2. - This will not follow canon, but the main points will be the same (Sai's disappearance, Touya/Hikaru rivalry -if a little more intense -I hope).
3. - This, as most of my fics will be light angst, and generally not too cheerful, but don't worry, I like if not completely happy, fair ends….
Disclaimer: No I don't own Hikaru no Go or any of the characters, Hell! I don't even know how to play Go, and I'm a miserable student with little money, time and properties, so please don't sue me…
Chapter one: Of encounters and bitter loses
The small hospital looked almost cheerful in the soft morning light.
Wide green eyes fogged with pain stared at the people surrounding him, but the face he was searching for wasn't there. "...Mama…" he called and someone gently smoothed his fringe "shh… she will be fine…"
So many voices….
" one survivor…."
"We're losing him!"
Who was speaking?
His mother had told him that they were going to Okinawa. At first he had remained on his seat, peacefully staring at the road for about ten minutes before growing bored. Then, he had started to jump on his seat "Hikaru stop doing that or you will cause an accident" his mother had told him with her serious gaze, so he dug a small hole in the seat, trying to investigate the mysterious and soft thing that it was made of.
"Hikaru stop doing that!" still not listening, he got up, stretching his body. Big green eyes alight with mischief stared at his mother and he began to sing a tune about a bird that his teacher had taught him. "Hikaru please! Be quiet!" his mother scolded him, so he changed the tune and started a new one with glee, singing at the top of his lungs, "Hikaru for God's sake! shut up or I will leave you in the middle of the road!" He looked at his mother to see if she was beign serious, but he was suddenly being shoved to the floor. Hard, and there were noises, loud noises, screaming, and pain.
Why were they screaming?... he was flying... his back was aching... and he was in the middle of the road, like his mother told him…. where?
Where was his mother...?
"It will be only a few weeks Hikaru, you understand that... Don't you?" His father was saying but he didn't answer. He didn't like to talk anymore. His mother had left him alone because he was too noisy …maybe if he was silent enough…
Shindo Masao sighed at his silent child, the accident seemed to have stolen his voice. Too occupied with his wife's funeral and a new promotion on his work, he had not paid much attention to his son, who usually stayed in his room most of the time without making a noise.
And now he had to travel to Hokkaido for a few weeks. Masao looked at his father and bowed once. "I'm leaving now, please take care of my son, father" The old man bowed silently and took the small child's hand " Don't worry Masao, Hikaru will be just fine … be careful and have a good trip ".
Hikaru looked at his grandpa and the old man smiled at him "Hikaru would you like some tea?" Asked his grandpa, but he shook his head lightly, and the man sighed softly. "What about if I show you all my treasures? You have always wanted to see the loft right?" This time the child did smile and nodded.
The old man smiled gently at the boy and grabbed a small hand between his."Just don't tell grandma. Ok?"
The loft was dark and dusty but to the child's mind it was mysterious and in need of exploration. Several dozen of pots, parchments, plates, and a very dusty box full of old clothes ... half hour later, a large goban came into view, and the child stared at it.
"Ah! I had forgotten about this! It's a Goban, it was my brother's, see? It's for playing Go" The child was staring at the goban so intently that the old man suddenly had an idea. "Nee, Hikaru. Would you like to learn Go?"
"Hikaru hurry up! Grandpa is waiting!" Several stumps and stomps later, a flushed six years old came into view, a small backpack hanging in his hand. "Ready Hikaru?" Asked his grandpa and the child smiled and nodded, and the man smiled sadly. It had been more than a year since the accident and his precious grandson still wasn't speaking, his cheerful attitude and general tendency to mischief had returned; if only in his grandpa's house and presence.
While now more open, the child was just a shadow of his former cheerful and cocky self; now he was just generally quiet, and extremely attentive to everything the man said, as is afraid of missing a word or a gesture.
Just as they entered the ancient house the child sprinted to the inside, chuckling, the old man walked peacefully knowing exactly where he would find the child. Just as he had expected he found him sitting in front of his goban staring at it as if waiting for something, Go, the only thing that seemed to really occupy him. "Remember back straight, and keep in zeiza. Good." He instructed in a mock serious voice and he child beamed at him, urging him to take the other seat.
"Yes, yes we may start…"
At first, the child had not seemed too interested in the game it was only after a nightly conversation that the child had started to really love the game.
