This is a re-write. I felt the first chapter was sloppy and totally deterring people from reading, so I re-did it. I hope it's better. There is quite some AU in the first two paragraphs because I added in an event that most definitely did not occur in the manga in. It's a bit different from the original chapter 1, but there shouldn't be enough change to redirect the whole story, yes?

Hmm, yeah, I just realized a mistake with my previous chapter 1. HIKARU DOESN'T HAVE A GO BOARD AT HOME, SO HOW CAN HE PLAY SAI LOADS WHEN THEY GET HOME? I can't believe my terrible memory…oh wait, I edited that in my account. Oops. I'm referring to the version on my computer.

Tell me it's much better. No, wait, give me your honest comment. Liars not welcomed. Oh what am I saying, so contradictory…I'm planning to revise chapters 2 and 3 too…

DISCLAIMER: I do not own Hikaru no Go, Akira, Hikaru, etc. I'm kind of boring here…

Two Sides to a Face…or More

Chapter 1: The Tournament; The Turning Point

"I can't play you." Hikaru's heart burnt. It was heart-wrenching to learn and be aware of the fact that he was more than just simply miles away from Akira. It didn't just hurt him, it almost tore him apart. Loving Go came gradually, but being conscious of the fact that Akira was way above him hit him like a rock. It was just any other day during club activities, when Hikaru had the sudden urge to ask Sai about the game back then with the green-haired boy.

Sai was greatly reluctant to reveal the game to him, but couldn't deny Hikaru the knowledge of the game since he was pestered persistently for tens of minutes on the line. Hikaru had fallen silent as Sai replayed his second game with Akira. So uncharacteristic of Hikaru was it that Akari almost dragged him to the infirmary. It was then that Hikaru started pursuing Go seriously and not just as a club activity, he decided that Akira was his goal.

"Why? Why not?" Akira demanded. It wasn't in him to do so, but he felt the need for it; he felt that it was the closest way to reaching the boy. Shindou Hikaru was special. He knew he was special the moment they met when he didn't even know the surname of Touya but entered a Go salon, when he held the stones with such unfamiliarity but did well against mental combat. The child was special.

He was more than special, in fact, in a way Akira couldn't define. Different was simply crude and a tad bit too blunt.

"I want to work closely with the Go club. We're going to be in the next tournament. I don't have time for you. Sorry, Touya," with a sad and apologetic note hanging from his words, Hikaru tugged the curtains shut along with the windows. He couldn't face him, couldn't face the one he deceived, couldn't face the one he aspired to be like, couldn't face the one who held false hopes in him.

Hikaru pressed himself against the wall as if it would cancel out all the noise and racket Akira was making to get him to show his face. His eyes started welling up with tears and determination, forcing him to bow his head to hide it. He was ashamed of the fact that such a strong emotion could be evoked just from a conversation like that. No tough words, no philosophical meaning, just plain, denotations.

Mustering up strength enough to keep the tremble from his voice, Hikaru declared softly, his words laced with resolve, "I'll make him wait." He paused to swipe the unshed tears from his eyes. "I'll make him wait till I catch up to him."

Tsutsui and Akari only stared.

"Ugh, Mitani, hide me."

Annoyed, the mentioned boy who recently joined the Go club under hostile conditions shoved Hikaru, "What? If you don't want people staring at you, go find a toilet cubicle."

It wouldn't have been hard to make himself scarce, but of course, his infamous bleached hair just had to get in the way. Don't get it wrong, Hikaru loved his hairstyle, he like the way it brought out his personality, but sometimes, along with the personality came terrible disaster.

"Can't, Mitani, the competition's gonna start any second…" Flinching, Hikaru skillfully dodged another sneaky glance using Mitani's lean frame, which was, of course, not such a great idea. Even with hearing as inept as Hikaru's, he could still make out the murmurings of others that included words like 'Shindou Hikaru', 'great Go', 'wonderful player', 'promising', drawing a groan from him.

Mitani snorted sarcastically, apparently pissed by the fact that Hikaru, a lesser player, got more attention than he did. "Get out of your comfort zone you great Go player, don't want your curious fans to find you missing." He grabbed Hikaru from behind him and rammed him like a rag doll onto the nearest chair, "Now sit till they call for the start of the tournament. You're annoying when you whine."

