NOTES: Just like real world objects, in programming, there are what we call exceptions. These are errors that occur while the program is running. This would mean that these errors do not have anything to do with the logical flow of the program, which is the reason why they are called exceptions. For instance, you have created a program that enables users to input numbers and then get the quotient. However, if ever the user would enter zero as its divisor, an error will occur. Division by zero is not acceptable in programs as it is not possible in the real world (any number divided by zero is undefined). When a program encounters this kind of error, it would stop running. That is why programmers have to handle exceptions.

Try, Throw, Catch and Finally are programming keywords in Visual I'm not sure if it's the same with Java and C. These keywords are used in exception handling. Keyword Try looks for exceptions, Throw enables programmers to create their own exception, Catch well, "catches" exceptions should they ever occur while the program is running and Finally, whatever codes that are inside this block, are executed whether exceptions are found or not.

I just want to explain these things before you read this fic. You know, to better understand my analogy twisted as it is.

Exception Handling

Try

They say that for every rule, there is an exception.

For Akira Touya, exception was Hikaru Shindou.

How many people had the nerve to wear their hair like Shindou did? And he had been sporting that hairstyle since he first met him when they were twelve. How many Go players could turn a bad move to a good one? Shindou was new to Go unlike Akira who had a former meijin for a father. How many people had been chased, literally and metamorphically speaking, and still not know what the hell was going on? The answer, it seemed to Akira, was in the ratio of one is to a million. The said one exception was Shindou.

From the moment that Akira started to chase his rival, he had felt something other than the need to catch up. And when Shindou had started to chase him, the feeling just grew. It was something vague when it first manifested. Eventually it evoleved into something similar to admiration and respect. Then, one day, he woke up finding that he was more than halfway in love with the person he least expected to fall for. He acknowledged this and kept it inside. It was something, in his opnion, for Shindou to notice on his own. With a little push from him, of course.

From the way things were going, said "little" push was ineffective.

Akira never knew that he had the potential to be a stalker until now. And he was doing a superb job at that. He knew Shindou's schedules and when he had the time, he watched him play. Shindou claimed that he popped out of nowhere but in reality, Shindou was just so oblivous that he didn't notice Akira following him. He knew that after a game, Shindou would eat ramen at a nearby ramen house. They were approaching the fifth of May and he knew that soon, Shindou would going to Hiroshima. Akira didn't follow him there though. It was a funny thought considering how much stalking he had already done but he felt that he should respect Shindou's privacy in this case.

In the end, Akira realized that his success at being a stalker was attributed to Shindou's being dense. He was thwarted but not been totally put out. After all, he could be very determined. But there were times when he felt like pointing out everything to Shindou.

When he declared that Shindou would win in a match even before the game was over didn't that give Shindou an idea of how great his faith in him was? And just how many boys sought out another boy in the said boy's school to play Go? Was it a daily occurance to see two boys literally chasing each other, or a boy dragging another boy? Wasn't it enough that he stood up for him even though they just argued not less than thirty seconds ago?

Wasn't the message clear?

Unfortunately, it wasn't for Shindou. Damn.

So, why not just tell him?

When Akira first realized his true feelings for Shindou, he immediately ruled out confession. Some assumed that when people confess their feelings, everything would fall into its place. But confessions were never as simple as just saying "I like you". They were usually followed with a "why?" and then a "what next?" Both questions were equally hard to answer and even harder to put into the right words. Because when feelings run deep, they could not be reached with words. And if one should speak of his feelings, words would fall short and the magic would die.

That was why Akira wanted Shindou to hear nothing and see everything.

Throw

It was an odd thought but for Akira, the elevator was a place of refuge. All he had to do was to push the "close" button and he would be alone again. Usually, he lingered long enough to answer questions from the staff of Weekly Go but tonight was an exception. He had to get up early tomorrow to get ready for the Go exposition.

But he would have to miss his game with Shindou tomorrow at his father's Go salon. Cutting some slack was not an option; his treacherous sense of responsibility wouldn't allow him to. He wondered briefly what Shindou would do tomorrow.

As if on cue, the elevator doors opened and his rival stepped in. Shindou greeted him with his big, bright smile. "Hey, Touya."

Akira smiled back, though his smile wasn't as big as his rival's. God, he didn't want to be that obvious (like as if he wasn't that obvious already). "Shindou. Had a game?" But he already knew the answer to that.

"Nope. Just checking out something."