The night so fresh and quiet seemed perfect to just sleep outside, with the summer in full the cool air was a blessing. Heihachi looked at the dozing child curled in a blanked at his side."Nee Hikaru, did you knew that the board of Go can represent the sky?" The child looked at the dark sky and the shining stars and pointed at them with a questioning glance "That's right, the stones are the stars, if you just glance at them, they seem unorganized, but when you learn to read them you can see their beautiful pattern, the same as Go, with Go you can make your own sky…Of course that's my theory…" The child opened his eyes wide and looked once more at the night and then at his small hands not quite believing that his tiny fingers could do such thing
"With those" Said the man reaching for the small kid's hands "you can reach your very own stars". The man laughed at the amazed look in the child's face and smiled gently at him "Well that's just my theory... but I believe in it from the bottom of my heart."
END OF FLASHBACK
After that, the child learned the game with a new passion. The man smiled at the child and said with a mischievous smile "What about if I put you some puzzles? If you can answer them, then we will have ramen for dinner!" Hikaru smiled and nodded.
Three hours latter a soft hand in his shoulder surprised him and he looked up at the gentle face of his beloved wife. "Still playing that?" She asked and the old man smiled at her, and so did the child, the old woman gave the kid a cookie.
"I swear you are just as bad as your grandpa Hikaru, but that's all right!"
That night, the child woke up in the middle of the night, it wasn't a nightmare but a feeling the responsible for his abrupt awakening, stepping out of his futon he walked silently around the house, then outside, finally reaching the courtyard.
The loft stood enormous and silent as always at the side, and inside... something... calling him.
Small feet carried him to the heavy door to find it slightly open, just enough for him to pass through. Once inside, he was overwhelmed by the silence and darkness of the place, but that call was stronger, it was like a soft voice... compelling, pleading...
He climbed the stairs and looked around the dusty space, searching, feeling... he then spotted the old goban, it was as old and dusty as the last time, but now, there were brownish stains in one corner.
"….Can you…..?...You can hear me?"
The child stayed frozen in his place, there was a voice and it wasn't his grandpa's or his grandma's.
"Can you hear my voice?" Asked again that voice and the child started searching for the one who was speaking, but he could only see darkness and old boxes. "Can you hear my voice?" The voice was rising in volume and the temperature was dropping in the room.
The child started to retreat, still searching the owner of the voice, he tried to scream but his throat was closed with fear "You can! You can!" The almost frantic exclamation startled him and the child froze again, his feet were not responding "Oh great god! I thank you!" suddenly, a tall figure appeared In front of the goban, dressed in white clothes, pale skin and long hair, he was smiling with delight and looking at him, he wanted to run, but his legs still refused to move. "Once more….I will come back …again" The man came closer and a swirl of images and sounds came to him, the floor was moving, and his legs were finally moving if just for bending and letting him collapse on the wooden floor.
The morning came cold and clear, and with it the screams of one Shindo Heihachi and his distraught wife, the sound of steps in the stair woke up the child who whined as his head started spinning. "Hikaru! What in Gods name are you doing here?" The man crouched and took the half-awake child in arms, a small frown appearing in his face at the flushed and sweat covered face. A trembling hand touched the small forehead and hissed "Hikaru what were you thinking? I will call the doctor! don't worry"
"Oh dear!" said his wife and she took the child in her arms cradling him with tenderness.
"Just a cold, plenty of rest and a lot of fluids and he should be fine in a couple of days" Smiled the doctor and Heihachi smiled in relief. "Thank you for your time sensei, I'm very grateful that you could come so fast."
The young man was calm and polite and Heihachi liked him instantly "It was no problem, if anything changes just call" leaving a prescription in the old man hands he then followed the grandfather to the exit.
"Thank you, I will"
Hikaru opened his eyes, he was very tired and he had a headache, but what startled him was the man at his side, the same man that had appeared in the loft, he whimpered in fear and tried to stand up. "Calm down child! I'm not going to hurt you !" Maybe it was the guilty expression or the soft voice, but the child calmed down and nodded slightly. The man sighed and then smiled gently and bowed "My name is Fujiwara no Sai, and you are?"
"Hikaru" The child's eyes widened when the man nodded, he hadn't spoken out loud! How? "I can hear your thoughts it's not necessary for you to talk, I'm a ghost" the child started trembling again and the man started waving his arms in alarm "But a peaceful one I won't hurt you!" Three panic attacks from both parts later and the pair started "talking" enthusiastically Heihachi entered the room with a tray in his right hand. The child eyes went immediately to the ghost but Sai simply shook his head slowly "He can't hear nor see me, only you can... well, I think... it was like that the last time...".
