Title: Ishidate 石立て(setting up the stones or the setup of the stones.)
Words: ~ 14 900
Warnings: OC's ahoy! Loads of nitpicking, still somewhat incorrect info on Go and Japanese culture in general, excessive use of useless Go terms, a distinct lack of other HikaGo characters besides Sai…
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by Hotta Yumi and Obata Takeshi. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Summary: The first thing he noticed was that he felt heavy. He hadn't felt heavy for a long, long time. Prequel to Myōshu, takes place in May 2001.
A/N:Due to the shockingly positive response Myōshu got, I decided to write a prequel for it. It gave me a great chance to actually research Japanese culture (which I had been meaning to do for some time…) and a chance to continue using Sai's head as a playground.
AND I filled the Sai-returns-from-the-dead -plothole! (It works for me, anyway xD )
He watched, silently, holding the fan in his hands, as Hikaru sleepily placed his black stone on the goban. The boy yawned every few minutes and every time Sai's hold of his fan tightened marginally. He understood that Hikaru was tired but didn't he feel something weird in the air? Why couldn't his pupil feel it?
Sai himself couldn't think anything else but that feeling. Something was going to happen, something that would turn Sai's life (or afterlife as the case may be) upside down.
Sai didn't like that feeling at all. It made him uneasy, the feeling of the impending change. He was happy with Hikaru despite not being able to play his own games, or, indeed, to play against anyone else but Hikaru.
He pointed out his next move and Hikaru placed the white stone obediently.
Sai followed Hikaru's glassy, green-eyed gaze over the board. He was of course thankful of the chance to remain on Earth after his death some thousand years earlier. But that still didn't change the fact that he had to depend on others to place his moves. First it had been Torajirō who all but threw his own existence away to a ghost, and then it had been Hikaru whose attitude was the complete opposite.
Hikaru placed his next move and Sai felt proud of Hikaru. The boy may not have been as accommodating as Torajirō but his skills had grown more. Hikaru had started learning Go from scratch two years ago and here he was; a professional Go player already at the age of fourteen.
Sai tapped the board quietly and went back to watching his pupil.
140 years ago, he thought. Torajirō lent me his body.
Hikaru hadn't given up his own existence but instead, in a way, he had given Sai an existence, one completely separated from Hikaru himself. He had found a way to play people with those magic boxes and in this internet-thing (though Sai had never seen any nets, fishing or otherwise) Sai had been able to use his own name. People had known about his existence (and still knew especially after his game with that man, Tōya Kōyo); he hadn't had to hide so much. He hadn't needed to steal anyone else's name or face. He hadn't been confined in his nonexistence.
If Torajirō existed for my sake, then I existed for Hikaru's sake.
He was thankful to Hikaru for that chance. He was also thankful for that game with that man few weeks ago.
Hikaru played his next move and yawned mightily.
Then Hikaru too will exist for someone else.
Sai bit his lower lip, not because the move was particularly challenging, but because his thoughts moved back to the feeling he had been having since that game.
That person will also… for someone else.
He closed his eyes, gripping the fan tightly.
A thousand years, two thousand years accumulates like that.
The long path that continues to the Hand of God…
He couldn't feel the gentle spring wind through the open window but he knew it existed. He wanted to feel it again; it had been so long since he last felt the wind…
My job is done.
… the feeling that he would disappear.
Sai's eyes widened as he felt faint tingling all over his body. His gaze moved to his hands in his lap and Sai saw they were glowing softly.
"Oh yes, Hikaru", he said, trying to get his student's attention, wanting to say one last thing to him before...
He knew his time was up.
The boy didn't raise his sleepy gaze from the goban.
"Hikaru. Hey Hikaru! Hey?"
He felt tears starting to form in his eyes.
"Can you hear me? Hikaru…" Sai asked, his heart clenching. He knew Hikaru couldn't hear him but he felt he should say it nevertheless.
"It was fu -"
Sai couldn't see clearly anymore, Hikaru's room around him was fading.
Hikaru was fading.
He couldn't feel his lips moving anymore.
He couldn't see or hear anything anymore.
Everything was light.
Sai was light.
And Fujiwara no Sai knew no more.
"I am the owner of my karma.
I inherit my karma.
I am born of my karma.
I am related to my karma.
I live supported by my karma.
Whatever karma I create, whether good or evil, that I shall inherit."
: Upajjhatthana Sutta: Subjects for Contemplation AN5.57:
The Buddhist interpretation of Karma
The first thing he noticed was that he felt heavy. He hadn't had the right word for it for the first few minutes after noticing he felt heavy. Although it was no wonder as he hadn't felt heavy for a long, long time.
Not since the day he had died in fact.
He had a vague recollection of dark, dark water all around him, pressing against his eardrums and filling his lungs, making his wide sleeves and long, dark hair float around him. He remembered the heaviness, his wet clothes and hair, the water, dragging him down, down deep, deep into the darkness…
A shudder travelled through his frame as he tried to pry his eyes open quickly to escape the surprisingly vivid memories.
The second thing he noticed was that it was white.
His eyelids obeyed him more readily as he blinked at the sight. It was still white – no, it wasn't all white, he could see a crack in it; it was thin and black, high above him.
He decided that the whiteness and the crack were very boring to look at and proceeded to turn his head to the left.
It was still white but now he could make out a window. Outside the window, the sky was slowly turning crimson and he deduced that he was in a room. A hospital room, in fact, judging from the strange stand, with a bag of some kind of liquid, standing next to his bed. What he didn't understand was why the bag had a tube coming out of it. Another thing he didn't quite understand was why he was in a horizontal position.
He would have tried sitting up if he hadn't felt so heavy. Why was he feeling heavy anyway?
His contemplations were interrupted by the sound of the door opening behind him. The sound of clacking heels reached him and moved around the end of the bed he was lying on. A nurse stepped into his field of vision, carrying a new bag of liquid which she switched with the one on the stand. As she turned around to leave the room, her brown eyes landed on the patient's very open ones. She looked taken aback for a moment before smiling.
"Good to see you awake, sir", she said cheerfully. "I'll go call Doctor Arisawa."
And she was gone before he could ask her anything.
By the time the nurse returned with the doctor, he had managed to sit up, feeling more and more confused as the time went on. Why could the nurse see him? Why did he feel heavy? Why did the hospital room smell so weird? Where was Hikaru?
And more importantly, what was going on?
"Good, good. How are you feeling, young man?" an elderly doctor in a white coat had waltzed right in, interrupting Sai's increasingly panicked thoughts.
"A-alright", he answered nervously. "Where am I?"
"You're in Kyoto University Hospital. You've been unconscious for about two days. Do you know why you're here?" Dr. Arisawa asked, brandishing a pen and a clipboard.
He bit his lip, wondering how to best answer. His last memory was of sitting in Hikaru's room, playing, and then fading away. He surely couldn't tell the good doctor that so he chose the easy way out.
"I… I don't remember, sir", Fujiwara no Sai answered softly, looking down at his hands. They seemed strangely empty without his pale yellow fan.
Doctor Arisawa frowned slightly, pushing his glasses up his nose before smiling again. "I'm sure it will come back to you", he said. "Now, what's your name?"
Sai contemplated for a minute on giving his name before deciding against it. Norikakatta fune, he thought wryly. (1)
"I don't remember", Sai answered, feeling a bit bad about lying but knowing he really didn't have any other choice. There was no way anyone would believe the ghost story of his life.
Arisawa frowned slightly as he scribbled something on his clipboard. Then he looked up and smiled in a friendly way. "Now, before we continue, do you have any questions?"
"What do I look like?" Sai asked, figuring it would be nice to know if he was possessing someone. The thought kind of scared him, he remembered Hikaru's scared reaction back then, two years ago, when he had first played against that man and Hikaru had thought Sai had taken over his body…
Sai didn't want to possess anyone.
Doctor Arisawa motioned for the nurse who had first fetched him to give Sai a mirror. To his great shock (and joy) Sai found himself looking at his own face. His face was still pale and narrow and somewhat feminine; his eyes were still clear blue in colour; his hair was still long and dark although the hospital staff had changed his hairstyle into a more manageable ponytail.
It was the face of Fujiwara no Sai.
"Still nothing?" Doctor Arisawa asked kindly.
Sai blinked, awakened from his reverie and offered the rotund doctor an embarrassed smile.
"I'm sorry", he said weakly, trying to keep from crying. He had a body, he existed for real. He was a real person again. "I don't really remember anything."
Arisawa gave him an encouraging smile before pulling out a chair and sitting down.
"If you don't mind, I'll be asking you a few questions to figure out how much you actually remember", he said.
Sai gave a nervous nod, his hands twitching. He wanted his fan.
He wanted Hikaru here.
'The Interview' as Sai decided to call it, was a somewhat harrowing experience. Arisawa would smile at him encouragingly and Sai felt a stab of guilt every time a lie left his lips. He wanted to tell the man everything but knew he couldn't. Dr. Arisawa was nice to him but Sai knew bad things would happen if he told the truth. Hikaru had wailed two years earlier how he would "be shut up in a mental hospital with the key thrown away" if he ever thought to even tell anyone about Sai.
Sai was sure that if he said anything, consequences would be worse. Hikaru could have been protected by the label of 'child' while Sai had no such protection.
The questions ranged from his life to Japanese culture. He didn't elaborate anything about his past, scared of letting something slip. With culture and history he was a bit more confident although recent history since Torajirō's death was very shaky.
About technology the only things he could answer were, possibly, the names of the objects and what aspects they were related to.
