Here's the next chapter. I am really sorry for the long wait and would like to thank everyone who reviewed and message me regarding the story.
I hope this was worth the wait. Comments always welcome.
CHAPTER 8 : THE AWAKENING
" Aahhh! I lost again! "cried Shindo in frustration.
"Keh keh keh keh," came the creepy reply.
"You did that on purpose!" accused Shindo. "You made me think you didn't notice. You wily old man! You...you...arghhhh. Fine! Next time I won't lose! I almost won this time!
"Kehkehkehkeh...almost, my young one, doesn't count. You still lost," taunted the old man.
However Shindo is no longer listening. He turned his attention back to the goban, scrutinizing the game, looking for mistakes and alternative moves that could be played to turn the game in his favor.
Usually, after the match, the players will be discussing the game, but for Shindo and Kuwabara, this was the norm. When Shindo first ask for guidance from Kuwabara, the old man laughing said he is too old to have a pupil, in which Shindo replied that he need not teach him anything, rather continue playing with him so he can get stronger. He hesitantly explained that he doesn't need a teacher and he already had lessons under Morishita. Kuwabara knew that there's more to the story than the young lad was saying, but since it did not matter to him one way or another, he let it go. He was just happy to play the boy.
And play they did. They have been playing every day since then and although Kuwabara goaded the boy, he was nevertheless astounded at how much Shindo had grown. He could not believe it was only 3 weeks ago that he played his first game with him. At that time, he crushed the boy mercilessly, forcing the other to resign before yose. But now, he almost won, with Kuwabara barely winning at 2 moku.
What was it about this boy? Kuwabara couldn't care less about the whole Shindo -Sai angle that's been flying around, all he knew is that from the first moment he had laid eyes on the lad, Kuwabara knew that the child is special. There was an other- worldly aura about him, something almost spiritual that sets him apart from everyone else. From then on, Kuwabara kept a close eye on the boy and watched his now phenomenal growth from his insei days to the monster he has now become.
"Let's nigiri," Shindo's eager young voice brought Kuwabara back to present.
"Eager for another lose?"
"Ha! Just you wait! This time you're going down, old man".
"Yes, yes,yes...like I haven't heard that from you before".
Kuwabara raised his head to look at the boy and sure enough, the lad was already intent on the game, no doubt planning his attack this early on.
Yes, the boy is monstrously strong, but as he is now, he can still be defeated.
"I'm sorry Shinoda sensei, but Shindo is not home. No, I honestly don't know where he is. Well, he calls home to check in from time to time. Cell phone? No, he forgot it at home. Yes...yes, I'll let him know. Yes..as soon as he calls. Thank you for informing us."
Shindo Masao curiously listened as his wife answered the phone. He knew it wasn't those damn reporters hounding them for Hikaru's whereabouts, otherwise, his wife would have already hanged up.
"Who was that?" he asked.
" It was Shinoda sensei from the Institute. He called to let Hikaru know that his next match has been scheduled. It seems really important," Shindo Mitsuko said as she wrote something down and handed him the paper. "Problem is, we don't know how to reach Hikaru".
The information means nothing to Masao. Although he did some background research on the world of professional Go, he still understood very little of the world his son now moves in.
At first he thought that Go was something Hikaru will grow bored out of. After all, it wasn't something that really suited his energetic and boisterous son's personality. Imagine his surprise when not only did the boy stuck to the game but actually did great on it. Not that he know, but according to the numerous articles written about the boy, he is a prodigy.
He and his wife took it all in stride, just happy that their son was happy and had finally found his niche in the world. They were even proud of his achievements and were always patient and respectful to the reporters. That is until about a month ago when the press suddenly hounded and stalked the house nonstop, calling and camping in front of their house hoping for an interview.
Finally, he had it and practically threw out Hikaru out of the house to find recluse somewhere else so that their household will have peace again. They don't care where he goes, he certainly has enough money to go where he wants. The only condition is that Hikaru checks in from time to time to let them know he's safe and doing fine.
Now, with this upcoming match, which is in 3 days, he is once again faced with a dilemma.
He then remembered that weird taxi driver. What was his name again? Kwani? Kaini? Kawai...yes, that's it. He knows where Hikaru is. He just appeared in their doorstep one day with Hikaru's dirty clothes and a letter asking for fresh set of clothes. The man even left them his card with his contact info in case they need him again.
Now, where did I put that card?
Akira walked inside the Institute, eyes wondering around looking for a certain two toned hair Go player.
