Disclaimer: The words are mine, the characters aren't.


Chapter One - Into the Dragon's Lair

"Remind me, once again, how I manage to get in these situations." Shivering, Isumi Shinichiro dutifully followed the other two members of the former 'Team Insei' as they struggled through the snow.

Hikaru muttered a soft curse as one of his sneakers was promptly frozen by a blast of wind. "How were we supposed to know some freak blizzard would be coming?"

"Oh, I don't know." Isumi paused to pretend to look studious. "Perhaps because the weather reports today all said 'blizzard coming at two o'clock'?"

"And yet, you followed us," Waya pointed out sarcastically.

This was injust. "You told me not to worry because we would definitely have finished playing by two! But no, you just had to ask for a rematch after than old man beat you at a two stone handicap, right?"

"Hey!" Hikaru interrupted their bickering. "I think Touya's house is close to here; let's see if he'll let us stay there for a bit!"

"Eh?" Waya would have issued a violent protest, but his teeth were chattering quite hard, and he valued his life more than his pride. At this rate, he would get down on his knees and beg for Touya Akira to let him inside. The three boys scampered over the snow to the rather impressive-looking structure standing sentinel over a white-blanketed yard.

It took Isumi a few times to get his fingers functioning enough to press the doorbell. The three of them waited.

And waited.


Right when they were about to give up (no matter how nice and warm the house looked through the window), they heard running footsteps, and a voice calling out, "Shindou!"

Wearing a look of absolute bewilderment, Touya Akira raced up to the bizarre trio. "What are you doing? You all look frozen."

"Yeah, well, t-that's great," Waya muttered back, shivering. He eyed Touya's gloves covetously.

The 6-dan inserted a key into the door and opened it. "Come on in." He led in way into the wonderfully warm living room. He disappeared into the kitchen, leaving the three boys to thaw by themselves.

"Right, so now he just abandons us," Waya snapped. "So polite, honestly."

Isumi sighed. "You'd be complaining even more if he was here, Waya."

"...point conceded..."

Hikaru was glancing avidly around. "Oi, TOUYA!" he bellowed at the top of his lungs. The other two exchanged dubious glances.

Touya poked his head around the corner. "What?"

"Your parents are out, right?"

"Yes, they're in China."

"Can we stay here tonight? I mean, there's an ice storm outside, subways are closed, etc."

Touya's head disappeared again.

Waya blinked. "Is that a no?"

A few seconds later, the 6-dan reappeared, holding four steaming mugs of tea. He handed them around, smiling as he heard the sighs of satisfaction. "I suppose you can stay here, but how'd you get stuck in the storm in the first place?"

"Waya's fault," Isumi replied, jerking a thumb at his friend. "Long story."

"Oh." Touya nodded, and sent Waya one of those politely condescending I'm-rich-and-perfect-and-you're-not looks that pissed him off to no end. Not that there was anything he could do about it; Touya could always kick him out of the house if he protested.

"Sooo." Hikaru drained the remainder of his tea and leaned back in the chair. "What d'you guys want to do? As a warning, the only games Touya has are Go and NetGo."

"What's wrong with that?" Sounding sorely offended, their host shot Hikaru a virulent glare. "Maybe if you concentrated more on Go, Shindou..."

"I do concentrate! You're just...obsessed." Deciding that that was a perfect retaliation, the 4-dan propped his feet up on the immaculate table and leaned back in his chair.

He was rewarded with a flat glare, along with a flicker of Touya's eyes from his feet to his face and back. There was obviously a hidden meaning behind that glance (Touya's eyes were practically yelling 'GET YOUR FEET OF THE TABLE, MORALLY DEFECT LOSER!'), but Hikaru chose to ignore it. "You know, Shindou, you were supposed to meet me at the Go salon today."

"I...was?" Oh, shit.

"Of course, I heard about the blizzard, and called your house to say I couldn't make it. Your mother answered."

He didn't see where this was going.

"And she happened to say you were out with some friends for the day but would probably be back home at six."


"Now, maybe my memory's lacking, but I was under the impression that we scheduled to meet at four." His emerald eyes flashed.

Hikaru opened his mouth, closed it again, and removed his feet from the table to placate his rival. "Well, you see, er, I figured you, um, weren't stupid enough to go out in the blizzard, so, er, I didn't need to worry about meeting you...?"

"Are you calling me stupid? Because I just went out to leave a message at the Go salon in case you were stupid enough to actually go."

"Are you calling me stupid? Bakayaro!"



"Inconsiderate jerk!"


"Egotistical arrogant supercilious ignoramus!"

Waya blinked. "You can sort of tell who went to Kaiou, can't you."

"Yeah." Isumi glanced from one to the other. "Er, are they friends?"

