Disclaimer: I do not own Death Note or Hikaru no Go. Enjoy.
In Which L Discovers Who Sai Really Is
L chewed on his whittled thumbnail in consternation as his cursor hovered over the damnable button. He closed his eyes and let out a slow, even breath. His pile of sugary, jelly-filled doughnuts lay neglected to the side, a sign that he was in the middle of some serious thinking.
I am facing a formidable adversary, L conceded, a formidable adversary indeed. He'd been matched, wit for wit. It wasn't every day he had to rise up to the challenge rather than look back while maintaining a steady 20 steps ahead. He'd done his research, granted there wasn't much information to be found on his opponent. The forum posts were all speculative and fanciful; ranging from conjectures that the individual was merely a student prodigy to the wild idea that he was some embodiment of a god come down to show the people his hand or some such appendage. Yes, quite weird. L didn't quite understand that last bit.
In any case, it was his principle never to give up until he'd turn the situation into his favour, but he had to face the facts this time: the game was lost no matter what he did now. The corners of his mouth twitched upwards as he reassessed his situation. He'd just finished a fairly standard case (the son had murdered 12 people and rather cleverly pinned the crimes on his father, but the poor idiot confessed to a prostitute in a drunken stupor and it all went downhill for him from then on) and there was a lull in cases that piqued his interest. L's heart rate picked up slightly as it was wont to do when he anticipated a good chase.
'L has resigned the game.'
It was time to put the hacking skills he prided himself in to the test and find this so called sai character.
Raito rested his chin on his left palm as he studied the screen carefully. His opponent made a poor move a little over 10 minutes ago and Raito was slowly getting irritated since the guy wouldn't just resign already. He'd finished his report on African trade for his Economics class by correspondence and emailed it to his professor, and now he was just waiting for the game to end. He supposed he could have left the game himself, but it was against his fundamental values to forfeit. And besides, anyone who had sweet boy for a screen name was just asking for a beating.
Usually he didn't indulge in internet games, but the link was already in the cache from a previous customer's use and so he decided to check it out while he was doing his homework. He'd played a little Go when he was younger, winning a few amateur tournaments here and there, but not much ever since he'd gotten a black stone in the eye once during a tantrum from Sayu in the middle of her losing a game. Even though his sister was scolded and his mom bought him a Where's Waldo? book to cheer him up after the hospital visit (it took him an hour to find the stripe-wearing man all the pages, but he blamed it on his eye-patch), he never did look at a goban the same way again.
The clock read 2:24 just as a punk kid walked in with a large grin on his face. The bleach-blonde-banged boy hustled up to a girl at the counter -- Raito knew her as an underclassman from his junior high; she'd still blushed at him when he entered today -- and she was helping him set up a timer for a computer across from Raito's. The boy said something and the girl rolled her eyes before opening a browser and typing in a URL.
The World Net Go page appeared. Curious at how good the kid was, since most kids that age would play shooter online games and not Go of all things, and since his opponent was taking his sweet time plotting a futile move, Raito walked over to the duo.
"…Remember Hikaru, I'm done at 3:00 today, so make sure you finish up by then."
"Yeah, yeah, thanks, Mitani's sister!"
"Excuse me, Mitani-san?"
Immediately turning away from her charge, the addressed girl flushed lightly, "How can I help you, Yagami-sempai?"
Keeping an eye on the boy's -- Hikaru's -- screen, Raito asked if he could extend his time for another half hour. The girl happily complied, waving her hand dismissingly with an impish grin when he reached for his wallet to pay the extra fee.
"You brought in several more customers today than usual," Mitani said, discretely gesturing to a few girls on the computers nearby the one he'd been sitting at, who averted their eyes quickly when she did so. "I should be giving you your money back."
Raito flashed a dazzling smile and heard quiet squeals of glee to his far left.
Meanwhile, he noticed that Hikaru was typing the katakana sa for a user name before the kid paused and stared to his right. Weird, Raito concluded.
L shuffled into the internet café with his trusty laptop under his arm. His sneaker laces trailed pitifully behind him as his eyes adjusted to the fluorescent lighting of the business. He headed for the front desk and the pink-faced receptionist met him there a minute later after flirting with a young man by the row of computers at the back wall.