Arisawa didn't show any reaction to his answers beside frowning and nodding thoughtfully before continuing smiling. Sai himself smiled much and wondered if perhaps the man's cheeks were aching.
After gruelling two hours Dr. Arisawa leant back in his hospital chair, biting his pen and reading over his notes one more time.
Sai glanced at the flimsy bedside table and was relieved to find a water can and a few of those – plastic? – cups on it. He reached out and poured himself a glass of water. Sai noted his hands were shaking; the can and the cup felt foreign in his hands and not only because of the material. He took a deep breath and steadied his hand with a determined expression as he placed the can back on the table, bringing the cup to his lips.
The lukewarm liquid slid down his throat.
Sai realized that this was the first time he had drunk anything since his death.
He gulped the water down and placed the cup next to the can.
Sai didn't dare to relax yet. He sat back on his bed, back ramrod straight, waiting for Arisawa's diagnosis.
"Your amnesia is very curious, young man", Doctor Arisawa said thoughtfully. "It's very erratic. You remember things about our culture along with some general knowledge but outside of it, nothing. Your knowledge of technology is abysmal as well as your knowledge of current important figures in politics and such."
Sai couldn't help it; he blushed. He knew he hadn't needed to know these things during his time with Hikaru. What would he have done with that knowledge?
"It seems to be a form of Dissociative Amnesia, a mix between Generalized and Systematised", Arisawa seemed to be talking to himself as he scribbled something on his clipboard.
Sai blinked. "Generalized and Systematised?" he asked, quite lost in all this hospital jargon. He could hear the capital letters.
Arisawa looked up at his confused patient and smiled apologetically. "Do forgive me. Am I confusing you? More than you already are, that is."
Sai nodded meekly and looked down at his hands. "Yes, sir."
"Generalized Amnesia means that you don't know who you yourself are. Name, hometown, parents, birthday… everything just gone", Arisawa explained. "Systematised Amnesia implies that you have no memories of certain category of information. Or categories in this case."
Sai nodded and stored that piece of information for later use. He would need all the information he could get if he wanted to survive this experience without any negative repercussions.
Dr. Arisawa smiled at him cheerfully, dark eyes glinting behind the glasses, "Not to worry, we'll get you caught up with everything in no time."
Sai offered the man a hesitant smile. "If you don't mind me asking, sir, how did I end up here, in the hospital?"
The Doctor sighed and took of his glasses, rubbing his eyes with his other hand. "It was the strangest thing", he said at last. "It was late morning last Saturday, on Kodomo no hi, an old lady reported she had found a young man in the east bank of the Kamo River, half in the water."(2)
Sai's eyes widened, his posture stiffening even more. Down, down deep, deep into the darkness… He quickly shook his head to rid himself of the memory.
"What was it?" Dr. Arisawa asked softly, looking at Sai with sharp eyes. "Did you remember something?"
Sai shuddered. "Water. Darkness", he whispered and bit his lip, not raising his gaze from his lap.
Dr. Arisawa sighed, leaning over and placing a calming hand on his knee. "You almost drowned", he said, clasping Sai's knee comfortingly. "The air supply to your brain cut off for a while, causing you a head trauma and this amnesia."
Sai took a deep calming breath and nodded, indicating Dr. Arisawa to continue his explanation.
"When you were brought to the hospital", Arisawa changed the subject, probably for Sai's comfort. He was thankful for that; he didn't want to think about drowning. "I admit I wasn't the only one surprised at your attire. It's not every day you see someone in a Heian era get up."
"Heian era?" Sai asked, uncertain of how to react but still happy that his kuriginu had not been lost. He wondered if his fan and tate eboshi had been found too. (3)
"Yes", Arisawa said. "Because of your unusual clothes (which, of course, had no pockets and thus, no ID) we checked every theatre and some such in the area for a missing Heian era noble." He seemed annoyed that they hadn't found anything. Sai didn't think it prudent to point out that they wouldn't find anything either.
"So unless someone comes and admits they know you, you'll be staying here until you at least remember your name", Dr. Arisawa said cheerfully.
"And now", he continued and Sai blinked at the sudden intense look in the man's eyes. "We'll have to figure out what to call you for the time being."
They fell into silence and Sai came to the conclusion that he himself couldn't really suggest anything if he didn't want to give himself, and the truth, away. He hoped that whatever name the doctor came up with wouldn't be too embarrassing. Like Hayate. Or Ren. (4)
"Fuji!" Dr. Arisawa suddenly exclaimed and Sai almost fell from the edge of his hospital bed in shock.
"F-Fuji, sir?" he repeated nervously. His heart beat wildly like there was no tomorrow.
"Yes yes", Arisawa said excitedly. "You were found dressed like a Heian era noble, the Fujiwara family were Heian era nobility so we'll call you Fuji."
Sai wondered if Dr. Arisawa had psychic abilities.
He decided not to ask.
"It…" Sai started softly, "sounds familiar… but not exactly right."
He wondered if he had said too much when Arisawa looked victorious.
"That's excellent, Fuji", the Doctor said happily. "Your real name must be similar to 'Fuji' so when you remember your name, you'll have no problem adjusting."
Sai nodded. Now he just had to figure out when it would be safe to 'remember' his name. He also had to figure out what he should 'remember' before that and what things would be safe for him to 'remember'.
He also had to come up with an explanation as to why none of the current Fujiwaras remembered him.
He was getting a headache. That he hadn't missed. Not having a body had at least some perks.
Then he also had to include Hikaru without seeming suspicious. Easier said than done, Sai was sure.
"Now is there anything you want to do?" Dr. Arisawa asked, bringing Sai back from his planning. "Does anything come to mind?"
…This seemed like an excellent chance to begin his long term plan to re-introduce Hikaru into his life.
"Go", he answered, his heart beating wildly in his chest.
Dr. Arisawa raised his eyebrows before chuckling indulgently. "You really have role down to a 'T'", he said.
Sai didn't answer verbally but gave his doctor a pleading expression.
Dr. Arisawa laughed outright as he poked his head out of the door, ordering a nearby nurse to bring them a foldable goban.
The goban was brought and Sai and Dr. Arisawa sat down facing each other.
"Nigiri", Sai said, his blue eyes glinting in anticipation, slapping one black stone sharply to the goban. Dr. Arisawa opened his hand, revealing a number of white stones.
The number of white stones was even.
Sai won white. They exchanged the goke.
"Onegaishimasu", Sai muttered with a thrill, bowing to Dr. Arisawa.
"Onegaishimasu", was the doctor's response.
The game wasn't a very long one, not because of Dr. Arisawa's skills but rather due to Sai's excitement.
He had had all the reason to be excited, being able to place his own moves for the first time in a millennium.
Afterwards Dr. Arisawa had laughed good-naturedly at his loss and informed 'Fuji' jokingly that he would see if the Japanese Go Association knew anything. Sai knew they wouldn't find anything unless Hikaru somehow happened to hear the discussion.
When Dr. Arisawa had finally closed the door behind himself, Sai let out a mighty sigh and flopped down on his bed, looking eerily similar to his pupil.
That was stressful; he thought tiredly staring at the white cracked ceiling.
He had to wonder what had happened to Hikaru after Sai had faded away. Was the boy still up to his normal shenanigans? In a way Sai hoped he was because that would mean Hikaru would be fine. On the other hand Sai wanted Hikaru to feel his absence, as a proof that his existence hadn't been meaningless to the boy.
Sai bit his lip, turning to his side. He felt guilty for being fine because he just knew that Hikaru would be worried out of his mind.
He looked at the IV which was giving him some mild 'drugs'. Sai found it odd that it didn't hurt to have a needle deep in your arm. But he had to wonder the necessity of these 'drugs'. He could remember Hikaru's school teacher telling that drugs were bad. They had sounded scary with all the hallucinations and addictions and he had told so to Dr. Arisawa.
The Doctor had just laughed heartily and told Sai that it was easier and quicker to say 'drugs' than 'medicine'.
Sai had given up trying to understand at that point.
Modern world had confused him constantly during the past two years with all its complexities and new inventions and rules. He had been very confused even if he hadn't had to actually deal with them. Why could you only cross the road when the light was green? Why was the light green in the first place? Why were all the roads full of strange lines? Hikaru had said they told the drivers how and where they should drive. Sai couldn't see how some lines told you that. They didn't even form any hiragana (or those new, crude katakana)! There was even less of a chance of there being any kanji. Modern world really made no sense. (5)
Although Hikaru hadn't known either. Or at least he hadn't known how to explain.
His pupil really was hopeless.
The rest of the day (actually, afternoon; he had woken up sometime after two p.m.) was spent with a different doctor checking his physical health. Doctor Fujioka asked him pointed questions about how he was feeling and tapped all of Sai's joints with a funny little hammer to check his reactions and nerve workings. After that the said doctor proceeded to poke Sai all over and examine his head (swearing up and down that long hair was a bad thing, like Sai would ever believe such a thing).
He had been given a clean bill of health, except for the "amnesia", of course.
In short, Sai could have walked right out from the hospital if he had had anywhere to go.
Because of all this, Sai had been very happy when the man had taken the IV stand with him. The needle hadn't necessarily hurt, but the thought of it in his arm made him nervous. And twitchy, which wasn't good for a Go player.
Later that evening Sai was standing before the window, letting his gaze linger on the parking lot outside it. His room was located in the South Ward, giving him an excellent view of it. Beyond that he could see roads and houses, disappearing into the distance. The lights along the roads were on and more and more windows in the distance were lighted as the sky above darkened. He could see the very last vestiges of sunlight somewhere on his right.
