title: above and below
fandom: Hikaru no Go/Kyou Kara Maou
characters/pairings: Murata, Konrad/Yozak, Akira, Yuuri, Hikaru
rating: G
warnings: crossdressing, humor
summary: Murata plays an exhibition game.
notes: for tsutsuji, for this request on fic on demand.

Murata's heart thudded painfully in his chest at the sound of a shrill laugh. Already, he could sense that the crowd around him was buzzing, and there would soon be commotion. He smiled brightly to the girl next to him, a very pretty third year with very, very nice legs, and excused himself for a moment.

He thought to himself that he was getting too old for this sort of thing, but... that wasn't true, really.

Just inside the doorway stood a young man that was ridiculously too handsome, and hanging off his shoulder was another man, taller, broader, and dressed in a gingham print dress with a white shirt underneath. His sparkly red heels were rather nice, though.

Murata forced himself to smile, and walked casually over to them. "Your Highness," Konrad greeted him, pleasantly.

"Please don't call me that here," Murata began, biting back a sigh. "Not that I'm unhappy to see you... er. But. What are you doing here? I thought... Shibuya was taking you to a ball game...?" Murata did enjoy hosting visitors from Shin Makoku on Earth, but he enjoyed it more, as with any visitor, if he could have time away from them every so often.

Especially when he was doing something like this...

"That kid said that we'd be better off sticking with you today, since his game was close to home, and you were going to some rough parts of town. I didn't realize you went to school in a bad part of town," Yozak informed him cheerfully.

"I see," Murata smiled tersely. "I suppose he decided this after his mama finished your dress...?" He looked over the dress a bit balefully.

Yozak, however, was quick to flare out his skirt. "She really is a talented seamstress, isn't she?" he boasted, adding a trill giggle to the end.

Murata looked around quickly to see if anyone was watching. Personally, he loved gossip like this, and being at the heart of it was usually the best, but... "As you can plainly see, though, I'm not in any rough area, and this is probably going to be somewhat boring..."

"I didn't realize you were in any clubs in school," Konrad mused. "Seems like with all your world-hopping, you wouldn't have time for it."

"Well, I'm not, really. This is just a favor for a friend. Since they're hosting this exhibition..." Murata began.

"Your friend the one who rolled her skirt up three times?" Yozak smirked.

"Er... yes. So you see..." Murata tried.

"You'd rather not be chaperoned," Konrad cheekily finished.

He really thought that even if he wasn't old enough, he was still mature enough to take them both over his knee. Might even enjoy it. "Obviously, plus it's just a board game competition..."

"Yeah, sort of looks like vijf," Yozak commented.

Murata scowled a bit. "It's similar, in many ways..."

"You invented vijf, didn't you?" Yozak asked, sounding innocent, which was definitely suspicious.

"Vijf was invented thousands years ago by the Great Sage," Murata confirmed. "As I'm not thousands years ol-"

"But you remember it?" Yozak pressed on, clearly amused. "You have a few thousand years of experience playing?"

"Enh, well..." Murata sighed, waffling. "It's not exactly the same..."

"I gather Christel Wincott brought the game to this world?" Konrad mused, managing to sound somewhere between interested and mocking.

"He was fond of the game," Murata begrudgingly admitted. The Great Sage had invented it, in part, to help instruct the idealistic warriors in the elements of strategy, however it didn't really help as much as he'd hoped back then.

"Is this a competition?" Konrad laughed.

"It's an exhibition. A team from a rival school is coming and their top members are playing... it's sort of a teaching thing..." Murata tried to explain. Actually, he wanted to try to move away from them...

"Wait, so you're going to be playing vijf against some unsuspecting teenager?" Yozak snorted.

Murata looked around quickly to see how much people were watching them. He needed to bring an end to this... "It's not some unsuspecting teenager. And it's not vijf. It's go, and there are some significant modifications of the rules since Christel's time. Anyway, the rival school, their middle school division has this kid, he's the son of a famous pro and he's gone pro and he's playing here as a favor to his teacher because he's about to graduate and so Tomoko-chan asked me if I would play for them because no one on our team wants to play him..." He stared to edge away. Running away was his only escape.