There was a touch of sadness in his voice when said those words. Akira wondered what Shindou "checked out" that could possibly made Shindou dispirited. "I'm sorry I won't be able to make it to our game tomorrow." They both knew why but Akira wanted take the shadow in those eyes. Without being too obvious, of course, since it was his primary objective. Oh, who was he kidding? But it seemed effective on Shindou, thank God.

"It's ok, me and Waya had plans already." And the bright smile was there again.

Yoshitaka Waya.

Akira and Waya had never been on good terms before. At first he thought it was because of what happened with the pro exams but recently, he was thinking that this hostility was because they both want the same thing: Hikaru Shindou.

There were times when he would overhear the two conversing about him. Waya dissuaded Shindou from befriending him, pointed out his arrogance so many times during those talks. While his heart warmed everytime his rival defended him; his animosity towards Waya grew.

Anyone who attempted to make Shindou look at any direction other than his was considered a threat. And so Yoshitaka Waya was now on his "threat list". He was only second place on The List though because Shindou could still stand up against him.

The first on The List was Ogata. Yes, Akira had practically known him forever and that was what so dangerous about him. The moment that Ogata dragged Shindou to meet his father, Akira knew he was up to something. It was seldom that anyone would catch Ogata's attention and when someone would, it had something to do with Go. Shindou had that plus the good looks. And, heaven forbid, there was also the age factor. Akira truly believed that Ogata was a pedophile. The moment that the man complemented him as "cute", Akira knew already. There were times when it felt like Ogata was trying to set him up with Shindou and there were other times when it felt like he was after Shindou. Alone.

Or maybe he was just paranoid. But Shindou told him that Ogata was creepy which was the reason why he was first on The List. Whatever advances Ogata would make in the future, Shindou would be defenseless. Akira swore he would protect his Shindou.

Top three on The List was Akari Fujisaki. Even though Shindou didn't exactly open doors for her or did something that would make her feel special, she was still the closest to Shindou and had known him the longest. That made her a major threat.

There were still other people on The List (every person that Shindou met or befriended was catalogued in ranks) but most of them cannot be either reached or cannot get close to Shindou. Not while Akira was here.

But that wasn't his concern now. What he wanted to know was why the words "plans" and "Waya" were used in one sentence.

"What plans?" Akira couldn't help it; his voice had that dangerous edge.

Ever oblivous, Shindou answered. "Isumi, Waya and me are going to Go salons to play. Just like we did during the Insei days."

Isumi…Akira mentally went through The List and yes, Shinichiro Isumi was there but at the far end. Compared to Waya, he was no threat. But still there was the question of when Waya thought of this plan. Akira's eyes narrowed into slits.

"When did he ask you?" Before or after he knew that I was leaving? It was a crucial question—if Waya had asked before he knew, Shindou would simply reply that he had other plans even though the said plans would not be pursued later on. But if he did ask after he knew of the Go exposistion and oh so conveniently suggested making plans with him because Akira wouldn't be there, then that was another matter.

Yes, Akira knew that he was being paranoid and overtly obsessive but he didn't care. Why, for God's sake, did Shindou had to be so naïve?

"No, I asked if I could join them." Shindou corrected.

Akira blinked. Twice. "Oh." For a moment, he felt ridiculous for reacting the way he did earlier. Still it didn't hurt to be a little cautious.

Shindou seemed to notice his reaction and laughed. "Don't worry, Touya. I'm still your rival."

Shindou always manage to say the oddest yet best things at the right time. If Akira wasn't in love with him before, he was sure that he'd fall in love with him right now.

There was still one flight before they reached the ground floor when the lights flickered. Then, elevator stopped. Akira had to lean against the wall to support himself. When he looked up, the emegency light was on.

"Blackout?" Shindou was looking at the emergency light as well.

Akira just nodded silently. When the silence stretched longer, the weight of their situation became clear to him.

Here he was trapped in a small yet accommodating elevator with his rival, whom he was secretly in love with, without a Go board between them or a single kifu to provide him any distractions. And, God, they were so alone.

Akira started to panic. He couldn't do this, stay in the same room with just Shindou. At least when they were playing, even if they were alone, he could concentrate on the game. But if inched a little closer now, their shoulders would touch—

No, no, no! Akira mentally kicked himself.

"Honinbo Shuusaku's Go seemed to dance." Shindou commented, looking at something distant. The shadow was back again in his eyes.