Pulling a long face but doing as he was told, Hikaru made himself as comfortable as possible with all the strange looks he was attracting from people all around the room. Sai, I don't think I can do this.

Sai gave him a look of mock disinterest, which melted into a mentoring gaze as he started giving out advices. Do your best then. At least have some confidence in yourself. Surely, you have improved during the time you spent at the Go club, haven't you?

My best…I guess that's all I can do. My skill will decide the rest, and man will it be a terrible suicide…Hikaru dropped his head into his folded arms on the table.

Hey, confidence, Hikaru. You need confidence.

An entirely un-deciphered and notoriously muffled sound was Hikaru's only reply, which Sai heavily suspected was a groan. Few minutes of silence passed between the pair when Hikaru peeked up from his position and muttered, "I wonder who Kaio's third captain will be. He's probably gonna be hard to beat."

That's why I said you need confidence! But Sai's voice was drowned out by another, a more commanding tone that sounded suspiciously familiar. "It is me, Shindou."

Hikaru jerked stiffly. That voice…it can't be…he shouldn't be participating in amateur tournaments, the Meijin said so himself!

A tilt of a head and shift of the eyes confirmed his nervous suspicion. "Touya!"

"Kaio's third captain is me," the boy repeated, as if fearing Hikaru hadn't gotten the message.

The competitive glare sent at him broke what was left of Hikaru's confidence, if there was any to begin with.

It was nerve-wrecking. There was Touya Akira sitting before him in all his majesty, and there was Shindou Hikaru, quivering under his intense gaze, and he didn't like it one bit. Touya's presence alone could probably send a rock hurtling toward him if he wanted, it was so…gravitating. He drew everything to him like he owned the area. He attracted glances, mutters, gossip, and (this was one which Hikaru found most interesting and unbelievable) girls.

Chatters of avid conversations regarding how smooth and silky Touya's hair was irritated Hikaru. No, it wasn't that Hikaru wanted people (girls, nonetheless) staring and pointing at him, singing strange praises that pump up his ego. He just didn't like the way Touya simply sat there acting as if nothing was going on around him, eyeing the Go board with as much interest as Hikaru did ramen, except that the look was heavy. Ramen was a casual thing, well, a necessity for Hikaru, but not something he summoned to his mind whenever he felt bored. Go, to Touya Akira, was the very reason he breathed, ate, lived, and this one game weighed heavily on his petite shoulders.

Casting a nervous glance at the green-haired boy, Hikaru shrunk from the aura he was emitting, the furious determination all compressed into that one body suddenly released. Who was he to play against this boy whose sole motivation for life was Go?

Inadequacy seeped into Hikaru's heart, and he finally decided that he would let Sai play. Sai, the drama queen, Sai, the Go obsessed freak, Sai, the ghost who overcame the test of time to play Go again, and Sai, the ultimate Go player. Sai had a passion for Go like never seen before. There wasn't a person Hikaru knew who would get depressed over being denied a game, who would shout for joy if an opportunity for even half a game was presented. Yes, Hikaru was in all ways inferior.

Another peek at the Go prodigy revealed a glare, and once more, Hikaru flinched and recoiled in his chair. How was it possible for this one boy, only twelve years of age, to be so intense and serious? How could the frame of someone who hadn't yet hit his teens withstand this extreme passion and will?

Behind Hikaru, Sai shook his head. It was useless. Hikaru wouldn't be able to play the game properly. Hikaru, let me play. Let me play a teaching game for you. I will put your stones in dire situations and you are to save them. In the state you are in now, you are nowhere close to being able to play at your full ability.

Mental words of gratitude spilled from Hikaru when Akira suddenly let the cover of his container slip. Hikaru immediately cleared his head and offered to pick it up, to which Akira promptly refused. Once the cover was back on the table, Hikaru felt his body tense up.


"P-please," Hikaru uttered. His fear hadn't left him, but that wasn't reason enough to run away from the game. He recalled Akira's trembling hands when he picked the cover up, and Sai immediately answered his unvoiced question. That's the warrior's tremble. It is a physical manifestation of the eagerness to play, not fear. Hikaru, I'm starting now. The upper left sumi.