The sun set on my right back then… in the Palace, too… he thought idly, letting his fingers run over the glass pane, the tips of his fingers examining its smooth texture.
The first few hours awake had been an adventure of sorts to Sai. He had rediscovered many textures; been fascinated by the rough sheets on the bed, its cold metal frame and the weird squishiness of his IV bag. At first he had startled at every new sensation but the novelty was starting to wear off by now.
Someone knocked the door.
Sai bit his lip, closing his eyes and calmed himself. "Come in", he called, pleased to note that his voice didn't quiver as much as he had feared.
"Good evening, Fuji-san", came a mild female voice.
Sai didn't ask how she knew the name he went by, he knew she had read it from the sign outside his door, which read Fuji, Amnesia Patient. He had checked and the papers hanging from the end of his bed said the same.
Sai turned around with a half-forced smile. "Good evening… Takeshita-san", he said, spotting the name tag on the front of her uniform. She was the same nurse as earlier today, the one who had changed his IV.
She was carrying a tray in her hands, which she set on the bedside table with a soft clink. "Your dinner, Fuji-san", she said, smiling brightly.
Sai offered her a hesitant smile back… before his stomach rumbled. He flushed crimson as the nurse laughed, hiding her mouth behind her hand.
"I'll come get the tray in half an hour", Takeshita-san said after getting her amusement under wraps.
Sai only nodded, face still red, as he sat down on his bed.
He waited for the door to close before reaching out for the tray.
Sai's breath caught in his throat and his mouth twitched into a happy smile as the delicious smells found their way into his nose. Rice, fish, carrots-and-mushrooms and a bowl of miso soup. He had never in his life (or afterlife) been so happy to see food. He snatched the chopsticks up and attacked his meal with the fervour of a dying man. After thousand years without food, it tasted wonderful. (6)
The rays of the sun snuck their way in between the drawn curtains. They played across the walls, danced with the escaping shadows, before making their way to the form laying curled up on the bed, beneath the light sheet. The rays met long, dark hair; they smoothed over the gentle curls and met pale skin. They slid over the features of a young, somewhat feminine face and touched the closed eyelids.
"Mmmmph…" the form mumbled and pulled the sheet over its head, trying, in vain, to escape the morning light.
In doing so, the form managed to turn over and…
… fall from the bed.
"Ow ow ow ow owowowow…" Fujiwara no Sai muttered darkly as he sat up, rubbing the lump forming in the back of his head where he had hit it on the floor.
The first time I sleep properly and this is what happens?
Fujiwara no Sai was not a morning person. The only times he liked mornings were when he had a game to look forward to and he couldn't see any in the near future.
He took a hold of the metal bed frame and pulled himself upright, muttering to himself all the while. There was a weird, gnawing feeling in his stomach…To top of all the sudden awkwardness of having to deal with bodily functions, he was doing so alone. Even at that moment, he was feeling a distantly familiar, uncomfortable sensation in…
Sai sighed and ran his hand tiredly through his long hair. He had taken it out of its ponytail last evening and he was now regretting it; he must look horrible. Like an oni. (7)
He glanced towards the bedside table. He had inspected its contents the previous day and he had a distinct impression that there had been a brush in there… And there was. Sai let out a breath of relief and attacked his mess of a hair with same determination he normally showed on goban.
Untangling the mess he had managed to turn his hair into overnight took a surprisingly long time and it included many muffled swear words and stifled gasps of pain when strands of hair were pulled. Eventually Sai managed to tame his hair into a neat pony.
By that time that sensation (which he now recognized and realized had not missed) had intensified and Sai decided to escape from his room to look for proper accommodations for such cases. He determinedly ignored his "not-fit-for-public" –appearance as stepped out of his room and looked curiously around.
Several patients were walking along the white corridor, dragging their IV stands with them and dressed in their blue striped hospital pyjamas. They were either alone or in pairs, talking about something or other. Some of them were clearly heading back to their rooms, judging from their leisure pace, and others were in more of a hurry. They were probably on the same business as Sai himself.
He slunk after these harried looking patients, tucking nervously at the hem of his own pyjamas, trying to ignore the exposed feeling. He was wearing way too little clothes and he was nervous because of it. He felt underdressed. He longed for his long and sweeping sokutai.
Soon Sai encountered one of those mysterious doors with a very simplistic image of a man on it and went in, remembering that here he would find relief to his… problem.
Inside the tiled room, there were several closed stalls on the other side of the room, while the other was filled with white sinks. Sai bit his lip in indecision for a moment. There were two types of sinks. Others were clearly for washing one's hands but what about the others…?
He had kept his distance from these things while living with Hikaru. He had asked Hikaru to show him how they worked (he had had fun ordering Hikaru to flush the toilet multiple times in succession) but that didn't mean he knew everything he needed to know about them. He did have a certain modicum of decency at least. These things were private!
He wrung his hands nervously while wailing internally; Why does such a simple thing as a bathroom have to be so complicated?!
In the end Sai managed to get back into his room after taking care of his bodily needs, mentally adding this to one of the things he really hadn't missed during the last millennium. Besides, the toilet seats in the hospital loo had been more modern, with different buttons and such, and pushing them had given some quite interesting results.
Sai would have to be on his toes at all times. He had to stay sharp if he wanted to survive with all of these mechanical contraptions.
Dr. Arisawa had left the portable goban in his room the previous afternoon and Sai happily folded it open, placing it on the bed before him. He took a black stone between his middle and forefinger, smiling brightly as he placed it down on the board. Sai let his mind wander as his hands put down the stones of a long forgotten game, played between him and Torajirō when the boy was ten.
He really wasn't sure if he could do this. His whole plan depended on his ability to act in a certain way without rising suspicion. That meant he needed information and lots of it. He needed patience and determination. He needed to play his cards right.
This is starting to sound like a giant game of Go, Sai mused. At least I have experience in that area.
The thought caused a thrill inside him.
There was a knock on the door.
"Come in!" Sai called, placing the last stone, the one that made Torajirō resign, on the board.
Takeshita-san stepped in, carrying a breakfast tray. "Good morning, Fuji-san", she said smiling brightly.
"Good morning", Sai answered, eyeing the tray in her hands hungrily. Now that he thought about it, that gnawing feeling in his stomach must be hunger. He hadn't felt hunger for so long that it felt weird to feel it again.
Takeshita-san noticed the direction of his gaze and laughed. "Here you go, Fuji-san", she said, handing the tray to him.
The breakfast, his second meal since dying, was just as delicious as the dinner the previous evening. Soon Sai was already pushing the tray away with a content expression on his face.
Takeshita-san chuckled as she took the tray out of the door, coming back only a short while later, armed with a clipboard.
Sai eyed the board nervously. What was this about? More questions? Was Takeshita-san sent here to make him lower his guard?
She noticed his gaze and smiled slightly.
"Dr. Arisawa is busy this morning so I'll be conducting a brief check up", she said, brown eyes twinkling. "It's only a few standard questions, you don't need to worry, Fuji-san."
Sai nodded and tucked nervously at his (too tight, too rough) sleeves.
"How are you feeling this morning? Any aches or pains?"
Sai bit his lip before shaking his head. "Nothing, Takeshita-san. I'm feeling normal; nothing hurts or anything."
She nodded and wrote something down.
"Have you had any déjà vu's or impressions?"
He blinked, confused. "Déjà vu's? Impressions?"
Takeshita-san smiled apologetically. "Déjà vu is experiencing the feeling that one has witnessed or experienced a new situation previously and impression is what we call what you feel towards certain things. For example… let's say you detest the colour green but you have no knowledge as to why. In short, you have an impression that the colour green, or what it represents, is somehow negative to you."
Sai nodded in understanding, wondering if he should say anything. These two terms opened up a lot of possibilities on how to handle the situation.
"I…" he hesitated. "I think someone should be here. I feel like someone is missing."
Takeshita-san frowned but nodded. "Let's hope your memories return and we can have this person come and visit you."
Sai smiled and nodded happily. Looks like I scored a moku there.
"Anything else, Fuji-san?"
Sai thought for moment before shaking his head in negative. "Nothing, Takeshita-san. I'm sorry."
He felt guilty for lying but he knew he couldn't risk raising their suspicions in this situation. He was alone in a world and time he didn't understand, with people he didn't know.
"Besides that, Fuji-san, you'll need to move to a different room", the nurse continued, tucking an errand strand of dark hair behind her ear.
"Ah… Why, if I may ask?"
She smiled slightly. "Private rooms are for unconscious patients who're sent here without and ID or relatives. They're normally moved to a bigger room as soon as they wake up and their condition is diagnosed."
Sai nodded. "Why bigger?"
"We normally have four patients to a room", Takeshita-san answered. "It makes it easier for us to keep an eye on everyone if patients are in bigger groups. Not as much running around you see, and the patients can also help each other if no nurses are available."
Sai felt his insides freeze and his eyes widen. They were going to move him into a room with three other people? He wasn't sure if he could manage with acting like an amnesiac all the time. The previous day he had enjoyed his few solitary hours exploring the small room he had been given. There had been no one wondering at his weird behaviour (as Hikaru had termed it over two years ago) and he had had a chance to actually be himself. With Dr. Arisawa and Takeshita-san he was only Fuji-san, the amnesia patient. While alone he could be Sai.
Takeshita-san seemed to notice his faintly panicked expression and smiled reassuringly. "Don't worry, Fuji-san", she said in a soothing voice. "We'll ask the other patients to give you some space so they'll know not to bother you."
Her reassurances were actually pretty close to truth and Sai forced himself to relax. He would deal with this. He had to eventually be able to deal with other people and this would offer him a chance to practise without risking too much. They would chalk all of his weirdness up to his amnesia.