Akira pushed his worries aside and listened. So, Shindou was checking out kifus. There was a mixture of pride and sadness whenever his rival would speak of the legendary Go player. Atsushi Kurata had once told him that Shindou was a Honinbo Shuusaku fan. But there was so much passion behind every word Shindou had said in defense of the said Go player that one would think that they knew wach other intimately.

"Do you know why?"

"Why?"

"Because he wasn't alone when he was climbing up to the top." Shindou sighed deeply, casting his eyes down. "Why must it be a lonely climb for me?"

It tore him apart to see like this. He might as well be giving away himself with what he was about to do next but he'd give anything to make everything all right. Even if he would be found out. "When you climb up, there will be people ahead of you, those below you and those beside you so it's almost never lonely at all." Akira paused, catching Shindou's eyes. "But if you feel that you can only see your hands, look up. I'm just across the Go board."

There was a pause. Akira was fairly sure that he had been found out.

Then, Shindou smiled. "You know Touya, if I were a girl that would have passed as a proposal."

If there were any dignified way to shake Shindou until he came to his senses, Akira would have done so. As it was, he remained silent. Half of him wanted to just lash out, "If that wasn't a proposal, what do you think that was?!" while the other half assessed the situation presented to him.

He said that he wouldn't confess. But the opening was completely Shindou's idea. He was asking, in a way. Should he answer?

He thought about The List and how far ahead those people were in getting closer to Shindou. Yes, maybe he should answer.

"It was." Akira said simply, ignoring the way his hands suddenly gone cold.

There was long pause.

Then, finally, Shindou echoed. "It was?"

"It was." Akira confirmed. When he met more silence, he felt the need to explain further. "I am…" he hesitated, wondering what term to use. "I have been hinting as to what my feelings are for sometime, Shindou. The question would surface sooner or later." He meant to say "courting" because no matter how he looked at it, that was what he had been doing all this time. But somehow, this word would not make things easier for someone like Shindou.

Shindou's eyes widened. "You have? Since when?"

Akira gauged Shindou's reaction. Apparently, his rival did not seem adverse to the fact that he was being courted by another guy. Shindou's reaction was akin to the reaction of one who had been caught unaware.

Oh, God, he doesn't know anything. Akira was torn between laughing and crying. But then, he was a very determined person after all and so he pressed on. "Never mind that. What I'm trying to say is that…

"I like you, Hikaru Shindou."

It was simple. It was lame. It was the truth. It was the best that Akira could give to a very oblivous Shindou.

"You like me?" Shindou looked confused. Then, agitated. One of his hands was over his heart as if to calm himself down. "Akira Touya likes me. God, that's so scary."

No "why". No "what next?" either. But then what did he expect from an exception?

There was so much more that he'd like to explain but the power was back on and they were again moving. They reached the ground floor after a few seconds.

And then, Shindou was already steeping out.

"I have to go."

There was no disgust in his tone or any sign that Akira had been turned down. There weren't any sign that he had not been turned down, either. The look on Shindou's face was contemplative and more confused than ever. It was as if…

He didn't understand everything that transpired inside the elevator.

Damn you, Shindou.

Catch

Akira Touya likes me. God, that is so scary.

It was not the fact that another boy confessed to him that got Shindou scared. He had been very particular. It left Akira wondering that if it were someone else, what would be Shindou's reaction?

Perhaps, Shindou had every right to be scared. He was a stalker; he was very possessive with The List as a very good manifestation and with the way he was glaring at anyone who stepped into the Go Institute, as if saying, "Back off! You're stepping on my aura!" anyone would be thinking twice about appraoching him. Yes, Shindou had every right to be afraid.

However, if Shindou would be the one to enter the building, he was ready to shift from the Bug Off Look to the accusatory "Are you trying to avoid me?" glare. Perhaps, it was not an accusation at all. It did ring a little true. No matter how much Shindou got scared with his little confession, he didn't have to avoid him. How could he fix things up with him if he kept on avoiding him like that?

A week had passed since the elevator incident but they had never made contact with each other. And not for Akira's lack of trying.

Shindou did not show up in his father's Go salon even after the exposition. At first, Akira thought it was because of their busy schedules. During those days when they had games, it was seldom their schedules would coincide and when they did, Akira had never seen him. Akira concluded that Shindou arrived late, ended the game quickly and seeing that there was no point in lingering, he took off. Where he disappeared to during lunch breaks was a mystery. That was when he started to have suspicions.

