title: BINGO!
fandom:
characters/pairings: Fujiwara no Sai, Hong Suyeong, Isumi Shinichirou, Kadowaki, Koike Hitoshi, Nase Asumi, Ogata Seiji, Okumura, Sakurano Chieko, Shinoda, Tsubaki, Wang Xing, Waya Yoshitaka, Yang Hai, Yashirou Kiyoharu, Yun-sensei
rating: PG
warnings: none
summary: Twenty-five character vignettes to make a blackout
notes: written for hikaru no go's Battle Bingo! stories had to be between 81 and 361 words long (and some of them, sheesh, just barely managed to parse 'em down to work...), and were posted for 'character calls' to fill up a bingo card. herein, therefore, are 25 mostly unconnected stories about your favorites and mine, and a whole handful of characters, some of which i had to look up to write about!! many, many thanks to Qem for putting it all together!!

There were days when Wang Xing wanted to run away.

Not from China, not from weiqi, not really. He still loved to play, more than anything. But... there was a tick-tock-tick-tock all around him. Every day, as he aged, some younger player was gaining the momentum to join the pros. Every day he got older, some young pro was aiming for him, to take his place. Being number one...

There was a time limit on that. And he never wanted to stop.

So, some days, he wanted to run away. He wanted to be... someone else, someplace else. He just... wanted to have fun. Without the sense of impending doom. Without the feeling that it was going to slip through his fingers, and he'd have to live longer without weiqi than he did with it.

It was a day like that when he heard a young Japanese student was studying at the Weiqi Center. Something like this... was exactly what he needed! The game was the same everywhere, and yet it wasn't, so playing someone from a different country was, well.

It was fun!

This kid wasn't trying to take his title, but their game certainly gave him new life, at least for a bit. And seeing how this Isumi had integrated himself into the Weiqi Center...

Maybe he wouldn't always be able to continue with weiqi in the professional world in China, but China wasn't the only place to find weiqi. And he'd always love weiqi.

There would always be someone to play, right? Knowing that made the tick-tock-tick-tock a lot easier to bear.

Yoshitaka learned to play go from his maternal grandmother. She died when he was six, but she lived with them until then. She shuffled, rather than walked, cooked dinner for everyone, always wore her hair in a bun, always had candy in the pockets of her apron, and was usually very, very quiet. His father even used to make snide comments about whether or not she could speak, despite all she did for the family.

She talked during go lessons, though. She told him stories about when she'd been a little girl, about meeting his grandfather, about his mother as a child, about how his grandfather played go with his boss, with anyone, really. His grandfather taught his grandmother. They used to play every day after dinner. She told him about how his grandfather died.

His mother never talked about her father. Yoshitaka had never met him, only seen the picture in the family shrine. He looked like a weird old man, but from how his grandmother talked about him, Yoshitaka figured he had to be nice.

Yoshitaka cried and cried during his grandmother's funeral. His parents didn't know what to do with him, so his father's aunt took him aside and comforted him gently. She wasn't wearing an apron, and she didn't have candy.

When they got home, after putting his grandmother's picture next to his grandfather's, Yoshitaka squared his shoulders, grabbed the hem of his mother's jacket, tugged firmly, and declared loudly, "I wanna learn t'play go. Prop'ly."

His mother and father looked at each other, and then his father rolled his eyes, and heaved a heavy sigh. "That's your mother's influence, you handle it."

The first day of Go Club after all the senpais left, Koike assumed he would be all alone. Unlike the legendary Tsutsui-senpai, he didn't really have the confidence to do it all by himself. When Fujisaki-senpai was there to cheer him on, he felt like he could do it, but going to the science room alone was a whole other matter.

Fortunately for him, the Matsuno twins came after only about five minutes. Aiko and Aito were first years, but already had generated a lot of buzz around school because they were both so good-looking and charming. Miraculously, it had never occurred to either of them to join any other club. They had been playing go together for a long time, and it was one of their favorite things to do. When they saw it was only Koike, they just grinned at each other and said confidently, We only need one more boy and two more girls, then, right? And when they phrased it like that, it didn't sound like they were suggesting they only needed to double the size of the club.