Sai smiled apologetically. "I'm very sorry, this all just seems so sudden."
Takeshita-san smiled brightly. "It's alright, Fuji-san. Now, is there anything you'd like to take with you?"
Sai didn't hesitate for a moment before answering. "The goban."
Sai was twitching the whole way down the corridor and up the stairs, pressing the folded goban tightly against his chest and almost crushing both goke in his hands. He could be sharing a four person room with anyone; they could be shouting little children who doodle on the walls and throw Go stones or they could be people who thought Go was for old people (like Hikaru used to… it still was hard to believe how long way Hikaru had come until this point…) and thought him stupid, or they might find him weird and not like him….
"We're here", Takeshita-san said cheerfully.
Sai glanced at her nervously before turning his gaze to the sign next to the door.
The names only told him he would be rooming with three other males; nothing about what ailed them, their ages or what they were like.
Takeshita-san knocked on the door and Sai's hold of the goban tightened.
"C'm in!" a cheerful voice called from the other side of the door. The voice was young, it sounded like he was a few years younger than Hikaru; maybe eleven or twelve.
Takeshita-san offered him a smile and opened the door, calling "Good morning" to the residents as she stepped in with Sai on her heels.
His blue eyes swept over the room, taking in its four beds and its residents. A young boy, obviously the one who invited them in, was sitting at the edge of the bed to the right of the door. His gray eyes shone mischievously while his dark hair stuck up in every which direction; he had clearly taken advantage of the freedom of not having his mother telling him to brush his hair.
Across from the boy, right before the door, was a formidable looking man in his forties reading a newspaper. His dark hair was already greying on the temples and he had a thin moustache.
Next to the window was the third resident of the room, an elder gentleman, older than Hikaru's grandfather if Sai had to take a guess, looking out of the window, sipping tea. Across from the elder man was an empty bed, also next to the window. Sai deduced it was supposed to be his.
"G'mornin'", the boy said smiling, before his gaze turned to Sai. "Is he tha' new roommate?" the boy asked, rather rudely. He stared at Sai for a minute. "He looks like a hippie", the boy added after a moment.
"Now now, Dai-kun", the elder man beside window chuckled, putting his tea down and turning his beady eyes to analyse Sai. "No need to be so rude to this fine young man. I'm sure he won't steal any of those fine pocky your mother keeps bringing you." (8)
The boy blushed while the older residents of the room laughed good-naturedly.
Takeshita-san smiled at the antics. "Indeed, Fuji-san here is your new roommate. Please be nice to him."
Sai flushed at the attention and bowed, rather too deeply. "Nice to meet you", he said.
The others responded in kind. "I'm Damegawa Kouta", the wrinkled man introduces himself, smiling. "On my right is Ogawa Akio-san and that young whippersnapper over there is Kawasaki Daisuke-kun."
Kawasaki-kun pouted at being called a whippersnapper but didn't say anything.
"Hope you don't mind noise", Ogawa-san spoke up in a low, rumbling voice. "Damegawa-san snores like a pig."
"Now now, Ogawa-kun", Damegawa-san hummed, face crinkling as his smile widened. "I do believe you're talking about yourself."
Kawasaki-kun giggled. Ogawa-san shot him a glare and the boy hid behind his pillow with a squeak.
Sai watched the interaction with a bemused expression on his face. He certainly had never expected this.
"The bed over at the window across from Damegawa-san is yours, Fuji-san. I'll leave you four to get to know each other", Takeshita-san piped up and stepped out of the room, closing the door behind her, consequently leaving Sai alone in a room full of strangers.
There was a short, awkward silence before, thank Kami-sama, a child came to the rescue.
"What's yer illness?" Kawasaki-kun inquired, looking Sai up and down, looking for signs of some gruesome injury in a hopeful manner.
"Dai-kun!" Damegawa-san protested. "Mind your manners, young man!"
"It's alright", Sai hurried to assure the elder. "I would rather have people be honest with me." He turned to the boy and smiled slightly. "I suffer from amnesia."
Ogawa-san hmm'ed. "Must be awkward for your family."
"Indeed", Damegawa-san nodded seriously.
"Eh?" Kawasaki-kun looked confused. "Amu Neesha? Wha' does knittin' hafta to do wit' illnesses?" (9)
Sai's lips twitched at Kawasaki-kun's response. Oh, children were so amusing. "Amnesia", he said, pronouncing it very carefully for the boy. "is a condition where one experiences memory loss. I don't remember anything; my name, my age or my family… I didn't have an ID on me when I was brought in so no one knows who I am."
Kawasaki-kun's mouth formed an 'o' of understanding while Ogawa-san frowned lightly. "So your family doesn't know you're here?"
Sai shook his head but didn't say anything. He sifted his weight and bit his lip, glancing nervously around the room. He didn't know what to do or say; should he socialize or go to sit on his bed, perhaps?
Before he could reach a decision, the foldable goban slipped from his hands and clattered to the floor. Sai flushed and refused to meet the gazes of his new roommates as he crouched to retrieve it.
"Do you play Go, young man?" Damegawa-san asked, intrigued.
Sai blinked and looked up meeting the man's gaze before nodding hesitantly. "It's just about the only thing I remember", he muttered.
"I hope you're good", Ogawa-san commented. "Damegawa-san wipes the board with me", he sounded almost insulted.
Sai felt his lips twitch in amusement. "I don't know about good, but I did win against Dr. Arisawa."
"Mou, are you talkin' again abou' tha' borin' ol' board game?" Kawasaki-kun whined. Sai couldn't claim to be very knowledgeable about pre-teens but he did know that they had trouble keeping still and quiet for long periods of time. Kawasaki-kun didn't seem to be an exception. "It's confusin' an' so boorin'!"
Sai fought hard against looking scandalized; he knew very well that most children nowadays found Go boring and a waste of time (Hikaru would have survived with fewer bouts of nausea if he had been an exception to the norm… sadly he hadn't been). He managed it but just barely.
Damegawa-san didn't have any trouble looking affronted at Kawasaki-kun's comment; he huffed and puffed disapprovingly at the boy while Ogawa-san looked amused at the whole situation and Kawasaki-kun clearly regretted his thoughtless comment deeply.
Sai himself decided that he just might survive.
Sai's first day sharing the room with Kawasaki-kun (or Dai-kun, as the boy preferred to be called), Ogawa-san and Damegawa-san was a somewhat harrowing experience. He had been right about it being tiring, pretending to be an amnesiac all the time; half the time he forgot to answer to his new name 'Fuji' and he had to catch himself more than once from blurting out something implicating.
Telling them about the Heian era court life would Not Be Good.
The others did share their life with him. Damegawa-san was a retired ramen chief and Sai made a mental note to introduce him to Hikaru at some point. Hikaru would love to meet a real ramen chief and then demand endless amounts of free ramen… On the second thought, maybe it would be wiser to not introduce them. The old man was a widow and had two children and three grandchildren. All of them apparently visited the hospital religiously every few days, even his apparent 'no-good son' (although he seemed rather fond of the, still unmarried, older child).
Ogawa-san was also married and had two daughters, both of them older than Hikaru. His wife visited everyday while the girls apparently spent most of the visiting hours in cram school, preparing for their high school entrance exams.
Dai-kun was twelve and his mother and younger sister game for visit every day while his father was busy at work and visited less often. The boy seemed to be extremely bored at all times and it hadn't taken very long until he had roped Sai into a game of Shiritori. Sai found himself enjoying the word game; while it wasn't as stimulating for the brains as, say, Go, it was still a good way to keep his mind sharp and collect new vocabulary. Dai-kun was somewhat sour when Sai kept using history related words, saying that "the one good thin' 'bout hospitals is tha' there's no school, why d'ya keep usin' hist'ry words?!" (10)
Sai smiled cheekily at the boy on the other bed. I need my fan, he thought sourly, it adds to the effect properly. "Denkaku", he said calmly.
Dai-kun scowled and muttered something very degrading about palaces under his breath.
"Kuso", the boy offered darkly.
Sai's jaw dropped at the audacity, Damegawa-san gasped "Dai-kun!" and Ogawa-san chortled, wiping tears of mirth from his eyes.
"You should refrain from swearing in the presence of your elders, especially at someone. Actually you should refrain from swearing at all", Damegawa-san was beside himself as he scolded the young boy, who pouted and stared defiantly at the wall, muttering darkly about 'crazy old men'.
Sai frowned darkly, crossing his arms in a huff. "If you don't want to play with me anymore, just say so!"
"Really, Dai-kun", Ogawa-san piped up, amused. "You shouldn't take it out on others if you're losing in a game of all things."
Dai-kun's cheeks flushed dark red but didn't react otherwise.
The disapproving silence in the room was interrupted by a cheerful cry of; "Dai-niichan!"
Sai blinked and turned towards the door, his gaze falling upon a young girl of about five who had shot in through the door and was now happily sprawled across Dai-kun's bed, hugging the poor boy.
A harried looking woman hurried into the room after the girl. From her looks, Sai was pretty certain she was the girl's (Ayaka's?) and Dai-kun's mother. She seemed to be in her early thirties but the worry lines on her face made her seem older, in fact they deepened slightly as she looked at her son and daughter.
"Aya-chan!", the boy wailed in protest. "Leggo!"
"Kawasaki-san, how are you today?" Damegawa-san asked the children's mother loudly over the two's high pitched greetings.
She smiled weakly, brushing an errand strand of light brown hair behind her ear, ignoring her son's protest over being snuggled. "Just a little tired, Damegawa-san", she answered. "Has my son been causing you any trouble?"