Konrad shook his head. "You're going to decimate that kid. Aren't you in high school? Just because the kid is good..."

"Don't underestimate humans!" Murata corrected him. "Anyway, I'm a bit rusty. It's been a while since I played... and both divisions of each school are here, so... it's just for fun!"

That caused Yozak to laugh far too hard. Vexed, Murata put his hands on his hips. Yozak put his hands out in surrender. "Fine, fine, we'll behave. But you gotta let us stay to watch this. It's definitely going to be entertaining."

"Can't you two find some broom closet to make out in?" Murata sighed, slumping his shoulder.

"Sure, but we'll be back for endgame," Konrad replied far too smoothly.

Akira fidgeted slightly, his hands balled into fists. He narrowed his eyes, and gave in to the temptation to worry his lip between his teeth. There was a crowd around their table, but he had lost the ability to hear or see them, the universe on the board in front of him like a black hole to his perceptions.

It... it couldn't be happening to him... again, could it?!

The game had progressed well. His opponent, a rather too carefree boy with messy hair and glasses, had seemed at first to be more interested in flirting with every girl around them than playing, but they had settled into a nice game. He'd expected this to be a bit more like a teaching game than a true exhibition. He wanted to play today as a way of showing Yun-sensei his thanks for his time at Kaio. It was shaping out to be a teaching game, but he was on the wrong end of it.

The shape of the stones was sublime, and he was only just becoming aware of it. While seemingly carelessly dropping stones and giving up territory early on, there was a power to the shape of Murata's stones that was applying pressure to Akira now. Just now... just now he was realizing it. When he looked across the board at his opponent, though...

The feeling of pressure increased a thousand-fold. It wasn't like playing Shindou, where a sense of equality underpinned the game. Murata's expression and demeanor were as casual as ever, and the look in his eyes was almost sleepy. Was it possible... could it truly be...?

The stones themselves didn't lie, though. Murata was clearly reading his game through to the end right from the very beginning. Akira shakily raised a hand to his lip. This feeling... it was similar to when he played Sai. To his first match against Shindou. And yet... the pressure was different. It wasn't quite like he was being looked down upon from someone who was far above him. It was like...

He was being benevolently shepherded according to the will of a far greater power! But... No, he was letting his imagination get the best of him. He was sure. It... it couldn't be... people talked about the Hand of God and the God of Go... wasn't that the same as talking about kitchen gods or clever foxes?

He was being imaginative. Shindou's influence, surely. He just had to focus. Read the game. Urgent points before big points. He knew how to play this.

The inevitability of loss became more and more oppressive with each hand, but he relentlessly sought out victory, sought out life. His stones on the left weren't dead, and there could be opportunities to grab at territory in the middle if he created the right openings...

It was when he realized that he was playing like Shindou that he realized he couldn't win it. He resigned, his shoulders shaking. This wasn't league play. He wasn't facing a title holder, or a master, or rival. This was some high school kid who wasn't even on the Go team. Akrira lifted his chin proudly.

Murata was humbling dismissing his victory as luck, talking to that girl with the short skirt. "Wait..." Akira said under his breath. No... Murata shouldn't downplay this! He should show Akira at least that much respect by being proud of his game. He should discuss it... They should go over the game... Akira... wanted to learn more!

Murata started to move away with that girl. Akira got to his feet, and said, "Wait!" louder. A tall brown-haired foreign-looking man came up to Murata and put his hand on Murata's shoulder. Another man... woman... actually, Akira wasn't too sure... He or She laughed loudly. Murata was blushing, and talking to the girl.

"Wait!" Akira tried to move around the table, but he was surrounded by a crowd that he was suddenly aware of, and Murata was moving further and further away. "Wait!"

But it was already too late.

Murata ducked down low, crouching close to the bush. "Murata?" Shibuya tilted his head to the side, childishly surprised by Murata's sudden closeness with shrubbery.