"Hikaru I brought you some soup, would you like some?" The boy smiled and nodded, now that his fever was gone, he was famished. Heihachi smiled sadly "What in the gods names were you doing up there my boy?" Hikaru stopped eating and squirmed in his seat, his grandpa looked so sad, he didn't like that.
"Maybe you should answer him" Said Sai with a gentle smile, but child simply hung his head. His grandfather sighed with resignation and stood "its fine, I'm not mad Hikaru, I know you don't like to talk but.." He started but then he shook his head lightly "You will talk when you feel like it, don't you?" He said finally and smiled gently, and then he got up and took the half eaten meal with him.
"I will come back later, rest now. Grandma is making some super special remedy for you, so I better go to help her. Sleep well"
"You can't talk?" Asked Sai carefully and the child blushed but didn't answer. He covered himself with the covers and closed his eyes.
2 years later…
Autumn came with gentle but cold winds, Shindo Hikaru, now a proud 7 year old was sitting in the middle of the park, staring at the ground. At his side was resting a small mountain of pebbles and small rocks, and in front of him was a 19 x 19 square board made of chalk.
"Exactly!, see? It wasn't that hard! Now let's play!" The child nodded happily and cleared the improvised board. At first, Sai had been heart-stricken when Hikaru had to return with his father. No Goban, no stones, nothing...
It was only after Hikaru's idea of using squared notebooks as a substitute of a board, that they could make some progress, of course then came the agonizingly slow process of teaching a small, increasingly restless boy, the rules and bases of Go. He could only sing praises for the child's grandfather for being able to make some progress.
What had started with tears -most from Sai's part- frustration outbursts -Hikaru's, and nearly ten mayor fights per day, had evolved into a kind of big brother-small brother relationship.
"..Sai?..." Hikaru looked at his brother ghost with a small mischievous smile "I asked my grandpa….and…he said that there is a Go salon near here…"
"No" Said the ghost with a serious gaze, even if his eyes were wistful.
"But!..." The white fan was closed with a dry sound and Sai tried to assume a severe expression "You're in no age to being wandering the streets alone"
"But I won't be alone, you're going with me!" Sai sighed and smiled sadly "Hikaru, you know that if something happens I won't be able to help you….and it doesn't matter if you think otherwise, you still don't know how to travel alone!" The man finished his speech with a firm nod which lost all its power when the eyes of his child started to blur with tears "Hikaru? Don't cry! I'm sure in a few years you will be able to go by yourself"
"But…I want to go now!...because you can only play with me, and it must be boring, and I want you to have fun at least once!" The ghost smiled warmly and a small chuckle escaped his lips.
"Hikaru don't worry….I have eternal time…one, ten years won't matter…I like being with you, and teaching you it's fun in its own way….What about if you ask your grandfather to take you the next time?" He said to try to pacify the child.
Green eyes stared at him with a somewhat panicked gaze "But….if grandpa is there, then you might get discovered, and then he will try to exorcise you! Like he tried with the goban after I fainted!" The ghost paled even more with that memory. It looked that Hikaru wasn't the only one in the Shindo family with a fine perception for spirits, more than once the old man had caught glimpses of him, and after Hikaru had fainted for a second time the man had reached to the conclusion that his dear grandchild was being harassed by evil spirits.
"Mmm but I can watch, and I can stay out of his way…..Don't you worry, now, what would you do if I attacked here?" He could wait.
Sometimes Heihachi wasn't very happy that Hikaru would talk once more. After three hours of pleading and asking, and lots of big and teary puppy eyes later, his grandpa had agreed to the idea, he took Hikaru to a small salon near his house, the child had bounced like a rabbit all the way; but once inside the building, he didn't speak a word, his selective muteness making an appearance. He sighed, the child just clamped to anyone who wasn't him, his wife or doctor Anko.
"Hey Shindo!" A hoarse voice called, and the child jumped behind his grandfather. A tall man with glasses approached the pair and looked curiously at the child. "Uh…such a small thing, is this the grandson that you speak so much of?" He asked.
"Aye he is, his name is Hikaru, he is my only grandson, he asked me to take him to a go salon but I think he is still a little shy... Hikaru you're not going to say hello?" The child spied behind the gray clad legs once and went hiding again.