Ogawa-san chuckled. "Not us, per se, but our new roommate might be another matter altogether."
"A new roommate?" she blinked and seemed to notice Sai for the first time.
"Excuse my manners", she said hastily. "I'm Kawasaki Midori, nice to meet you", she bowed.
Sai smiled returned her bow. "It's alright, Kawasaki-san. It's nice to meet you, I'm Fuji."
"'Fuji'?" she seemed confused. She seemed to be on the verge of asking why Sai shared the name with the looming, snow-capped 'Fuji-san', Mount. Fuji.
Sai smiled apologetically and was just opening his mouth to explain when Dai-kun answered instead. "Fuji has amnesia. He doesn't remember anythin'."
"Doesn't remember?" the girl said, sounding confused. "How can he not remember?"
Sai leaned towards the girl. "Ayako-chan, right?"
She nodded, greenish-brown eyes wide with wonder.
"I hurt my head and some of my memories got lost", he explained. "Don't worry, I'll find them."
She bit her lip before a smile lit up on her face. "I can help!"
Before anyone could do anything she had already dropped on the floor on her knees and was peeking underneath the beds. "Fuji-san's memories, where're you?" she called.
Kawasaki-san let out a tired sigh while Dai-kun called to his sister; "Ya can't find them there, stupid!"
"Ayako-chan can!" came a defiant reply from beneath Sai's bed.
Kawasaki-san's shoulders slumped in defeat. "Forgive my children, Fuji-san."
Sai only chuckled and waved her apologies aside. "It's alright, Kawasaki-san", he said. "Let children be children."
Meanwhile the older men had been muffling their laughter behind their hands, clearly finding the whole situation entirely too amusing. Although, Sai had to admit, it was quite funny; with Ayako-chan looking for his memories in distress, Dai-kun's face being a rather fetching shade of beetroot red, Kawasaki-san's harried apologising and Sai's own apparent confusion…
His lips twitched.
And he laughed.
A week passed and Sai found himself integrated into the tight-knit group of patients he was sharing a room with.
He found himself spending most of his time with Dai-kun and he has to wonder; what is it with him and looking after preteens? He didn't mind very, some of Dai-kun's enthusiasm reminded him vividly of Hikaru's robust personality and Torajirō's passion for Go. Ogawa-san and Damegawa-san both said it was his responsibility to look after Dai-kun, being the second youngest person the room. Sai went along with it without much protest. He was not going to tell them his real age.
Ogawa-san's gruff manner made him think of his adopted father, oddly enough. The man was rough on the outside but good-humoured on the inside. He had been the one in charge of 'putting up' (using his own words) with Dai-kun until Sai had joined them. It went without saying that Dai-kun had found Ogawa-san "Borin'!"
Sai himself found the man a good source of information; if he had any more advanced questions than the ones Dai-kun could answer, he could always go to Ogawa-san. The man humoured him, answering his probing questions about the programmes in the telly they could watch in the lounge area or anything else Sai dared to ask. He was on his toes at all times, trying to avoid blowing his cover story. He knew he was classed as weird by many other patients but the nurses and his roommates put it all down to his amnesia.
They would never believe the truth if he told them.
Damegawa-san was a cheerful man, very grandfatherly in his manner thought Sai couldn't claim to be very knowledgeable in that area. He chuckled whenever any of his roommates did anything he found amusing and offered his own life-experiences as advice. He drank green tea and smiled fondly and, best of all, in Sai's opinion, played Go with him. Sai played shidō-go for about two games before Damegawa-san realised he was doing it. Instead of being angry, the old man burst out laughing like there was no tomorrow. Sai had been quite stumped but the old man only waved aside his fumbling apologies and asked how many stones would be a good handicap.
Ogawa-san played as well when he felt like but not as often as Damegawa-san. He seemed to be more concerned about how his business was going in his absence and read the newspaper when his wife dropped it off at the hospital every day. Sai felt obliged to read the paper himself after Ogawa-san was done with it. It gave him a chance to learn more about the modern world and it gave him the basis as to what to ask.
Of course, he couldn't seem to find the proper time to read the paper as something was always happening, there were the visitors, the meal times, Dai-kun's hyperactivity, the nurses and doctors poking their heads in for quick check-ups and Sai's own need to socialise.
Even Dr. Arisawa had dropped by to inform him they would be starting his therapy as soon as one of his other patients was discharged and he had all the papers in order.
That had been Monday afternoon, a week after Sai woke up, and Dr. Arisawa had given him the results of his inquiries. There were no professional Go players of Sai's description missing but someone else was.
The Doctor had brought him Go Weekly during his visit, giving Sai all the news of the Go world from the previous week. Everything had seemed normal until he had reached the oteai game results in the back. (11)
Shindō Hikaru – loss by default
Why had Hikaru lost by default? Losing by default meant two possibilities; either Hikaru had cheated (which Sai found impossible, there was no way Hikaru would cheat, not after the whole thing with Mitani-kun a year ago) or… he hadn't shown up. Sai chewed at his lower lip, staring at the game results; Tōya-kun, Waya-kun and Ochi-kun had all won but Hikaru had lost by default.
Something was wrong. According to the magazine Hikaru hadn't shown up at the Young Lions' Tournament, the place where he would likely have been able to play against Tōya Akira, either.
What's wrong with you, Hikaru?
Sai bit his lip nervously, letting his gaze race up and down the page of the magazine. What should he do? If… if this was his fault, for disappearing on Hikaru, then… How could he stay away, like he had planned? He still didn't know enough! He had burdened Hikaru for so long with his inability to do anything, being a distraction and a bother in his pupil's social life among his peers… He needed to learn more, so as not to burden Hikaru anymore.
Sai took a deep breath and closed the magazine with conviction.
"Damegawa-san?" He called across the room.
The old man looked up from his book with a smile on his face.
Sai fidgeted slightly and bit his lip, glancing around the room for an inspiration as to how to ask his question. They were currently alone in the room; Ogawa-san was in physical therapy, relearning how to walk and Dai-kun was up on the roof with his mother and sister.
"Yes, Fuji-kun", Damegawa-san prompted.
"I… I've been wondering some things about my amnesia", Sai said, refusing to look up. Damegawa-san would likely take his red cheeks for embarrassment although in reality they were red because of the lying. "D-do you know where I could find some information on it?" His voice sounded more confident once he finished his question.
His words were quite true this time but he didn't seek the information for the reasons one might expect; Sai wanted to read the books so that he could plan accordingly. Figuring out the best course of action would take time especially while not having all the necessary information for said plan to actually work. With his lack of knowledge of how modern world operated the planning would no doubt be doubly difficult.
Go was much easier. Go was simple.
He wasn't sure if the medical books would help him but at least with them he could (he hoped) figure out how and when he was supposed to remember things. At least he had gotten Go involved early on and could escape into patterns of black and white when all this moderness got too much. Dr. Arisawa bringing him Go Weekly (and the weekly updates on Hikaru) was a plus as well even though Hikaru…
Don't think about it, Sai ordered himself, firmly.
Damegawa-san ignored Sai's awkwardness, much to his relief. "This being a hospital, I think it quite likely that there're medical books stored somewhere. I would suggest you inquire about them from one of the nurses."
Sai nodded slightly and stood up. "I'll go to the nurses' station then", he said and headed for the door.
"Don't get lost, young man!"
Sai shot a smile over his shoulder. "Don't worry, Damegawa-san, I'm not old enough to forget such things."
The old man only laughed softly and waved the long haired youngster out of the room.
That young man will go to places.
Sai walked somewhat nervously down the corridor, trying to figure out the most polite way to ask for the books in his head. 'Would thou tell 'tis humble man where books of medical profession might be found?' sounded so formal even to Sai's ears that he grimaced. No, definitely not that.
He noticed Yamamoto-san limping down the corridor in a dignified manner. When she noticed him, she seemed ready to launch into another long rant about his long hair ("What are the youngsters these days thinking? Don't you know that it makes you look like an ungrateful punk not living up to your parents' good name? The youngsters these days…") but Sai, long used to this by now, only offered a small and polite smile and hurried onwards.
He figured a polite question with no flowery turns of speech would be enough. He tended to fall towards court speak whenever he was nervous but he knew it wouldn't do to do so here. So Sai took a deep breath, plastered a nervous smile on his face and marched right up to the nurses' station before he lost his nerve.
"Excuse me… umm… Yasaka-san", he interrupted the unoccupied nurse nervously.
"How can I help you?" she asked pleasantly enough. Her smile was empty and polite and her words tired. She seemed to be trying to hide dark bags under her eyes with copious amounts of makeup.
Sai fidgeted slightly but met her gaze resolutely. "Would it be possible to… uh… borrow some books?"
She blinked, clearly not sure if she had heard right but nodded nonetheless and rose to her feet. "Yes sir, I'll just take you to the library used by medical students."
Sai had to almost jog to keep up with the nurse's brisk pace but refrained from complaining. She was clearly harried enough without his protests.
Yasaka-san took him down the stairs, down several sets of corridors and up another staircase and through another corridor before she stopped beside a closed door which she pushed open. Sai was greeted by a medium sized library with many high bookshelves full of thick tomes, most of the medicinal in nature.
"I'm needed back at the nurses' station", Yasaka-san spoke up, already turning back down the corridor. "The shelves have signs telling what the books are about. If you're going to take a book back with you, write the code from the back cover on the folder on the table next to the door. Next to the name of the book you'll have to also add your patient number. That you can find in your bracelet. Good day."