Because the Matsuno twins were so popular, the Go Club suddenly had a dozen members, and were given a proper space to work in, and funding. Koike was bursting with pride when Fujisaki-senpai visited the club right before their first tournament.

And thanks to the Matsuno twins, in Koike's third year, Haze defeated Kaio Middle School to win the tournament, 2-1. Koike himself lost, but he was playing first board, and Kaio's first board was a monster. He only lost by two moku. He felt no shame.

His departure from the club was quite different than when his senpais left. Instead of having multiple seniors and only one remaining member, the club now had sixteen members remaining, and he was the only one leaving. He couldn't even carry all the little sachets with the mementos from his kouhai!

The Matsuno twins were the last to see him off. Aiko gave him a kiss and pinched his cheek, and then her brother gave him a kiss, too!

The Haze Go Club never failed to be interesting...

There are numerous ways in which the eldest son of the Isumi family is unlike his two brothers.

Kenta has the best grades, though Shinichirou has never failed to be in the top of his class, plus he is always voted as class president. He even tried to avoid it in high school, wanting to focus on being an insei, but his classmates and the previous class president asked him sincerely...

Naoko wouldn't have been roped into something he didn't want to do, though. He was the troublemaker, but he knew how to follow his own heart.

The only remarkable thing about Shinichirou is his go. His two younger brothers don't understand his interest at all. Kenta once asked him straight out why he was so into it. He replied that there was nothing more fun than go. Naoko snorted in response, thumbs pounding away at his hand-held game.

Kenta and Naoko don't remember their uncle, their father's brother, because he first started to come over regularly when their mother was pregnant with Kenta. After Kenta was born, he still kept coming over. He had some sort of unusual job, so he was free in the afternoons. He would take Shinichirou to the store to get the groceries, and then they'd play quietly in the den, or out in the backyard, until Shinichirou's father came home.

Uncle Yasuo.

He taught Shinichirou to play go. He'd been an insei once, but never made pro. He told Shinichirou all about his years playing. He was soft-spoken and gentle, and he had a peaceful smile. Shinichirou always knew it in his bones, he wanted to be just like Uncle Yasuo.

One day, Shinichirou's father said that Uncle Yasuo wasn't coming to the house anymore. Shinichirou didn't remember what was said, but he remembered Uncle Yasuo standing on the porch, unable to lift his head to meet their eyes. And he remembered the man in the car who drove Uncle Yasuo away.

There are numerous ways in which the eldest son of the Isumi family is unlike his two brothers, but there are two important ways in which he's just like his Uncle Yasuo.

Buying a new suit was not a simple procedure. Many men were far too too unconcerned with their appearance, being content to just blend in with the crowd. That might be fine for lawyers, or even doctors, but Ogata Seiji wasn't some commonplace man.

He was a pillar in the world of go.

Going to buy a suit because it was on sale, or because your old suit had a hold in the elbow... this was disgraceful. Buying clothing was about fashion, and fashion was the art of presenting oneself to the world. Ogata had even once taken a trip to Milan just to purchase shoes in person from a craftsman.

Appearances meant something.

He'd learned that from the man he admired most in the world. Touya-sensei most often wore traditional clothes, but it wasn't because he didn't own jeans or the like. In fact, he was quite a handsome man when he was in slacks and a turtleneck sweater. Touya-sensei and his wife were the perfect Japanese couple. Ogata... was a bit more rebellious, but a meticulous white suit and a silk tie with a bold pattern could have the same effect as hakama pants. It showed that he wasn't just going through the motions. He was a force to be reckoned with, just like his esteemed teacher.

His sense of fashion empowerment did not extend to his glasses, though. He could barely see without them, so they were less about impact and more about not impacting the furniture or the walls.

Camping.

It had been Honda's idea. He knew a great location near a lake where his brother's college sent their women's volleyball team for camp. They played on the beach, Honda explained, practically making a mess of himself drooling. Camping meant sleeping someplace uncomfortable with bugs crawling on you while eating food that sucked. Who the hell wanted to go camping?