Hikaru obediently placed the stone.

Stone by stone, the game fell into place, and Hikaru was only a spectator. He didn't like it. It was lonely, he felt excluded. While the game went on, he could feel none of the intensity, none of the heat, he just couldn't get into the game, and it was destroying him. A game with Touya that he couldn't enjoy.

The next move's yours, Hikaru. The cluster to the right, or the one at the bottom left, it's your choice on which to save.

Jerked out from his reverie abruptly, Hikaru tried to focus on the game. It felt so distant, so cold, but he had to do what was expected of him. 15-17, right?

Sai nodded his head enthusiastically; apparently thrilled by the fact that Hikaru had come up with an answer so quickly. He was a huge joy machine, an infectious joy machine. It only took a small thing to churn out from him so great a joy that was worth over a hundred times the input, and that great joy never ceased to spread. It brought Hikaru a sort of warmth and sense of belonging to know that even though he may not be the one who was playing the game, he could still take a small part in it, be that little fuel to Sai's joy.

Dropping a stone to 15-17, his eyes roved the board, immediately falling onto a spot where he deemed Akira's next stone would go, but what got them hooked was the intersection right next to it. There was something great about it. Something…


The ghost started at the sudden exclamation. Yes?

Just for a while, just for a while, Sai, let me play.

Sai's face twisted with confusion. It was great that Hikaru wanted to play, but did he have the confidence, was he brave enough to face Touya? Why the sudden change of heart?

Hikaru bit his bottom lip, then reluctantly disclosed, I have a plan, Sai. I have a plan to steal this game from under Touya's nose.

It would have been amusing if anyone could have seen the way Sai's eyebrows shot up till they almost exceeded his forehead. Really? You have a plan?

Sensing the uncertainty in Sai's voice, Hikaru answered back hastily, It's okay if you don't want me to do it if you think it will ruin the game, I'm okay with it!

Sai chuckled. The boy got it all wrong. The ghost was worried about his mental state, not his abilities. Sai had full faith that he would do quite well, but it was new. Up till then, Hikaru had been extremely straight forward in his approach. No, go ahead. It would be interesting.

You're not joking about this, are you?

No, not at all.

Thanks Sai, Hikaru muttered mentally. Really, the boy hadn't ever had a nervous breakdown until Touya Akira came along. Well, Sai wouldn't really know much about whether Hikaru had a nervous breakdown before he met Touya or not (since he came only days before), but from what he heard, it wasn't often that Hikaru became quiet and withdrawn.

Hikaru slapped down a stone. Ah, so Touya had placed his already. Sai made to survey the sharp-eyed boy, but did a double-take at the stone Hikaru had placed. Hikaru! What are you doing? You're going to die there!

But Hikaru seemed totally oblivious to Sai's silent screams of horror. The ghost sunk to the floor, depression stamped all over his face. Perhaps Hikaru wasn't such a good player after all. Sai wanted to flee from the room, away from what would most definitely be Hikaru's defeat, but as a teacher and mentor, he felt the need to stay, so stay he did, although he couldn't bear to watch his student get trampled on, until Hikaru made a sudden mental call.

Hey Sai, I did it, Hikaru whispered in a breathy tone, well, as much as he could whisper and be out of breath at the same time while communicating mentally.

You did what, Hikaru? Sai wailed and dragged his words, pulling a long face.

Come on, Sai, don't be so evil. Don't tell me that wasn't anything great. I felt it was awesome. As Hikaru drawled out the sentence, realization sparked within him. You didn't even watch! How mean can you get? And you call yourself my mentor! Humph.

Sorry, Hikaru. Sai apologized frantically, desperate to appease his grumpy host. Here, here, I'll go look, okay? Reluctantly, Sai lifted his head and took a peek at the game, fearing for what he might see, before jumping onto Hikaru and gripping his neck tightly. No way, Hikaru, you did this?

What's that supposed to mean? Hikaru shouted. Geez, don't tell me you thought I was that bad…

No…well, yes. Sai admitted, earning him what might be fractured skull if he were tangible. I just mean that I didn't see how you could have used the bad hand to your advantage!

