Another chapter in my story with no plot.
Touya tells Shindou a bedtime story. The story is loosely based on the movie Amadeus, so if you haven't seen that you might not understand this very well. Perhaps spoilers for Amadeus as well, though it's the sort of movie one can enjoy even if one knows the whole plot in advance. I think so, anyhow.
One thing Touya had worried about, before he moved in with Shindou, was whether sleeping together would be difficult for him. Not sleeping together as in having sex. The sex had been fine. Well, almost always. There had been awkward, clumsy moments at first, even some embarrassing ones, and once an actual fight after Shindou had laughed at exactly the wrong time. But no worries, really. What had worried him was sleeping with, well, with anyone. Even Shindou. Touya had been an only child and had never really had close friends his own age to sleep over with. The idea of sharing a bed with another sleeping person had been, well, a little uncomfortable to think of, so Touya was surprised how quickly he got used to it. Not just used to it, but to like it, even to need it. The bed felt vast and empty tonight without Shindou. He had managed to sleep most of last night, and Shindou would be back from the go convention tomorrow night. But tonight he just stared at the ceiling.
Shindou had been strangely reluctant to go to the convention. Normally Shindou was enthusiastic about any sort of a trip, but this trip had required considerable urging (an uncharitable person might have called it nagging) on Touya's part to get his boy friend to go. He had had to remind Shindou that even now a large part of the go community remembered him as the one-dan who skipped all his matches. Only after he had practically dragged Shindou to the station and pushed him onto the train did a memory surface: wasn't it just after attending a convention just like this one that Shindou had abruptly started skipping his matches? Could there have been any connection? Had something terrible happened to Shindou at the convention? Maybe it wasn't something he should have been reminding Shindou of, after all.
Touya sighed. What was the point of thinking about such things? If Shindou explained his actions of that time by now, when would he? Though Touya had begun to sense that it wasn't because Shindou didn't want Touya to know. It was because talking, or even thinking about it all was painful for Shindou. In any case, Touya wasn't able to sleep just now, that was certain. He thought about going over some kifu but he knew he wouldn't be able to concentrate. He needed something mindless to do. That's when he remembered that DVD that Ichikawa-san had lent him.
It probably wasn't sensible to be watching a subtitled DVD when his eyes were too tired to focus properly. Did it even make sense for the characters to be speaking English in the first place? That made about as much sense as it would have to have them speaking Japanese. It should have been in German…maybe with some Italian here and there. The opening scene wasn't all that appealing either, with the crazy old man cutting his throat. Still, he had to do something. And Ichikawa-san would probably ask him about the movie, so he ought to at least watch enough to be able to make an intelligent comment about it.
So Touya settled down to watch the movie, paying only a bit of attention to it. Thoughts of Shindou, the go convention and of course Sai still wandered through his consciousness and distracted him from the story. It didn't seem all that interesting. An ambitious musician, who runs up against someone with awesome talents who unfortunately happens to be a loudmouthed jerk who wears flashy clothes and—
Ichi kawa-san and her sense of humor. If Touya had watched this a couple of years ago, either his head would have exploded or, more likely, he would have blockheadedly failed to see the obvious parallels between and Mozart and Shindou. Not to mention between himself and Salieri. Now that was unflattering, Touya thought.
He watched the whole thing. Sad but compelling in a way. He knew that Mozart was doomed to die young, so that aspect of it didn't surprise him. He had to feel sad for Salieri, really. He was wondering just how much he, Touya, was really like Salieri when he fell asleep.
He woke to hear someone fumbling at the outside door. He only had time for his brain to register that it was barely six in the morning, he had fallen asleep on the couch and that Shindou shouldn't be back yet, when the door opened and Shindou came in.
"Touya, you're here!"
"Where did you think I'd be? It's practically still the middle of the night!"
Shindou wrapped his arms around Touya, squeezing tightly and burying his face against Touya's neck. "I don't know. I was just scared you'd be gone."
"Shindou—you didn't leave the convention early did you?"
"No, I just couldn't sleep so I got on a late train instead of going to bed. I needed to see you."
"So you haven't slept at all?"
Touya was flattered, in a way, but he wished Shindou would take better care of himself. "Well, I couldn't sleep very well either. But I should be OK for my match this morning. It's not someone I expect to lose to. But you need to go to bed right away."
He got Shindou tucked in, the big baby, and went out into the kitchen to make himself some tea. He had about three hours before his match. Plenty of time to shower, dress and get over to the institute.
"What is it Shindou?"
"I can't sleep."
Touya went into the bedroom. Shindou looked exhausted. Probably too tired to fall asleep easily, Touya realized. "What do you want me to do Shindou, tell you a bedtime story?"
"Please, would you?"
"Shindou, you're a grown man! Honestly, I don't see why I…" Touya gave up. "How about if I tell you the story of the movie I just saw? It's called Amadeus. Have you seen it?"
"No. What's it about?"
"Classical music." Shindou made a face. "But the fact that it's about music isn't really what's important. It's a story about two rivals. The important thing is the rivalry, not that it was about music."
"Could they have been rivals at go?"
"I suppose that they could have been. I mean, the story would still make sense that way." Well, some of it might.
"Then tell me the story as if it was about go." Touya sighed. He had wondered if being in a same-sex relationship would mean that he would miss out on having children. It appeared he had one already. He sat down on the edge of the bed.
"Once upon a time there was a boy who liked go better than anything in the whole world. All he wanted to do was to play go. But his father didn't like for him to play go. He said that go wasn't serious, and that his son should join the family business."
"Yes, I suppose. Anyway, the boy prayed to the God of go and promised that if only he could play go as much as he wanted to, he would devote his entire life to go. Every moment would be spent searching for the hand of God. He wouldn't marry, or try to get rich, or anything. Go would be his entire life."