"Pardon me, but is it possible to access the internet using my own laptop?" L awkwardly held up his thin device pinched between the thumb and index of each hand. The auburn-haired girl in front of him gave him a smile and explained that they had wireless internet and so as long as he had a modem for it, he was good to go once she gave him the access code and the program disk.
"And how long would you like to use it for, sir?"
"An hour should suffice, thank you," L replied, shelling out 200 yen in exchange for a voucher. He dragged himself over to an empty table and plopped down, pulling his legs up on the seat. Once he punched in the password after installing the internet access software, he began to dive into the network, searching for the computer or computers that logged on to the World Net Go page in the past 3 days. It had taken him a few weeks to pinpoint the location of sai's IP address to a computer in this particular café and now he was just checking which computer exactly it was.
L blinked and grinned.
Oh, what have we here…
Someone currently was signed on with the screen name rhino, but according to the computer's recent history, a sai had logged on 2 days ago. Coincidence? He didn't believe in coincidence. L's eyes roved over the various faces at the other computers, trying to figure out who would be playing Net Go. In the end, he decided just to pass by each computer until he found the person.
He shuffled along quietly, ignoring the girls who paused mid-giggle and broke out into enthusiastic whispers as he walked by. They were looking at a variety fashion and drama pages, all irrelevant to his search. He stopped behind a boy wearing a shirt with gaudy 5's pasted haphazardly over vertical orange stripes, but the boy was only looking at a cartoon page. L shook his head lightly and turned around.
This was the young man who the girl at the front had been talking to. L knew where to start gathering information.
The extra half hour he didn't pay for was nearing its end and Raito felt the hairs on the back of his neck rise as his opponent finally, finally resigned. He signed off and closed the page, preparing to leave when suddenly he felt an ominous presence behind him. Gradually he turned around, coming face to face with a stooped man in grungy clothes. Unnerved at the wide-eyed staring, Raito coughed politely into his hand.
"Can I help you?"
"Yes, I believe you can, Yagami Raito-kun."
Raito narrowed his eyes suspiciously at the stranger who merely continued to focus a most unsettling gaze on him. The thin, scraggly man didn't look to be much of a threat, but he knew not to underestimate crazy skinny people the last time he'd helped his father on a homicide case. They could be freakishly strong given the right motivation. Now, what did this man want, Raito wondered.
"I have a few questions for you."
"…Do I even know you?"
"I assume you've heard the name Danuve?"
Raito's eyes widened slightly, interest definitely hooked, and he nodded in acquiescence, "Are you implying --"
"I'm sure you have many questions, too. How about a cup of coffee while we talk? My treat."
Raito checked his watch. 2:55. His mother wasn't expecting him home until 6:00 so he figured why not. It wasn't everyday someone came up to him claiming to be a famous detective. If this were true, he'd be making a potentially beneficial connection for his future career. Even if it weren't true, he'd be getting some free coffee. And even if the man were trying to abduct him somehow, as long as he stayed away from alleys and unmarked white vans, he was sure he'd be able to fight off the scrawny guy without too much problem. Nothing too bad would happen.
"Alright, where to?"
"Well, I hear there's a place nearby that sells the most delightful strawberry cream tarts…"
Hikaru groaned when another seizure-causing advertisement appeared on the screen.
"Hikaru, Hikaru look! It says we've won something!"
The boy sighed and let the annoying pop-up play for a few more seconds before closing it. Sai and flashy things really were a bad combination, but he was glad the ghost had a distraction since Sai's depression had been making Hikaru feel very nauseous. Hikaru realized he should've asked ahead of time for Mitani's sister's schedule so he didn't accidentally come in near the end of her shift. Arguing that they wouldn't have had enough time for a decent game anyway before they had to leave, Hikaru had eventually convinced his Go-crazed friend to sit tight while he clumsily surfed the net.
Hikaru's seat wobbled underneath him as he leaned back, the front left leg missing the rubber covering at the end. He hated wobbly chairs. Hikaru threw a glare over his shoulder towards the older teen using the computer he usually sat in front of and was surprised to see the computer-stealing bastard walk out beside a scruffy hunchback. The girls all made annoying swooning noises and even Mitani's sister blushed and put a hand to her face when the pretty boy waved to her goodbye. Then the girls all performed a mass exodus and left after the unlikely pair, all the while giggling like mad monkeys. Man, girls were so weird.
