Edited on a random whim today. I'm just as surprised as everyone else is with that. If you're re-reading this story, it's been edited and updated, so things have changed. In small but meaningful ways to further in on a more cohesive plot development and the thematic elements I wanted to touch on. Uh, also, I would have never gotten the inspiration to update this without the RAC remix of Cool Kids, which could pretty much be the theme song of this story lol
Akari sighed again as she brushed auburn colored hair out of her face. The sun was beginning to set even though it was only three o'clock, a sure sign of days growing shorter and shorter. The sky was dyed a deep red, and painted long shadows on the sidewalk that matched perfectly to where her and Hikaru were standing. She had to admire the way the edges of his hair glowed gold in the retrograde light of the sun, diffused in sunbeams and saffron colored light.
Hikaru was so busy lately, not only had he suddenly eccentrically taken up Go as some sort of hobby, he was also struggling to improve his grades so that his parents would buy him that laptop he wanted (and also, the fact that doing so would also increase his allowance was probably some sort of minimal incentive) while being moved up to the varsity soccer team at Haze in his very first year, and still being on his club team, and balancing time with her and—grudgingly—Misaki-chan. How he was managing it, she had no idea.
She tried to understand, but it still hurt to know how little the time they had was. Hikaru continued to grow farther and farther away from her; she could remember a time when they had all afternoon to hang out—all weekend to sit around in her room and play games and talk.
"So you're hanging out with Hidaka-chan and Okamura-kun?" Akari tried to hide her frown. It wasn't that she didn't like Hidaka Misaki, other than the fact that she took up more than half of Hikaru's free time, but Okamura…that boy was such a scoundrel, and not to mention ridiculously stupid.
Hikaru rubbed the back of his head sheepishly. "Well, I was supposed to just go to Misaki-chan's house. But Okamura always tags along." He frowned suddenly. "Its really annoying."
Akari felt her mood increase. At least they felt slightly the same. "Well…what are you doing Friday?"
"Friday…." Hikaru trailed off.
That was two days away.
Maybe a month or two ago, he would have hung out with some of his new soccer friends like Ryuu and Taro, probably gotten into trouble, and probably been grounded. But ever since the day he had walked into that Go salon…
Hikaru's grandfather wasn't exactly known for his patience, but he had kindly taught his delinquent grandson once he realized the vast Go potential the two-toned boy had. Not only was Hikaru a prodigy, he was a near genius. Since then, he had taken to buying the boy—who, with a spared annoyed look, had received them without complaint—Shuusaku's kifu, seeing as though Hikaru sapped it up like water to a tree. It was remarkable, how such a trouble making scoundrel could be so renowned at such a flawless, polite game. Not many would think to look for a game of go with a boy with bleached blonde hair, a juvenile record, and a .97 grade point average.
And then, Hikaru wandered into the Meijin's go salon, and everything changed.
There he met Touya Akira, and witnessed his innate determination and uncanny ability, and was floored at the possibility of ever being so serious about something. Touya was…unlike anything he'd ever met before.
Sure, Akari wanted to be a veterinarian. Kaga wanted to work on cars, and TsuiTsui wanted a computer business. Everyone else he hung out with had no aspirations other then cheating at the arcade to get free rounds of Super Mario. A while ago, he'd been one of them.
He had a lot to owe to Touya, Hikaru mused.
"Hikaru?" Akari echoed, as she swung her face so that it was in his line of sight. Her eyes were glowing and pretty, and her smile was gummy and pink.
"S-Sorry." He grinned. "Yeah, I have that game at Kaio, remember?" He pointed out teasingly, watching as she flushed in embarrassment at having forgotten his important game.
"Oh I forgot! Are you nervous?"
"Not really." When they scrimmaged, Hikaru had scored nearly seven points, had two hattricks which had inevitably led to his drafting onto the varsity soccer team, not to mention his sick banana kick. Kaio was pathetic at anything that wasn't academically inclined. Hence, their pathetic football team and equally pathetic basketball and baseball teams.
