A/N: I've been playing around with this idea in my head for a LONG time; ever since I first finished reading the series actually… and I started writing this story awhile ago, but didn't get around to finishing the first chapter until now…so, enjoy:)
Edit: This chapter has been edited but nothing has changed plot wise from the original. I just cleaned this chapter up a bit, fixed some tense and grammar issues, and reworked a few sentences that were a bit awkward. Hopefully it's better now then it was. ^_^
Chapter 1- Silence
Dare to reach out your hand into the darkness, to pull another hand into the light. -Norman B. Rice
There's something chocking in the silence of a hospital. Some hospitals were loud, and bustling with the sound of nurses rushing frantically past the door every few seconds, but not Sai's. On slow business days Sai's hospital is as silent as a crypt. On slow days Sai feels as if he's already dead, boxed up in a coffin, and six feet under. On the quietest of days Sai wishes that he were in a big city hospital where the doctors never rested because it seemed there was always someone sick or dying. Were he in a loud hospital bursting with life he could have imagined the people bustling about, and he could make-up faces to go with voices, and stories to go with faces…
But Sai's ward was deathly quiet. In silence, there are no voices to envision faces for; there is only a hush in which there is only room to think. And whenever Sai stopped to think he inevitably thinks about shattered dreams, lost opportunity, regrets and the events that had led him to his current predicament. The past is something gone, something you shouldn't linger on, but for Sai, it was all there was that was worth anything anymore. The present only held the white, white ceiling of his private room, a single clean hospital bed, and blank walls hidden behind bright flowers, cheerful pictures, and clean, peppy colors meant to brighten his day.
It could also be said that his present held the clothing in the drawers, or his belongings that were packed away in various corners of the room, or even the goban that sat motionless on the table beside him gathering dust. But Sai didn't consider them a part of the present: they were the past, his past. And as the past is, the things around him were intangible in a way. He could not touch them, or hold them as he once had, as he could not touch or hold the past. The past was gone; or rather it had been ripped rather violently from him. Often, he dreamed of the day that had been the end of everything: the day when his world had been torn in two.
…Even before that day Sai had always hated cars. They were smelly, loud, and expensive things that Sai didn't see a need for. He had always taken the subway back in those days to get to where he needed to go. After all, the only three places he ever went were the grocery store, his apartment, and the closest Go Salon. He didn't need to waste money on a car considering how little traveling he did. Sai had always thought cars were dangerous, so he avoided riding in them…but despite his avoidance of cars whenever possible, it was a car that ended up destroying his life all the same.
It had all happened so fast, and so quickly, that Sai had a hard time remembering all the details. What he did know, was that on that day he had been simply crossing the street on the way to the subway to get to his favorite Go Salon when his life had been ripped away in an instant. It was the usual story: an inebriated man at the wheel of the car, speeding down the road unaware of everyone and everything—including Sai. The car had hit him so suddenly that Sai hadn't even had time to feel shock or pain before the world went black. But Sai sometimes wished he had felt the pain in his limbs upon impact. After all, it would have left him one last memory of what it was like to feel. Ever since that day, Sai had not once felt any amount of sensation in his arms or legs. The doctors had told him that he probably never would again. The accident had taken away his ability to move…but it was not so much moving that he missed. What he missed were his arms. If he could have his arms back he could play Go again and then…
…But that was only a dream; he'd never play Go again, and he'd never reach the hand of god as he'd dreamed he would as a boy. Sometimes as Sai sat there in his room silently he wished that someone would come along, open the door and smile in at him…but whenever the door did open, it was only a nurse, and usually, the nurses went about their business silently, not even acknowledging his presence. And while Sai's personal trainer was never anything but sweet and kind…it was her job to act as such.
Sai's existence was a lonely one indeed, and sometimes Sai wondered if silence could kill. If it could, it would not be Sai's high susceptibility to disease—another thing brought upon by the accident—that would kill him in the end, but the choking silence.
…But in the dark void that seemed to be Sai's life, there came to be a glimmer of light…
One day, Sai was informed by his usual nurse that she would be moving to a new hospital, and that his new caretaker would be a nurse by the name Shindo Mitsuko. At the time he had been indifferent simply because he was sure that Nurse Shindo would be just like every other nurse, silently going about her business… but upon meeting her, he discovered that she was different from all of the others. Nurse Shindo liked to chatter. She could have talked for hours and hours, and still had something to say. She was kind too, in a motherly way, and fussed over him. She was forever asking how he was when she came in to visit him each day and if he felt comfortable or wanted to talk about something. When Nurse Shindo came, for the first time, a bit of the silence was filled if only a little bit. But Sai was even thankful for just that small bit of happiness in his life, for it was all he had. Yet sometimes he still longed for the silence to be filled completely, and for the seemingly empty part of his heart to be filled with joy once more; little did he know however, that all his wishes would soon be answered in the form of a short little energetic 9 year old, with an almost non-existent attention span.
When the door opened to his room, Sai always expected that it would be Nurse Shindo's smiling face peeking in, so Sai didn't even glance over when the door opened one afternoon. He merely waited for the nurse to give him her usual greeting…
…but it never came. In fact, Sai didn't even hear the door close. It appeared that his nurse was merely was standing in the doorway, staring into the room. Curious as to why Shindo-san hadn't come in yet, Sai turned his head to look at the door. To his surprise however, it was not his nurse who stood at the door, but a rather small boy with bright wide eyes and black hair with bleached blonde bangs.
