The Go Within
by: Esa MaRie
Shindo Hikaru was brought up by his grandfather in a remote countryside where he met Fujiwara no Sai, a former go player under reclusion. After his grandfather and Sai's death, he went back to Tokyo, carrying with him a knowledge of go that was far beyond his imagination.
"I'm sorry Father," Shindo Masao said. "But I have to leave Hikaru with you. I can't take him with us due to my constant traveling. He's such an active child and often gets into trouble. Besides, it's better for him to stay in one area and be able to live like a normal child. If he goes with us, it's possible that he will have to transfer schools every now and then."
Shindo Heihachi sighed as he stared at the young boy of 5 years of age, his cherub face deep into slumber. He felt sorry for him being left alone by his own parents, but on the other hand, he felt happy. It would mean that he'll no longer be alone.
"It's okay, Masao. I'll take care of him. Just make sure that you'll communicate with us often. I don't want him to feel that he's being neglected by his own parents," Heihachi said.
"I know, Father. Arigatou gozaimasu."
Heihachi turned and gasped when he saw his 6 year old grandson.
"Hikaru, what happened to your hair?"
Hikaru grinned as he pushed back his golden locks from his face. "Like it? I look cool, right?"
"Who did that to you?" Heihachi asked, aghast at his grandson's new look. But honestly, Hikaru looked cute. His round cheeks glowed with happiness now compared to the first few weeks of his stay with him.
"My new friend Sai," Hikaru responded, then he scratched his head sheepishly. "Sorry for keeping it a secret but I've been visiting him for months now."
"Sai?" Heihachi repeated. "You mean the mysterious guy living in the huge house next door?"
"Strange," Heihachi murmured. "But he doesn't seem to like to interact with anyone in the neighborhood. How did you meet him?"
Hikaru guiltily looked down and shifted his leg uncomfortably. "Well, I… uhm… I sort of sneaked into his house 3 months ago. I thought no one lives there. But well, he caught me." Then his face brightened. "But he's really a nice guy, although he seemed lonely and plus the fact that he can't walk. The woman that comes often to clean his house and cooks for his meals is a witch. She's so mean but Sai said that it's okay as long as she's doing her job. You know Jii-chan, I really felt sorry for Sai because he only has an old hag for company so I visit him everyday after school. Are you angry, Jii-chan?"
Heihachi chuckled and patted the young boy's head. "Of course not, my boy."
"You know what Jii-chan?" Hikaru pulled the edge of his shirt to catch his attention.
"Sai's been teaching me a new game," Hikaru bubbled enthusiastically.
Heihachi couldn't help but smile at the boy's enthusiasm. "Really? What game is it?"
"Go!" Hikaru exclaimed happily. "It's really hard but Sai said I might have potential."
"Go?" Heihachi's eyes rounded in surprise. "He knows how to play go?"
"Interesting," Heihachi thought out loud, then he chuckled. "Maybe he could play against me. It's been a while since I had a good game of go. Can I come with you the next time you visit him?"
"Really? You also want to befriend Sai?" Hikaru's eyes sparkled at the thought of his Jii-chan and Sai being friends. "Yay!" he cheered.
Chapter 1 – Life after the Grief
Sixteen-year old Shindo Hikaru stared at the huge house that had been his home for the last 4 years. His green eyes traveled to the large boxes that proved the fact that he was moving away from this place, his haven together with his Jii-chan and Sai.
He thrust his hand to take something from his pocket. He opened his hand and stared at a piece of black stone that had been a symbol of common interest between the three of them.
Eleven years ago, his parents left him with his grandfather since his father had to travel a lot due to his job. He was lonely at first and it felt like he was abandoned. His grandfather tried everything to make his stay comfortable and happy. But the loneliness still won't get away.