"Is Hidaka-chan going to be there?" Akari asked tactfully, trying to sound interested but was watching Hikaru's reaction from the corner of her eye.
Hikaru shrugged. "I dunno, she might be at the go club. But if she isn't, then I'll catch up to her before the game."
Akari tried her best not to pout.
How unfair. Hidaka Misaki—Hikaru's first girlfriend. Who also happened to be a beautiful blonde haired beauty attending Kaio as a third year (Honestly, what first year got a third year girlfriend who went to a prestigious school like Kaio?!) that Hikaru apparently met through Go. Not only was she smart a beautiful, with her long sparkly sunshine colored hair that made Akari desperately wonder what shampoo she used, and curvaceous—boobs, what an unfair advantage—as well as loud and confident she also had a backbone. Something which Akari lacked even more so than a chest. How was she supposed to compete with that?
"You should come too!" Hikaru began loudly, startling her with his bright smile.
Her heart swooned.
"And bring Kaga and TsuiTsui!"
And dropped just as quickly.
"Sure." She muttered, a bit angrily. Hikaru didn't seem to notice. She slammed her front door before Hikaru could say anything else, leaving the blonde to watch with some amount of confusion. But, no one ever said Hikaru was known for his subtleties, nor his ability to read such.
Hanging out with Hidaka was entertaining and fun. Hanging out with her and Okamura was different. She looked beautiful, standing on the corner of the street that led to the park, wearing a winter coat and had her light sunshine hair down and flowing past her shoulders. She was going to cut it, but Hikaru had luckily convinced her otherwise. The boy cut just wouldn't look good on her. While she was smiling prettily and Okamura, the little shrimp, was eying her up from behind her, he couldn't really find her anything more than pleasant.
He frowned at the thought.
How many boys his age would kill for a chance to date someone like this?
And, the even more important question;
Why wasn't he one of them?
"So how's school?" He asked.
"Wonderful!" She clapped her hands. "I've got great grades this year, and the Go clubs going well."
"Not really." Okamura frowned, kicking a pebble as they walked.
But the two of them paid him no mind.
"Is it?" Hikaru mused, not really paying attention.
"Too bad you got kicked out from the tournament last time." She sighed. "You were so good! How'd you learn to play like that? You wiped the floor with out first board!"
Hikaru shrugged noncommittally. "Oh, just here and there." He dug his hands into his pockets, feeling a little uncomfortable with the subject. Being good at Go clashed with his teen angst bad-ass image. Luckily, he had spotted a vending machine up ahead. "Would you like a hot chocolate?"
Misaki immediately brightened. "Yes please!"
He dug some change out of his pocket, ever since he had raised his social studies grade, his parents had raised his allowance—SCORE!—and he had more than enough to spare.
He grabbed the hot can as it fell, tossing it to the girl.
"Thanks Hikaru-kun!" She swooned, and then continued to do so as he sent her his trademark smile. He looked so cute, with his Haze Football hoodie and jeans with the rips at the knees, and beat up kicks.
Okamura only grunted.
The day ended with Misaki having to say goodbye, Okamura tagging along with her like an irksome fly.
"Maybe you shouldn't have yelled at her." TsuiTsui began thoughtfully, as he slipped on his shoes.
Hikaru waved it off. "Nah, she's used to that. She'll be back in a day or two."
He wasn't too interested in Akari at the moment. As he flipped open his umbrella, he mulled over today's rain. The game would be starting in an hour, and it hadn't stopped raining. Of course, there wasn't any lightning so the game would go on, but Hikaru didn't fancy himself having to get all muddy and having to get home all gross and spend an hour or two in the shower rubbing the dirt from behind his ears. And also, he had his algebra homework to do, and his biology, and his world history! How was he supposed to be able to balance his grades, his team, not to mention all his elite travel teams and whatnot, the go club, and his girlfriend all at the same time?!
He sighed aloud to himself. "How did I get into this mess?"
Imminently, it was because
a) he wanted a computer to play go online (that way he didn't have to go into an internet café and risk being spotted by one of his soccer friends)
b) his parents were threatening military school if he got another blemish on his record
c) money, money, and money
and d) of course, girls. Girls and popularity.
