All of them were sullen as they went home.
"Bye," Hikaru called out as they all turned out to leave.
Each gave a slight nod, waved, and headed off.
What's wrong with them? He thought to himself. They were all happy when they said yes to coming. As he locked the door behind him, he set his new yukata aside.
Well, whatever. He was pretty sure they were going to get over it once the festival started. Who wouldn't be in a happy mood once they saw the laughing cherry blossom tree? It was the main attraction of the now most famous sakura viewing spot and it was rumored to make all their wishes come true. For sure, they could all promise to strive to be the strongest go player of their time there!
As the days wore on, everyone still seemed to be troubled.
"What do you mean you aren't sure you're going to the festival?!" he yelled.
He asked each of them individually but they gave the same vague answers.
"I am going," they answered shakily. "I just have some things to think over."
All of them sort of avoided him after giving him that bs answer and from being probed deeper by any other questions. They all had that determined look before they left as if thinking about something.
He sighed sitting next to Kaga one afternoon.
"Everyone doesn't seem to want to come anymore," he complained.
Kaga looked at him raising an eyebrow. "You seriously don't know why?"
"They said they wanted to play go," he answered rolling his eyes, "but we can always play another time after the festival. They said they needed to decide who's better or something, but didn't they already see who in the tournament? It's still too early to change the results when they know each other's strength and weaknesses!"
He sighed at Hikaru's answer and got up.
"Wait!" Hikaru called out. "You're still going to go, right?" Kaga was the only one he hadn't asked yet.
"Maybe," he gave the same type of vague answer. "Sorry, but I have to go," he continued walking.
The boy went up and followed him.
"You can't follow me!" he yelled shaking him off.
"Why not?!" he stubbornly shot back. "Where are you going?"
His eyebrows furrowed and his face turned slightly red as he stopped trying to push him away.
"To play go,"
Hikaru let his arms drop as he looked up at his friend with defeated eyes. Not you too…
Everyone was gathered around three go boards on the tatami floor getting ready when the door slammed open and they turned around. Hikaru was seething angrily with his hand to the screen door.
"Stop playing," he ordered.
They all turned their focus to the person behind him. What the heck, Kaga? Mitani thought annoyed. He wasn't supposed to know where they were. The culprit only turned his head guilty. He couldn't shake Hikaru off even when he said no. They all sat there frozen.
"Fine," the boy finally gave up. "Let me play too, then."
"Sorry, Hikaru," Isumi told him in a stern face, "but this is for us only."
The boy went up to them and sat down.
"You have three boards right here," he pointed out, "We can play three games at a time with an even number."
"Hikaru," Akira softly called out. "This is really important. You can't play."
The blonde finally snapped from being excluded. "What are you guys competing for anyways?"
Everyone seemed so determined to play. He got that it was an addicting and intriguing fun game, but there was something else going on. There was an awkward silence as they all turned their heads. Akira covered his mouth with his hand when he noticed that Hikaru was staring at him the most.
"What?" he asked.
"You're the one being most unfair," Hikaru accused. "You know everyone here can't beat you yet."
All of them snapped their heads back up with eyes open. Oops. Hikaru looked around. He shouldn't have said that.
They all gritted their teeth except Toya where a small hidden smirk crept up.
"Ahem," he blushed at his honesty and tried covering it up with a fake cough.
Kaga pushed Hikaru out of the way. "We'll just see about that!"
He went and took Hikaru's spot on the go board in front of Akira. Was that a direct challenge?
"Yeah!" Waya joined in. "We haven't played yet!"
Mitani and Isumi nodded with them and they all gathered to face each other.
"Just go wait outside," the four of them turned to Hikaru, "and wait till you see just how good we are!"
They pushed him out of the room and locked the door.
"Hey!" he yelled hitting the door.
He sighed frustrated. What's gotten into those guys?!
It was fun that they were all go freaks but why was he being left out? He was one too!
He was filled in a bad mood when he entered the go salon. It was a different one than the one he usually went to since he didn't want to bump into anyone he knew; he didn't want to see anyone that would remind him of those four. The blond went ahead and sat down at one of the tables and started playing by himself.
If they wanted to play go all day long and maybe miss the Sakura Festival, then that's just fine with him! He slapped a stone hard on the wooden piece.
"Is that how you learned how to play?"
Hikaru shot his head up not noticing that a frown was still pasted at his face. The person greeted him with a smirk.
"Yeong Ha," Hikaru called out in surprise.
"Mind if I play?" he asked already taking a seat.
"I thought you wouldn't be the type to go to Go salons," the boy remarked as he cleared the stones of the board.
"Yeah, well I was just wandering around looking for something interesting. I didn't think I'd bump into you here though."
Yeong Ha looked around and Hikaru laughed.
"You lost Soyun, didn't you?"
The Korean scoffed. He didn't need Soyun to guide him! He was already used to Japan.
The red head leaned forward as his orange hair fell near his hand that held up his face. He didn't intend on playing seriously when he was still at his break before he went back to Korea. His eyes playfully analyzed the boy in front of him.
Hikaru noticed the other boy's gaze and stopped; he took a small look back at him then looked away. Damn, he and Mitani had the same hair, theblond threw the stones back into the container.
"Did your girlfriend break up with you?" Yeong Ha teased.
"What?!" Hikaru leaned back in surprise. "No!"
The Korean turned his head disappointed. "Yeah, you wouldn't have a girlfriend."
The boy blushed hard. When did this guy get so friendly?! And is this how he speaks when he finally learned Japanese?!
"I just thought you looked really mad," he continued.
Hikaru slumped back in his chair. "It's not that," he grumbled. "It's just some of my friends are being really difficult."
"Oh," the other boy turned back interested but calmed when he saw his face and decided to drop it.
If he said any more maybe he'd tick the boy off.
The two started to set up the board and start the game but after a while, Hikaru's play seemed really distracted. This wasn't how an experienced player should play! It wasn't even worth continuing.
"Just stop," Yeong Ha let out annoyed.
The boy looked up and he could see the emotion in his eyes.
"Maybe you should take a break," the Korean sighed. Hikaru looked at him tired and Yeong Ha couldn't hold it in anymore. "There are other ways to get your mind clear," he suggested.
When there was just silence, the Korean stood up to go when he suddenly remembered something.
"There's going to be a festival soon," he said turning back.
"Yeah, the Sakura Festival," the boy answered.
He wore a sad face which the Korean didn't get.
"The laughing sakura tree, that's what's it's called right?" Yeong Ha smiled trying to cheer him up. "I've been hearing a lot about it. They say that if you ask someone a question under that tree, the person always goes with it saying yes, no matter how ridiculous it is. There was something about the tree having special powers but I forgot about it already. Maybe you could show it to me."
Hikaru finally smiled. "And what are you going to ask me?"
The red hed kept a secretive smirk. "You'll know when you take me."