A/N: First fanfic for the Hikaru no Go fandom! Yaaay! I don't know how to play Go myself, so I'm using about five different sources (two dedicated just to the effing vocab and three for strategies/gameplay/etcetera) just to describe the games themselves. I'll try to go into more detail if the games are plot-significant, but for the rest expect vague gameplay. Any help with my Go-related ignorace would be very appreciated.
Disclaimer: I do not own Hikaru no Go.
Pairings: Right now, still too early for any romance, and this fic won't really concentrate on it in any case.
Warnings: This fic is intended to be DARK. It's AU, for starters, and Hikaru will come across as a bit OOC - thanks to the AU. Will also eventually incorporate many adult themes, so this fic is not for the overly-sensitive. There will also be OCs, but they won't hijack any spotlights - they're just part of the plot.
Currently, this story is expected to contain the following, whether it be implicated or explicitly shown: BL ("Boys Love" - of varying degrees, may or may not include canon characters), yuri, het, dubcon, pedophilia, drug and alcohol use, extreme violence, child neglect, child abuse, (unrealistic view on) crime syndicates, profanity, sexual deviancy, sexual misconduct, noncon, prostitution... And this may not be all.
Again, this will be DARK.
In Which There is Hikaru and Sai, Money and Go
The apartment was silent, only the quiet shuffling of light footsteps treading down the hallway pervading the oppressive silence that always seemed to reign here. The hallway light remained on, the sole occupant of the 2 1/2-bedroom apartment not quite feeling the need to illuminate his own passage - something about the darkness made him feel safer, even if he was alone. He trailed his fingers lightly over the wall as he passed, a subconscious gesture as he stopped a couple meters away from his intended destination.
Shindou Hikaru evaluated the door in front of him. It was a plain brown, void of decorations and kept closed at all times. For 12-year-old Hikaru, the door was forbidden territory - a rule in place the moment he had been moved into this apartment. He had followed it dutifully for the past two years and previously had no intention of breaking it, but desperate times called for desperate measures. The kitchen cupboards weren't going to fill themselves, after all, and it wasn't like his father would actually know Hikaru had gone in there.
His stomach grumbled traitorously, urging his feet forward. Hikaru picked the lock - his father was the only one with the key - and didn't spend any time dawdling in the doorway. He had approximately three hours before his father would return from work, which should be plenty of time to rifle through the various items stored away in the room and see what he could pawn off.
I'm going to have a ramen first, Hikaru decided, eyes scouring over the room filled with cardboard boxes. A big, steaming bowl of it, with extra chicken...
He bypassed the still-taped boxes labelled 'Mom's Stuff', heading towards the corner his father had shoved all of his late grandfather's things. Hikaru didn't remember much of Shindou Heihachi, just that he used to have warm hands and smelled of peppermint and ink. Hikaru's father talked very rarely of him, and when he did his words were not kind - just as well, though, as Shindou Masao had very few kind words at all.
Hikaru pulled things from the chest in the corner gingerly, examining a worn clock with vague interest, deciding the golden trim could make it somewhat valuable. (Or, at the very least, it could yield enough money to afford a drink.) Another half-hour later, Hikaru had only discovered a small music box with a broken switch, a tin full of foreign coins, and a pair of sapphire earrings. He gave the box full of his mother's things a brief look of consideration before deciding that his gathered items could at least afford his dinner tonight.
Which was, of course, the moment he caught sight of the woodcraft in the corner. A perfectly-sculpted goban that reflected back the luminescence of the room's ceiling light, catching on and illuminating the spatter of burgundy staining the otherwise immaculate board.
It was half-way buried under a mound of old clothing and a fine layer of dust, but nothing that some spit and callous brushing couldn't get rid of. The stain was proving to be an annoyance, and in Hikaru's criticizing eyes, something that would definitely affect the overall value of the goban. The price dropped by at least a few hundred yen because of it.
"Damn stain," Hikaru muttered, realizing his rubbing was futile. He'd still take it though - the thing was definitely more valuable than the other trinkets he had found, and would be at least a week's worth of food.
You can see it? You can see the stain?