And of course the great Sai could, Hikaru commented sarcastically, but was sure that his statement was entirely made of the truth.

Sai frowned. No, I go for the more classical style so I couldn't see it. 1-14.

1-14 what? Are you trying to find an alternative route to beat my trap?

No. Touya just played a hand. Reply at 1-14. Sai sighed. Was Hikaru so prone to getting pissed before?

Oh. Realizing that Sai wasn't trying to oppose him, Hikaru let the issue go for a moment and returned his concentration to the board, promptly snapping a black stone down at 1-14.

Suddenly Hikaru had a thought. Hey, Sai, don't make Touya lose.

Sai pulled a face. But Hikaru, you should win! That plan turned the tides around. It would be strange if you lost!

But Sai, did you see how devastated he was when he lost to you the last time? I don't want that to happen again!

1-8. But why? Every Go player has to go through his fair share of losses! Sai protested immediately. Losses are what people learn from the most. Wins just get into their heads. People can turn corrupt if they simply lose sight of everything except victory and power, and Sai didn't want a repeat of what happened a thousand years ago when he was still a living, breathing human being.

Hikaru's eyes darted about nervously while he placed a stone. Touya's just…different, I guess. He can take a loss. I just want to give him the, uh, satisfaction. He's been chasing you for so long.

All the more for me to play and win. He'd be so disappointed when he finds out how much his rival's abilities had dropped, Sai stood firm and pointed out sensibly. His will was unshakable.

Oh come on, I'll take you to that Go game Tsutsui-san was talking about, is that fine with you?

Okay, maybe his will wasn't that unshakable after all. Jeez, Hikaru. I tell, you, sometimes I get the feeling you're secretly compiling a file of my weaknesses. Fine.

Hikaru sent a reassuring gaze that read 'No, I am not going to plan your demise' and returned to the game. Hey, Sai, 3-10, yes?

Yes! Sai was glad to know that Hikaru had regained his calm and was starting to relax. Hikaru had a great mind, but that great mind was also very easily shaken off course. It would take a hefty amount of confidence to get that back into place.

The rest of the game was a jumbled blur before Hikaru's glazed eyes. It wasn't so much that the game was boring. It was far from that. The trap that Hikaru had set up just moments ago was what drained the energy out of him. It had taken great effort to even catch a glimpse of the tail of the trap, and theorizing where Akira would go next was an even greater challenge. Hikaru simply couldn't summon up the strength to watch the game and analyze it after he had played out the lure.

Hikaru, the game's over. We lost by one and a half moku with komi. Are you happy now? Sai nudged Hikaru's side, pouting. After all, it wasn't every day that someone got to play Touya Akira, and yet he had to stoop as low as to force a loss. It was extremely humiliating, even for Sai (who had absolutely no sense of embarrassment when it came to losing).

Hikaru gave a small yet apologetic smile. Thanks Sai. Sorry for making you conform to my wishes.

Feigning satisfaction, Sai shook his head. It's okay, Hikaru. It was still fun playing Touya like this. It wouldn't do good for him to cause Hikaru to feel indebted to him. The boy tended to overreact to anything that had to do with Akira.

Sighing with content, Hikaru nodded in confirmation. He was simply glad that he didn't have to be a witness to another of Akira's rare overwhelming defeat. The mere sight of someone losing at his hands, even if it was by Sai through him, could send him into fits of depression, of how he wasn't sensitive enough to sense how bad they would have felt chewing the bitter pill of defeat.

Even if it were Akira who rarely showed any emotion, Hikaru still wanted to be sure, he had to be sure. He didn't want to step on what looked secure but gave way under him.

Peeking shyly, Hikaru noticed that Akira was completely absorbed by the board, staring to fiercely Hikaru could have sworn he was glaring. Was Touya not satisfied with the win?

"Is something wrong?" Hikaru asked carefully, making sure to be wary of whether or not he was not treading on water.

