unmistakably challenging gaze he got when he was about to play a match.
Thatwas a trap I could see a mile away. Buying a meal? Either way, I'd end up out for dinner with him, so no matter how the game went he won. But I couldn't refuse either, because that would translate to backing away from a challenge - admitting it scared me. Admitting I was worried that I might like it, even. And Touya knew I couldn't do that.
Which meant it was a great hand. Damn him.
That was the kind of game Touya played, though - he liked to corner his opponent and force them to give up. I knew him better than most people, so I had an idea of what kind of seduction he'd use. He would carefully cut off all my escape routes and leave me with no other options but resignation. Sort of like backing me into a stall in the bathroom and pressing me into a corner so I had no choice but to let him grope me. With those really nice hands. Probably while kissing and -
What was it with me and that bathroom, anyway?
I shook myself out of it. No point showing weakness in front of the enemy. "Yeah, okay. I hope you've got a lot of cash on you - I'm a big eater." I grinned. "Hey, how about the winner also picks where we eat?"
Touya nodded. "That seems fair." He set his go bowl to the side again. "All settled, then?"
"I can taste that ramen already," I agreed - feeling much more confident - and pulled out two black stones. "Why don't you nigiri and we'll get this decided?"
And this time, I wasn't going easy on him.
"I resign," Waya said after a brief moment, in a tone that sounded… well, resigned. He looked up at me ruefully. "I thought I was improving, but it looks like you're still ahead, Shindou."
I shrugged. "I've been improving too." Much as I hated to admit it sometimes, Touya's advice was usually really good. Playing against him regularly honed my edge. Waya was good too, but he wasn't anywhere near comparing to Touya.
"Yeah, I guess you'd have to be, huh?"
It wasn't like this was an important match - just an afternoon off in the public section of the institute. A middle-aged lady was wiping down the counter at the front, a few older people were playing games scattered around the room, and Isumi sat to my left and Waya's right, studying the board.
"You were even until you started trying to defend the upper right," he pointed out, thoughtfully.
"And then I resigned." Waya leaned back in his seat, covering his eyes with his hands and making an exasperated noise. "I need more practice!"
"Then I'll have to practice more, too," I declared, also leaning back but grinning instead of making a scene. "So I can keep beating you."
"So you won't make mistakes like this one," Touya's voice said from behind me, and I felt someone lean over my shoulder to point out a spot in the middle of the game.
Isumi blinked at us.
Waya pulled himself upright and shot the now-occupied space above my right shoulder an incredulous look. "Where the hell did you come from, Touya?"
"I was walking out, and saw you in here - less than a minute ago," Touya answered coolly. He was close enough to me that I could feel him talking as well as hear him. People say having someone breathing down your neck is creepy, but those people probably don't know Touya. 'Creepy' was the farthest thing from it.
I could feel my face going red. Not good…
"Well, you could give some warning," Waya replied irritably, rolling his eyes at Isumi as if to say 'can you believe this guy?' "Anyway, that's not a mistake, it's just not a conservative move. Right, Shindou?"
"Uh…" One of Touya's hands was resting on the back of my chair, the fingers set against my left shoulder. His other was still half-draped across me from when he'd pointed at the board, the elbow sitting on my armrest. He felt warm, and somehow shockingly familiar without being unexciting. I had to almost process Waya's statement syllable by syllable, concentrating very hard. "What mistake?"
"'What mistake?'" Waya repeated, giving me a weird look. "Where were you for the past thirty seconds? The mistake Touya jumped all over after he stepped out of whatever pocket of reality he resides in when he's not appearing from nowhere to freak people out!"
"W-Waya!" Isumi shot an embarrassed glance in the direction of my new shadow.
I licked my lips, trying not to look as nervous as I felt, and found my voice again. "Uh, sorry, I just - "
"Excuse me for interrupting your discussion," Touya cut in, still with that cool tone he used around potentially hostile strangers and rude people. "I was looking for Shindou, and didn't think you'd mind."
