2 fanfics in a week? I’m on a fucking roll!
Fandom: Hikaru no Go.
Pairing: AkiHika, but not a lot. This is like gen with some AkiHika.
Summary: Even though Hikaru no longer grieves for Sai, the guilt still lurks under his skin. After he wins the Honinbou title and has a party for it, Hikaru finds himself on an empty subway. Facing him is Sai.
Note: The ending is, to me, a bit lacking (this might not be the best word but I don’t know how to describe it), since even though Hikaru is no longer upset about Sai, I still feel like there’s something unresolved within him because Sai left without a word and Hikaru will live on carrying that vague guilt of not letting Sai play enough/being the reason why Sai disappears. The way he plays go because Sai’s in there and gets fired up from an indirect insult to Sai gives me the vibe that the main reason Hikaru hangs onto go/gives his best playing go is because he can find Sai in it. Which is amazing and beautiful and I will never deny the tremendous influence Sai had on him, but I’d like to see Hikaru live and play go for himself more. So here’s my take on the resolution to that.
At the age of twenty-one, Hikaru snatches the Honinbou title with four consecutive wins. His opponent resigns, weeping and seething at the same time.
The discussion room explodes in roaring shouts of Hikaru’s friends. Akari bursts into happy tears as Tsutsui cries on Mitani’s shoulders, who, too, is unable to refrain himself from smiling. Ochi clicks his tongue in annoyance and Nase glares at him with damp eyes. The pompous kid, he never changes. Isumi and Waya laugh, knowing Ochi’s secretly admiring the beautiful match Hikaru has just shown them. Ogata frowns at the screaming and slips out for a de-stressing smoke. Touya Kouyou sits still, his attention fixed on the goban. Ashiwara, Kurata, and Kuwabara surround him, also reading the board. When the euphoria has passed its zenith Kaga leads the young go players out to drag Hikaru to a celebratory dinner. Touya Kouyou and the other men depart not long after.
In the corner of the room, Akira sighs. Hikaru has made it.
At what could be Tokyo’s most luxurious ramen restaurant, they order sake and pressure Akira into drinking as well. To everyone’s surprise, Akira accepts. “But only two drinks,” he adds. He has to drive Hikaru home.
The first round of cheers goes to Hikaru. It’s not Hikaru’s first big title, but the most prestigious so far, and his friends unanimously agree that all his games in this particular league are some of the most vicious ones he has ever played. Nase expresses her condolence for the opponent, who is an excellent player on his own terms, but has let Hikaru piss him off too much with the crazy moves and unprecedented comebacks. Akari tells Hikaru his grandfather has asked her to warn him not to play those unconventional openings anymore. “That boy’s lucky he got four wins in a row. I can’t survive another tactless opening of his,” his grandfather has complained. Hikaru jokes that since he’s loaded with money now, whatever heart attack his grandfather has, he can pay for the medical expenses.
The second round of cheers goes to Akira. Nobody thought of it, but Hikaru insists that they give Akira some credit for taking care of him throughout the tournament, too. Even though Akira had matches of his own, he has helped Hikaru dig up his opponent’s past games, prepared his clothes, cleaned his futon in the study room, reminded him to eat, and generally kept him alive until the end. Waya rolls his eyes at Hikaru’s unapologetic display of complete sappiness for Akira. Isumi sweats at the sound of Ochi breaking his chopsticks in half, wondering how much the restaurant is going to charge them for that. They raise their glasses in a toast to Akira, anyway. “For the world’s best boyfriend,” Hikaru announces. Tsutsui and Kaga steal a glance at each other. Mitani notices but attempts not to overanalyze it too much.
Akira stops after the second glass. Like a proper chaperone, he spends most of the party watching over Hikaru and his friends so that everything’s in control and everyone doesn’t consume too much alcohol. Except for Hikaru, because he’s the star today, and he has Akira to escort him. For tonight, he can drink to his heart’s content.
The evening goes by in a haze. Despite Akira’s desperate effort to regulate the group’s drinking, Waya shoves so much sake down his throat just to spite Akira that he nearly vomits on Isumi. Lucky thing Isumi distances himself fast enough. Again, Isumi wonders how much the restaurant is going to charge them for puke on the expensive velvet carpet. Hikaru is already slurring next to Akira, babbling about the utter contempt on his opponent’s face when he played the Great Wall. “You shoulda seen’t,” Hikaru mumbles. “If it ain’t the last match I needed t’win I woulda laughed m’ass off knowun how much he despised m’then.” He chuckles before falling into Akira’s lap, snoring soundly.