He wondered if Touya cared about anything on his list. First of all, Touya had no qualms about playing Go in public already making it certainly clear that he was going to be a professional when he grew up (something about that sentence made his heart clench in…a very indescribable feeling) and he doubted someone like Touya would have a juvenile record (however ridiculous the reason was). And if he was thinking of going to Kaio, money certainly wasn't an issue.
And girls and popularity…well, he doubted Touya cared much for trivial things like that.
A while ago, those key points had defined his life. Had he really been that shallow?
He checked his watch, and near spit out the water he was drinking.
"Its four thirty all ready?!" And sprinted in the direction of Kaio.
"Itou-kun and Kojima-kun aren't here." The girl said. "They snuck off with that first year Okamura."
Itou, Kojima, and Okamura had successfully weaved Touya into their plot as he walked into the abandoned storage room.
"Yun-sensei wanted us to clean it up to be used as a waiting room for the girl's team." Kojima had said.
Which was obviously bullshit, judging from the way Kojima had offhandedly suggested a game. Maybe it was his pride, or maybe it was his goal to see Shindou again at the tournament that made him accept the game, but either way, he wouldn't back down now.
"I don't mind you bragging," He began, perhaps a bit arrogantly. "But please, do it after you win."
Kojima's eyes flashed, as he played another move.
Touya hummed in thought. While Kojima was alright and certainly up to pace for a second year, he wasn't nearly as good as the strong people Touya was used to playing. Like Ogata-sensei, his father, and even…Shindou. He narrowed his eyes in determination as he thought of the blonde. The next time he saw him, he would be prepared for that game. Shindou was just…incredible.
Where had he learned such Go?
"16-7" He called back to the boy at the Go board, pulling another book out.
This one read, "Important games of Honninbou Shuusaku" and he immediately split the spine and began to read.
Outside of the room, Okamura and Itou were snickering as they imagined what was going on inside. Sure, Touya was good, but who could be able to play blind go while cleaning up that dusty room? Kojima would win for sure. Itou chuckled as he peered behind the edge. Kojima was smart, and not half bad of a player. Unlike Okamura, who was more stupid than he was mean. The first year was only tagging along because he wanted to be cool and hang out with second years.
"Touya should be suffering by now." Itou smirked, as he leaned on his knees.
"Blind go will be tough for even him!" Okamura laughed. "So this is what he meant by tying up his arms and legs!" He said in hindsight, remembering Kojima's words when they had walked home the day they saw Touya being picked up by that cute older woman.
As usual, the aspect of a teenage boy's jealousy did not stemming from go ability, but on one's ability to pick up chicks.
Itou stood up suddenly, pushing up his glasses. "Now it's my turn."
Okamura blinked. "Isn't it a bit early?"
Itou's grin widened. "I want to see Touya struggling too."
Meanwhile, farther on the campus, one Shindou Hikaru was tugging on his warm up pants in the Kaio locker room.
Next to him, Taro had his headphones in as he leaned over his legs to stretch, counting under his breath. Behind him, Ryuu was smoothing back his unruly brown hair and making faces in the mirror, and around them, the team had begun to warm up as they got ready for the game. Some looked a bit nervous, and Tachibana was still giving him the evil eye for when he had showed him up at try outs with a quick breakaway and a one on one with the goalie which ended up with him face down in the mud and one goal higher than the other forward. Originally, Hikaru had tried out to be a forward, but something told him that the coach was going to put him in as a midfielder.
He groaned, looking down at his legs.
They'd be so sore in the morning…
"So what do you think?" Ryuu grinned. "Think I could get any girls like this?"
Hikaru shook his head. "Nah. Its not like anyone's gonna care. In a couple minutes we'll be soaked in mud."
"What?! But I just got these shoes…." Taro bemoaned, looking at his new nike's with a newfound regret.
Hikaru finished tying up his cleats, when he noticed a shadow above him.
Tachibana stood, at his towering height of nearly 6' 3. Maybe not that tall considering American basketball players, but certainly for a Japanese third year.
