Go Fish

Waya: Little Fish

"I'm strong, ain't I?" is what Waya used to say to the schoolyard bullies when they lay in the dirt at his feet. They would look up at him and hate him, and the small kids would look up to him too. Waya liked being looked up to.

Waya had always been a strong boy.

As an insei he'd been strong too. Not at first, of course, he'd had to start at the bottom like everyone else - clawing his way through the ranks, pushing others down to pull himself up - but he'd always known he'd make something of himself, eventually. At the same time he'd also known his own limits, knew that this insei pond he swam in was small and only meant to be a gateway to bigger things, and the bright future he was striving for was still somewhere far off.

Maybe that's why Shindou pissed him off sometimes.

Shindou never understood the rules of the game no matter how many times Waya explained them to him. For Shindou there were only big dreams of swimming with the big fish, even when they'd first met and Shindou had been the smallest of the small fry.

Shindou never knew how small he was because his strength had always cast ripples across the ocean.

Perhaps, Waya was beginning to realize, it wasn't about strength and weakness at all. For Waya it was about being small. Small and craven and grasping, jealous of Shindou's success, guilty for taking Isumi-san's spot in the pro exam, and above all scared of all the big fish in the sea. Even Ochi had more pride than Waya - Ochi, the arrogant little shrimp who locked himself in the bathroom when he lost. Ochi, who had not shied away from a match with Yashiro and who had paid the price for it.

"I'm strong, ain't I?"

From here, Waya thought he could see a glimmer of the ocean.

Touya Akira: Big Fish

When Touya Akira looked at his father he saw the ocean.

"The surface of a goban," Touya Kouyo had once said, "conceals many things. Only the surface is calm."

At the time, Kuwabara-sensei had given the Meijin a significant look and replied, "Still waters run deep, you mean? Don't credit yourself so much. Not everyone can be as boring as you."

But Touya Akira had not attended to Kuwabara Honinbo's words that day. Kuwabara Honinbo was not Touya Meijin. He did not have his strength, and so every day Touya reached for that perfect balance between attack and defence, between the blacks and the whites on the goban and the spaces between so that, one day, he too might become as strong and deep as the ocean.

Or that's the way it was before he met Shindou. Shindou, whose Go was sharply imperfect and who never aspired to balance, only greatness. Shindou, who was always moving, never predictable, who touched Touya with his imperfections and made him move farther and faster and, yes, more rashly than he ever imagined he would.

But what surprised him the most was that, somewhere along the line, Touya Meijin was touched too. His Go became young again and Touya knew that it must have been Shindou's doing. Because this was what Shindou was all about - strong tides and swift currents at the surface and secrets lying still and deep below.

When Touya Akira looked at Shindou he saw the ocean.

Hikaru: Gone Fishing

Once upon a time, Shindou Hikaru had reached blindly into the ocean and pulled out a miracle named Sai

Not long after that he had reached in again, blind as ever, and found himself a rival named Touya.

Not long after that Sai had disappeared into the ocean.

And Hikaru had wondered for a long time - wondered where Sai had gone, why Sai had gone, wondered if Sai felt this painful feeling in his chest, if a ghost could even feel pain and did he know how much he'd hurt Hikaru when he'd left? And from there the only thing he could feel was Sai, Sai, I miss you. He had wondered for a long time, but not so long in retrospect - because, inevitably, the tides of his life began to move again and memories of Sai now brought him to smiles rather than tears.

It was only on the fifth day of the fifth month of every year that Hikaru allowed himself to wonder if Sai was lonely.

"Go," Kuwabara Honinbo once said, "is a game played by two."

If Hikaru had been there to hear him, Hikaru would have agreed. But Hikaru had not been there to hear him.

"Go fish," Hikaru's mother said, "is a game in which the object is to make matching pairs."

And this time Hikaru was there to hear it.

It was stupid, he realized as he reached into the messy pile of cards (the fish pond, his mom called it), to compare this simple game of luck to his beloved Go. There was no strategy in it, no graceful meeting of minds that left him breathless and almost pained with its beauty. Even the cards felt all wrong in his hands, flat and lifeless and unpolished.

But hadn't he been simple and stupid and lucky when he'd found Sai and Touya? He had known nothing and perhaps he still knew nothing, because every time he played he realized how much farther he still had to go.

Once upon a time and forever more, Shindou Hikaru reached into the ocean.

Authors Notes:

This is my second story with "Fish" in the title. I must be obsessed.

Am not satisfied with this story. Words weren't coming out right. Thematic flow all messed up. Get it, thematic flow - like water and fish and all that? Ha ha, I should be shot. In other news, Hikaru no Go was the first manga to ever make me cry.