A/N: Idea that came from discussion with a friend. What if Sai came back to a world without Go? The rest of it just sort of… came out of nowhere. Warning though. This is depressing and will probably leave a bad taste in your mouth after reading it. Don't read this if you're looking for a happy ending.
Summary: Sai came back for the third and the last time. A world without Go, a world without beliefs; a place and time where gods and ghosts of the past come to die.
Disclaimer: The darkness and the sweet, sickening smell of rotten waste materials. He felt numb to the coldness and the movement of his chest slowed ever so slightly. A rat scurried passed, pausing barely a moment to go around him.
Ao Yuki does not own Hikaru no Go.
When he opened his eyes this time, he found himself alone. The first few moments when he awoke always blazed with a certain clarity of mind, sight, and sounds that the time spent in the goban never did give him. He was aware that he was in a dimly-lit room. He was aware that he was finally, against all hope, awake.
His first action was to offer a word of thank for kami-sama. He vaguely felt the presence of his body, perhaps not as strongly as he would have felt it had he been alive but a reassuring presence all the same. He felt the sensation of the clothing he wore, the soft brush of silk gliding across his non-existent skin. He felt the movement of his lips as he prayed, the muscles shifting and forming shapes in a familiar manner. He felt the slow movement of his eyelids closing, a strange wetness pooling at the corner of his eyes. He could feel them. All of them. His eyes, his fingers, even his hair against his scalp.
Strange how it was the little things that he noticed first.
Mentally gathering himself before he burst into unseemly tears, he opened his eyes and blinked away the water in his eyes. The clarity ebbed away as it usually did, and was replaced by mild confusion.
Of course, there wasn't any precedence for this. It wasn't as if he had been awoken many times. But in the past two times that he did, he recalled vividly that there was always someone around. Someone he was attached to. The first time it had been Torajirou. Then it had been Hikaru. This time however, all he could make out in the dimness were many square drawers made of metal all around him. It was a sparse, relatively empty room save for the metallic table in the middle. There was no one.
Puzzled, Sai began walking around. His feet made no sound against the floor tiles, nor did his breathing. But their movements brought comfort to him. He was in the world of living again. He would be able to play Go again.
Yet even as he attempted to comfort himself, the confusion within grew. A strange sort of unease arose and manifested itself in terms of more confusion, a slight trembling of lips, and smaller steps.
Where was he?
Who woke him up?
And…where was his goban?
Questions fought for attention in his mind as he continued to make his way across the room to the source of light streaming in through the door. It wasn't a big room. There were a total of a hundred of those drawers around, a table with wheels in the middle of the room, and otherwise nothing.
It definitely did not appear to be a place where people lived.
When he reached the door, he paused for a moment. He didn't like having to do this. It reminded him. It reminded him that he was dead. Dead and should have been gone. That he was dependent and needed someone to interact with the real world.
Sai didn't particularly like being dependent. But he supposed that wasn't a choice for him to make.
Holding a breath that he knew he didn't need, he walked through the wall.
He didn't even feel anything. He ought to feel something. Walls were solid, and he ought to feel something when he passed through solid things. It would have been fitting. But he didn't.
One moment he was inside the room, and the next moment, he was out in a corridor, plastic black benches lined up like go stones at the side of a white wall. Curiously, he walked down the corridor, keeping the doors to his right and the chairs to his left.
He couldn't feel anyone around. It was as if the entire place was abandoned. There was something like writing on the doors that seemed somehow familiar, but not at the same time. It didn't look at Japanese, or even Chinese.
Was he no longer in Japan?
When he reached the end of the corridor, he continued walking, up the staircase, through the doors.
And he emerged into hordes of people.
Hastily, he stepped backwards when someone wearing all white pushing at a cart in front of her dashed passed him. She seemed to be in a hurry. On the cart were what Sai thought must have been food, with the fork and knives around them. Hikaru used them often enough, in the past. The strange thing was…
He blinked. The cart had no wheels. It was… flying.
With his mouth agape, Sai looked at the people around him. Truly focused, and looked at it as he would in front of a goban.
And what he saw took his breath away.
He knew that the world changed even as he stayed the same. When he was with Torajirou, there had been rebellions and civil wars, the arrival of the printing press, hints of the Meiji Restorations. It had been a time of changes. By the time Torajirou died, he had no doubts that the world would continue to change even as he slumbered peacefully within the lines of a 19 x 19 game board. He was safe in the knowledge that there would be a time when he would awaken once more. Twice, perhaps. He didn't know how he knew it, he just did.
When he had been with Hikaru, the world had changed even further, mutated into one that, had he been alive in the truest sense of the word, might have interesting to live in. Playing Go in a box, watching others do so in the same box, travelling faster than he could have expected people could survive travelling at. There had been devices that allowed people to reach each other with a few moment of touch, via words or speech. There had been many marvellous things that Sai knew were things that he probably shouldn't ask Hikaru about, since he probably wouldn't know how to explain in any case.