Isumi-san said he'd go, so Waya begrudgingly went along. He packed his magnetic goban, though. Couldn't even play on a proper board while camping...

During the day, Shindou and that Yashirou argued a lot. The only one who seemed interested in the girls on the beach was Honda. The only one the girls on the beach were interested in was Isumi-san, of course.

After struggling with making dinner over a damned fire, Waya slipped away and flopped down on the grassy embankment near the shore, and stared up at the stars. They weren't laid out like a proper grid, for a goban, but... Waya had seen a goban once that was designed to have all the right points, but distorted to mimic real stars. He tried to recreate a game in his mind, using the twinkling lights above as a board.

He knew just when Isumi-san sat down next to him, but since Isumi-san was the one to follow him, he didn't say anything. After a comfortably silent moment, Isumi-san leaned back to lay down next to Waya.

"Beautiful night, isn't it?"

"Yeah," Waya grinned, from ear to ear. "It is."

Yashirou is surprisingly shy around girls. He likes to think that he's better-than-average looking, and he likes to think that he is an interesting person, even if he's not talking about go. He feels like this shyness, therefore, is uncharacteristic, and a weakness.

While in Seoul, spending a week as part of an exchange program, Yashirou is invited out for drinks with the young Korean pros. Ko Yeongha, of course, doesn't invite Yashirou himself, but he watches with unexpectedly piercing eyes as another young pro asks Yashirou. At the bar, it's not at all surprising that Ko Yeongha is not at all shy with girls. He's suave and debonair, and he barely has to try to get the girls to flock to him.

Yashirou may be shy around girls, but he's quick to take up a challenge when it's offered. He manages to catch the attention of the prettiest girl who is fawning over Ko Yeongha, and charm her with his stuttered Korean. He watches Ko Yeongha watch him with the girl, and under the Korean pro's gaze, Yashirou becomes a fucking Casanova.

The girl seems to want to take him home at the end of evening, or maybe she's inviting him to another bar, but Ko Yeongha pulls Yashirou away to escort him back to his hotel.

The competition has barely begun.

When she got to high school, Kaneko had to choose between the volleyball club and the go club. That wasn't much of a choice, really, especially with the volleyball club's tall, fierce, strong captain, Ishii Noemi. Kaneko was very happy to be given some extra attention as a promising first year, and the extra extra attention in Ishii-buchou's room after practice.

That forced her into another choice, though. Because in high school, she also met Kono Kazuhito, who was also tall, but willowy, dreamy, with long, lovely hands and eyelashes. He was shy with girls and considered gloomy by their classmates, but they didn't see the beautiful things he drew when he was supposed to be taking notes.

Ishii-buchou was challenging and invigorating, but Kazuhito took Kaneko's breath away. After their first kiss, despite the things she'd already done with Ishii-buchou, Kaneko found her heart thumping. She wasn't exactly experienced, but she was forming the opinion that someone like Ishii-buchou might suit her better, but.

Kaneko... preferred, really, to do things both ways. That's why she'd allowed Akari-chan to talk her into doing the go club part time before, anyway. Kaneko could still get herself off thinking about a threesome with Akari-chan and Mitani. She couldn't really even imagine Ishii-buchou and Kazuhito together.

The one thing that was easy for her to decide was that more people should like things both ways, but when she thought about Kazuhito having another girlfriend, or even a boyfriend, it hurt more than thinking about Ishii-buchou with someone else, so she supposed that she had already decided.

It wasn't as if he kept count, but in middle school, Isumi was confessed to twelve times. Each girl awkwardly cornered him, and then hurriedly expressed her feelings, which Isumi then had to figure out how to gently rebuff. The most popular boy in Isumi's school was famously confessed to fifty times, so it wasn't as if Isumi considered himself to be popular.

He just wasn't good at dealing with confessions.

Twice, fellow insei confessed to him. The second time, Nase overheard him, and she didn't meet his eyes for a few days afterward. The girls he turned down never looked at him again. It was just... embarrassing.