"Listen," He said, shaking out his dyed hair. "I know we don't like each other. But we've got a good team this year. I want to see us do well, and you'll help us get there."
Hikaru nodded slowly, wondering where this was going.
"So let's just call it a truce. We help each other out, and whatever shit we got off field we don't let it get to us, yeah?" He pulled his hand out.
Hikaru grinned unabashedly. "Yeah."
He shook it confidently.
Then his eyes spied the clock.
"Ah?! It's almost thirty minutes till the game!" He gaped.
Ryuu skewered him with a look. "Weren't you just saying how we'd be playing in a couple minutes?"
"Yeah," He rubbed a hand through his hair, scooting the older boy out of the mirror and pushing his bangs side to side. "But I was exaggerating. I didn't think it was really that close to game time."
Ryuu watched him, a bit bemused. "Going to visit a lady friend?"
When Hikaru said nothing to the retort, Taro looked up. "You are?!"
Hikaru flushed in embarrassment. "What if I am?" He shot back with a blush, before jogging out of the locker room before his soccer buddies could take anymore blows at him.
"First year's got a girlfriend!" Taro and Ryuu were singing as he hurried out, and he could visibly imagine them making a line by clasping each others shoulders and swaying back and forth.
He kept the light jog through the halls of Kaio, unsure exactly of where he was heading. Kaio was so clean and perfect compared to Haze, with pristine floors and finely pressed uniforms. The corridors were fairly empty, most people probably already left or were out in the field waiting for the first game of the season. Kaio, being as rich as they were, had the spectator area tented with plastic sheets to keep people dry as they watched. Haze, on the other hand, barely even had bleachers.
By the time Hikaru had even found where the Go club was practicing, he had to find his way through two levels and asked a couple teachers.
"Ah, excuse me." He began politely, to a man who looked slightly familiar.
The teacher turned around quickly, looking as if he was going to retort something rather rude when he caught the insignia on his warm up jacket, but then he noticed his face. His eyes widened.
"Shindou…Hikaru Shindou, am I right?"
Hikaru blinked, a bit suspiciously. How did the guy know his name? "Yeah…?"
"You played in the last tournament?"
Hikaru had the decency to look a bit ashamed. "Ah, that was me. I'm really sorry about that—
"No, no!" The Go instructor cut him off quickly. "That was an excellent game! No need to apologize."
Hikaru didn't know what to say, so he opted to bring his gaze down to the floor.
"Will you be participating this year," And with a bit of a chuckle, he added. "Legally, this time?"
Hikaru flushed, before scratching the back of his head. "I'm not so sure. I have some really tough classes, and football…"
He imagined TsuiTsui's face if he ever told him that, and his stomach went cold. And then, he thought of what Touya would say, and missing a chance to play the boy again. And his resolve returned tenfold. It was probably going to kill him and ruin his sleep cycle forever, but he was going to play in that tournament, grueling football hours be damned.
"Now if you don't mind me asking," The man began a bit awkwardly. "What might a student of Haze be doing wandering the halls of Kaio at this hour?"
"I'm here for the game." Hikaru started, before the man could accuse him of some sort of delinquency. But when all that was returned was a blank stare, Hikaru figured he needed to elaborate. "The football game." He added.
The teacher blinked then, as if in understanding. "I see, I see. You play?" He inquired seeming only polite. But Hikaru felt the man felt betrayed that he wasn't playing go.
"Err—yes!" He grinned. "I'm a forward. And I was wondering, have you seen Hidaka-san?"
"Hidaka-san?" The man echoed. "Why yes…I sent her to the storage a couple minutes ago. Just down the hall and to the left."
"Really?" Hikaru brightened, before going in that direction. "Thank you!" He called, over his shoulder, as he turned the corner.
Yun-sensei sighed as the boy was out of earshot. "Now why would a boy with such exceptional talent in Go be playing football?" But he was obviously very good, judging from his varsity warm ups.