It was only after he met Fujiwara Sai that he realized that he wasn't alone. That he was lucky that his grandfather was still there to take care of him. Because Sai had no one. Two kindred souls found each other and began to heal the loneliness of their hearts. After a few visits, he learned that Sai loved to play go. He would sat across the old man and watch him play some games by himself. His interest on the game was piqued and often asked questions about the game. Finally, Sai gave in and offered to teach him how to play go. Day after day, he would come over to Sai's house and Sai would teach him the basics then play games with him. When his grandfather learned that Sai knew how to play go, he was enthusiastic especially when he learned that Sai's real name was Fujiwara Sai. He could still remember his grandfather's stunned reaction when he was introduced to Sai, like he finally got the meet the emperor or something. The first week, his Jii-chan looked like he was about worship the path Sai walked or rather the path the wheelchair passed through. Even though he was still small, he wasn't the type to ponder on how Sai got into his current situation. He contented himself to just be with Sai. He never bothered to ask him about his past life seeing that there was something painful in it that Sai wanted to keep to himself.
For the three of them, go had been the medium that had bonded them. Even though Hikaru's school was quite far and he had made friends in school, joined clubs, played well in sports, he still continued to play go with the old men during his free time.
When his father was permanently assigned in Tokyo and requested for his return, he had stubbornly refused. He reasoned that his grandfather needed him more than his parents do. Besides, his mother got pregnant again and they would have another baby to take care of. When he was 12 years old, his grandfather died. His father came to fetch him, but he still remained stubborn. He couldn't leave Sai alone. But now, four years after his grandfather died, Sai also passed away.
Tears began to fall from Hikaru's eyes as he reminisced the times he spent with his grandfather and Sai. They both had acted like his fathers, worrying and fussing over him, let it be a small or big thing. He clutched the go stone fiercely. Sai had been the better of the three of them, actually a whole lot better. For months after he had known him, he noticed that longing look in Sai's eyes whenever he glanced at the goban and then he knew what Sai had been wanting was to have a rival that could equally match to him. That was why he did everything he could so that he could grant Sai's wish. The day before Sai died, he was finally able to beat him in an even match. He still could remember Sai's bright smile despite the loss.
"Hikaru-kun, that was a good game. I think I've waited my whole life for this game. Thank you."
He turned as smiled as he saw his friends rushing towards him. Each of them gave him a hug, some of his female friends cried saying that they would miss him a lot. A male friend smacked him on the head complaining that they would miss the loud-mouthed and ramen-loving brat around.
His father approached them and tapped him on the shoulder, a signal that they have to leave now. It will be a long travel to Tokyo. His friends nodded to him, and he followed his father to the car.
Shouts of farewell and goodluck were heard as the car started to move. Hikaru opened his backpack and took a foldable go board inside. "Dad, I want to visit the cemetery first."
Hikaru told his father to park just beside the road. He then got out of the car and walked towards his friend's grave. He placed the flowers and sat beside the tombstone. "Hey Sai… you okay there? Have you met anyone in heaven who can play go? Well, Ji-chan's already there so at least you both can keep each other company." Despite restraining himself, he wasn't able to stop the tears from rolling down his cheeks. "Gomen ne Sai. I told you I won't cry anymore. But I still miss you… both you and Jii-chan." He then chuckled as he sniffed. "But I'm still your best rival, right? Besides, I finally defeated you. I could have increased my number of wins if you d-didn't…" Hikaru felt choked in his tears. "…l-leave me so suddenly." Hikaru placed the small foldable goban in front of Sai's grave. "Remember this Sai? Our last game?" he asked softly as he placed the magnetic stones one after another on the board. "I really did improve, right? More than you expected me too. And you're happy right? I didn't fail you… I was able to give you the kind of game you've always wanted, ne Sai?"
Hikaru's shoulders began to tremble as he was no longer able to control his sobs. "Sai… Jii-chan… why did you have to leave?" He then felt a hand on his shoulder and saw his father kneeling in front of him.
"You have to let go, Hikaru. I don't know how close you were to him, but it's time for you to move on," Masao said softly seeing the anguish look on his son's face.
His father helped him stand up. After one last bow of respect, Hikaru turned to return back to the car when his father's voice stopped him.