"Didn't think we'd…" Waya let out a long breath, looking like he was counting to ten - slowly. "Never mind," he said after a minute, and shut his eyes, waving a hand as if it didn't matter. "Go ahead with your… whatever it is you want with Shindou."
I really wish you hadn't put it that way…I stiffened up as Touya shifted behind me, apparently reaching into his pocket for something. For what!? Handcuffs? Condoms? The keys to the washroom where he planned to lock me in with him? Touya wouldn't do anything in front of Isumi and Waya, would he?
I was so caught up in those thoughts that I didn't notice that my face was probably the color of a ripe strawberry and could've fried an egg in five seconds flat. I did notice when Touya reached down toward my lap.
Panicky. That was definitely panicky. And a couple octaves higher than normal.
But that went along with panicky, didn't it?
As it turned out, Touya only wanted my hand, which up until that point had been sitting on my thigh doing not much of anything. By that time, Isumi and Waya were both staring at us as if we'd spontaneously morphed into ten-foot dragons with multiple heads. "Don't lose this - you're the one who wanted the information," my rival said as if nothing were out of the ordinary.
He pried my fingers loose, pressed a sheet of paper with some - at the moment - meaningless symbols printed on it that I would later identify as the address and phone number of some place I'd asked him about a few days earlier, and closed my hand back around it. His touch was surprisingly warm.
My subconscious was really going to have a field day with that one, I could tell.
"See you tomorrow, Shindou," he added, smiled briefly at me, and moved away.
I immediately felt too cold, and resorted to blinking after him until some semblance of order returned to my abused brain.
The fact that I was disappointed Touya only wanted my hand probably wasn't a good sign.
I looked up. Waya and Isumi were both still staring at me.
"Um…" Isumi started out, tentatively. "Shindou. Why…?" He paused.
Waya took over. "How come you didn't tell us?" he asked curiously, leaning forward. "Don't you think we can keep our mouths shut?"
How many ways were there to tell your friends that your rival wanted to get you in the sack? "What was I supposed to say?"
"Try 'I'm sleeping with my rival on the side. By the way, I'm gay.'" Waya grinned at me, obviously finding great potential for comedy in the situation. "That's how I'd put it."
My mind went reeling again. He thought that… "Wait - I'm not - "
"Probably because he knows you don't care much for Touya," Isumi pointed out, with a small chuckle. "You don't exactly keep it a secret, do you?"
"I'm not - "
"Why should I care? It's not like he's forcing me to date him."
"You guys aren't listening!" I pounded my fist on the table in frustration - and managed to knock half the game onto the floor.
"Man, what was that for, Shindou?" Waya shot me a good-natured glare, with a smirk attached for good measure. "Just because we found out your dirty little secret, it doesn't mean you have to throw a tantrum. We didn't even discuss the game yet."
"But I'm not dating Touya!"
"Right." He winked at Isumi. "We gotcha. You're not dating Touya."
"We can keep a secret, Shindou," Isumi assured me, earnestly. "Don't worry."
"I'll only hassle you in private, I swear." Waya sat up straight again, watching me recover all the stones and recreate the game with the still-lingering traces of a grin on his face. "No big deal. Now, about this hand here…"
I slouched back in my seat, leaning my elbows on the armrests and scowling at the board as Isumi commented on some of Waya's moves. This wasn't good at all. No matter what I said to them, they were still going to be firmly convinced that I was trying to cover up my "secret sex life". And I knew just who I had to thank for the whole stupid thing.
For the next couple of days, I avoided Touya's father's Go Salon like the plague. Not that that meant anything, since I didn't really have set days when I went there, but I needed a break. There was no way I could stay away from Touya forever, but a couple of days would be okay.
It made me restless, though, so I invited Akari over one afternoon to play a few tutoring games. She seemed happy enough to agree, but when she actually got there after school, there was this unusual quiet around her.
