A/N: My first Hikaru no Go fic, yay! I was kinda-sorta forced into writing this for a fanfic contest for my school's anime club, but I thought, hey, why not? This is the result – a Sai introspective fic. Don't ask why. I'm not sure whether I love it or hate it, myself. Note that I knew nothing more about Hikaru no Go than the October issue of Shonen Jump when I wrote this, so I apologize for any mistakes… flames are allowed. If you do flame, I'll light them up in the neighborhood gas station in the dead of night. cackles evilly

Disclaimer: Hikaru no Go not mine. Obviously, since I have no idea where the series goes after they first meet Yuki Mitani…

Never Eternal

By crazydominodragongirl

If anyone had told me that I'd be stuck in a Go board for a few centuries as a restless ghost with an unfulfilled purpose, I'd have laughed at him and told the guards to please escort him out of the palace. Now, though, it doesn't seem quite so unlikely. More than seven hundred years spent stuck inside a game gives one a lot of time to think, and think I do. I saw as the board, my Go board, was passed around to many, many different people, with me forced to watch, unable to influence the events surrounding me. No human is meant to spend so much time alone, in life or in death, and it's enough to drive one to the brink of insanity. There are times when I yell, scream, and plead to be heard – but of course, no one notices me. No one cares, cares about a single, worn old Go board when there are others out there that were in much better condition.

I'm sure you've wondered, as have many people, why I would commit suicide over a game, just a simple hour of entertainment that meant nothing in the flow of life. I myself often wonder the same thing, when it seems like I just can't take any more before I snap and became a stark, raving mad spirit that no one can see, hear, or care about. Why? It was just a game, even if it was more important than most. No one would kill themselves just because they lost in the final stages of a tournament, would they? No, no, of course not. But in that time… my time, the Heian period… Go was everything, especially to me. It was my passion, my pride… I'd even go so far as to consider it my life. I was good at it, of course, one of the best players of my time, and that made me proud, proud and happy. And I served as one of the Emperor's personal instructors. At that time, nothing in the world could have made life better for me.

But I suppose everything good must come to an end. I don't know what made him do it… perhaps he wanted to gain more power and prestige. In any case, we played a game, and it was only by chance that I saw him cheat. It upset me greatly, to see that anyone would taint such a splendid game; the joy of playing is what really matters, and the taste of victory is nothing without knowing that you played well and fairly. In any case, my concentration broke, and I was too distracted to play to the best of my abilities. And with one loss, everything was taken from me: my pride, my reputation, my happiness, and most of all, my chances of ever being able to play Go again. My life was ruined, and with nothing else to live for, what choice was there but to die? It might have been a gift in a way, disguised so that I couldn't see it, for as a ghost, I am able to play again, until I am content. But how long will that take? Will I go through the ages, watching talented children grow into adult champions before they wither and die, over and over, until I lose my mind from witnessing the endless passage of time? Will I never be able to be happy, my love of Go never diminishing, so that Nirvana is forever closed to me? And when I find another who is willing to accept me, who is willing to help me… will I mourn his death too, as I did that of my first host?

My first host… the child named Hon'inbo-Shusaku. He was so kind and innocent, and I immediately realized why he could see me while no one else was able to – he had the soul of a true Go player. He became an expert, the best of his time, until he no longer needed my help to defeat his opponents. But the thing that I most remember about him were the tears that he saw on my Go board, when no one else noticed them… and the blood he left covering it at his death. They said it was a plague, a disease – that once he came down with it, it was inevitable that he die. I didn't want to believe it, but he just smiled at me and said, "We still have time, Sai. We still have time. We'll play more games. We'll play until you're satisfied, until you play the Divine Move, until you can truly pass on… and then I'll join you in the afterlife." He wouldn't listen to me when I begged him to rest, to regain his energy – it was always, "Just one more game, so you'll be happy. When you're happy, the whole room lights up with joy, so please, do it for me." I could never deny him that. So we played, and played, and, game after game, he grew more and more weary until he could barely lift the stones. And then finally, one day, he looked up from the board. He smiled and me and said simply, "You win, Sai," …and died. His blood spilled on the board, creating a crimson stain that reflected the heartbreak that I felt. I had watched him grow up… I had watched him die… and I couldn't even fulfill his last wish, to meet him after death. Blood mingled with tears on the old, soft wood, and to me, they never fully came out. The stain reminds me of him, every time I look – and I can't help but wonder if all of my hosts, my friends, will meet the same end. I cried for him then, my tears disintegrating before they hit the ground, specters just as I am. And after seeing him change from a child to an adult, and crumple, and die before feeling the full joy of life, I still wonder if it may have been better to live my life out as a disgraced mortal, rather than a miserable ghost. But if I did, would it have been to the same end? Would I have thrown myself into the river, if I knew what awaited me beyond life? Here I go again, with the same meaningless questions. I've had too much time to ponder this, and my thoughts always go in circles. Always in circles…

The past, the present… now, to question the future. If I succeed, if I play the Divine Move, will I truly pass on? Will I disappear out of the world of the living, like a grain of sand in the passage of time? If I stay, trapped here because of one simple mistake, my whole existence will have been for nothing. If that happens, there will be nothing left for me, nothing at all. If I must wait hundreds of years, over and over, before I get to play Go once again, and if all of it is for naught – no, I'd rather not think that way. But if I do leave this world, then I'll leave my friend and host behind, too… and join Hon'inbo in the afterlife. I know he's waiting for me there, and I know that whoever may let my mind join with his in the future will probably miss me… but he, too, will eventually join us, and scores of others, when he dies. After all, he can't live forever, and neither can I stay trapped in this board, doomed to watch thousands of generations fall like wheat under the sickle.

A soft light begins to shine around my Go board, and a voice reaches my ears. "Look right here! It looks like an old blood stain or something."

I gasp softly, hearing a human voice for the first time in over a hundred years. "You can see it?"

"That's what I've been trying to tell you!"

"You can… hear my voice?"

"Huh?"

"You can really hear what I am saying?"

Finally, he has come… finally, someone else with the heart and soul of a true Go player. The light grows brighter, and I shimmer into being in the material world, taking a long look at the boy before me. With that look, I can tell he has incredible potential. Maybe, just maybe… maybe I can go with him where Hon'inbo-Shusaku was never able to go, before his death. And then maybe, I can break this cycle of ages, enter into Nirvana… because, good or bad, nothing is ever eternal.

Owari

A/N: Yes, I know half the info's probably wrong, but deal with it. Review, please… flames not welcome, but constructive criticism accepted. I'd like to know what I could've done better. Like I said… REVIEW!