Akira jerked at Hikaru's voice that came seemingly out of nowhere and without any indication. His eyes flickered to the half-blond for a moment then returned to the board, trying to shield himself from those anxious green eyes. It was making uncomfortable that someone was actually worried for him when he won. He could understand if he lost, but winning? No one ever let their eyes linger on him long enough to read his expressions when he won; they usually kept their eyes downcast while separating the stones in order to leave sooner to run away from their loss. This boy had a strange way to react to such situations, especially for someone as inexperienced as him. Akira wasn't sure how to reply.

"No—nothing," Akira blurted out as politely as possible, attempting to hide the fact that he was lying. Of course there was something wrong! If Shindou had that skill he had displayed a year back, he should have won without breaking a sweat!

The look on Hikaru's face told Akira he knew he was lying. "Liar," the boy said bluntly, "There has to be something on your mind." He looked most doubtful.

"I, well, yes," Akira admitted reluctantly. "Your game…well, it wasn't as well played as it was the last time we met."

To his surprise, the boy just laughed a little too taciturnly for his personality instead of whacking him on the head, but he seemed to be laughing more out of the need to relax than a reaction to something humourous. "I knew it," Hikaru voiced between quick breaths, finally managing to sober up a little after catching Akira's un-amused face. "Well, it was under different circumstances," he leaked out kindly, taking to twirling a strand of that mass of golden hair around his finger.

Akira raised an eyebrow. "Under what circumstances do you think you have to be in to play fantastic Go like the one you played before?" he questioned, poking lightly. He never liked it when people forcefully shoved their demanding questions at him, and he doubted anyone else would like it either. It made him wonder why people never bothered treating others the way they wanted to be treated if he was able to do so.

Akira watched as the boy in front of him squirmed uncomfortably. "I don't know. Do you think you could pull it out of me?" Hikaru retorted, finally deeming one of the millions of replies that ran through his head satisfactory.

"Maybe," Akira shrugged, hesitating for a moment before asking, "Would you like to come over the salon we first played at? I'm almost always there." Akira didn't know why he was even suggesting the proposal. He was practically begging to get himself kicked around the board like a ball.

Hikaru's eyes widened a fraction of a centimeter. "Are you inviting me for real?"

"Um, yes."

"Oh, but maybe not now. Somewhere in the future, I guess. Give me a year or two. I still have a way to go to reach your standard, enough for you to consider me as a worthy opponent, that is."

"You're worthy as you are now," Akira replied almost immediately. "That trap just now proved it, even though your endgame skills have, well, rapidly declined." Akira couldn't find a better way to put it. He seldom interacted with people, and if he did, he only talked to ones that were able to accept criticisms without punching the daylights of the one who offered it.

"Really?" Hikaru perked up. "Was the trap that good?"

Akira blinked. Yes, the trap was absolutely amazing. Didn't he know that? "Yes, it was great. You really showed your ability to read ahead there. Before you laid the trap's foundation, you were playing with a really classical style so I got thrown off by the strange hand there. It looked like a really bad move from my perspective. I wasn't able to comprehend what you had hidden behind that hand. Seems like I really need to work on my ability to read ahead to be able to match you."

"Ah! You're still better than me on a whole. Look at this mistake I made here," Hikaru pointed at a stone at intersection 5-14, which Akira agreed with a little reluctantly. After all, it wasn't exactly what someone should do when they are trying to convince the other party that he was better.

Anxious to get back on even grounds with Hikaru, Akira raised his hand to point out one of his faults. "I didn't do too well here either."

Sai just stood around and watched as the two bickered back and forth, throwing each other compliments and yet putting themselves down. Really, neither of them wanted to admit that they were superior to the other, probably preferring to be on equal standings with the other while subconsciously building on the belief that the other was their eternal rival, well, that may apply to just Akira. Hikaru simply looked like he was convincing himself that everybody would be above him forever.

Sai sighed. Oh what would he do with his host's inferiority complex when it came to Go?

The ghost made himself comfortable as he prepared to sit through unwanted compliments and self invoked criticisms. Really, these two boys were something. Sai had yet to come across a pair such as them while he was still alive or during his 'life' with Torajirou. Most Go players were either extremely brash and narcissistic or else rather introverted, replying with only one word answers.