And it didn't go away.
There was only so long a person can put up with that, and I'm not patient to begin with. "What's with the silent treatment, huh? Something I said?"
She looked up from the board with huge brown eyes that had 'how can you not know?' written all over them, and sighed a bit. "Nothing really. Let's keep playing, okay?"
Well, fine, if you're going to be like that."Okay, whatever."
We played. She stayed quiet.
Two minutes later, I just couldn't take it. "If you're upset, say something already! Do I look like a psychic to you?"
Akari's eyes flashed, and she looked ready to retort, but then she seemed to change her mind. "You didn't do anything - well, not anything bad. It's not important."
Trust a girl to be cryptic about it."If you say so. Let's play, then." I wanted to end the lesson quickly, and get her out of there. There was no talking to her in a mood like that.
About thirty seconds later, she glanced up at me. "Hikaru?"
"What?" I was just a bit short with the reply.
"You don't need to be so grouchy!" she complained, then bit her lip. "I… just… I mean, you…" She paused, and then frowned, as if thinking about what she wanted to say. "Have you ever dated girls, Hikaru?"
I gave her a funny look. Where had this come from? "Don't you think you'd hear about it if I had? You live right down the street; we see each other at least once a week."
If anything, the frown deepened. "I thought maybe you just hadn't told me, or… something."
I shrugged. That might even have been possible, but I doubted it. If I got a girlfriend, I'd be after Akari all the time, asking her what to get as birthday presents and all. "Why the sudden interest in my social life?"
"Um… well…" She suddenly blushed, lowered her head, and looked up at me a bit apprehensively. "I saw two of your friends walking past my house yesterday - I think they were your friends, anyway. They were talking about you. Well, they said 'Shindou', but they mentioned Touya as well, and… um…" Her eyes lowered back to the board again, the red color on her face deepening.
Warning bells were going off in my head. I knew who I'd had over yesterday - Waya and Isumi. And they were talking about me - Touya and me - and now Akari was bringing up whatever conversation they'd had… and blushing…
I started mentally planning out in my head what I'd do to Waya and Isumi when I got hold of them. It didn't look pretty, but it made me feel better.
"Hikaru?" Apparently, my silence was reaffirming whatever she'd gotten into her head after listening to my supposed friends; she was blinking up at me, and her face was still red. "Are you really… I mean, do you… and Touya…?"
"No!" I think that came out a little too forceful; the glare I directed at her actually made her wince. "I am not involved with Touya! I have never been involved with Touya! Waya and Isumi are insane, and I'm not responsible for anything they say about me!"
"Oh." Akari's voice was small; the gaze she directed at me was somehow both guarded and a bit vulnerable. "But, Hikaru… I think…" She took in a long breath, and went on, voice faltering a bit. "I thought about what they said, after I heard. I didn't believe it at first, but then I thought about how you are around Touya, and how you look at him… and… and…"
I stared. This was my oldest friend, sitting in my room telling me that I looked at my rival - my male rival - in a way that was probably more than just friendly.
It was kind of unnerving.
"I-I should go." Akari lowered her head again so that her bangs covered her eyes, and reached blindly for her bag. "I have to be home for supper." She pushed herself to her feet and turned toward the door.
"Wait - Akari!" I grabbed her shoulder before she could go. Maybe I shouldn't have asked, but by that point, I think I needed to know. "What were you going to say? How I look at Touya…?"
She swallowed hard, and wouldn't meet my gaze. "You… never looked at me that way," she said softly, and then pulled free of my hold and all but flew out of my bedroom.
I let her go.
Later, the fact that she said 'never looked at me' rather than 'never looked at anyone else' was going to hit me. I probably wouldn't know what to say around Akari for a while, because it'd never even occurred to me that either of us would ever think of the other as something more than just a friend. She was an old playmate - someone who annoyed me as often as not but who I figured would be there forever. She wasn't someone who made my skin tingle, or my emotions take over my thoughts - she wasn't…
How I looked at Touya, then… that was…
The way Akari wanted me to look at her. Not just as a friend.