"Hikaru, you left something."
Hikaru glanced back at his friend's grave and his gaze fell on the finished game. 'It's alright, Father. I'm leaving it as that," he said as he went inside the car. His father followed suit. While the car was moving toward the exit, Hikaru closed his eyes as he began to think on what will happen to him. Flashbacks of his conversations with Sai began to come back to him.
"Makimashita," he whispered after another round of loss. Then his green eyes blazed against the amused Sai in front of him.
"I'm going to beat you next time Sai!" he cried in frustration.
Sai just laughed, already used to his tantrums every time he lost a game. As he was returning the stones back to the bowl, he heard his name being called.
He looked up and gave a curious stare at his friend. "Yeah?"
"You've really grown better at go," Sai said gently.
He just scoffed. "You're just saying that to comfort me. It has been several years, but I haven't beaten you in one game."
"At least, you've already taken me to yose," Sai joked which only earned a glare from him. Just then Sai's expression turned serious. "Hikaru… what do you think of go?"
"Huh?" he looked up then scratched his head. "Well… it's an old man's game." He grinned sheepishly. "Only you and Ji-chan could relate to it. I'd play soccer or basketball if I'm with my friends."
He resumed to clearing the board, totally oblivious to the sad look that had crossed Sai's face. He only heard him say, "W-well… t-that's n-nice. I just wish for you to follow your heart's desire."
Sai had been supportive of him, including his other co-curricular activities. And even on his death bed, Sai was still thinking of his welfare.
"Sai!" he screamed as he reached the hospital room.
The doctor tried to stop him but Sai weakly raised his hand to allow the boy to come over towards the bed. He clutched the old man's hands in his palm as tears began to fall from his face.
He felt a hand on his head and as he looked up, he saw Sai shaking his head at him which he understood that he should stop crying. Sai's wrinkled eyes lifted as if smiling at him then he opened his mouth as if to say something.
He tried to stop him and told him to save his energy but Sai shook his head. Sai managed a bare whisper to him.
"T-thank y-you H-hikaru… n-now it's y-your time to m-move o-on …"
With that, Sai gave one final smile before closing his eyes and succumbing to darkness.
The doctor shook his head and he was left to weep in his sorrow. When he finally pulled his hand away from Sai's tight hold, he noticed something that was left in his hand.
It was a black piece of go stone.
Hikaru lifted the black stone up and stared at it, a soft smile lingering on his lips. 'Don't worry about me Sai. I'm going to move on…'
The class was a bit noisy when the teacher arrived, so he had to call everyone's attention to let them settle down and for homeroom to begin.
"Class, we have a new student," the teacher announced which drew everyone's attention to a tall and athletic looking boy with bleach bangs who had just entered.
"Shindo-kun, please introduce yourself."
The boy gave a cheerful smile. "My name is Shindo Hikaru, nice to meet you all. I just transferred from Kyoten. I love basketball, soccer, and video games."
The teacher nodded. "Ah Shindo-kun, please take the vacant seat at the back."
Hikaru walked towards the back and noticed that there were two vacant seats. Thinking that no one occupied the seats, he chose the one near the window.
Hikaru turned and saw a girl with copper hair smiling at him.
"Ano.. Shindo-san… your seat is here on my left. Someone already occupies that seat, he's just absent since he has a game today."
"Oh, I'm sorry," he apologized as he settled himself on his seat. "Thanks," he said to the girl.
The girl smiled back as she extended her hand. "I'm Fujisaki Akari. Welcome to Kaiou High School."
.:to be continued:.
Err… I posted another fic… hehehe… so please don't hate me. I know I haven't finished "Lost Memories" but I've had this chapter for months, so I decided to post it after editing it a little.
Thanks to Curtis Zidane Ziraa for your PM. I actually decided to post it after I got your message.
Well, how was it? Is it good or bad? Or should I just stop this and just focus on Lost Memories? Anyway, please read and review… thanks:-)