"So what happened? Did God let him play go?"
"Well, I don't know if it was in response to the boy's prayers, or it would have happened anyway, but very soon after the boy made his promise to God, his father died of a heart attack. The boy inherited enough money to move to the capital city and study go full time. And he kept his promise to God. He avoided women, he didn't drink. He even dressed soberly." Touya looked at Shindou, who seemed bored by the story. Well, maybe he'd fall asleep quickly and Touya could get on with his day.
"He sounds like you, Touya. Except maybe that weird sweater you like."
"It isn't weird! Wait, which sweater do you mean?" Shindou just grinned at him. Hmmph. "He became a very strong player, and before many years had gone by he was one of the go instructors to the emperor." Suddenly Shindou was paying attention for some reason. "Everything seemed to be going very well, until a new go player showed up. He was everything that our hero wasn't. He dressed outlandishly, drank, chased low-class women, and was even disrespectful to the emperor. But he was very strong."
"Stronger than no fun guy?"
"Yes, though this wasn't obvious to everyone. After all, 'no fun guy' was a better go player than anybody at court except the new guy. Shindou, this is silly, I can't go on calling them 'no fun guy' and 'new guy'. Can't I just call them by their real names? They could still be go players."
"You mean their names in the movie? No. Call 'no fun guy' Touya." Touya rolled his eyes.
"Touya, huh. Very creative, Shindou."
"And call the new guy…Sai." Sai? Shindou still hadn't told Touya anything about Sai, apart from some oblique comments which left Touya just as confused as before. Touya suspected that this would be no different.
"Ok. Well, Touya could beat everyone at go except Sai. And the other players were just too weak to tell how strong Sai really was. But Touya, though he couldn't beat Sai, he was strong enough to see Sai's strength. And it made him really mad."
"Touya had given up everything. He thought God had made a deal with him. He had dedicated his entire life to go. He had become very strong, but he still hadn't glimpsed the hand of God. He had assumed that if he kept on searching he'd keep getting closer. But then Sai showed up, and Touya realized that Sai was closer to the hand of God than he, Touya, would ever get. Sai, who was drunk half the time, spoke rudely to everyone and dressed like a clown. It was as if God had created Sai just to mock Touya. Even worse was that what go talent Touya had was enough for him to clearly see Sai's superior skill where others could not, but not enough for him to be able to beat Sai."
"So what happened?" Shindou sounded sleepy. Touya figured he might as well abridge the story a little. He wasn't sure how to adapt the rest of it to the go world anyway.
"Touya was so angry at God for sending Sai to him that he decided that he would destroy God's favorite. He used his influence to prevent Sai from getting good jobs. It wasn't that hard to do. Only Touya really understood how good Sai was. And Sai didn't make things any easier for himself. He kept on being rude to people, even to the emperor. As a result he was denied prestigious jobs, such as being an official go instructor to the emperor. He couldn't get work teaching go to the other members of the court, and he ended up playing shidou go in cheap go salons. He barely earned enough to pay his bills. He started drinking more, and not eating enough. One night Touya heard that Sai was sick, so he rushed to his house. Sai was lying in bed, very ill indeed. He was glad to see Touya, and asked him to write out a couple of kifu."
"Yes. I suppose Sai realized that he was going to die, and wanted to leave behind some memory of himself. He was too weak to hold a pen, so he dictated the kifu to Touya. The kifu were so beautiful that Touya realized that he couldn't hate Sai any more. In fact, he would have done anything to save him, now that he had experienced Sai's go. Touya finally realized that he loved the beauty of Sai's go so much that he didn't care that it came from a rude drunk with bad taste in clothes. But it was too late. Sai died."
"And that's the end? Just like that? It's an awfully sad ending." Shindou yawned.
"Yes, and I suppose it's even worse than that for poor Touya in the movie version where they're musicians. Years after Sai's death, Touya's songs are all forgotten but everybody knows Sai's songs even though he was not popular while he was alive. I'm not sure how that would work in a go story."
"Maybe Sai invented some new joseki that nobody understood while he was alive, but after he was dead people realized that they were good after all, and everybody started to play them. It's still a sad ending even if it's about go."
"Well, if it'll cheer you up at all, somebody has probably written a happier ending for the story. Just look on the internet and there'll be a version where before Sai dies Touya tells him 'I never knew how beautiful go was until I saw your kifu', and Sai says 'I finally found someone who appreciates me despite the fact that I'm such a loud, impolite oaf!' and Sai gets better and they live happily ever after."
"Nobody would believe an ending like that." Shindou's eyes were closed now.
"Maybe not. But somebody's probably written that ending anyway. About Mozart I mean. Not about the version of the story where they're go players. I just made that up. And anyway, you could probably think of a happier way to end it that wasn't totally unbelievable, couldn't you?" Shindou didn't answer. He's asleep, Touya realized. He sat there for a minute looking at Shindou's face. Everyone always looks so peaceful asleep, he thought. He was just getting up to leave and get on with his day when Shindou, his eyes still closed, spoke:
"After Sai is dead he appears to Hikaru in a dream and tells him that it's OK to play go, and he's not mad at him for being so selfish."
Touya stared at Shindou. He didn't know what to say to this. He sat there for a couple of minutes, until he realized that Shindou was fast asleep.
He stood up and went to get ready for his match.
A/N: This was actually my first Hikaru no Go story idea ever. I only wrote a paragraph or two and then it sat on my computer until now. I'm a lot better at starting things than finishing them. I decided that I needed to finish it now, though, because I had a follow-on idea: write the "Mozart death scene" from Amadeus, but with Shindou and Touya instead of Mozart and Salieri. I couldn't write that without writing this first, could I?