My skin felt prickly.
I had to re-think Touya's hand at that point. It had seemed like his objective was to change my feelings for him, so that's what I'd been guarding against.
Now I had a sneaking suspicion it wasn't the changing part he was focussing on - it was making me realize they'd changed.
Defending wasn't going to do me any good now. I needed to attack.
In a situation where you're being skillfully seduced and your subconscious betrayed you utterly, it's hard to think up a decent retaliation strategy.
Honestly. Sitting on my bed trying to be serious when half of my brain was more interesting in thinking up scenarios where Touya persuaded me to just give up already wasn't exactly the best way to get any thinking done.
Making a comeback from an impossible situation was my specialty, though.
A week after my realization - the latest one - Touya's parents took another of their infrequent trips to some place in China. I didn't wait for him to hint around about interrupted games. I just invited myself over to his house. Even if it hadn't fit perfectly with the plan, it would be fun.
"We can order take-out and make a lot of noise when we're discussing games," I pointed out, watching him across the board at the Salon. "I could spend the night, and we'd be able to stay up late. What do you think?"
Touya blinked at me, clearly a bit startled. "Uh… yes. I guess… that'd be okay." He recovered his composure enough to offer a bit of a hesitant smile back at me. It looked good on him - but then again, Touya almost always looked good when he smiled. "We'll have to make sure it's on a night when neither of us has an early game the next day."
"Yeah." And that was pretty much that.
The reason - well, part of the reason - for getting Touya somewhere we'd be alone was so I could ask the question I'd come up with. It wasn't the sort of question people answered truthfully in public, and for the plan to work, I had to give him the option of answering truthfully.
The rest of the reason was just being able to hang out with Touya at his house and not be worried about other people around. But that was sort of a bonus.
That night was going to be the turning point. From that point on, I was going to be the one in control of the game.
Just watch me, Touya!
"A half moku win!" I leaned away from the board and grinned. Beating Touya was always an accomplishment, no matter how many times it had happened before. He still beat me a lot.
But my win just then was probably a good sign.
"I suppose I can see how," Touya admitted, slowly. I wouldn't use the word 'grudgingly', but I didn't get a hell of a lot of praise from him most of the time. That wasn't what we played for. "I wouldn't have thought of that maneuver in the center." He met my gaze, eyes intense. "I'll be ready for it next time, so don't think it'll work if you try again."
"How often have you seen me play repeat games?" I waved a hand carelessly. "I like to be unpredictable, you should know that by now. Besides, most of the time I just - "
"Improvise," Touya suggested, raising an eyebrow to show what he thought of that.
"Come up with a plan based on my opponent's strategy," I corrected him, glaring. "It's better than some pre-conceived notion of how I should play."
"You can play however you like, Shindou, but your style isn't going to change with your moves." Touya pushed himself up, ending the conversation for the moment. "I'm getting something to drink - do you want anything?"
I pushed my irritation aside. "Sure. Get me some of that juice your mom mixes up."
"Yeah, I always forget. Sorry."
Touya tossed an amused smile over his shoulder. "I don't see what's so difficult to remember," he said, and ignored me completely when I made a rude face at him.
"Maybe I've just got other things on my mind, Touya." He couldn't hear me, of course, but that didn't really matter. I studied the game, and grinned again. It was definitely a good sign. I was on a winning streak - if I played the rest of the evening out just right, I'd end up claiming two victories.
Touya was back in just a minute or two, with a glass in each hand. "Here," he said, handing me the yellow-looking one, and reclaimed his seat across the board from me.
"Thanks." I took a long gulp, and made a satisfied noise. "Your mom is the best, Touya!"
He smiled again, sipping his own with less energy and watching me as he did. "I agree."