Hikaru's heart threatened to pop right out of his throat, and he swiveled around so fast that it took a moment for him to realize that he was still alone - no enraged father standing in the doorway. Besides, the voice hadn't exactly sounded furious...
"What the hell?" Hikaru looked around the room; surely he would have heard if someone had broken in. "Who's there?"
You can hear my voice?
"Come the hell out here!" Hikaru hissed, pressing himself against the nearest wall and grabbing the first thing accessible - a hangar.
You can, you can! All powerful God, I thank you!
There was no chills down the spine, no ice in the air, nor any darkness sweeping over the room - just a light that blinded him, like looking directly into the sun after hours spent inside. It stung but left no spots in his vision, instead materializing into a white fabric that tied into the ancient-styled outfit-
I will now return, return to the living world.
-of an older man.
Then Hikaru knew only a pressure against the inside of his skull before darkness finally came sweeping in.
"This kind of shit only happens in movies, you know," Hikaru started conversationally, looking quite content lying sprawled on the floor of the storage room. He managed enough energy to turn off the light and close the door, letting the apparition currently floating over him explain his own tragic tale as Hikaru tried to wake himself up from what he had thought was a strange dream. When multiple pinches to his own cheek didn't wake him and his father came stomping by the room, Hikaru resigned himself to the reality that he was being haunted.
"And I want you to know that I feel slightly cheated. Most people get possessed by ghosts wanting revenge or something, but what do I get? A ghost obsessed with a board game. Somewhere out there, somebody is laughing at me," Hikaru continued just as glibly.
Sai pouted at him, the tone in the older male's voice veering dangerously into pleading, "But Go is so much more than a board game!"
"Must be," Hikaru mused. "Since you killed yourself for it and all."
Now Sai looked ready to burst into tears.
"Look, why don't you just go haunt someone else? I'm not seeing how I'm going to be much good to you; playing an old man's board game isn't really up there on my list of priorities," Hikaru suggested tersely.
"I can't! Fate has decided you and I are bound! I can never leave your side!"
"At least get out of my head," Hikaru grumbled. The spirit's abrupt invasion of his mental privacy would not bode well - for either of them.
"The connection is already established," Sai explained, looking around the room. "It cannot be broken."
Hikaru glared at him, still too tired to move and see if he could actually hit the damn guy. "You are so lucky that I don't have enough money to pay for an exorcism."
"Hikaruuuu!" Sai cried, aghast.
Hikaru ignored him. "I can't even play Go, you know; the only reason I was touching your haunted artifact there was to see if it would be worth anything. Since you've already latched on to me, though, I guess that means I can sell it-"
"That's Torajiro's goban! You can't sell it!" Sai immediately interjected.
"Don't worry, I doubt he'll miss it," Hikaru replied blandly, "Since he's dead."
"No! You can't sell it!" Sai cried, tears flowing.
Hikaru cringed, curling in on himself before instinct took over, turning his head to the side as he emptied out his stomach and onto the floor. Fortunately - in this circumstance - his lack of anything actually in his stomach meant the expelling was swift and nothing more than saliva.
"Alright already," Hikaru hissed, curling up again as he struggled to fight down his rising nausea, "I won't sell the damn thing, you infant!"
Sai stopped, peering down at him in concern. Hikaru glared at him weakly, inching further away from his own regurgitation as quickly and quietly his tired body could manage. "Where the hell did you even come from? Were you really stuck in that goban this entire time?"
Sai nodded, "After Torajiro passed away, my spirit returned to the goban until I met you."
Hikaru flopped on to his back, peering up at the ceiling, Sai's face illuminated above him by some unseen light. Hikaru studied the features as best he could - the man's face was pretty, with high cheekbones and colored lips - before a small smirk began to curl his own lips.
"Bad luck there, Sai; it's a rotten time."
Hikaru didn't know the first thing about Go. He knew what the board looked like, the different pieces that made up the game, and that it was played between two people - but beyond that, such as rules or where the damn game was actually played, he had no idea. He'd gone to the local library to brush up on some of the mechanics- what were the librarians going to do, scold him for reading? - and he'd learned a bit of the more basic rules. Sai had looked surprised at some of the additions - like the rule of Komi - and had been excited about the developments. Most of the phrases went over Hikaru's head, but as long as Sai understood the present rules and Hikaru could at least navigate the board, it should end well enough.