Sai blinked after her, nonplussed, not having got any words in edgewise. He sighed tiredly, figuring he could thank her later when she wasn't so busy, and turned to regard the books apprehensively. He had found books… now he just needed to find the right books.
As he walked down the aisles between the shelves, Sai started to realise just how hard it would be for him to find anything here. Most of the words on the shelves were weird and clearly foreign in origin. He would stop from time to time to just sound out the words, wondering what they meant. The one he was currently on said "Gastroenterology"… whatever that meant.
"… warts, lesions, pain... what the hell… stupid people nowadays… no respect for doctors… could at least quit complaining… I'll show them warts… Oh! What're you doing here?"
Sai blinked and turned his head to look at a young man standing on the next aisle he had wandered to. He seemed to be about the same age as Sai himself was… physically, that is. The man's dark reddish hair was somewhat wild and stuck up at the back. He was holding several books and a clipboard and seemed to be wearing a doctor's coat.
"I'm looking for books on amnesia", Sai answered after a moment's hesitation. From the earlier mutterings he was pretty sure it would be unwise to stay in the vicinity of this person for very long. He certainly didn't want any warts!
The man nodded. "Those are in the Psychiatry section", he said. "Three aisles to the left from there", he motioned towards the way Sai had come.
Sai nodded. "Thank you", he said quickly and backtracked to the correct aisle, doing his best to ignore the young man's continued mutterings about warts and… anals? Sai felt himself flushing and quickened his pace.
Sai felt immense relief the moment he entered the empty Psychiatry section. He was met with many thick books with their complicated titles but at least he knew these were the right books. Now he just had to find the best ones to help him with his problem.
Iu wake yasuku, okonau ha katashi, he thought sourly. (12)
After a moment's thought Sai determined that the best way to find the information he needed would be to pull down different books and look over the indexes. It would take time but it wasn't like Sai didn't have any time.
The first few books wielded no results but the fifth one actually looked promising. He turned quickly to the indicated page and started reading.
…Dissociative Disorders are characterized by a disruption in the normal functioning of consciousness, identity, memory, or the world around her / him. Dissociative Disorders can be acute or chronic…
… marked by a dissociation from or interruption of a person's fundamental aspects of waking consciousness (such as one's personal identity, one's personal history, etc.). Dissociative disorders come in many forms, the most famous of which is dissociative identity disorder (formerly known as multiple personality disorder)…
…stem from trauma experienced by the individual with this disorder. The dissociative aspect is thought to be a coping mechanism -- the person literally dissociates himself from a situation or experience too traumatic to integrate with his conscious self…
…a number of other mental illnesses, including post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, and obsessive compulsive disorder...
… seem to be triggered as a response to trauma or abuse, treatment for individuals with such a disorder may stress psychotherapy, although a combination of psychopharmacological and psychosocial treatments is often used…
…Many of the symptoms of dissociative disorders occur with other disorders, such as anxiety and depression, and can be controlled by the same drugs used to treat those disorders. A person in treatment for a dissociative disorder might benefit from antidepressants or antianxiety medication… (13)
The book was depressing to read and Sai absolutely dreaded the thought of actually suffering from amnesia for real. With the way things were going, with both Hikaru and the hospital, he would start suffering from some major depressive disorder before the month was out.
Pretending the symptoms was going to be a pain as well. Sai was pretty sure he could pull it off without too much trouble but the psychotherapy sessions worried him. Hikaru (and Torajirō) had complained often enough of his tendency to ramble on and on about subjects that interested him.
And rambling would be a very bad thing, of that Sai had no doubt. He had managed to get into trouble a few times in court for rambling too much. Never when rambling to women (they apparently found him endearing… he would never understand women) but almost always when he managed to ramble to other men. The other Go instructor had regarded him with disdain because of this and often complained to the Emperor how 'that Fujiwara wasn't taking his responsibilities seriously'.
He would be in so much trouble.
Sai bit his lip, staring down at the open page of the book, his gaze lingering on the simple picture of a human head and brains covered in differently coloured splotches. He supposed the picture made some sense (although he had wonder what 'hippocampus' meant). He hoped this information would be enough. It didn't really tell him very much of how or when he should be remembering but he figured he could wing it. Not too quick or too slow, built it up slowly and in a seemingly random manner.
Like Go, Sai closed his eyes and released the breath he'd been holding. I can do this.
He closed the book and placed it back into the shelf before heading into another part of the library where the signs were written with familiar kanji. It was time to start filling the holes in his knowledge of modern world.
He stopped at the shelf termed 'History' and ran his fingertips over the backs of the books.
Starting after Torajirō's death might be the best way to go about this, Sai mused, after all, he knew a lot about the history before that time. He could fill those holes later if need be.
His hand stopped at the book describing the Meiji period, snuggled between books about Edo and Taishō period. (14)
Sai sighed and rubbed his eyes tiredly, pulling the book from its place in the shelf. Well, best get started.
Sai let out a tired sigh as he ran his hand over his ponytail. He closed his eyes, letting the warm May breeze soothe his headache, doing his best to ignore the fumes of the traffic. He was leaning against the railing on the roof of the hospital, looking over the bustling city stretching into the horizon.
It had been two weeks since he had woken up here in Kyoto.
Two weeks since he last saw Hikaru.
Sai felt his hold tightening around the rolled up magazine in his hand, the reason for him being on the roof in the first place.
Hikaru had lost last week's oteai match by default. Two weeks, two losses in a row. Sai couldn't believe how his pupil was throwing away his career in such a careless manner. Something was wrong with Hikaru.
Sai felt like it was all his fault.
He sighed and closed his eyes tiredly.
"What're ya doin' up here, Fuji?"
Sai blinked in surprise and looked to his right. Dai-kun was standing next to him looking up at him, curiosity evident on his round face.
Sai smiled weakly. "Just thinking, Dai-kun."
The boy made a face. "Ya looked awfully depressed to be 'just thinkin''", Dai-kun observed. "What were ya thinkin' about?"
"I…" Sai hesitated. Should he really say anything to the boy? "I feel like I should be somewhere", he finally admitted. "Like someone needs me."
Dai-kun pursed his lips thoughtfully. Sai waited for the pre-teen's verdict patiently, well used to the length of the boy's thought progress. He had quickly learned to listen to other people's opinions on the things he was supposed to 'remember'. If he tried to avoid them and their opinions and theories, he just made himself seem even more suspicious. In a way, he also felt touched by the fact how all of these people seemed to want to help him 'remember'. They didn't know him but still they were so eager to help him by explaining things that confused him or by answering his questions or by doing these sorts of observations. Dr. Arisawa had been happy with all the things they had brought up when the rotund doctor visited him earlier in the week.
Their notions didn't help his memory but they did give him ideas on how to explain some of his habits and such. He felt bad for using them in such a manner but did Sai really have a choice in the matter?
"Maybe yer married?" Dai-kun offered, glancing up at Sai again.
Sai's mind went blank. Married? He couldn't even imagine such an absurd situation. He, Fujiwara no Sai, married? Absolutely impossible. His brain refused to offer any form of coherent answer.
Dai-kun burst into a fit of uncontrollable giggles. The boy grasped the railing tightly as he laughed, the right hand moving to cover his left side.
"Y-yer face", he choked out, tears of mirth in his eyes.
Sai glared at his young companion darkly.
After Dai-kun finally got himself under control, he commented somewhat breathlessly; "Well, I thin' we can leave tha' possibilit' out… for now", Dai-kun smirked at him evilly.
Sai scowled as he whacked the boy lightly on the head. "Don't ever scare me like that again", he ordered curtly.
"Yer booorin'", Dai-kun huffed. "Almost as borin' as ol' Damegawa an' Ogawa."
Sai frowned and whacked Dai-kun again, slightly harder this time, resulting in an indignant "Ow!" from the boy. "You're supposed to respect your elders, Dai-kun."
"Correction, ya are as borin' as Damegawa an' Ogawa", the boy grumbled, rubbing his head and glaring darkly at the long haired man.
Sai rolled his eyes, propping his chin on his palm and turning back to look at the city, ignoring the boy next to him for the time being.
Dai-kun was still wheezing slightly as muffled giggles escaped the boy. Sai kept a careful eye on him from the corner of his eye, trying to not show his worry, lest he offend his younger companion.
Sai didn't claim to know very much about different diseases and illnesses but he knew that Dai-kun's condition had been serious and he was still recovering. Damegawa-san and Ogawa-san had explained that Dai-kun had had a liver transplant (Sai suppressed the shudder at the thought of having another person's organs switched with his own) a few months ago. Complications were still possible and there was still a large possibility of Dai-kun dying before he turned twenty-seven.
His older roommates had asked him to keep a keen eye on the boy in case anything were to happen. Damegawa-san couldn't keep an eye on him due to his age and his broken hip and Ogawa-san's other leg had been amputated after the car accident he had been in had all but destroyed his leg. Until now Dai-kun had been watched mostly by nurses but they were busy tending to other patients.
Sai wasn't that busy, not really, he could look after Dai-kun with no problem almost all the time if he had to but he knew better. Hikaru and he had enjoyed spending time with each other (not at first, of course, but as they got used to their situation and learned to know each other) but both of them had missed their privacy. Sai hadn't had that much of a problem, having had the same problems before with Torajirō, but a healthy adolescent male like Hikaru had been another thing entirely (Sai still remembered some of the nights in Hikaru's room with horror).
There were no such things in their hospital room though (thank Kami-sama) and Sai had resolved to keep an eye on the boy when he had the time from his studies. Dai-kun didn't mind his company too much so he didn't have any problems either.