"I DON'T HAVE TO TAKE THIS! I'M LEAVING!" Hikaru stood up, considered the blizzard swirling outside, and stomped into the kitchen.

Touya followed, still streaming insults. "IF YOU WANT TO LEAVE, THE DOOR'S THAT WAY!"



"...no, I don't think they can be counted as friends," Waya replied.

Hikaru stormed back in, Touya trailing, both of them having made a full circle around the Touya home. "I'M GOING TO SLEEP!" the 4-dan bellowed.

"You CAN'T!" Touya yelled back. "It's four o'clock, you haven't had dinner yet! If you go to sleep now, you're going to wake up at midnight for a snack that consists of everything in the refridgerator!"

"Like I'd eat your cooking!"

"At least I can make toast without gettting burnt!"

"Are you kidding? Your toast's black!"

"Yeah, but my fingers aren't burnt! Last time you made toast, you hopped around for an hour whining that your fingers were falling off!"

Hikaru blinked thoughtfully. "Hmm. Was that the time where you turned on the stove and set the oven mitt on fire?"

"But when I turn on the stove, at least the flame goes up, instead of a cloud of carbon monoxide!"

"That was once! Once!"

Touya glared at him. "I had to sleep in the backyard for days."

"Well, serves you right." The 4-dan slumped down on the couch and began flicking through stacks of tsumego books absently. Touya stormed out again; after a pregnant pause, during which Waya and Isumi both tried to think of something to say, Touya reentered.

"There, I've ordered ramen from the shop nearby. Happy now?" He tossed his head angrily.

As if he had been thrown onto a trampoline, Hikaru bounced out of the couch and tackled Touya. "You're the best!"


"Eh? What did you say?"

Pushing back on his rival's chest, Touya groaned. "I said, get off me! You're heavy."

"Did you just call me fat?"

...and on and on it went...

In the end, all four of them ended up sleeping in Touya's room. The other three were terrified of touching anything that belonged to Touya Kouyou, out of a nonsensical case of extreme paranoia. Besides, Touya's room was large enough to accomidate all four of them - Waya muttered about spoiled brats for a while - and they spread out the extra futons.

It was around midnight when Hikaru woke up, and though he'd eaten three bowls of ramen, his stomach was grumbling. He glanced around, deciding whether it would be best to leave the shelter of the thick mink blanket Touya'd provided all three of them with, or stay under the covers and ignore the growling.

Glancing over, he blinked. Touya was curled up into a tiny ball under a thin blanket, shivering.

"Eh?" Hikaru tried to figure it out. It took him a bit of time that he realized that a) there were three people in the Touya household, which meant b) there would most likely be three winter blankets, which meant c) since he, Waya, and Isumi were guests, then d) as a good host, Touya would be obligated to give them the thickest blankets, leaving himself to freeze.

If Hikaru had been completely awake, he would never have done what he did. As it was, he tossed half his blanket over his rival - grinning as Touya quickly wrapped himself up like a cocoon - and snuggled in next to him.

Closing his eyes, he went back to sleep.

"All right. Granted, I don't like Touya, but even I have to admit this is adorable."

It was the voices that woke him. Grumbling slightly, Touya shifted, then froze as a pair of arms hugged him tighter around the waist. Perhaps he was still dreaming. Yes, that was a plausible explanation.

He blinked open his eyes, stared straight into Hikaru's face - which was about three milimeters, give or take a few nanometers, away from his - and screamed.

Naturally, Hikaru woke with a start and leapt ten feet into the air. "T...T...Touya!"

"What the hell were you doing on my futon?!"

Waya exchanged a dubious glance with Isumi.

"You were freezing last night, so to prevent you from dying, I had to share my blanket with you, no duh!"

"Like you care whether I die!"

"Of course I do! Without you, I'll never reach the Hand of God!"

"Oh, is that all you see in me?"

"Yeah, that and a stubborn brat who can't bring himself to admit he needed a blanket!"

Both huffing, the two whirled and glared at Waya, deciding to vent their anger on someone else. "Why are you just standing there? Go make us breakfast!"

"Yeah!" Hikaru echoed.

"What?" Waya backed away subtly, pushing Isumi in front of him. "Hey, Isumi, you heard them! They want breakfast! Hurry up, now!"

Isumi blinked, decided that everyone else in the room was insane, and that he himself was potentially demeted, as well. Giving up on the thought of leading a normal life, he meandered over to the kitchen and began tossing random ingredients into a pot.

He was just about to finish cracking the eggs when a violent screech caused him to drop the eggs - shells and all - into the pot. Ignoring the mess, he followed the sound of the scream to the front room, where Waya had pulled open the curtains.

The windows were entirely blocked by snow.

They were snowbound.