Luckily for Sai, his vessel didn't need to know the rules or even the location of where Go games were held - as Hikaru had a sharp enough memory to remember where else he had seen a goban.
Unfortunately for Sai, his first game wouldn't take place anywhere grand. Hikaru knew Go salons existed - there was even one a few blocks away from his apartment - but he also knew there was an entrance fee. Five hundred yen might not seem that much, but as far as Hikaru was concerned, that five hundred yen was something to be saved for things like meals or subway tickets.
Hikaru was only a short bus ride away from Ikebukuro - a popular district that was just short of becoming the next Chinatown. More importantly, Ikebukuro housed a discrete parlor that saw age as nothing more than a number and had no qualms about letting even grade-schoolers into its murky depths.
Zhēng Kai Yǎnjīng was located on the second story of a run-down looking strip of shops, stained white blinds keeping what lurked in the shop hidden from prying eyes, the front door covered with a deep red curtain where a worn sign tiredly proclaimed them 'Open'. (Hikaru idly wondered if they ever really closed - as far as he could recall, he'd never once seen the door locked.) Walking inside without hesitation, only a few of the other patrons gave him a scrutinizing look before continuing whatever had been their past time. The owner, a genteel-looking young man with close-cropped black hair and a scar interrupting the smooth arch of his left eyebrow, gave Hikaru a welcome wave and small smile before fluidly re-entering conversation with the old gentleman huddled at the desk, angrilly barking at him in rapid Mandarin.
"We can play Go here?" Sai asked dubiously, looking around the room. The floor was dirty tile, the kind of off-white that spoke of years of abuse. Bead curtains separated the room into three different sections, with each section holding about three to four tables each; one appeared to be dedicated to a violent game of poker, all of the men participating over the age of 30 and smoking like chimneys. A larger portion of the room held four mahjong tables, though it looked like only two games were in progress - it was noticeably the quietest part of the room, but smokes and alcohol wafted strongest from that point. The last section was where Hikaru was headed - three short tables with worn gobans, accompanied by plush armchairs that had seen better days. One game was already in play, but the second table held one middle-aged gentleman taking a long drag from his cigarette and watching his neighbors' game idly.
Hikaru plopped down in the seat across from the man, eyes raking over the man's frame; black slacks, a pressed white button-up shirt with the first two buttons undone, and a simple silver chain necklace draped around his throat. Not a gang member - or, at least, not yet - which meant he was a safe opponent.
"Hey," Hikaru began, drawing the man's attention to him. "You up for a game?"
The man didn't say anything for a moment, giving the boy a quick once-over as he took another drag. Finally, with a crooked smile, the man put out his cigar in the shared ashtray and nodded. "You any good, brat?" the man asked, Chinese accent heavy but words undeniably clear.
Hikaru chuckled, uncapping the Go stones. "We'll see, I guess," Hikaru replied, looking over the bowls. The stones were surprisingly clean - were they new? - and nothing deadly looked to be tucked inside the bowls. "It's been awhile since I've played. I might be a little rusty."
A phrase Hikaru had learned. Hikaru nodded, reaching for the white stones and grabbing a handful. The man placed two black stones on the board - a call for 'even' - and Hikaru placed his own handful on the board.
"Odd - looks like I'm first," Hikaru observed, clearing the board. The man grunted in either an affirmation or as a means of telling Hikaru to get on with it - the boy wasn't sure but didn't think much on it. Why mess with the language barrier any more than necessary?
"5, 14," Sai instructed.
Hikaru couldn't read a board. He had no idea what the shapes meant, what the play of black and white against faded wood meant. He only counted the lines and placed the stones where Sai instructed, but at any other time his eyes went to his opponent to watch the pace of the man's expressions. His opponent had started off looking bored and sure of himself, but as their game progressed well past half an hour, the man's expression began to draw more closed: his lips thinned, his eyes narrowed, and he never once looked up from the board.