He glanced up at the sky as the sun light disappeared from his face. Clouds were gathering and it looked like it was going to rain. Sai turned to Dai-kun and smiled slightly.
"Let's go in, it's going to start raining soon."
Dai-kun nodded, shuffling towards the door with Sai on his heels. The boy liked to pretend he was fine but he knew as well as Sai did that a cold might just do him in. Neither of them was going to risk it even if Sai would have loved to stay outside. He wanted to feel his first touch of rain…
The clean white hospital corridors contrasted strongly with the empty and grey hospital roof, Sai reflected as he and Dai-kun stepped down the stairs into a gleaming white corridor, ignoring the headache inducing glare of the fluorescent lamps. There were other patients on the move through the corridor, some of them accompanied by nurses, some by family. Greeting nods were exchanged as everyone went on their way.
Dai-kun and Sai had arrived to another set of stairs when they heard a call; "Fuji-san!"
They turned to see Takeshita-san hurrying towards them, clutching her clipboard in a death grip.
"Heya, Takeshita-san!" Dai-kun greeted her happily.
"Good day, Takeshita-san", Sai smiled. "How can I help you?"
She offered a quick smile and a hair mussing to Dai-kun, who took them under protest, and turned to Sai. "Dr. Arisawa has scheduled your first therapy for three o'clock this afternoon", she said. "He wishes you to join him then at his office in the North Ward."
Sai nodded in understanding. "His name's next to his door, then?"
Takeshita-san nodded in affirmative. "And you can always ask the other nurses for directions", she said, glancing at her watch. "Excuse me, I've to go, Yamamoto-san is complaining about her joints again, she doesn't seem to realise that her blood pressure is the problem, not her joints…"
… and she was gone down the stairs before either of them could say anything.
"Well, Yamamoto's an ol' bat anyway", Dai-kun offered in a sagely manner after a moment of silence.
Sai's hand delivered a swift smack at the back of the boy's head without any thought on his part.
"OUCH! Quit the abuse, will ya?!"
The quiet tapping of his steps resounded in Sai's ears as he walked down the corridor towards Dr. Arisawa's office. He was only a bit early from the appointed time but he just hadn't been able to stand Dai-kun's new favourite bothering method (Sai was cursing himself up and down and across for telling the boy someone was missing). The boy had gotten both Damegawa-san and Ogawa-san into it, too, all of them speculating together what kind of person his non-existent wife was. Damegawa-san had even introduced the thought of him being involved with a man (Sai shuddered at the thought).
He didn't even dare to think how they would react when it came out that the person missing was Hikaru, although he was sure Dai-kun would love him. Those two had too similar personalities if you asked Sai.
His blue eyed gaze landed on a sign with the kanji for 'existing' and 'swamp' on it. He sighed and glanced up and down the corridor before raising his hand to knock. There was no response.
Should I go in or wait?
Sai stared at the doorknob in indecision. He knew both Hikaru and Dai-kun would probably barge right in without any regard to common courtesy. Whereas Sai wasn't either of the two he still didn't want to stand around the door like a stray potted plant. He would be stared at, he knew. Everyone stared at him and Yamamoto-san had listed all the reasons why, of course…
Come to think of it… I think she had an appointment with Dr… Ukai, his gaze landed on another name plate on the other side of the hallway.
He stared at it for a moment before decisively opening the door of Dr. Arisawa's office. He was not going to wait around for that old lady to show up.
The office was, to his knowledge, pretty standard. A table was positioned before the window and seemed to be swimming in papers, books and manila folders. Sai could only just make out a magic bo-, computer, he corrected himself amidst the mess. Several file cabinets seemed to be victims of the same fate. He didn't dare to even glance towards the bookshelves.
In the corner near the door was a light-brown coloured couch pushed against the wall and looking surprisingly inviting. Next to it stood a small spindly-legged table and an equally spindly-legged chair.
"Ah, Fuji!" came a sudden voice behind him and a force hit him in the back.
Sai let out a girlish scream as he whirled around, eyes wide, expecting to be eaten by one of those scary looking trucks.
It wasn't a man-eating truck but instead it was Dr. Arisawa who looked extremely cheerful for it being such a dreary afternoon. It was probably coffee, Sai knew, the man had told him that coffee was his dirty little secret and it made him horribly chipper. Sai didn't see any reason to even try coffee, he was quite happy to have his first cups of tea for centuries. Not that he had even liked it that much back when he was alive. (15)
"D-doctor Arisawa", he stuttered, trying to calm down his racing heart. "P-please don't do that again."
Dr. Arisawa's expression turned apologetic as he clasped Sai's shoulder reassuringly and led him properly into the room and towards the couch.
"Would you like some tea, Fuji?" Dr. Arisawa asked.
Dr. Arisawa wasn't only friendly but he was also informal. He didn't use honorifics if he could avoid it and insisted his patients do the same. Sai himself had a lot of trouble with this. He didn't mind being called Fuji but manners had been pounded deep into his head and his mannerisms practically screamed his good background. He couldn't act like your average Japanese no matter how hard he tried.
The reason for Dr. Arisawa's informality was quite simple and Sai appreciated the simple logic behind it. Dr. Arisawa had told Sai that his job was to help his patients and most of them found it easier to connect with someone who didn't act all high-and-mighty.
"Yes, please", Sai answered, fiddling nervously with the hem of his shirt.
Even after two weeks Sai still had trouble getting used to wearing his hospital issued pyjamas. Their style was almost complete opposite to his court clothes which were big, loose and comfortable.
Sai had felt oddly naked ever since he had woken up and been given clothes to wear. He couldn't hide behind his sleeves and most of his old mannerisms were now without a meaning. He didn't need to tug his long, sweeping sleeves back if he wanted to play Go, he didn't need to move his arms in a certain way to avoid tripping over his sleeves, he didn't need to be careful with them, not to the same extend as with his old clothes.
Instead of his sokutai, he was wearing long trousers which didn't exactly cling to his legs but felt too confining nevertheless and a simple shirt. Shockingly enough, he actually liked the socks he had been given. He didn't even mind the hospital issued patient sandals.
These clothes required a completely different way to act; no sweeping gestures or large folds of cloth; just simple small movements were enough. He didn't know what to with his hands anymore. He wanted his fan back. He needed at least some familiarity in this unknown situation.
He didn't know how to act anymore.
Sai watched silently as Dr. Arisawa moved towards the small corner of the office. One of those strange modern contraptions (this one he had seen before, back at Hikaru's home and even at the Go Association) sat on top of a small cabinet and Dr. Arisawa clicked a small switch on it, causing a soft hum fill the room. Sai bit his lip nervously as he listened to Dr. Arisawa taking out two cups.
"How are the nurses treating you?" Dr. Arisawa asked cheerfully.
"They… are very nice to me", Sai answered softly. "They are happy to answer any questions I may have, even the stupid ones", he flushed and looked down.
"The only question that's stupid is the unasked one", Dr. Arisawa said wisely.
Everything was silent until the water came to boil.
Sai sat quietly as Dr. Arisawa finished preparing tea and nodded thankfully when a cup was placed on the table before him. He tried to ignore Dr. Arisawa's gaze as he sipped the tea. The aroma was earthy and the taste made him think of woods. It was certainly loads better than dancha. He actually rather liked it. (16)
"Anything special about any of the nurses?" Dr. Arisawa's voice was teasing.
Sai felt his face heat up. "N-no! Th-they are a-all very nice and and-!"
Why was the man asking him this? These kinds of things weren't talked about back then. He did remember other people teasing Hikaru about girls and Hikaru teasing them back but Sai himself found it rude and disrespectful. Sometimes it felt like people didn't appreciate women. Besides Sai had been raised to believe that women should always be respected and no shrewd comments were allowed.
Dr. Arisawa laughed. "You don't need to get so defensive Fuji! I was just asking."
Sai blushed and apologised. Dr. Arisawa immediately threw his apology aside like it had never happened and admonished him for being too timid. As Dr. Arisawa explained it, there was a chance that he would never remember his past and if that happened he had to be ready to face the real world outside of the hospital. He wouldn't be able to function properly if he was scared of everything.
Sai nodded, he couldn't let other people walk all over him. It wasn't only below his status as a noble but also below his own expectations. He wanted to be able to live on his own if he needed to. He didn't have time to be timid.
"How does this therapy work?" Sai took a plunge in the dark knowing he had to get this over with sooner or later.
Dr. Arisawa hmm'ed and tapped his lower lip with his finger. "Generally we just talk about things. I ask you questions about your past, trying to probe your brain to remember. I may give you random words and ask how you feel about them and the things connected to them. Then we do more probing. Sooner or later you'll start to remember something. To do those things you need to be comfortable so I just try to make you relax by asking general questions that have no real connection with your past."
Sai nodded, pulling his long legs up to the couch with him. If he was supposed to be comfortable he needed to sit in seiza. Dr. Arisawa raised an eyebrow at this. Most people did not consider seiza very comfortable for a long period of time but Arisawa reasoned it was one of those Go things. He would probably be more comfortable on the floor… (17) Dr. Arisawa thought.
"You're a very good Go player, or so my meagre skills tell me", Dr. Arisawa said then. "How do you feel about Go?"
Sai mulled over the question thoughtfully, sipping his tea. "I like Go… a lot, I mean. Playing makes me feel…good. I feel connected with my opponent and trying to outwit them makes me excited and try even harder."
Dr. Arisawa smiled. "I could tell. You were smiling the whole time we played. I myself am only a casual player. I know the rules and can win against weaker players but I've never felt the need to get better. I rather prefer talking to people."