Akira decides that it’s about time to wrap up. Akari, Tsutsui, Isumi, and Ochi, being the soberer ones, take the cue when they see Akira requesting for the bill. Akari calls a cab for her and Mitani, while Tsutsui takes care of Kaga and Isumi will give Waya a ride as Ochi acquiesces in dropping Nase off at her home. Akira pays for the bill and slides it into his pocket. Isumi’s kind of interested in the cost of the broken chopsticks and dirtied carpet, but his phone rings and Waya’s mom’s number appears on the screen. She’s worried since she can’t connect to Waya. Akari’s taxi and Ochi’s chauffeur arrive at the same time, so the rest of the party departs as well.
With each having a person clinging onto them like a parasite, Tsutsui, Isumi, and Akira head to the parking lot. They don’t talk much. Tsutsui and Isumi congratulate Hikaru once more, though he can’t hear them right now, judging by the constant wheezing from the backseat of Akira’s car.
“Who would’ve thought he could go this far?” Isumi murmurs.
“Yeah, especially when he was such an odd ball in high school,” Tsutsui says. “I’m so proud of him.”
Akira bids the two goodbye as he starts his car. Tsutsui and Isumi part.
Akira exits the parking lot. He has always known Hikaru can go far.
Hikaru stirs. His body bounces. He seems to be in something that’s moving. Must be Akira’s car. He makes a subconscious guess, and goes back to sleep.
The second time Hikaru stirs, he still finds himself swaying from left to right. He tries to remember the location of the restaurant, which isn’t far away from where he and Akira live and he’s been asleep for a while now. And although Akira should’ve laid him down and he should be in Akira’s car, he’s sitting upright, leaning on something plastic. The rumbling of engine around him also doesn’t sound right. It’s supposed to be quieter in a car.
His eyes fly open.
The sudden light blinds him. He turns away and puts his hands over his face, peeping through the crack between his fingers. There’s no one in the seats next to him. Out of the corner of his eye he can’t discern what’s outside the window because of the speed at which he’s moving. But he’s certain of one thing. He’s on a subway.
Must be a dream, then. Hikaru muses.
When his vision gets used to the light, he looks around some more. Someone has occupied the seat opposite him. Someone with silky black hair and a huge hat that adds unnecessary height to his already tall figure. Someone with traditional clothes that take up so much space they spill onto the adjacent seats. Someone with a fan that he uses to cover his face like a maiden.
Someone with the name, ‘Sai.’
Hikaru stares. He speaks the name, but his voice doesn’t come out. He repeats, the word half-broken in his throat. And he repeats, this time loud and clear.
Sai closes the fan and smiles at Hikaru. He doesn’t say anything. Hikaru doubts he will.
“It’s been years. Why are you here today?” Hikaru asks slowly. “Because I won the Honinbou title?”
He can’t read the emotions in Sai’s eyes.
“I don’t know if you were watching,” Hikaru continues nevertheless. It’s only apt that he fills Sai in on what he has missed. “The opponent was real tough. I beat him good, though. I guess my strange openings got him in the beginning. And then I totally drove him mad with what Akira dubbed ‘some of the most infuriating yet clever moves in the history of go.’ I’m a bit sad that they didn’t take too many photos of him. Hehe, his pupils were dilating and he was as red as a tomato!”
Hikaru’s body vibrates in laughter, tears on the verge of overflowing. No words come from Sai, but his smiling eyes invite Hikaru to carry on.
“Everyone said it was a good game. Even Akira. Oh yeah, I bet you didn’t know this, but Akira and I are dating! We even live together now. We got an apartment and a giant study room and three gobans in addition to my old one and Akira’s. We also have a shiba inu. Also, did you know that Akira’s a dog person? I didn’t! Anyhow, her name’s Tofu and she’s just the smartest and sweetest dog ever. She can take out the trash and balance a goke on her head, I kid you not.”
Hikaru rambles on about all aspects of his life while Sai listens with occasional soft nods of acknowledgement. He talks about defeating Ko Yeong-ha the second time they participated in the Hokuto Cup, about Akira’s mortifying straight-faced confession to him after the award ceremony, about his mom’s giving up on pairing him and Akari together, about Akira’s determination to adopt Tofu, about Akira’s weird closet of argyle sweaters in all colors, about Akira this, about Akira that. Sai appears so engrossed that Hikaru doesn’t realize that all he’s been talking about is Akira. When he does, he scratches his head shyly.
“Oops. I should stop. You don’t have to suffer through the trivial things in my love life. Not when you rarely visit me like this.”
“Are you happy, Hikaru?”
Hikaru shuts up. Sai’s mouth moves, but the voice comes from inside Hikaru’s head. “Sai? Are you back in my mind?” The prospect is too good to be true, but Hikaru figures it doesn’t hurt to ask.
Sai doesn’t answer. “Are you happy, Hikaru?” He only repeats.