Very briefly, Hikaru wondered what it was the man was seeing. Was it something awe-inspiring, some kind of might that Hikaru could likely never understand?
Hikaru blinked at the sudden admission - he'd been zoning as he waited for the man to make his move - and openly stared as his opponent bowed his head, barely catching the small scowl on the older male's lips. Hikaru looked down at the mesh of white and black on the board, having no idea what had happened. His confusion had apparently leaked into whatever link he shared with Sai, as the spirit calmly informed his companion that "He knows he can no longer continue and has surrendered the game."
Like I really know what that means, Hikaru inwardly snorted, tilting his head at the older man. At the very least, Hikaru had established his possessor was somewhat decent at the game.
"Hahahahaa~ What a one-sided game!" a far-too-cheerful voice observed, garnering both players' attention. The young shop-owner was leaning over their board, evaluating the finished game with a wide smile.
Hikaru couldn't stop the grimace that rose to his lips, "Don't you have other customers, 'Nii-san?"
Zhi YueJun glanced at Hikaru, smile only widening. "Hikaru-kun doesn't like my praise? I see that you won - I didn't know you could play iGo~ Why didn't you ever tell me?"
Hikaru rolled his eyes, "Like you really care what my hobbies are."
Zhi laughed. "I always like to know things about my favorite people~ Although your playing style is unlike anything I've ever seen. Very...old. Some would say outdated even."
Hikaru didn't respond, looking down at the stones. So the patterns could even be read by age? Not that Sai could really help it - he has been trapped in the goban since the 19th century. Hikaru could only hope that the ghost learned a more modern technique quickly. For now, Hikaru just wouldn't acknowledge anyone commenting on his 'outdated' style.
"Chiao-xiānshēng," Zhi started coolly, giving Hikaru's opponent a gaze full of needles as the man attempted to slink off, "Remember the rules. Hikaru-kun is a patron, too."
Ah, yes, one of the few rules established in Zhēng Kai Yǎnjīng - penalizing the loser. It was more like an enforced gamble- you lose a game to another patron, you give that patron something. You lose a game to the owner or any of the employees, you owe the store something. Hikaru had never really suffered under it before - he hardly took part in games, instead preferring to do odd jobs here and there for Zhi. (Which was the reason why he was waived the entrance fee of 500¥.)
"Minimum is still 1500¥, isn't that right, 'Nii-san?" Hikaru asked innocently.
"Right indeed, Hikaru-kun~" Zhi cooed.
Chiao glared, digging into his wallet and throwing a couple bills down. Hikaru snatched them up without mention, counting eagerly. Not too bad, about 1800¥, Hikaru noted. At least now I can afford the bus ticket back home and even dinner. I guess you are pretty useful, Sai.
"Hikaru, I want to play again!" Sai complained, throwing his arms around the boy. Hikaru lurched forward before regaining his balance, shooing off Zhi's concern and giving a quick glare to his companion. Sai apologized, releasing him and looking rather dejected. Hikaru gave a mental roll of the eyes before turning his attention to the two men who had been playing next to him; their game was already over and they were watching in vague amusement as Chiao stomped out of the parlor.
"Do either of you want to play a game with me?" Hikaru asked.
Zhi chuckled, already starting to clear the boy's goban. "My my, someone certainly is hungry for amusement," the man said. "There are other ways to get attention, you know."
"Those other ways aren't the kind of attention I want," Hikaru dismissed, ignoring Sai's confusion.
The taller, more wiry one of the pair across from him snorted, gifting the boy with a smirk. "That's too bad - I know some people who would pay good money for it."
His counterpart glared at him from across their cleared goban. "The boy said he isn't interested, Kakei-san; don't act like such a lech for once." He ignored the other man's sputtering as he stood and sat himself in Chiao's former spot, distractedly brushing a loose bang out of his eyes. "I'll play with you, child. Better me than either of these two perverts, in any case."
"Yamamoto-san is so mean," Zhi grumbled, finally wandering away and over to the poker table (where it looked like one man was seconds away from strangling his neighbor). Yamamoto's former opponent just sneered, standing up and exiting the shop.