"Why?" Sai asked. He couldn't see how someone could enjoy talking to other people to the same extend he enjoyed playing Go. "I can't see how that works…"
"Weeell…" Dr. Arisawa started thoughtfully. "When I talk about things I like to other people, it makes me smile, and it makes me happy. If you like the people you're talking to, that makes me happy, too. I can see the same reaction from other people. They smile and laugh when they enjoy other people's company; they laugh and smile when they talk about things they like."
He looked at Sai more closely, before giving him a secret smile. "I feel connected to those people and that makes me happy."
Sai smiled. That actually made sense.
"How do you think you learnt Go?" Dr. Arisawa asked. "Personally speaking, I was sick when I was twelve and staying at my grandfather's house and I didn't have anything better to do."
Sai frowned, pretending to think hard. How to best explain it without giving anything away...? "I don't really know… I think someone just taught me the rules and then I just started playing…"
Dr. Arisawa looked impressed. "One of those child prodigies then?" he teased.
Sai shrugged. "I don't really know."
He wasn't exactly lying either. His grandfather had taught him how to play at a young age, much to the young boy's annoyance. Sai hadn't wanted to learn, not really. He would've rather spent his days running around and flicking mud at his various high-ranked cousins. He had spent his days in this manner until he turned five and his grandfather forced Go on him. At first he was lost among the lines of the goban and the black and white stones confused him. That is, until his grandfather died. After that Sai had resolved himself to learn Go because that was the only thing his grandfather had left him.
Although, he didn't completely give up his other pastimes. When he felt childish, he still threw mud around and laughed behind bushes when his cousins descended into swearing. There was no better entertainment than reducing nobles of the court to swear like common folk.
It was even funnier after he started beating them in Go. Then they swore even more.
In the spite of all this, Sai really wasn't sure if he would be considered a child prodigy. Hikaru certainly counted as one what with his nonexistent Go knowledge before Sai came along. Tōya Akira wasn't a child prodigy either, not really. Compared to Hikaru, Tōya Akira was average. He had had twelve years to hone his skill to this extent compared to Hikaru's measly two years.
Sai himself had had a millennium. No, he certainly was not a child prodigy but with the way things were bound to go it would be the only explanation he could give.
Sai was pretty certain he was going to have a horrible headache before the therapy session was done.
As May turned to June, Sai's studies had progressed to the point where it became obvious that he would also need books about history outside of Japan. He sighed in defeat as he trooped to the library again and again to look up more books. As he did so, the amount of foreign words and references in the texts increased exponentially which forced him to search for a dictionary of foreign words.
It didn't take very long for that book to become very worn and tattered.
In between his studies and therapy he spent time with his roommates, playing anything but Go with Dai-kun, playing Go with Damegawa-san and Ogawa-san, listening to Damegawa-san and Ogawa-san talk politics and taking part whenever he felt comfortable enough to do so (which wasn't very often). Those talks were very informative and Sai felt like he learned a lot by listening to them talk. They talked about things that had happened months ago and how these things would affect them; they talked about the new overtime regulations, the new prime minister, how Ehime Maru sunk in last February. After 8th June they wouldn't talk about anything else but what happened in Ōsaka. (18)
Sai couldn't stand to stay in the room and dragged Dai-kun with him, away from the depressing talk, and played Jinsei (19) with the boy until they felt it was safe to go back.
He hadn't yet ventured outside the hospital. Takeshita-san had offered to bring him out for a walk in the neighbourhood but Sai had refused. He knew he was being childish and ridiculous but he didn't dare to leave. He didn't know or understand yet how things worked and didn't want to risk it. What if one of those construction trucks drove over him?
Takeshita-san may have lost that fight but she won a different battle immediately the next day. She (along with the other nurses) had decided that he would need to learn to use technology properly. Dr. Arisawa thought it was a splendid idea and it didn't take very long until Sai was sat down in the nurses' break room to be taught about the wonders of water heater.
It had been surprisingly easy and he didn't cause nearly as much trouble to the nurses' when they decided it was time for the second lesson.
Sai's therapy progressed slowly but steadily. He made sure to slip some information about his past, to give Dr. Arisawa the impression that he was starting to remember.
When asked about his childhood, Sai would stop and ponder for a moment before answering honestly. He was pretty sure he had been happy but he had a feeling his family had been a bit distant with him. He never outright lied if he could help it as it was easier to keep his story straight if it matched the reality closely. Sai included details whenever he thought it was safe. Dr. Arisawa laughed long and deep when Sai admitted hesitantly, like talking of a half-forgotten memory that he had used to fill people's shoes with small animals; toads, mice and fish. And mud. He had liked mud a lot as a child.
He knew Dr. Arisawa was using this information trying to find Sai's family. He tried not to feel too guilty about this futile effort and concentrated on being touched by the gesture.
He oftentimes felt like he was playing a game of Go against some higher power. Sai was trying to learn to be independent and get back in contact with Hikaru while not letting the truth out. He felt like his opponent was trying to expose his subterfuge and prevent him from meeting Hikaru ever again. It was hard and stressful but at the same time Sai felt thrilled of the chance. He was starting to feel a bit more like himself as time passed.
Sai had resolved to be well enough to meet Hikaru again by the time a year had passed.
1-Norikakatta fune (乗りかかった船) is a Japanese proverb, meaning In for a penny, in for a pound.
2-Kodomo no hi (こどもの日,)Children's Day, on May 5th, is a traditional Japanese holiday. It is a day set aside to respect children's personalities and to celebrate their happiness. Families put up carp shaped flags; you can see them outside Hikaru's window in both manga and anime when Sai disappears.
Kamo River was, during the Heian period, the eastern border of the capital (Heiankyo) because it's unnaturally straight. It's also pretty near the place where the palace used to be. Kyoto University Hospital is the nearest hospital to it in the east bank and the palace grounds.
3-Kuriginu, tate-eboshi are the Japanese names of Sai's clothes. The robe is called kuriginu and the hat tate eboshi. BTW, the fan is called sensu but I was too lazy to use that. I'm no expert so correct me if I'm wrong.
4-Hayate, Ren are Japanese male names. Hayate means smooth and is a part of a dog's name in another series. Ren means lotus or romance, love, depending on the kanji. I don't mean to offend anyone but I find the idea of Sai disliking these names extremely amusing.
5-Hiragana, katakana, kanji are the three different characters used for writing in Japan. Kanji originally came from China, hiragana was created during the Heian period (and was used in Genji Monogatari – The Tale of Genji, written by Murasaki Shikibu (possible real name being Fujiwara Takako)), katakana is the newest and used to write loanwords (i.e. English). It's also used in many official documents. Although you probably knew all of this already. BTW, Akira and Hikaru's names are both written with katakana in the series.
6-I've only eaten sushi once in my life and couldn't really enjoy it because I hate soy sauce… Anyway, Sai's meal is based on the third picture on http:// mitchieville . com / category / hospital-food/. I don't (unfortunately) know the names of these dishes.
7-Oni (鬼) are creatures from Japanese folklore, variously translated as demons, devils, ogres or trolls. They are popular characters in Japanese art, literature and theatre. Depictions of oni vary widely but usually portray them as hideous, gigantic, creatures with sharp claws, wild hair, and two long horns growing from their heads.
8-Pocky (ポッキー) is Japanese snack food; a bread stick with different flavoured (banana, strawberry, chocolate, etc.) coatings. They're good but in places like Finland, freakishly expensive although I've heard that you can find them cheap from, for example, London, UK.
9-Amu (編む) is a Japanese verb and means knitting, plaiting, braiding etc. I figure Japanese pronounce amnesia somewhat along the lines of "amuneshia".
10-Shiritori (しりとり) is a Japanese word game in which the players are required to say a word which begins with the final kana of the previous word. (Denkaku (palace) - kuso (shit))
11-Oteai games determined your pro rank according to how well you played and the players got cash for all the games. They didn't include komi (the extra points for white, you know what I mean) and they were used from 1927 to 2003.
12-Iu wake yasuku, okonau ha katashi (言うわけ易く、行うは難し) is a Japanese proverb, meaning Easier said than done.
13-Quoted from http:// psyweb . com / Mdisord / jsp / dissd . jsp #tp
14-Edo (江戸時代,), Meiji (明治時代,) and Taishō (大正時代,) periods are periods from Japan's history, ranging from 1603-1868, 1868-1912 to 1912-1926 respectively. Honinbō Shūsaku lived in Edo period and Sai showed his knowledge from that era by helping Hikaru with his social studies test in Vol. 1.
15-Tea was brought to Japan from China in the early Heian period (794-1185) and was back then called dancha. Dancha is a brick-like ball of fermented tea leaves. Since this type of tea did not taste good, people gradually lost interest. Japanese people only really started liking tea in 1200s (the Kamakura period). I believe the seeds were different but again I'm no expert.
16-Bancha tea (which I made Sai's first experience of modern tea) is a common green tea with a very low level of caffeine. It's described having a toasty, woodsy taste and earthy aroma and its colour is yellowish brown. It's pretty mellow and even kids can drink it without choking. I've never tasted it so don't ask me if I think it's good.
17-Hikaru's insei test, anyone? If you don't believe me, try sitting in seiza. Girls have to sit with their knees pressed together while boys can fit their fist between the knees. And sitting in seiza on thefloor is more comfortable than say, on a bed or a couch (I actually did research on this… by sitting in seiza on my bed and floor).
18-These are real Japanese news from spring 2001. My condolences to the victims, and their relatives, of June 8th, I'm in no way trying to dishonor or mock them.
19-Jinsei game is called the Game of Life in North America. A board game about life.