'C'mon Sai, let's go visit gramps. I might even let you play some shidou-go with him. Maybe.'
"Really?! Oh boy, let's hurry! Let's go let's go let's GO!!"
'I said maybe!'
Just as Hikaru was about to close the page and leave, a hand jerked his shoulder.
"To…Touya!!" he and his ghost buddy both yelped, startled.
His rival stood there slack jawed, staring at the anime characters on the screen. Hikaru jumped out of his chair, angry and really very relieved.
"You freaked me out!!" he yelled loudly. Feeling a bit nervous when Touya still didn't say anything, he demanded, "What?"
Mitani's sister came by because of all the commotion. "A friend?"
"A friend? I guess…Sorry, I'm going outside for a bit." Hikaru said while pushing a more stoic than usual Touya out the door.
Two weeks later, after a rather unfruitful interrogation in which Yagami Raito vehemently denied being sai ("Look, Ryuuzaki -- Danuve -- whoever you are, I don't even like playing Go all that much!") L was viewing the surveillance tapes (he had Whammy install them) from the internet café which revealed that Yagami Raito never did return to any of the computers there. Then again, that didn't prove anything, really, since the legendary internet player never did appear after L had confronted the younger man. Sure more sai's showed up, but after a few hands it was clear they were fakes.
L remembered having to stifle a sarcastic laugh when Raito had claimed he didn't even like Go. After he'd gotten the name from the girl at the desk, he searched and found several profile pages on Raito; some had listed a number of Go trophies he'd won, among ones for tennis, flower arranging, and other extra-curricular endeavors. There was even a quote in which he'd allegedly said that Honinbo Shusaku was one of his role models. Really, had he backed the poor teenager into a corner so much so that he'd rattled nerves and forced such a silly lie? He'd expected more from the locally revered Yagami Raito, son of the Chief of Police.
L's sat back, toes curling as he enjoyed another spoonful of strawberry cream, and continued watching the fuzzy screens. Even if Raito never showed up in the videos, L was certain that the teen was sai.
Well, 36 percent certain, but that was an astoundingly high figure in his opinion. He'd helped convict people with less on them, after all.
OMAKE (in which L challenges Raito to a game to gauge his abilities):
Raito wasn't sai, that was for sure, but he sure as hell wasn't about to lose to this emaciated son of a bitch.
L shifted in his seat. They were playing at a Go salon and so he could play at full capacity while in his favourite sitting position. Though he had to admit the style of play was not completely like sai's from what he could gather from studying a few kifu of earlier games, he could tell the underlying spirit behind Raito and sai's moves were one and the same. And he couldn't forget the fact that he was being pushed, just ever so slightly, by the lighter-haired man. But he would win this time, of course.
Their match was drawing quite a crowd, though not everyone was there for the same reasons. Old, die-hard Go fans watched the board ardently; girls young and old stood by and admired Raito's looks of concentration while some stole halting glances at L's bare feet gripping the chair.
Raito furrowed his brow in concentration as he studied the stones (though he often had to compel himself to look at his opponent's black pieces). L mirrored his expression across the board. They looked up and met each other's gaze solemnly. 40 seconds, almost a minute, passed before both of them opened their mouths to declare:
Ignoring the fussing of the crowd, L said quietly, "52 percent."
"Rematch next week?"
"Same time, same place."
- Cut L some slack, he's never heard of the Hand of God before.
- Originally had Raito playing zelda online, but I like Waya too much to have him bashed, even indirectly. The user name sweet boy is actually in the series -- if you don't believe me, check volume 4, chapter 31.
- I wanted a more extensive paragraph on L hacking, but trying to look up IP addresses and NATs made me too confused I had to simplify the process. Sai can be Japanese for rhino, hence L mentioning coincidences (recall Raito was doing a report on African trade exports which may or may not have included the shipping of rhinoceros horns and so I'm not being completely random while trying to fit in some lame word play).
- Danuve is L's alias as the third best detective in the world.
- The dialogue at the end of Hikaru's section is verbatim from volume 5, chapter 37 of the TW scans.
- Raito as a Shusaku fanboy is too fun to pass up.
- Omake's there because I always love writing Raito and L being idiots. Raito still doesn't know L is L and his childhood trauma at the goban still affects him to today. Give the poor man a hug.