Hikaru slowed to a walk as he made it to the storage closet, already hearing voices. One, seemed to be that of a laid back boy who had been caught doing something he wasn't supposed to (Hikaru knew the feeling, almost a bit too well) and another he was fairly sure was Okamura. He had almost forgotten the little tag along even played Go, he was so abysmal at it. And the last he was certain was Misaki. What she was doing yelling at two boys in a storage closet, Hikaru wasn't sure he wanted to know.
"Idiots!" Hidaka was yelling, her voice a bit more shrill than usual.
"A little blind go," She began again, sounding more angrier by the minute. Hikaru wasn't so sure if he wanted to go in there anymore…Misaki was scary when she was mad. "And what do you mean, 'busy'?! You guys should be helping out!"
Hikaru sucked in his breath, and opened the door.
The two said in unison.
The room silenced.
Misaki turned around with a fluff of her straight blond hair, eyes widening as she saw her boyfriend, looking absolutely adorable in his varsity warm ups, hair askew and cleats already on, who by no means should be there right now. But then she backtracked, and remembered the game Kaio was having with Haze that day, and it made a bit more sense.
Meanwhile on the other side of the spectrum, Touya had near dropped his book and completely forgotten everything about the game and subsequent bullying when Hikaru stepped into the room. What the two-toned boy was doing here, at Kaio, was beyond him. Shindou Hikaru… Touya didn't understand it. It must be fate, somehow.
Touya spent so long chasing him, trying to find him, and eventually tracking him down, and yet he always managed to find Hikaru at the most arbitrary of intervals, when he hadn't even been intending to.
"Hikaru-kun," Hidaka began. "What are you doing here?"
"I was just going to say hello," Hikaru began awkwardly, watching as everyone in the room stared at him. "Before the game… but I guess you're a little busy."
"Game?" Okamura piped up. "What game?"
Kajima sent him a skewering look. "The football game, idiot."
"Yeah, idiot." Itou mimicked.
"Shut up, all of you!" Misaki slammed her fist down, causing the Go stones to clutter about and all three of them to jump a bit.
"I'll clean this up," She began again, this time directed towards Touya. "So hurry up and beat them."
"Hidaka-senpai…" Touya began, sparing a look to Hikaru, who still stood unsure at the door way. "I accepted this match. I will continue like this."
Hikaru slowly backed out of the room.
Okamura wanted to do the same.
Hidaka looked like she was going to make a snide remark about his courageous bravery, but opted against it. "I know bullying when I see it." She rolled her eyes. "And now that I've seen it, I can't continue to let it happen."
"But I was—
"Stupid idiot, geez!" Hidaka grounded out. "If only you weren't here, they wouldn't have done this. And you accepted this, you were the one who encouraged it."
"If only you weren't here!"
She immediately regretted saying those words, once she saw the look of shock and hurt on the young boys face. Regardless of his go prowess, he was still a first year. And all fist years were always a little bit nervous and struggling to prove themselves to the upperclassmen, and perhaps her words had been tongue tied once they had come out. But she hadn't meant to make the poor boy feel bad, not when he was already being bullied and excluded from most of the club. Even if he was a bit thick-skinned—which he seemed to be.
She closed her eyes and took a breath. "But what I want to say is, since you are a Kaio student, proudly be a member of the go club."
"But don't accept matches like this." She went on to say. "Play normally and kick their asses."
In the background, Itou guffawed and Hikaru chuckled form behind the door.
"…" Touya blinked.
"Hidaka-senpai," He trailed off. "Thank you very much."
He calmly walked over to where the two boys were sitting. "Oh Hidaka-senpai," He called to the girl who was now cleaning up. "This shouldn't take more than five minutes so I'll be free for a lesson after you're done cleaning."
With the same collected movements, he impassively picked up one of the go ke and sat himself down, not noting how Itou and Okamaru's faces lost their pallor.
"Sorry for the delay."
Okamura gave a small shriek.
"Hikaru-kun," Hidaka snapped, and the boy quickly opened the door sheepishly. "Be good and help me clean up."
