Disclaimer: I do not own Hikaru no Go or any of the characters below.
Shindou Hikaru was happy.
He was seventeen years old and today had been promoted to 3-dan. Akari had congratulated him, he had finally asked her out, and she had said yes! Then, this afternoon he had gone to Touya's Go Salon and had actually won. It wasn't the first time he had won against Touya, but this time it felt like he'd won because he'd played a great game, not because of some fluke. Touya and he had fought, of course, and he'd stormed out, but it didn't really matter; that was their way of being friendly with each other. Now he would go home, eat ramen, replay one of Shuusaku's games and go to bed. Yes, everything was going well.
If only Sai were here.
Hikaru gripped his fan a little tighter. It was amazing how strong his feelings were whenever he thought about the ghost, even this long after Sai's still unexplained disappearance. For example, not too long ago Hikaru had panicked in the middle of the night because he couldn't remember what Sai's voice sounded like. He had raced to the bathroom to hyperventilate and his parents had come to worry over him. Oddly enough his father was the one who eventually calmed him down. Hikaru's father's voice was a lot like Sai's, only deeper and without that constant smile behind it. His mother couldn't understand why Hikaru now went out of his way to talk to his father.
Still, Hikaru found himself reciting details about Sai so he wouldn't forget. Just what shade of blue were his eyes? What did he do with his fan besides point out moves during games? What were his opinions on this subject or that modern 'improvement'? He did this because he was worried (as much as he allowed himself to without going into the condition he'd been in the first few months after Sai's disappearance) about his state of mind concerning his old friend. These days he could go for a whole day without thinking about Sai, and had once even caught himself wondering if he had imagined the ghost. Of course, if he doubted Sai's existence, all he had to do was mention NetGo to Waya. No matter how he worded it, Hikaru could not believe that he had created that Go himself.
Even now, after two years alone, Hikaru missed Sai's constant presence. He missed his unwavering support when no one else believed Hikaru was worth it, his reproaches on Hikaru's lack of manners, his enthusiasm for Go, and even his whined "Hikaruuuuuuu!" Hikaru still talked to the ghost constantly, although it had been years since he'd pushed for an answer.
Sai had only come back once, and that was in the dream after his first match with Touya. Hikaru firmly believed that the ghost had actually been there and had truly given him the fan. After that Sai hadn't come to him in his dreams. He had dreamed about the ghost since then, though. Once or twice he'd had nightmares about his disappearance, but usually it was just his normal dreams with the addition of the ghost. When Touya's father had come home from working with the Beijing team, Hikaru dreamt that a printer was trying to eat him, and instead of saying anything helpful Sai kept asking what a printer was supposed to do. The next day Hikaru had run into Touya-sensei, and the former Meijin had asked tentatively about Sai. Instead of answering, Hikaru had smiled and gone into an all-out ramble into everything he knew about printers, how they worked, what they did, and any trivia he had picked up at Mitani's sister's NetCafe. Touya's dad seemed to understand, but Ogata-sensei and Touya, who had been nearby, treated him like a bomb about to blow up for the next several days.
He never could define what his relationship with Sai had been. Sai was his teacher and he was Sai's student, of course, but that sounded far too distant and only covered a small part of their relationship. They were too close to be just friends or brothers, and thinking of Sai as his father was just...weird. Hikaru believed that there was no word for the unique bond, but he sometimes wondered how Sai felt about it. After all, Hikaru had made tons of friends since he was twelve, but in the same time, the only friend Sai had ever made was Hikaru. Hikaru knew that Sai watched over his friends and cared about them, but didn't think about that too much. It was disturbing that Sai had considered himself part of his Go club or Insei group and cared so much about Hikaru's friends and their Go, but they had never even heard of Sai.
Yes, Hikaru was happy, but sometimes he was afraid he would forget Sai, or he'd wish Sai would come back to him in a dream again, or he'd wonder how the greatest Go player of all time could become so caught up in the drama of a Junior High Go Club, because sometimes a fan and a game just weren't enough.