The man laughed softly "Well I would be scared too if I was in the middle of a bunch of old geezers, you should have taken him to some Go class or a child's tournament, well…. Hikaru isn't it?, don't worry kid, everybody here is too old or too fat to get you, so don't be afraid, and if someone gives you trouble call for the old Yamato and I'll come! okay?"
"I'm sure there won't be a problem Yamato, Hikaru is just a little shy…"
Forty minutes of introductions, and fussing over the child, later, Heihachi started a game against another man, and where no candy, treat, cookie, smile or joke could succeed, the simple sound of the stones calmed the child, and soon, the battle on the board had the child's attention.
"He sure is a calm child; my own grandson can't stay still even ten minutes!"
Heihachi laughed and looked fondly at his grandson, "Neither can Hikaru, but when Go is concerned he can endure hours, in everything else he is a real tornado" The child seemed oblivious to the comments, the large eyes were just focused on the board, lips moving as if talking to himself, and sometimes nodding to nonexistent commentaries. A young man with eyeglasses approached the table, a curios expression on his face.
"A good game here?" He asked leaning forward "Shirakawa-kun!" Said one of the old men smiling at him "Eh Shindo! This is my grandson; he just became a pro this year! He is doing a favor to his old man and came to teach you lot some tricks so I won't be so bored playing you!". He said with a smile.
"Grandpa!" Said the flustered man, but the rest were laughing "Leave him dream boy! He is just as crappy as the rest of us!" Called out a man in a green shirt. More laughs at the comment followed until a soft voice cut off the jokes.
"Why did the game stop? It's almost done!" The gazes came to the small head still staring at the board.
"Such an impatient boy! Don't worry lad this game will last at least another half hour!" The rest nodded, but the child frowned confused.
"But… It will only last five more moves….maybe eight if black don't resign sooner…"
A few laughed at this, a tall man with a bright green shirt came forward. "Well Shindo, seems like he doesn't cheers for you." "Told you the boy was intelligent!" "Sure he is!" Said the men and Hikaru blushed and hung his head.
"Hikaru! Don't give munitions to this lot against your poor grandpa!" The child nodded hastily but the man reassured him with a pat on his head. "Mmm this is going to last some more….. Hikaru why don't you ask Yamato to give you some magazines…? You said you wanted one of those the other day, and they sell some beginner's books, choose one or two and I'll pay later"
The child's eyes sparkled and nodded following the other man to the counter where a pile of Go's magazines and newspapers were piled up. He never noticed a pair of eyes looking at him with surprise.
Fifteen minutes later a collective mix of groans and cheers announced the end of the game "Je! Looks like the brat is a seer Shindo, you lost!"
"He just was lucky!"
"Na! It was just a fluke! Right Shirakawa?" The pro was looking at the board with a mix of shock and surprise, he smiled nervously and nodded "Yes….I think so…how old is he Shindo-san?"
"Hikaru? Seven just this spring why?"
"N-no is just that he seems very interested in Go, may I play with him?"
"No! Shirakawa-kun you promised to play some Shidougo with us!" Groaned a voice on the background but Yamato came back and slammed a fist on the table silencing the lot "Hey! Shirakawa-kun and the boy are guests so behave!"
Hikaru came back looking at the board and then smiling at the air on his right, but if someone found this strange, no one said it.
Shirakawa came to a crouch in front of the child, smiling gently. "Hello Hikaru, my name is Shirakawa-kun, tell me, would you like to play with me?" The child stared at the man and then at his grandfather who nodded encouragingly "Um….I…y-yes…"
Only then the pro noticed two books clutched strongly in the boy's hands. "Are those the ones you chose? May I see them?"
The child extended the books a little hesitantly as if afraid of losing them "Don't worry I'll return them…mmm….modern Go rules?, the best fifty matches ever? Hikaru aren't this a little too advanced for you? Can you read yet this kanjis?"
The child blushed and shook his head "No, but I can see the kifu, and I can ask grandpa to read me the rules…." The pro nodded if a bit skeptical.
"What about puzzles you know those?, I love them even if I'm a pro. They can be really fun" Said the man and the child answered with a shaky smile.
"Y-yes grandpa bought me a book of those too…." There was a spark of interest in the green eyes, one that interested the pro and made him somehow expectant.
"Great! What about if you resolve some for me?" Without waiting for an answer the man started walking towards a table, behind him the child was looking at the ghost for help.
"Sai?..." Asked the boy as he seated himself. "What is a pro?"