Successfully cowed by her reigning act of female empowerment that reared its ugly head in his direction, he did nothing against this. "Of course…" He scuffled over and took the many books she had with a grunt.
"Oh, suck it up." She ordered, but it seemed a bit more teasing now.
"I have a game in ten minutes!" He squawked.
Misake snorted. "A game? It's going to be a bloodbath. Don't act like you didn't already know that."
Hikaru gasped loudly. "Misaki! Never underestimate an opponent—no matter how mind-blowingly bad they may seem to be—
Even the Kaio students in the room snickered at that.
"That's what happened to Liverpool last year in the finals and they ended up being beat by Chelsea." He paused, dramatically. "Chelsea."
Misaki sighed. "I don't even know what either of those two are."
Okamura, who had already been defeated in the first few hands Touya had played once he sat down, dropped his head onto the table with a sigh.
"Shindou," Akira began as he clicked down one of his stones, unable to hold his silence any longer when the object of nearly every waking moment of his life was standing not even a foot away from him, "Are you joining Haze's go club?"
The following reactions being;
"Shindou plays go?'
"Does Haze even have a go club?"
From Okamura and Itou respectively.
Hikaru rubbed his head. "Err…yeah I am."
Misaki sent him a look. "Are you sure?" She asked, cautiously placing another load onto the boys hands. "I mean, don't you have to keep your grades up—
"Don't remind me." Hikaru groaned.
"—and have football practice?" Hidaka finished.
"I didn't know you played go!" Okamura glanced up, looking at Shindou strangely. "Honestly…you?"
"Hey!" Hikaru shot back hotly. "I could say the same for you, squirt!"
"I didn't' mean it offensively!" Okamura hedged. "But I mean, I guess I just didn't imagine you to be. You don't do a kick worthy of Beckham and then turn around and play Go, I guess."
Which was a rather crude and strange way of putting it, but Hikaru didn't know what to say.
"Hikaru plays go!" Okamura near laughed to himself. "Never imagined the day."
Hikaru sent him a tempestuous look.
Touya studied the interaction carefully as he set down a few more stones. He had always wondered why Hikaru never came back to the Salon, and he supposed he found his reason. Hikaru's crass reaction to the idea of being a professional Go player also seemed a bit more plausible when he realized that Hikaru himself thought playing Go just wasn't something you told the general adolescent public. Well of course he would think that, Touya thought, perhaps a bit saddened. Just look at him—good-looking, funny, and apparently a star athlete. Touya could imagine Hikaru's life; vastly different than his own.
"What's so wrong with playing Go?" Hikaru retorted, as he shoved one of the books with a bit more strength than required. "It shouldn't matter to you, anyway."
"You're not quitting the football team though, are you?" The Kaio first year asked in a panicky tone. He obviously had some sort of hero worship for Haze's rising soccer star.
"Of course not!" Hikaru spat vehemently.
Touya tried not to show his crestfallen face. It looked like Hikaru wasn't going to be playing after all. And he didn't come to the salon either…he wanted to groan in frustration. Finally, he had found someone who he could consider his equal—no, not an equal at all, but a goal—and possibly even a rival, but he was too engrossed in other things to even have the time to play go!
"But I think I can manage both of them at the same time!" Shindou smiled then, happily. "Anyway, I better get going."
He placed the books down with a thump. "Game time in five minutes!" He called exuberantly, giving Misaki a quick hug (when the girl was obviously wanting more) and headed out the door.
However, he paused in the threshold.
"Touya," He called suddenly, and the dark haired boy looked up from where he had finished successfully destroying Itou's hope for survival once again.
"Yeah?" He answered.
"I am on the Haze Go team," Hikaru began, already unzipping his warm up jacket to show the jersey underneath. He grinned. "I joined because—I wanted to learn a bit more."
Touya blinked at that. Learn a bit more? Did Hikaru not realize just how much he already knew?
"So if you're on the Kaio team, we're bound to run in to each other at some point, right?" He turned around, then, making for the day.
Touya was still blinking. "Uh…"
"I look forward to it!" He called, giving a vague salute in farewell as he raced down the corridor, cursing about the time.