Time to lead into the question. "Your dad made a good call, huh?" I tried to toss it off as just casual curiosity. "So, what kind of girl are you going to marry, then?"
Touya blinked, and set down his glass before giving me a quizzical look. "Excuse me?"
"When you get married," I clarified, finishing off the rest of my drink as if it didn't really matter. "What kind of girl? Tall, thin, and pretty? Good cooking? The last one would be good for you," I added, with a wicked grin. "Any girl who married you shouldn't be letting you anywhere near the kitchen. Health hazard, you know."
"What kind of girl would I like to marry?" he repeated, slowly, as if he were still processing the question.
I leaned forward a bit, waiting for the answer. "Yeah. Exactly."
"Shindou…" Touya began, then he hesitated, as if he were trying to figure out how to say the rest. I was ready for him this time, though. No matter what move he made, he couldn't get out of this. If he said 'Shindou, I'm gay' then I could nod and be understanding and establish the fact that I wasn't. If he said 'Shindou, it's you I want', I could turn him down - in the nicest way of course. And if he said 'Shindou, I want to marry a blonde girl with a curvy figure and big blue eyes', then I could go on about what I wanted, and we'd have to start acting straight.
Bring it on, Touya. I'm ready for whatever you've got.
"I don't think I'll be marrying anyone in this lifetime."
Thought process: slight delay, but nothing serious. "How come?"
"Well…" Touya looked thoughtful again, one hand raised to his chin in a classic thinking pose. "I suppose you could say it's because of my attachment to Go…" He frowned a bit. "But that's not really it. Actually, it's you, Shindou."
"Me?" Okay… that sort of fit, but the reference to Go threw me. "What's that mean?"
He smiled a bit, but his eyes had turned serious when he looked at me. It was the kind of look I could never seem to get away from, even when I tried - which wasn't often. "You're something I focus on more than just a little. That's the relationship between us - whatever holds our attention and keeps us fixed on each other. I don't use the term 'eternal rival' just to be dramatic; it's how I feel about it."
I stared at him. This… wasn't what I'd thought he would say…
"I don't think any girl would be willing to accept such a small piece of my thoughts," Touya went on, not smiling any more. "And truthfully, I don't want to divide my attention away from you anyway." He spoke with a kind of fervent belief, holding my gaze effortlessly as he forced the words in past my defenses. "Honestly, Shindou, you're everything to me."
I don't think I could've looked away if I tried, at that point. I didn't really want to, though - Touya's eyes were so intense, it was like he was using them to burn his feelings into me and make me understand. I swallowed. "E-Everything?"
He refused to give me a break. "You don't feel the same?"
My subconscious jumped at the chance to respond to that one - as if it'd somehow figured this all out already and was patiently waiting for the rest of me to give it an opportunity to prove it. I could see the image I'd dreamed up when I was younger, the picture in my head of a long grey tunnel with Touya at the other end. That was the place I'd wanted to be, and only because he was there already. All I could see was him; all I ever wanted was to catch him and make him look at me, forever. Even after I caught up, he filled my thoughts and made himself the center of my life. Everything came back to Touya at some point.
And Touya was everything to me.
How… how did this happen?
My vision spun for a moment, and I looked away, suddenly having trouble looking at him. But I couldn't escape it; he was there in my head, a kaleidoscope of pictures filled up with his hesitant smiles, his graceful hands, his intense eyes. The way I felt when he touched me, like I was burning and freezing at the same time and couldn't help shivering. How he looked at me, and how I looked right back at him, wanting him without knowing it and refusing to admit to the obvious even when it was right in front of me.
I… want you. Maybe need you.
…Maybe love you.
Had Touya done this to me?
I sat there frowning at the board as if my recent win had become the focus of my thoughts. He had to have done it! He put these things in my head, made me think like that, made me feel it… He must have done something! Some gesture or action, something that tied my heart to him against my will… It had to be him! It had to!