"Ah, hello there." Sai greeted pleasantly, confused as to why a young boy was standing in his doorway, "Can I help you? Are you lost, or looking for someone perhaps…?"
The boy eyed Sai for a moment, and then, as if he had decided that he deemed the older man trustworthy, he replied, "I'm looking for Mommy." He told Sai, coming into the room at last and letting the door close with a click, "Mom's a nurse." He explained, "And the lady at the table said Mommy was your Nurse, and that she might be here, but she's not." The boy pouted, "How am I going to find Mommy now?"
Hearing a twinge of sorrow in the boy's voice, Sai acted quickly, not wanting to have to deal with a sobbing kid, "Well, your mom usually comes up to see me around this time of day, so…if you want to stick around and wait for her, she just might show up sometime soon." The boy immediately lit up at that, and agreed readily to the to wait in Sai's room for his mother. And so he sat…and sat… and sat…
1 minute passed and the boy started to fidget.
2 minutes, and he looked horribly bored, but as though he was still willing to wait.
3 minutes, and the boy seemed to have grown tired of waiting, and began to glance around, looking for something to entertain himself with. As the goban on the table was one of the few possessions that Sai leftlying out in the open, the boy's eyes predictably landed on it.
"What's that?" he asked, pointing at the board curiously. The boy examined the board as if it were a strange, alien object he wasn't sure he should touch.
The child's antics made Sai smile as he answered that the strange object was a goban.
"Oh." A pause. The look on the boy's face showed that he clearly had no idea what Sai was talking about. "What do you do with it?"
"You play Go on it."
Another pause. "What's Go?"
"…A…strategy game." Sai told him, hoping the simple explanation would be enough; it wasn't. Simple explanations were never enough for kids.
"Is it fun?"
"…Well, I think so… yes, it is fun."
"How do you play?"
"Ah… it's a complicated game, and it takes years to master, and some people never really master it…and besides, it take a great deal of patience…"
"I can be patient!" the boy protested, "and I have time cuz' I'm waiting for Mommy."
Sai sighed, "I…suppose I could try to explain it if you bring down the board."
The boy obliged, and eyed him expectantly. "Now what?" he chirped, "Can you set up the board for me?"
Sai laughed uncomfortably, "It doesn't work exactly like that, and… I'll just have to describe what you need to do." The boy looked at him quizzically. "I can't show you how to do it myself with my own two hands; I'm quadriplegic." The boy's blank look told him at once that he had to elaborate. "I can't move my arms, or my legs." He explained. The boy's response was instantaneous.
"That's horrible! I don't think I could live if I couldn't run around and play in the park!" the boy frowned, "Don't your friends ever visit, or come to play with you?"
"…I never really had any close friends, but…no. No one comes to visit."
The boy's frown deepened even more. "What do you do for fun then, if you can't move mister?"
Sai laughed; "If I could, I would play Go, but since I can't move… mostly I just sit here thinking, or else I ask a nurse to turn on the TV for me, or bring in radio, or something like that…" The boy however, didn't seem hear a word he said and continued to look scandalized by the fact that the man before him couldn't play outside or walk in the park. Halfway through the boy's tirade thankfully, his mother came in looking shocked for a moment at seeing her son there, before going to the boy.
"Hikaru!" she exclaimed. (Apparently, Hikaru was the boy's name…) "What are you doing here? I though you were with Daddy!"
"Daddy had to go to work, so he brought me here to go to work with you Mommy!" Hikaru exclaimed proudly, "And so the desk lady told me you might be here, so I was waiting for you here, and I met that guy over there, and he says he can't walk or move, and he was going to tell me about this "Go" game, and then…" Sai stared at Hikaru in surprise as the boy continued on, marveling how the boy could say so much in one single breath, "…so I was talking to him, and then you came in and…" Hikaru paused, and suddenly adopted a decisive look before declaring, "And I've decided I want to visit the guy over there again some time since he doesn't have any friends to play with." There was something very final in his tone that surprised Sai, making him wonder if the root for Hikaru's sudden declaration was more complicated and more deeply rooted then it appeared… but whatever caused Hikaru to desire to keep him company, his mother seemed to understand, and so she simply smiled.
"I'm sure Fujiwara-san would like that very much, right Sai?" she looked up at her patient, a question in her gaze, as if she were trying to ask him with her eyes alone if I was okay.
Sai smiled, and nodded in return. "It would be my pleasure to have you visit me Hikaru." He told the boy, and was rewarded by a cheerful smile.
"I'll come and keep you company mister…"
"Sai." Supplied, and the boy continued on.
"And next time you can tell me more about that fun game of yours!" he exclaimed excitedly as his mother herded him out of the room, "Bye Sai-san! I'll come see you real soon!"
And so as the door clicked shut, Sai couldn't help but smile softly; somehow, he didn't think his life would be so quiet anymore. Somehow, in just one single encounter, the little boy named Hikaru had brought joy into Sai's life again…and for some reason, the silence in the room at that moment wasn't so choking anymore
A/N: Reviews are very much appreciated, and they always inspire me to put out a new chapter faster. ;)