And so, Akira started calling Shindou thinking that surely, his rival would be home especially if he called up during the night. His calls, however, were answered by Shindou's mother. Usually "He's not yet home." or "He's already in bed." were her standard reply. Except for that one night. Akira could have sworn that last night it was Shindou himself who answered the phone. It was him, saying with his nose pinched "He's already in bed." while his mother was asking in the background who was on the phone.

Sometimes, Akira had to wonder if Shindou knew exactly what he was doing.

No, he did not barge into the Shindou household to demand why Shindou kept avoiding him. It would be disrespectful to Shindou's parents. And it would damage the little chance, if there really were, that he had with Shindou. But it didn't mean that he didn't have a hard time restraining himself expecially after that phone incident.

But today, Shindou had no choice but to face him. Akira would be his oponent. There was no means of escape anymore.

"He will not be here."

Akira did not even bother to look at the man beside him. He knew it was Ogata, clad in his usual white suit. Who else would possess immunity and revel at his glare?

"Shindou keeps doing that for a week now." Ogata continued, pushing his glasses up. He was staring at the entrance as well.

"Forfeiting games?" It was almost time for the game.

"No. Completely disappearing whenever you are around."

"Are you saying that he's avoiding me?" Akira asked in a voice that could freeze a volcano.

Unaffected as ever and probably enjoying himself too much, Ogata answered, "No. I'm saying that Shindou is present so long as you make yourself scarce."

"So you're saying that he's avoiding me." There was no sense in confirming—it was too late. Akira's eyes were already narrowed down to slits.

"Of course not. Whatever lead you on to believeing that?"

But of course, the desired effect was already in motion—Akira was heading towards the door. Blinded by his rage at Shindou for avoiding him and at himself as he was yet again manipulated by Ogata, he bumped into Ashiwara while the young man was calling out cheerfully to his opponent "Let's have lunch together later, Saeki-kun!"

"Akira-kun! The games are about to begin, where are you going?" Ashiwara wondered.

"Out to catch Shindou."

Finally

Perhaps Akira was overreacting. The deduction came from Ogata after all, this man who was full of ulterior motives in everything he did. If Shindou wasn't able to make it to their game, then he must have a logical reason. Maybe something like a family emergency.

When he finally found Shindou, however, all reason and logic escaped Akira.

There inside a café were Shindou and Waya sitting across each other. Waya was leaning a little too close to Shindou and, as far as Akira could make out from his position, his lips were very close to his rival's forehead.

Before he knew it, he was already marching in the said shop and to the table where the two Go players were seated.

"You're forfeiting our game to have coffee with him?" Akira knew he had no right to accuse, much more to feel jealous. He had only confessed after all and Shindou had yet to answer. But he was beyond reason right now especially with Waya returning his glare.

Shindou visibly jumped and turned to look at Akira. "T-Touya…" he stammered. In the next beat, he returned Akira's accusation. "Hey! You're not supposed to be here."

"Yes, I hope that tells you something." Akira muttered in reply.

"Look, Touya." Waya cut in. "Why can't you push aside your stupid sense of rivalry for once? Shindou's been hurt." Stressing his point, he pointed at Shindou's forehead.

It was just a scratch peeking from the band-aid that Waya probably placed earlier, nothing to worry about. But since control and reason left him the moment he entered the café, Akira reached out to touch his rival's forehead. His hand, however, did not make contact because Shindou already turned away his head.

"It wasn't my fault, you know. Stupid train just had to break down when I'm going to be late. And I had to run and then I tripped—"Shindou stopped suddenly as if he realized what he was doing. He stood up abruptly; his chair had almost been knocked over. An accusing finger was pointed at him. "Hey! It's your damn fault anyway why I'm late!"

"My fault?" Akira asked incredulously, his temper rising. "Why would it be my fault?"

"If you didn't say those stuff, then I would've—"Shindou suddnely clamped his mouth shut and clutched hadfulls of his hair. "Gaaaaah! Why the hell am I even explaining these things to you?!" With that, he ran out of the shop.

Akira lingered a little longer to glare at Waya. I'll get you later.

Waya glared back at him as if to say, I'll be waiting.

The little face-off might just be a product of Akira's immagination but he knew, he just knew that Waya had ulterior motives on bringing his rival to this café. They did not need to be inside the shop just to put the band-aid—there were two cups on the table.

When Akira went out of the shop, he found Shindou walking briskly on a direction that led towards the Go institute. He increased his pace to catch up with his rival. Shindou must have sensed that he was following thus, increasing his pace, which led Akira to increase his pace even more. Finally, Shindou broke into a run. Growling, Akira ran after him.