And while he had taken all that in, noted all of them in a way that he felt obligated to, he didn't feel the need to be overly concerned about them.
After all, none of them could affect him, could they? Wherever he was, as long as he could continue reaching for the hand of god, as long as he could continue to play Go, it didn't matter how much the world had changed. Because Go would still be in it, and that would be the link that connected him to his past, present, and future. Because nothing matted to him, really, other than playing Go.
But this world that he had been reborn into; this world that he had awaken to was one that he couldn't just ignore.
A man with protruding appendages on his head that Sai was quite certain was horns walked pass. There were people with eyes that glowed in different colours, people manipulating their hair like they would their limbs, people with – Sai felt his mind screeched to a halt – folded up feathery wings.
Wings. Just like how birds had wings.
He was dimly aware that people, if they could still be called that, were walking through him. Normally, he would be embarrassed and step aside to allow them to pass. Normally, he would have been attached to someone else who would clear the pathway for him who he would walk cautiously behind so that he didn't have to be reminded again and again that he was dead.
But it was apparent to him that this wasn't normal circumstances anymore. As if things had been normal ever since he had been a ghost. This world was a world that had transformed into one where he was almost afraid of being in it.
Clutching his fan in his hands tighter, Sai continued walking on gingerly. His stomach, if he still had one, churned in a most upsetting way. He walked through the people, clearing his mind with past visage of Go games that he had once played. The black and white stones appearing on the go board behind his eyelids, the sound of each one hitting against the board…
Before he knew it, he was out. He opened his eyes again, and looked up. There was still a Sun, as he was glad to find out. The sunlight seemed muffled through the clouds of what seemed like red fog in the sky, but it was still sunlight.
He continued walking past the sign with a cross red in colour, identifying the building behind him as a hospital, and past a tall blue box with a line that led straight to heaven. There were tracks everywhere, and very little people around.
Feeling slightly lost, Sai continued to walk on. Perhaps he could find a Go salon somewhere.
It's just sad now, how people still protested. They were so afraid of the changes that they wanted to remain blind then they can see again with a minor surgery, that they still sat in wheelchairs when they are get a body replacement any time.
Vara looked at the guy kneeling at the side of the track longer this time.
He still had purple hair, purple lips, and wore some olden-days-looking clothing that was totally out of fashion. It wasn't that unusual to have some people lament about the 'good old times' a couple of thousand years ago and choose to wear them as a sign of protest. It's just that they usually changed their clothes every day. It's strange to wear the same clothing like this guy had been doing for the past few month or so that she had seen him. He must have really liked the design.
She just thought they were idiots. No arguments about it. They never thought about the consequence of what they wanted. She snorted. As if most of them could even be parted from their holoscreens for a moment.
She adjusted herself on the seat and propped her arms up near the window sill.
Still, he had to find that guy's stubbornness quite interesting. Whenever she took the train since a few months back, she noticed that he had been kneeling at the same spot, the same vacant sort of look on his face. Most people would have at least changed their positions a little. Maybe start walking around a bit.
But no. That guy just stayed there. Kneeling. Hands on his laps, eyes gazing somewhere into the mid distance. She wondered what he was looking at and suspected that he wasn't seeing anything that she could see.
She tried scanning him to figure out his identity and wasn't surprised to him out that it registered nothing. Perhaps he was one of those people who came here illegally. Pity was the only thing that kept her from reporting him. Anyway, there were always other passengers on the train to do that for her. She wouldn't be surprised to find him gone back to his own country one day. Her SEABooks Tablet had told her that kneeling down was what people did in the past to pray to gods. It was an odd concept, gods. Because no one believed in them these days. What was the point in speculating about the afterlife when you never die? If this body wore out, there was always another one waiting for you. Death had been a foreign concept in his country for a few centuries now. The only reason why she knew about it was the nature of her work…
"Terminating at Station L1R5. The train will continue its service at twelve noon."
Stepping out of the train to the Space Elevator Station (SES), Vara scanned in her iris and magnetic chip, and then programmed the settings to take her to Shuttle450, her work cubicle. At this time of that day, there weren't many other passengers with her. The image of the odd man kneeling still bothered her a little.
The SES began to move and she checked her watch. She was slightly early today. Maybe she can even catch some food before starting.
As the SES continued to speed upwards, the image of the man in her mind was pushed out, and then it was gone.
A/N: So, that's it. Just a one shot. A 'what if' scenario if Sai woke up a few more thousands of years in the future, where Go didn't exist anymore and gods died because no one believed in them. What? You want to know what happened to Sai after this? Who knows?