The stones were starting to lose distinction in front of me. Whatever wild thoughts about Touya's mind-reading, his sneaky actions, his implanting feelings in me I didn't want… I knew…
He didn't do this to me. I… did it to myself.
My fingers clenched against my knees. It was true. I was the one who'd wrapped my thoughts around Touya, and now I didn't have any idea what I'd do without him. My life would lose focus - I'd tacked more than half of myself onto him, and he'd never give it back, even if he could. It was my mistake; I'd slipped before I even knew it was a game, and he'd seen it because he always sees it. I gave him an opening, and he took it.
I'd lost the game before I knew I was playing; there hadn't been room for a comeback after all.
He actually sounded concerned - funny thing, for a guy who probably saw me resigning before I started making my own moves. My chest was hurting; I kept my gaze lowered. "I…"
"Are you all right? Shindou?"
"I have lost," I finished, barely over a whisper. Somehow, acknowledging it sent a thrill through me. It was harder to say I minded.
Maybe I did want to lose…
Touya was silent. I didn't want to look at him just yet, no matter how true that thought was. He won. He beat me. The game that mattered, and he took it. He was going to be arrogant about it; smile at me - point out my mistakes and my stupidity… Damn him. Maybe we could fight over it; I could storm out, and put things off until…
He shifted around the goban, moving to my side so it wasn't in between us any more. "Shindou…" His fingers touched my cheek - just that - and then he was inside my personal space, and whispering into my ear, "Thank you for the game."
I shivered. Couldn't help it. Who could've told me that one touch and a few words could have this much power? I wouldn't have believe it if someone tried…
But Touya is…
"We can discuss it if you want," he went on softly. His breath was warm; maybe that's why I was shaking. Or part of the reason. He took in a breath, and for a second, I'm pretty sure I felt him shaking too. "But I want to know how soon you're giving me my prize for winning."
Just like him, isn't it?I scowled, and pushed him back roughly. "Who says you get a prize? We weren't betting money on this; I never promised you anything. I said I lost, I didn't say… "
"Didn't say what?" He hesitated for just a bit there, then bravely plunged onward as if he weren't embarrassed at all - even though the words came out too quickly for that to be convincing. "You'd sleep with me?"
That was the first time he'd come right out and said anything straightforward about this. I sat there and blinked at him, mouth hanging open. "T-Touya…"
"Just… Just be quiet, Shindou," he said - in one of his serious voices - and leaned forward to kiss me.
I have to admit, it probably wasn't a good first kiss. Not that I knew what a good first kiss felt like, but I'll bet that wasn't it. I was too still, and he was too eager, and I really wasn't ready for his tongue in my mouth at all.
Touya pulled back a few seconds later, breathing just a bit harsh. My eyes felt like they were taking up half of my head. "I'm sorry for that," he panted, and fixed me with that particularly determined stare I saw a lot of. "I'll do better this time."
"Hey, wait a - hey!"
He caught my arms and kissed me again - without the tongue this time. He wasn't soft about it at all, but it felt strange. I wondered why I'd never expected that having someone else's lips against yours would be so… sloppy? That probably wasn't the right word.
Somehow, in the middle of clumsily kissing Touya back and getting fleeting tastes of the inside of his lips, the right word didn't really matter all that much. I know losing really didn't matter.
Not as long as I could kiss Touya like this.
What the hell was I making such a fuss about, anyway?Think about how much time I'd wasted - we could've got on with it weeks ago!
He was the one who pulled back, and he almost took me with him when I leaned forward to keep up the contact. That probably wasn't the right way to do it; Touya seemed surprised, and jerked backward a little harder than he'd meant to. Then he leaned his forehead against mine, trying to cover up that mistake, and we stared at each other. I had to think about breathing for a while before it came back to me.
"That seemed better," he noted, between breaths.
Hearing him say that made it easier to come back to my senses. "I didn't say you could do that," I complained, leaning back away from him to rest my weight on my hands and attempting to put my head back together. I wanted to be calm about this. Maybe he'd won, but that didn't mean I had to make things easy on him.
