Title: Next to NetGo
Series: Hikaru no Go
Disclaimer: Characters are the creation of Hotta and Obata
Type: AU. What if Hikaru had continued playing NetGo, and never became an insei (or a pro)?
Notes: Sequel to Upon NetGo
Summary: Hikaru is dragged to the world of professional Go, but you can't make him drink.
"Stop pacing--you're going to wear out the tatami," Akira said.
Hikaru jolted to a stop, staring at him while he chewed on his lower lip worriedly. "Huh?"
"It's just a friendly game," Akira said, pulling Hikaru down to sit next to him. "I don't understand. You've played hundreds, thousands of games on the internet, and you've played dozens of games at amateur tournaments. Why are you acting like a headless chicken over tomorrow?"
"Headless chicken?!" Hikaru turned to him, huffing in outrage.
Akira decided not to point out to Hikaru that shaking his head continuously for the last half hour had made his hair stick in all directions, giving him the appearance of a... demented chicken. Instead, he reached out and smoothed some of the blond hair into place.
Hikaru endured it for a few seconds, then shook his head and stood up, starting to pace again, his arms crossed this time. He looked like a miniature whirlwind in the room.
Akira rolled his eyes heavenward.
"This is serious, Akira!" Hikaru said. "This is the first time I'm playing against your friends! Hell, this is the first time I'm meeting your friends. Who are all professional Go players." His pacing brought him to the end of the room, and he turned around slowly. "When they hear that I'm just an amateur, they're going to eat me alive," he proclaimed.
"No, they won't," Akira said. He didn't have that many friends of his age in the professional Go world, but those that he knew were all... normal.
"Hah!" Hikaru pointed a finger at him. "That's what you said when you introduced Ogata-san to me. And he spent the entire game mentally taking my clothes off."
Akira sighed. It had been a bad tactic, introducing Ogata-san to Hikaru. "I can guarantee you that my friends are not going to do that."
"But!" Hikaru began to pace again. "What if they are? I can't stop thinking about it. Something's going to happen. I can feel it." He started to chew on his lip again.
"I mean, I don't know why. It's just Akira's friends... I'm going to wear my best clothes, and I'm no slouch at Go, but, but..."
The sound of his full name brought Hikaru up short. "Huh?"
"Sit down." Akira patted the seat next to him.
After a moment of hesitation, Hikaru went and sat down. He blinked in surprise when Akira pulled him close. "Okay, let's try this. I want you to think as hard as you can about all the things that can go wrong," he said, then as Hikaru's eyes widened, he added, "for fifteen minutes. After that, you've got to promise me to stop being... so jittery."
"How-how are you going to do that?"
"I have my ways. All right? Start."
Hikaru shut his eyes firmly. After a few seconds, his arms wrapped around Akira. Soft mumblings came from his lips, as he squeezed his eyes tighter and tighter.
Akira watched the clock. "Time's up," he said softly. "Stop thinking."
Hikaru's body went limp against him, and his eyes opened slowly.
"Let's go to sleep," Akira said, and kissed him.
Akira resisted the urge to tap his feet, and was tempted to berate himself for not thinking that this might happen. On the other hand, how was he to predict the movements of one Shindou Hikaru, excitable high school student by day, infamous NetGo player by night?
He raised a hand and banged it loudly on the door, before shouting, "Come out of the bathroom, Hikaru!"
The refusal was instant, petulant and negative. "No!"
"You can't hide in my bathroom forever," Akira tried for a reasonable tone.
"Yes I can! At least until your friends go home!"
Akira paused. Clearly, it was futile to continue this line of argument any further, since it would only lead to an increasingly childish exchange of "No!", "Yes!", and "Eat my shorts!" Strategy was essential. He retreated silently.
Ashiwara stopped him in the living room to ask, "This is the first time Hikaru is coming to one of your discussion groups, isn't it?" and Akira had to concentrate on not blushing as he asserted that this was nothing but an ordinary discussion group, nothing to make a fuss over, really. Ashiwara still looked too amused for Akira's peace of mind as he went off, saying something about NetGo.
When Akira got back to the closed (and locked) bathroom door, he could hear Hikaru calling out plaintively, "Akira?" at five-second intervals.
Standing outside, Akira squared his shoulders. "Are you ready to come out now?" he asked pointedly.
There was a pause. "You're here!" Hikaru said in a tone of discovery, then whined, "Where did you go?"
"Oh," Akira said, keeping his voice casual. "I went to get the keys."
Heavy silence ensued.
Akira continued, "My mother keeps a spare set of keys for all the locks in the house, you see, and she's always careful to put them in safe place." He waited, but there was no response. "It would be much better if you unlocked the door yourself, Hikaru," he said. "It would be discourteous of me to force my way in."
A longer pause ensued, before Hikaru said, "But your friends..."
"My friends are all nice people," Akira lied. Well, he reasoned, they could be nice. "I mean, you've met Ashiwara-san, right?" he said quickly.
Hikaru's voice trailed off into a mumble, though Akira thought he caught something about "Mr. Puppytails" and "...name doesn't suit his Go..."
"Hikaru?" Akira said when there had been silence for a while. "It'll be all right, I promise." Part of him wondered why it was that someone as friendly as Hikaru seemed to be so apprehensive about meeting other Go players.
It was so soft that Akira didn't realize Hikaru had replied at first. "It'll be fine," he said, lowering his voice as well. "After all, I'll be here. If they get too much, I'll throw them out."
"Okay." There was the sound of a huge sigh. "And you've got keys anyway..." There was a click, and the bathroom door opened to reveal a scowling Hikaru.
"Thank you," Akira said solemnly, moving to one side so Hikaru could step out.
Hikaru started to move, then stopped. "Wait," he said.
Akira froze, noting that Hikaru's other hand was still on the door, ready to slam it close anytime.
Hikaru looked up and down him. "I don't see any keys on you," he said.
"Well," Akira said, his heart in his mouth, "take a look at the door you just unlocked."
Hikaru turned his head to do so. Surreptitiously, Akira took a step closer, just in case...
After a split second, Hikaru's eyes widened. "Wait, it's a deadbolt! You don't need any key for that! You tricked..."
Akira snagged Hikaru's arm and pulled him close for a kiss.
-------to be continued----------