"I don't know…." Said the ghost eyeing the man. Shirakawa seated himself and smiled at the child.
"What if we start with these?" he said placing several stones on the board.
"Sai, do you want to play?" Asked the child while nodding to the other man. Sai looked at the board and declined the offer "No, its fine, you play..."
One hour and several problems later, a large hand shook the child gently "Hikaru it's time say goodbye to Shirakawa-san" The child nodded to his grandpa and bowed to the other man.
"Grandpa! Look at these books! Can I have them? Please?" The old man only gave them a glance not bothering reading the titles "Sure kid, look, the owner gave you these old magazines" He said showing him a large paper bag "enough to keep you occupied some centuries!"
The pair walked out of the saloon chatting softly "He is a nice kid isn't it Shirakawa-kun?" Asked the pro's grandfather. "Shirakawa-kun is something wrong?" He asked then, his grandson was still eyeing the board with a calculating expression.
"Tell me grandpa you know how long Hikaru has been playing?"
"Mmm let's see…I thing about two years ago, Shindo teaches him when the father leaves the kid at his care, the mother, Shindos's daughter in law, passed away and Shindo takes care of the child frequently"
"How often he plays with him?"
"I think…. when he goes visiting his grandfather, I would say twice a week, but sometimes Shindo doesn't see the child that often, he was telling me the other day that he might buy the kid a goban for his birthday! Imagine that! A kid of that age with a goban! He is just going to use it for playing with his cars or something"
"What about Go classes? Is he going to any?" Asked the man ignoring the joke.
"Uh? Classes? No, he doesn't; you see, his father doesn't like the child to spend that much time on the game…Why the sudden interest in the child? Is he that good?" Shirakawa nodded, and signaled a small group of stones in a corner signaling a resolved puzzle. "That problem….advanced Insei kids would be having trouble resolving this, but it only took that child about ten minutes….he is more than good…is Shindo-san a very good player?"
"Shindo? Well he is fine I guess….he won a few tournaments a few years ago, nothing extraordinary, a little better than Yamato but not by much…you have played Yamato right?"
"Just a little stronger?... he doesn't have a pro as a master… only two years…and once a week…God!"
"You think he could be an Insei? Or a Pro?, Shindo would be bouncing with joy! He sure loves the brat!"
"A pro…yes maybe…yes he has talent and a lot of enthusiasm….Would you mind calling me when he comes? If I'm not too busy I would like to come once in a while and teach him some things, he has talent but lacks of some basic knowledge…then we will see about the Insei thing.."
"Sure thing, Shindo is a good player, but a very bad teacher, if the kid is as good as you said then he needs all the help he can get, don't worry I'll call you"
Six months later an excited Shirakawa appeared in front of Shindo Heihachi's house, he had asked about a child of Hikaru's age to enter the Insei program, and while there was no rule against it, there weren't many children who could pass the exam at that age…
After knocking several times and waiting two hours finally an old lady appeared on the house by the left. "Are you looking for Shindo-san dear?"
"Um yes my Name is Shirakawa Kudo sorry to bother you, Is Shindo san not at home?"
The old lady gave a sad sigh and shook his head heavily "So you don't know? I'm sorry dear, but he is no longer with us…you see….. There was an incident a few weeks ago; it was in the middle of the night. It's a calm neighborhood so nobody really expected for this…" The old lady looked in mourning at the house and continued in a sad tone.
"Nobody heard a thing, but Youko from next door saw some people leaving the house in the night, and she told his husband. Shindo-san never has visitors in the night… so they were worried, and the door was left open…so they went inside…and found Shindo-san….they called the cops… the police thinks that it was a robbery." Shirakawa was starting to sweat at the words, he had knew the old man for a long time, and the words were making him feel an horrible dread. " Shindo-san…oh God!…he was tied to a chair…..death, a heart attack they said, his wife was also dead someone pushed her down the stairs..."
A teardrop appeared in the woman left eye, which she hasty dried, she was looking at him in a sad and heavy way.
"They found the child at her side…. he would not say a thing ….poor thing….the father came three days later, he was in a business trip."
The notice came crashing at the man and he found himself feeling weak on the knees, his grandpa had told him about the mother's boy dying when the child was five…and now this… "Excuse me…is there a way to contact Shindo-san's son?"
"Umm no dear I don't know, you see he moved, I think he got a new job…in China I think…"
REVISED 24 05 11! I'm so proud of myself