"Hey Akari, can I borrow some money?" At her exasperated look, he quickly added, "I'll pay it back in a month, I swear."
"I knew something was up. You never call me first unless you want something out of me."
"Sorry, sorry," he said, raising his hands in a placating gesture. "I'm kind of broke at the moment, and there haven't been any tutoring jobs in a while."
"Why am I not surprised?" She rolled her eyes.
"Does that mean a yes?"
"No, I'm saving up for Mitani-kun's birthday present. I have no money to spare for you."
"So cruel! Think of our childhood friendship -"
"It's for your own good, Hikaru. I can't have you relying on me to bail you out of these situations." She stood up with great dignity. "Besides, one incompetent boy is all I can handle at the moment."
"Waya! Just who I was looking for! Can you lend me some money?"
Waya raised an eyebrow. "What do you need my money for? You're making more than me, aren't you?"
"I, uh, overestimated my budget," Hikaru said with a forced laugh. "Oh come on, help your best buddy out, won't you?"
"Best buddy? If I'm your 'best buddy' how come I only ever see you at Morishita-sensei's? You spend all your time with that Touya Akira."
"That's...not entirely true -"
"Oh yes it is," Waya retorted and turned away. "Besides I never lend money to my friends."
"Long time no see, senpai."
"Why, it's Shindou-kun, isn't it? I saw your latest match in Go Weekly. Congratulations on your win."
He grinned. "Heh, thanks."
"How've you been? It really has been a while."
"Fine, fine...say, Tsutsui-senpai, I'm kind of in a bind right now. Do you think maybe you, uh, lend me a little -"
"If you're asking him for money, no can do. Tsutsui's wallet is reserved for me," Kaga said, as he draped one arm around Tsutsui's shoulders. He gave a shark's smile. Tsutsui immediately blushed.
"Sorry, Shindou, we've just moved into a new apartment," as he blushed harder, "and we're short on spare cash at the moment."
"Oh," Shindou said despondently.
"Cheer up, kid. If you're really desperate, I can always see about a part-time job for you," Kaga said, with a sly wink.
"Uh, I don't think I want to know," Hikaru said and hastily left the table.
"Grandpa, give me -"
"Don't even think about it."
"Oi Touya. How about placing a bet on this next game?"
"Oh? What are the stakes?"
"If I win, you give me money." Seeing Touya's disapproving expression, he added, "As a loan. I'll pay you back, I promise. I wouldn't even be asking if my rent wasn't due before my next paycheck."
"And what do I get if I win?"
"Anything you want from me. Uh, within reason. Equivalent value, I mean."
"What about, if I win, you'll tell me the truth about Sai?"
"Not this again," Hikaru groaned. "I said equivalent value!"
"Fine. If I win, you give up on ramen for a month."
"Ramen...money...food...having money to buy food...why must you drive such hard bargains, anyway?"
Touya simply shrugged. "Deal or no deal?"
After the game, Touya asked, "Why do you need money anyway? Are you broke?"
"Yeah, I, uh, kind of splurged last month."
"When you left on that trip?"
Hikaru nodded and pointed at a shelf. "I bought that in Hiroshima."
"A flower vase?" Touya picked up the ceramic and carefully turned it over. "This is an antique."
"Yeah, it dates back to the Edo era. Not a Keichou by any means, but it still cost a lot." Hikaru sighed. "It reminded me of someone."
"I see," Touya said softly and placed the vase back on the shelf. "Shindou?"
"I can lend you whatever you need, but I'm still holding you to your word. No ramen for a month."
"Aw, Touya, you're so mean."
Touya just smiled and began to clear the board.