"But it was good, right, Shindou?"
"Yeah." No point denying that. "But I still didn't say you could. You need to get permission before you go around kissing people." I shut my eyes, then opened one a bit to watch his reaction. "Or maybe you're so spoiled you think you can just take whatever you want without asking."
"I'm no such thing!" His eyes flashed. "You said I won, that means I had a right to - "
"You won the game - the game!" I sat up again, glaring at him in return. "That just means I'll admit it - it doesn't mean you can do whatever you want! Ask before you go molesting me!"
"Very well." Touya's face set, and his voice was steady. "Can I molest you, Shindou?"
I wasn't expecting him to cave so easily. "That's better. You - hey!" He abruptly pushed me back and all but climbed on top of me almost before I could start to respond to his question. Or maybe not… "You're supposed to wait for an answer! Touya!"
The last bit came out sort of squeaky-sounding, but under the circumstances, that was understandable. Most people who had their lifelong rival groping them through their jeans probably would've sounded pretty similar.
"Ah!" I grabbed his wrist, which brought us to a deadlock. His hand wasn't going anywhere, partly because I was keeping it from moving to other areas and partly because I wasn't all that sure I wanted to move it away from where it already was. I was starting to sweat, and my skin felt more sensitive than it should.
What are you doing to me, Touya?
"Shindou…" He sighed, then leaned back, pulling his hand free from my grip. "Maybe we should stop, if you feel uneasy about - "
"Uneasy!?" For some reason, that grated on my nerves - that, and the condescending tone. As if Touya thought I was too immature or too shy or something to do this sort of thing. "I'll show you uneasy, you bastard! Get down here!"
I think I could feel my blood boiling - that'd explain the heat anyway. Or maybe it was Touya; he could always drive my emotions to the extreme. Whatever it was, when I grabbed him by the collar and yanked him down on top of me, the idea of kissing him until he couldn't see straight was way more than just appealing.
Show me your hand… and I'll let you see what I can do!
A small eternity later - not nearly enough time - Touya kissed the corner of my jaw and held onto me as I came back out of it, still panting and experiencing little after-shivers. "Shindou…" he breathed, voice softer than it had been.
That was incredible...
… I wasn't about to tell him that, though.
"I can't believe… you…" I was still catching my breath as I said the words. "… couldn't hold it."
"What?" He pulled back and propped himself up to stare down at me incredulously. "Shindou…?"
"You went and left me hanging, Touya." With my breath coming back, and the heady, floating feeling settling over me, I knew exactly what I wanted to say. "That's pretty inconsiderate, don't you think?"
"You… How long did you expect me to last, this being my first time?" He was getting irritated now, eyes flashing as he stared down at me. "I took care of you afterward, didn't I?"
"Sure, after I got your attention." I shut my eyes and couldn't help a grin. "Next time you'd better do better than that."
Silence for a moment. Touya let out another of those long breaths, like he was frustrated or just resigned, and then chuckled helplessly, settling back down again. I noticed he'd gotten rid of the condom at some point - not that I was looking, exactly, I just happened to glance that way. Anyway, I had a right. "That's a round-about way to say you want a next time."
"I never said that."
"You implied it."
That wasn't worth answering. I opened my eyes and stared lazily at the ceiling, feeling smug for no real reason. Well, maybe there was a real reason - that was my first time having sex, after all, and all things considered, it went pretty good. "Hey, Touya?"
He shifted a bit so he was on his side facing me. "Yes?"
The inkling of an idea was worming its way back into my thoughts - and at the moment, lounging beside someone who was with me on the idea of us being together forever, it didn't seem like saying it could hurt anything.
I shifted onto my side as well, propped myself up on an elbow, and grinned at him.
"So… How do you feel about that bathroom in your dad's Go Salon?"
Opinions? Come on… please?