He's not here. I was hoping he'll show up.
Today is an important day after all. They will finally announce the participants and schedule for the Honinbou league. Usually, like his father, he would just wait for the information via phone call but he decided to make a special trip to the Institute in the event that Shindo will show up. Judging by the size and members of the crowd, he wasn't the only one with same sentiment. A lot of high ranking players and reporters are in attendance.
After one more quick sweep around, he zeroed in on a group of young players – Shindo's insei friends. Normally preferring solitude, Akira brave the crowd and made a beeline for Isumi, the most mature albeit the oldest in the group.
"Hi Isumi. I was wondering if you heard anything from Shindo yet," he greeted the young man.
"Hi Touya. No, I haven't heard from him yet, none of us did," he gestured towards his friends. "I was about to ask you the same thing."
Akira shook his head and with a polite thank you, left the group. As he was walking away, he heard the abrasive red head, Waya, say something uncomplimentary, not even bothering to wait until he was out of earshot.
Fortunately for Akira, Waya's tirade was cut short by the arrival of an institute official. They watched in silence as the man put up the announcement and waited politely until the man had stepped aside. Then, as if in one body, the crowd rushed to read the announcement.
Akira and most of the higher dans stayed put. Not that they were not interested. They knew that they will get their own copy as well as a personal phone call regarding their participation. However, the abrupt change of atmosphere from boisterous noise to sudden silence aroused their curiosity. With a glance at each other, they turned to see what got all the others spooked.
Akira was the first to spot it, and with a gasp, echoed several times over as everyone else read it, trailed into silence. All of them could not believe what they've just read.
As if on cue, the elevator door opened, almost too loud in the encompassing silence and out came a familiar figure in his signature white suite, the Judan, Ogata Seiji.
"Hahahaha! Take that old man. I finally beat you!" Shindo gloated as he danced around in circles.
"Hmm...you did beat me, by a moku. You almost did not win"
"Oh come on! Don't be such a sore loser! Who was it that said almost doesn't count? I won fair and square," Shindo vehemently defended his win.
"Alright. I guess I'll give you this one. So that makes the score 1 for you and what? 100 for me? Maybe this one's a fluke? Maybe i was too tired. I am an old man after all."
"Tired? A fluke? My, my, my! You are just full of excuses," Shindo refused to be goaded into anger.
"Just to show my goodwill, I will let you rest and then crush you again tomorrow with another defeat."
Before Kuwabara can rely, the ringing of the phone as well as the doorbell interrupted him. Gesturing for Shindo to see who their visitor is, Kuwabara headed to where the phone was still ringing.
" What are you doing here?!" Shindo was surprised to see Kawaii, ushering him inside while firing questions one after the other.
"Did something happen at home? Was it my parents? Gramps?"
Kawaii cautiously peeked around the house, discomfort apparent in his body language. He still doesnt trust that old man. He found the guy creepy from the moment they bumped into him when Shindo was trying to get away from the people hounding him. When the old man offered his house as refuge and then suggested Shindo stay there for the time being, he very reluctantly left the boy behind. Several times, he almost came to check on the boy but he was too scared of the old man. When Shindo's dad asked him for this favor, he eagerly jumped at the opportunity to see if the boy is alright.
Shindo's high pitched wail brought him back to the matter at hand.
"No! Its nothing like that! Geeze, can you tone down your voice a bit before you make me deaf? Your father asked me to give you this," Kawaii handed Shindo a folded paper, steeping closer to take a peek at the message.
"It's seems we dont have the luxury of rest after all," Kuwabara's raspy voice startled Kawaii so much he hid behind the boy.
"The call was from the Institute," Shindo guessed.
Kuwabara simply nodded, waiting for the boy's next move.
Shindo paused for a moment, then sighed as he came to a decision.
"No. We'll take a rest as planned, then play tomorrow. This time I'll defeat you in a clear win, leaving no doubt, no excuses to the outcome," Shindo said with conviction.
Kuwabara has no doubt in mind whatsoever that the boy will do just that. The monster had truly been awakened and he almost pitied the first victim he'll face across the goban.
Ogata- kun, you have no idea of what you will be facing.
That night, Shindo cant wait to go to bed. Not that he is eager to sleep, but rather he is eager to see his best friend and mentor. He had no doubt they will meet in his dreams for Sai only shows up whenever something big happens in Hikaru's life.
He cant wait to tell Sai that he finally defeated Kuwabara and show him his growth. And soon, very soon, it will be Ogata's turn.