This game lasted only about five minutes longer than his last one, though Yamamoto was much more serene about the whole affair. A given, Hikaru supposed; whatever might Sai possessed was probably seen in his last game, and if the man had been watching (which he had, as made obvious by his lack of surprise), then he already knew what was in for him. Hikaru wasn't even going to ask why the man decided to play a game with him when his loss was inevitable, as even he knew what it meant not to look a gift horse in the mouth.
"Makemashita," Yamamoto said, giving Hikaru a small smile. "You are very good - how did you learn?"
"I didn't," Hikaru answered honestly, counting the money Yamamoto had just handed to him. "It's not really me playing, but my friend. I'm his hands."
"Not only does a child play shidougo with me, but now he also speaks in riddles," Yamamoto sighed, apparently deciding he was just being made fun of. It said quite a lot about him that he took it with such good-humor; Hikaru had seen people pull out blades in this shop for something far less. Not to mention that the man had given him over twice the amount of the minimum; it looked like Hikaru got lucky tonight and scored a sympathizer.
"What's your name, child?" Yamamoto asked, starting to clear the board.
"Matsuda Hikaru," he answered, sweeping the remaining stones into the correct bowl. "I'll drop by here a few times, but don't go looking for me."
Yamamoto laughed, but it was much darker-sounding the the light smile on his face belied, "Of course, Hikaru-kun. There's no need to reveal the lie, yes?"
And before Hikaru could respond, the man stood and left.
Hikaru looked up at the call, watching warily as Zhi ambled towards him with his ever-present smile. The man only capped the bowls, brushing his fingertips over the goban as if checking for any additional markings.
"It'd be best for you to head on home now, Hikaru-kun," the man said, reaching his other hand forward to idly brush the bangs out of Hikaru's eyes. The boy stifled the urge to flinch, unused to the physical contact and not quite liking to receive it from this particular man. "The entrance fee goes up after 7 p.m., and I really don't think you'll like the new entertainment."
Hikaru stood, careful to avoid any more unnecessary physical contact, "See you later then, 'Nii-san."
"Are we going back tomorrow, Hikaru?" Sai asked, keeping at the boy's side as Hikaru navigated down the alleyway. The boy had swung by the nearest convenience store for a small bento meal for dinner, swiping a chocolate bar when the cashier had been busy ogling a high school girl as Sai did the same to the rack of sunglasses (though in the latter's case, it was more like a confused stare and multiple cries of "Hikaru, what are these? What do they do? Hikaruuu!")
"I have school tomorrow, but we can probably stop by afterwards. Hopefully there will be more people to play, too," Hikaru replied busily. He'd forgotten to do his homework again, but he was used to his teacher smacking him over the head for it. Hikaru didn't hold much hope for ever graduating anyway.
"Try to beat them as fast as you can. The faster we go through them, the more money we can make," Hikaru said. He kicked an out-of-place cardboard box away from the entrance to his apartment complex, striding down the long corridor and up about three flights of stairs.
"Hikaru, Go isn't about money!" Sai objected instantly as the boy opened the door to his home.
"You're only saying that because you don't need it," Hikaru muttered, kicking off his shoes at the entrance and clicking the lock into place. He spared a moment for wishful thinking - Please don't let my dad come home, please don't let my dad come home - before plopping himself down on the floor of the otherwise barren living room, pulling off the cover to his meal and starting to dig in.
Sai frowned at him but said nothing.
End Chapter One
A/N: Just to get this out of the way - Ikebukuro, as far as I know, is not about to become the next Chinatown. I just read some article awhile ago saying something about how someone is trying to organize the 200-some Chinese businesses around there into a Chinatown. I just needed a setting for my pseudo-Chinatown that wasn't Yokohama, because Hikaru doesn't have enough money to get to Yokohama. XD
On the OCs: They won't be so main as to hijack the spotlight from Hikaru or any of the other main canon characters, but some of them are pretty important and have a heavy hand in the plot itself. Right now (in my story notes) there are about ten major OCs. They won't be gliding into Mary Sue or Gary Stu status, since I designed each one to be complete monsters in their own right...