A/N: This is my first solo attempt at fanfic writing, and the first story I'm producing in about 3 years or more. So any reviews will be very helpful as I get back into the swing of writing.
This will follow along some similar scenarios that happened in the Hikaru no Go anime. I do not own the anime/manga or the characters, only my O/C, Rei. With that said, enjoy!
Rei adjusted the backpack on her shoulder, looking up at the Go Salon sign. The rest of the members of her Haze Go Club had recommended she get out to some salons to work on her game- and possibly hunt down some new members for the club with any luck. The latter probably wouldn't happen, as it seemed most teens weren't interested in Go.
But she knew she would indeed improve her game. Playing against her classmates- and grandfather- all the time wasn't allowing her to really progress. She was in need of new challenges if she wanted to get ahead.
"Hmm, well I guess this Go Salon is as good as any, right?" Rei shifted her weight nervously. The only adult she'd played was her grandfather. Facing a bunch of strangers was slightly unnerving. With a deep breath, she entered inside.
Looking around, she was in awe. The salon was really beautiful, and to see all the people there playing was just incredible to her. "It's nice to see so many other people who like Go." She hadn't realized she'd voiced this aloud until the girl behind the counter spoke up.
"It's something, huh?" She smiled at Rei warmly. "Have you been here before?"
Shaking her head, she replied, "No, I've never been to any Go Salon."
"Well, what would you say your skill level is so we can pair you up with someone?"
"My skill level? Hmm, I dunno. Like I said, I've never been to a place like this so I don't know how it works. I'm pretty good though, if that's what you mean."
Rei noticed another teen out of the corner of her eye. "I can play you if you'd like," he offered. He had a sweet smile, which seemed to have an infectious quality on Rei as she couldn't help but grin back. He looked to be around her age, with a lithe form, dark brown hair cut to his chin, with an unusual green cast to it, and the most gorgeous aqua eyes.
"Sure, that'd be great," Rei replied, curious about him.
"Um, I dunno Akira," the woman at the counter said. "She doesn't even know her skill level, so she should probably be playing the beginners."
The teen waved his hand dismissively. "Oh, it'll be fine. Besides, I can play a teaching game with her to find out."
"Well, alright, I suppose." She looked at Rei. "And since it's your first time, I'll wave the entrance fee for you, m'k?"
"Thanks!" She turned to her new opponent with a smile. "Shall we get started?"
Akira nodded, motioning her to follow. They went into a small section of the salon that was empty and more isolated from the others. She dropped her bag next to the table. "Akira, right? I'm Rei." She offered her hand, and he shook it politely.
"Good to meet you. So, have you been playing Go long?"
"A few years now. But I only get to play with a few different people, so they suggested I check out a Go Salon for more practice."
"Smart idea. The more people you play the more potential you have to improve." He handed her the container of black stones. "Did you want to play a teaching game then?"
Rei shrugged. "Sure. I'm more of a laid back player anyway."
Akira found she wasn't kidding with her earlier statement. She made strong, smart moves that were very advanced for teens his age. But she did it all with ease, as though she were simply playing a casual game. He could see the potential in her strategies, and couldn't help but wonder what she would be like playing a serious game. For the moment, she moved like a passive lioness, but he could see the inner fire that could turn her into a wildcat.
By the time the teaching game was over, Akira was convinced he was dealing with someone who was more than the average player. She was good- very good, in fact- for her age. Sure, she looked to be the same age as Akira, but he was playing at a much higher level than his peers... until now. Without any handicap, she had only lost by 2.5 points. Granted it was a teaching game, so Akira had held back, but he could tell she had done the same.
"Thank you for the game, Akira. It was a lot of fun." As she bowed, her long red hair draped around her face. Akira couldn't help but notice how pretty she was while they'd been playing. She had a small frame, fair skin, and striking grey eyes. He watched as her long fingers collected the black stones off the board- delicate, yet strong and showed signs of building calluses from her time playing Go. She was certainly intriguing.
"Would you like to play another game?" she asked him.
Akira grinned. "I'd like that."
She returned his smile. "I could use a drink before we start though. Is there a vending machine?"
Akira nodded, taking her over to the area where they were. As she pondered her choices she glanced over at him, noticing he was watching her. "So what school do you go to?" she inquired, attempting to engage in polite conversation.
"I just enrolled at Kaio."
"Get out." Rei looked at him in surprise. "That's got to be great. Their Go Club is incredible! I'm sure you're Captain, right?"
"Actually, I'm not in the Go Club. My father doesn't want me to play in amateur tournaments."
"He doesn't like Go or something?" Rei had turned to press the buttons on the machine, so she missed Akira's smirk of amusement.
"No, he just feels my level of play would discourage the other kids."
The soda clattered to the vending slot. "Seems weird to me." She popped the top, taking a drink as she looked at Akira. "You should consider it at least. I'm in Haze's Go Club. We'll be lucky if we find enough people to compete in any tournaments though."
"Really?" Akira was somewhat shocked by that. Who wouldn't want to play Go?
"Yeah, we finally have three guys, but I'm the only girl." She took another drink. "It's not so bad. They're all really good players. They're the ones that suggested I come out here. They said my game was going to get stagnant if I only played them every day."
Akira nodded. Now he understood what she had said earlier. Only three people to play games against? That must really be frustrating, he thought.
"Anyway," Rei smiled, pulling him from his thoughts, "shall we go play a real game? I'm not sure what you think of my skill level, but I feel like taking you on for real now."
Akira saw a flash cross her eyes, a spark of fire that made him hesitate a moment. Perhaps he was indeed right about her hidden strength. With that look, he was suddenly aching to find out.