"Get down!" Murata hissed, indicating how he wanted Shibuya to move by patting down the air in front of him.

"Huh?" Shibuya crouched, and that was good enough.

Murata held his breath. Of all the... That damned kid was back! Asking around about him! He had to get away... A teacher unhelpfully informed Touya that Murata wasn't in any clubs after school, so he was probably on his way to the station. He didn't indicate which station, though. Touya was looking around when...

"Touya!" Another kid came running around the corner. He had blonde bangs, and a t-shirt with a giant five in a circle. He wasn't seriously.... "Touya! There you are!"

"Sh-shindou!" Touya Akira blushed, and looked around guiltily.

Murata rolled his eyes. So it was like that... People were really all the same, everywhere, weren't they?

"What are you doing? That lady from the salon said you'd come here to find some kid you played last week?" Shindou demanded.

"I just wanted a rematch, that's all!" Touya quickly assured him. "And her name is Ichikawa-san. You should have learned that by now."

"Let's go," Murata muttered under his breath, pointing in the opposite direction. He started to crawl-walk away...

"Eh? What's going on? Sheesh, Murata... those are your school pants! Why are we hiding?" Shibuya complained.

"Stop using my name," Murata sighed. He glanced over his shoulder at the go pair.

Shindou was getting in Touya's face. "We meet every Wednesday to play! You were supposed to come early today and go out for ramen after!"

"That was your plan entirely!" Touya denied. "And I... I have to play him again! Shindou, you don't understand! I've never played anyone like him!"

Shindou grabbed Touya's shirt, and shook him. "Just whose rival do you think you are, anyway!? Do you think I'm going to let you chase after everyone you lose to like this?!"

"I hardly ever lose!" Touya retorted.

They turned the corner, and the hedges ended, so Murata stood up and bolted across the walkway until they were safely away. He exhaled loudly, and leaned down, putting his hands on his knees. "That was close!"

"What was that about?" Shibuya crankily whined. "We're supposed to be going that way!" he pointed the way they came.

Murata shook his head, and grabbed Shibuya's sleeve, dragging him off. "We'll go around," he sighed. "Do we need to stop at the fabric store for your mother?"

"No, never again," Shibuya shuddered. Murata grinned, but Shibuya wasn't going to be put off so easily. "Who were those kids, anyway?"

"Oh... That was Touya, who I played in that tournament last weekend. And I guess a friend of his," Murata shrugged, trying to stay casual.

"Murata, it's weird, isn't it? It's a board game," Shibuya plaintively asked, looking far too cute for any Maou.

Still, Murata felt a tiny bit defensive. Vijf was a very good board game! Granted, the new rules did streamline it a bit... It had been challenging, playing that brat! "Just think of it like... baseball. Only... you play by yourself, and indoors."

The look on Shibuya's face was all Murata needed to know what he thought of that comparison. "Konrad said you played to get in with some girl," Shibuya said. "Does that sort of thing actually work?"

Murata's shoulders slumped. "Apparently, she has a boyfriend. A... baseball player," he begrudgingly admitted.

Shibuya looked like he just won the argument.

"Apparently," Murata added with masochistic honesty. "She was under the impression that all guys who played go were gay."

He stopped and waited for Shibuya to finish laughing. After a few moments, he got annoyed, and started off without him.

"Wait! Wait!" Shibuya gasped, trying to keep up while still laughing. "Wait, then, was that why those two were getting so worked up over a board game?" He slapped Murata on the back as he put his arm around Murata's shoulders.

Murata somewhat suspected... but... for Shibuya's sake... "They're rivals. Rivals!" He smirked at Shibuya sidelong. "Just think... if your team's closest rival started up a rivalry with some other team...?"

Shibuya frowned. "But... isn't it better to play as many different teams as often as possible? That's how you grow as a player!"

"Mm," Murata nodded sagely. "This is why Sir von Bielefeld has it tough. You really are a cheating slut."

"Mu-mu-murata!" Shibuya sputted, stopping in his tracks.

Murata just grinned to himself as he continued to walk.