"Stop chasing me!" Shindou shouted, not caring about what the passerbys would think.

Throwing away his dignity, Akira shouted back. "Stop avoiding me, then!"

"I'm not avoiding you!"

"Then stop running!"

Then, Shindou did stop running. Akira was so busy chasing him that he only noticed now that they had ended up in an alley.

"I'm not avoiding you." Shindou repeated firmly, finally facing him.

"Then why didn't you show up at my father's Go salon?" Akira demanded, still trying to catch his breath. It wasn't everyday that he engaged in an actual chase.

"I was busy." Shindou replied simply.

"You avoided me the last time we had separate matches at the Go institute."

"I just went in a little late and left very early."

"I called you at home." Akira knew all of Shindou's arguments and so before his rival could speak, he had beat him to it. "And don't tell me you were already in bed or you weren't home because I happen to call you last night and it was you who answered the phone, Hikaru Shindou. With your nose pinched."

Shindou looked as if he would protest but didn't pursue it. They both knew that Akira had him in a corner.

Which only left Akira more frustrated.

What was wrong with what he was doing? Was it wrong to demand an explanation why he was being eluded when he deserved it? Was it wrong to make this boy whom he had been secretly chasing for so long finally see that his feelings were sincere, that he meant well?

What was wrong with that? What?!

"Touya, sometimes, you are such an insensitve bastard. You just dumped your feelings on me and you expect an immediate reply?"

…except maybe that.

Akira just had to wonder how Shindou managed to turn the tables so suddenly whenever he thought he already had him.

The words felt like a physical blow to Akira. He had been so preoccupied with those people on The List that he failed to notice that he was already pressuring Shindou. He didn't even bother to wait for Shindou to sort his own feelings and generally get his world back on its own axis.

"Oh." Was the only reply that he could muster right now. He had been, in a way, defeated. His explanations could wait. After all, there was still tomorrow and the day after that. Akira was a very determined person after all.

Shindou sighed, his features softened. "I'm not mad, Touya. I just don't understand. Why are you chasing me?"

Ah, finally. The dreaded question, the one that could take the magic away. But it was a turning point for whatever was happening right now. The answer to this question would give shape to everything. So, Akira looked into Shindou's eyes and answered truthfully and with all his heart.

"Beacause it's lonely on the top."

The words meant total surrender, something his pride would not let him do. Before. But if took Shindou total surrender to finally see, then, he could have everything.

Shindou was silent for a long time. Then finally he said, "Oh. I see."

In another person's view, the reply would sound aloof. But Akira could see understanding in those eyes and now he was sure that Shindou could finally see. Perhaps, Shindou also knew the feeling of needing just one other person.

"Well, they always say that there's always room at the top." Shindou was walking past him and out of the alley. "You'll just have to come after me some more." He turned and gave Akira a playful grin.

It was tempting but Akira refrained himself from kissing him right then and there. Instead, he followed him out and asked. "And if I catch you?"

"We'll see."

Not a yes but not a no either. Yet another exception. But somehwere between those words, there was a promise.

Or maybe, Akira was just reading between the lines. This was Hikaru after all.

Akira smiled inwardly. Shindou was Hikaru now.

"What if someone else catch you?" Akira wondered, remembering those people in The List.

"Trust me Touya. You have my full attention."

Akira stopped in his tracks. The words were not meant romantically, that he knew. But it still gave him that warm feeling inside.

Hikaru always say the oddest yet best things at the right time. With those words, Akira could fall in love with him all over again.

"What are you standing there for? If we hurry, we could still make it to our game. The institute's not really far from here."

Akira shook his head and resumed his steps. "Not even Waya?" He couldn't help it—he was possessive.

His rival looked at him as if he grew another head.

"Fujisaki-san?"

"She doesn't even play Go well!"

"What about Ogata—"

"Don't even go there." Hikaru visibly shuddered.

Akira laughed. Perhaps, he did not need The List anymore. Hikaru's being dense should make him secure enough.

…then he remembered Ogata's smirk before he left the Institute earlier and Waya's "I'll be waiting" glare.

Before he knew it, Akira was already running through The List. It didn't hurt to be a little cautious.

end

MORE NOTES: Finished. I think there's a grace period of one hour before a player forfeits his game. If there isn't, then let's assume that there is.

I love stalker, possessive Akira. Don't you? And I really believe that Ogata is a pedophile. ;p

If you have a copy of Suntok sa Buwan (by Session Road), do play it. It's the song I got hooked into while writing this. See how it turned out.