Hikaru opens his mouth, then closes it. He feels like the appropriate reply will be something along the lines of “I’m not happy if you’re not here.” He also feels like it’s not true.
He wants Sai back. Nothing will change that. But he doesn’t need Sai. Isn’t desperate for him. He has Akira, who loves him and cares for him more than Hikaru does himself. He has his go career, amazing opponents to play, and money to earn from doing the things he enjoys. He has people to teach and from whom to learn. A life boiling with possibilities and exciting encounters is waiting for him ahead.
All because of Sai.
Sai shakes his head. Hikaru figures that Sai can read his mind, again.
Not all. Hikaru reconsiders. A good chunk. But not all.
Sai left Hikaru at a crucial point. He left when Hikaru became a pro. On his own feet, Hikaru ventured deeper into a section of the world of go that eventually became integral to his existence. Hikaru played bad matches, good matches, risky matches, phenomenal matches, outrageous matches, mediocre matches. Hikaru has grown and found the path he wishes to walk and the passion he decided to pursue. Hikaru did, not Hikaru and Sai did. It is similar to an act of scaffolding – Sai taught him, and when he was adequate, Sai retreated, albeit too suddenly.
Hikaru understands now. Although Sai won’t explain to him why he disappeared, it was nevertheless important for Sai to do so, or Hikaru wouldn’t be Hikaru, the absurd professional who seldom plays like a normal human being and torments his opponents with unusual hands. Without Sai, Hikaru had all the freedom to live out his potential, to be his unique self as a go player.
“Is there no chance at all, Sai?” Hikaru whispers. “I still want you back.”
“Are you happy, Hikaru?”
“I’ll let you play anyone. Me, Akira, Akira’s dad, old man Kuwabara. Anyone. I have a Honinbou title now. I’m big.”
“Are you happy, Hikaru?” Sai’s voice wavers not once.
Hikaru leans back on the train and closes his eyes. He sees himself playing in the Meijin league, then the Kisei league. He sees his friends gather to play go at Murasakizui. He sees Akira nodding off next to him over a goban, their fingers intertwined, go stones everywhere and gokes upside down. He takes a deep breath. The answer is transparent.
“Yes. I am. Sai, I am happy,” says Hikaru, finally, determinedly, knowingly. Ghosts vanish when they have no lingering desires on earth. This is the confirmation Sai seeks to completely rid of himself from the living world.
“Then, I am happy as well,” Sai speaks softly. “I suppose this is farewell.”
Hikaru shakes his head. “No.”
“Akira once told me, ‘All you are is the go you play.’ Sai, you’re in my go, you exist in my go, you live on in my go. I will always find you there. So no, it’s not ‘farewell.’ It’s ‘see you later.'”
Sai smiles. Hikaru notices his eyes glistening.
“So it is, then. See you later, Hikaru.”
“See you later, Sai.”
Sai blurs into the bright light as the subway dissolves into smoke. In the blink of an eye Hikaru falls.
He wakes up somehow sprawled on the goban. It’s awkward and unexpected, but not uncommon. During the Honinbou league Hikaru dozed off on the goban every night. Akira had to check on him at 2am and drag him to the futon and make sure he was warm enough. Really, Hikaru owes half of his victory to Akira and his diligent work of attending to him.
Hikaru shifts to a more comfortable position when he accidentally elbows someone in the head, who groans in response.
“Be careful with your limbs, Hikaru.”
“Akira!” After the dream, Akira’s name on Hikaru’s lips sounds curiously endearing. “Akira.” He wants to say it again. “Akira.”
“Mmmmm?” Akira buries his head in the monstrous long hair that Hikaru’s been begging him not to cut. “What? What time is it? Is it morning already?”
“Oh, no, it’s not. Akira. How did, um, how did we end up sleeping on the goban?”
“Is your hangover really that bad?” Akira’s voice is drowsy and deep like old wine and Hikaru wishes he can drink it. “We got home at midnight and you nagged for a game, so we played and apparently passed out in the middle of the game. There. Now let me sleep.”
“Okay.” Hikaru rests his upper body on the goban. The way his hips press against hard wood isn’t very pleasant. “Akira.”
“You wanna move to the futon?”
“Mm yeah. That’s a good idea.” Akira rubs his eyes. “Can you walk by yourself? Need I carry you?”
“You know I’m not one to refuse any offer of yours, Akira.”
Akira hums and stands up. Not until Akira goes around to help Hikaru get up does it dawn on him that he’s been holding Akira’s hand all this time.
They stagger as if both share a hangover, and waste no time collapsing on the futon and falling back to sleep. Hikaru wraps his other arm around Akira’s waist and pulls him close.
Hikaru was happy with Sai. But if Sai can’t stay with him, he’ll find a way to be happy without Sai.
And he did.