As they were headed back to their game table, a man walked in the salon, spotting Akira. "Ah, Toya-san," he said, causing Rei to stop dead in her tracks. Toya? "I was hoping to find you here today. Would you happen to have time to play a teaching game with me?"
Akira smiled politely at him. "I'm sorry Maiko-san, but I already have a game at the moment."
Maiko glanced over at Rei, slightly taken-aback it seemed. "That's quite alright. Perhaps another time."
"Of course," Akira replied, starting to walk off to their table, Rei hesitating before following.
She overheard Maiko ask the woman at the counter about her. "It's unusual for Toya-san to play children his own age. Who is she?"
"I don't know," the woman replied. "She showed up here about an hour ago wanting to play."
"Well, I hope Toya-san won't overwhelm her. There aren't many children who want to play the game anymore."
Rei turned her attention back to Akira who was just sitting down. "Toya?" she questioned, still a bit surprised by this new revelation. "As in Toya Meijin?"
Akira looked down at the board, a slight flush creeping up his face in embarrassment. "Yes, that's my father."
"Hmm." She plopped down in her chair, startling him a bit. "Well that explains it then." When Akira gave her a quizzical look, she explained. "Why you haven't joined Kaio's Go Club. You must be an Insei right? They're not allowed to compete in amateur tournaments."
"Actually, I'm not an Insei."
"Really?" She tilted her head to the side, studying him. "But don't you want to become a pro like your father?"
"Sure, eventually. But you don't need to be an Insei to take the test. My father would rather me stay in school and study with him."
Rei nodded. There was silence for a few moments as she continued to look at him. But Akira seemed to be focusing on something else. "Well then," Rei finally spoke up, grabbing his attention. "I believe we were supposed to play a real match..."
There was a smirk on her face, and that same look of fire passed behind her eyes. Akira didn't know anyone besides himself with that look of determination and passion- except his father, of course. "Yes, let's begin."
With that, Rei immediately slammed down a stone. It caught Akira slightly off-guard. Already she was showing a different side. Rather than being chatty and lackadaisical about placing her stones, she was leaning over the board in deep concentration. Akira could see the lion baring her claws. This sent him into his usual mode, slamming his stone forcefully in response.
Another slam of a stone, almost immediately. Rei had a strategy in mind, though with someone as highly skilled as Toya, she knew she'd have to alter that plan quite a few times as the game progressed. She was aching to see just what he was made of, and how she stacked up with him. She knew she had little to no chance of beating him in an even match, but she wouldn't make it easy either.
As the game progressed at an alarming rate, Akira glanced up at his opponent. She responded to each of his moves without hesitation, without being intimidated. He attacked her hold in the upper left, only to have her respond with an aggressive Knight's move.
Every move, she matched step for step, able to juggle her forceful offense with her watchful defense. She didn't make gaining territory easy, and on more than one occasion she snatched away his. Her fangs were bared, and she would be at his throat if he wasn't careful.
The game seemed to end as suddenly as it started. Akira slammed the last stone down, the crack echoing the finality of the match. They nodded to each other, moving the stones in order to add up their territory and captured stones. In the end, Akira looked at the board with wide eyes. Rei had won by half a point.
"That was incredibly close. I think that's the most intense game I've ever had!" Akira could hear the tone in her voice return to normal, and a quick glance confirmed her eyes were a cool grey once more. The lioness returned to rest.
He took a deep breath, trying to steady his nerves a bit. A half point! He lost by only half a point! But a win was still a win, and Akira was not used to losing, especially to anyone his own age. But he had to admit, he shared her feelings on the game being intense. He couldn't remember ever feeling so exhilarated in a game before. Even though he had just lost, those feelings were still swimming inside of him like a new type of drug.
Akira looked up at her, returning her smile. "That was an amazing game," he admitted. His voice had become husky with the rush. He didn't know what else to say. He was impressed by her ability, her passion, and the sheer difference in her playing from their first match.
The lioness before him stretched out, and he couldn't help but admire her some more. He wasn't sure what all these new feelings were, mixing with his adrenaline. The pure intensity was intoxicating. "You're an excellent Go player."
She stopped stretching and smiled at him. Rei was feeling a rush very similar to Akira's. The challenge, the thrill, everything was engulfing her at that moment and it was amazing. "Thanks Akira, you're one hell of a player yourself. I had a lot of fun."
"Same here," he replied, surprising himself. Akira had never had much time for fun in his life. But he figured this was probably the most he had had in a good long time.
Rei glanced at the clock, noticing the time. "I really should get going home. Do you think I could come back and play you again?" She looked at him hopefully, holding her breath. She didn't know why, but she hungered for another battle like that.
Akira smiled, "I would enjoy that. I'm here almost every afternoon."
She smiled brightly. "I'll hold you to that." She stood, slinging her backpack on her shoulder. "It was good meeting you Akira. I'm glad it was this salon I ended up wandering into."
"Me too," Akira agreed, standing to walk her out.
"Same time tomorrow?" she inquired at the door.
"I look forward to it," Akira replied in earnest.
She smiled at him. "See you then, Akira."
"So how did she do?" The receptionist asked Toya after the new girl had left.
"She beat me by half a point." He wasn't looking at her though; he was watching the door, almost longingly.
"What!" The woman gasped. "Well, how many stones did you give her?"
Akira looked over at her with a slight smile. "None." With that, he left her to her shock, and went back over to his game board. He looked down at the board with a new feeling in his chest.
Rei hopped onto the subway train, smiling brightly. She was still feeling the effects of that game, positively glowing with energy. What was it about that Akira guy that brought out such a fire in her game? She knew very well she should never have been able to beat him, but she had. It was a strange feeling. She had to see him again, and not just because she had to play him.