Of course, that wasn't to say that Go players weren't allowed to degrade themselves as and when they wished to like the two before him. He was probably the only one aside from the teachers that noticed their petty fight, and yet only one of them would ever realize they had an audience, but he hadn't.

"Ogata 9-dan? Who's that? Sounds like an old man." Ah, so the conversation had strayed from praising each other to the highest to other people related to Akira. Sai observed that they were much more open to each other than before. Perhaps quarrelling was their way of breaking the ice.

"You don't know who Ogata 9-dan? How could you not? His face has to be in one out of every two issues of Go weekly," Akira answered, partly bemused and mostly irritated, whacking Hikaru lightly on the head as his patience thinned. He had spent his whole of his life thinking that anyone who played Go in Japan would have at least heard the name Ogata before, and yet there just so happened that his first real rival happened to not know about Ogata 9-dan at all.

"Is he good at Go? Or is he just one of those people that tended to attract tons of attention to himself whether he wanted to or not?" Hikaru questioned further, apparently clueless to the movements of the Go world.

Now, Akira was beginning to get desperate, because even if Shindou had never heard of the Ogata 9-dan before (which was totally illegal for a Go player), he should at least be able to identify what the '9-dan' following the name meant. "Please, Shindou, he's a 9-dan."

"Oh, right," Hikaru exclaimed after a while and projected a sheepish grin. "Didn't notice."

Akira raised an eyebrow. "I realized." Really, Shindou had one of the most ridiculous tendencies to leave out important bits of information and only absorbed the extremely irrelevant ones, or in worst case scenario, nothing at all. It made Akira wonder if he had ever heard someone wrongly and gain knowledge of things that most definitely untrue.

A sharp scraping of a chair alerted to the two that the second boards had just concluded their game. A brief glance told all there was to it. Tsutsui was standing over his game with a hand dripping with tears pressed firmly against his eyes. Without so much as a backward look, he dashed out of the room.

Hikaru's mirth from the conversation from a while back was quickly replaced by solemnness as he turned back to Akira. "Well, I guess I won't be staying to watch your game. No matter how the first board turns out, we would still be unable to proceed. Thanks for the game, by the way." He gave a slight, stiff bow and gathered all the black stones into his container just in time to witness Mitani push his chair aside and exit the room in a manner of the least courtesy.

"Sorry the game couldn't have been more," Hikaru apologized with a strained smile, setting the cover over his container.

Akira shrugged, gathering his own stones. "It's okay if you could come to the salon. A few years time is okay. I'll be waiting, and I expect a good game. Who knows, maybe you'll even decide to come earlier."

"I'm gonna have to disappoint you again, Touya," Hikaru laughed lightly. "At the rate you're growing, I doubt I'll be able to catch up to you anytime soon." He gave the slightest of waves and raced after his long gone teammates.

"Yeah," Akira whispered to himself, eyes focusing on where Hikaru had been just a mere second ago. "I'll be waiting." Silently, he got out the chair and proceeded to the rest of his teammates, regaining the cool façade that had been on until Hikaru chipped it off.

There! Done! I revised quite a bit, so I hope it's much less rushed than the previous chapter 1. Yay! I hope. XP Anyway, you might have noticed that Hikaru is now extremely strange, and that Akira is a bit out of character too. Forgive me, I didn't mean for such a huge personality change. It just sort of felt right while I was creating this revised chapter, but now that I look back, it does seem a little strange, though I most certainly do NOT want to redo this, so I'm leaving it as it is. Akira and Hikaru's relationship may seem a little…uh…shounen-ai-ish, but this is NOT a slash fic. Repeat, this is NOT slash.

I do hope it's much more satisfactory than the previous one, since I poured so much time and effort into this one. It is my sincerest wish that the first chapter shall deter people no longer to read this fiction, because I really know how bad my narrations are (THEY ARE SIMPLY HORRENDOUS) but I want people to get the plot, because it is the idea that I wanted to get across. I really do sympathize with those who plow through this story for the plot when there is such terrible sentence structure, because I myself know how that feels like…I've read fictions where the plot is just mind-blowing, but the way the author uses words are…uh…not so mind-blowing? No, actually, they're rather mind-blowing, but in a bad way.