By his second year in high school, he'd been confessed to only six times. It helped that he was often away for go-related things. Still, he'd failed to get any better at dealing with the girls confessing to him.

Toward the end of his second year, a first year boy with chin-length, dyed hair (in violation of the dress code) caught him alone in the library. He'd done a lot of work for the cultural festival, so Isumi smiled cheerfully at him when they crossed paths.

And then that boy confessed to him.

Isumi was so shell-shocked at first that he just stared at the other boy. That made the other boy so self-conscious, he turned red and turned to leave.

Isumi stopped him. No! I didn't mean... I don't mind...

You... you don't?

I-I don't mean that I... I just mean... Isumi stammered.

This first year just smiled. And then he kissed Isumi. He leaned right in and took Isumi's first kiss.

It just makes me happy that you'll think about, Isumi-senpai.

Isumi spent the rest of the day feeling rattled, his heart pounding. The next time he saw him, Isumi turned him down, but...

He wasn't sure he wasn't making a mistake.

Someone once approached her to be in an AV. She'd been outside a club in Shinjuku, waiting for her friend to come out. She must have looked lonely or something... or maybe it was because her friend had convinced her to wear a t-shirt a size too small. She rebuffed him, and he said, If you're worried about being with some dick, don't worry! This is totally girl-on-girl stuff I'm talkin' about!

It was the first time in her life she thought that someone might think she was gay, and the first time she thought about doing stuff with another girl. The idea planted in her head, though, she kept thinking about it.

Nase considered herself to be a bit strange. She hid it well, but she knew herself. She seemed to prefer older men (at least she'd stop having those sexual fantasies about Ogata-sensei). And, though she'd never actually done it, the idea of public nudity or sex in public seemed really hot to her. Now, she was going to add liking girls to that list?

Actually, compared to having sex with an old man in public, sex with another girl seemed pretty tame.

She... would have to figure out how to meet a girl, then.

Shinoda does not consider himself a great go player. Certainly, he's very good. He's better than most of the people he plays. He's a nine-dan, after all. That didn't happen overnight.

He's been a pro since he was nineteen, though, and he's never even challenged for a title. So, he's a very good player, but not great.

He's a great teacher, though. And he loves to teach. Insei are the best students, too. They're ambitious and hungry, but they are open-minded. Aggressive little sponges! It's easy to remember, every session, how much he loves go when he sees the insei playing.

Sometimes, though. Sometimes...

He gets jealous.

He was glad that Touya Akira was never an insei. It would have been maddening, even though he knows that is small-minded of him. Of course, Touya Akira might have really positively impacted the other insei, but having a Prince among the commoners (like himself) might have had the opposite effect as well.

When he sees that Shindou has entered the Honinbou league, at nineteen, the same age Shinoda became a pro... he feels jealous. He can't even understand Shindou. Touya Akira might be a Prince, but he has the pedigree. Where did Shindou's talent come from?

Fortunately, Shinoda has a new class of insei to focus on, and so he doesn't need to think about Shindou, or Shinoda's own jealousy, much. And, who knew?

Maybe among this young, eager group, there would be someone who would take Shindou's title from him, should he ever win one. Shinoda's only purpose is to draw out the talent of those aggressive little sponges, after all. So, they definitely should aim high!

Hong Suyeong is not in love with Ko Yeongha. He hates it when people tease him about having a crush when he really just admires Ko Yeongha. He really doesn't like it when the other young pros make kissing noises when he sees Ko Yeongha. It's just embarrassing for pros to behave that way!

Because he's definitely not in love with Ko Yeongha, when the older pro ruffles his hair, or compliments his play (a truly rare event), his heart thumps only because he admires Ko Yeongha.

And really, who doesn't? They are baduk pros, and Ko Yeongha is one of the best players in the entire world! So they should admire him! Ko Yeongha agrees, which is part of his charm... as a baduk player! Not because Hong Suyeong is in love or anything!

Actually, Hong Suyeong would like to meet some nice girl. Someone pretty and cute, and sweet, of course. Someone who admired him... like he admired Ko Yeongha... a bit like that, anyway. He still gets nervous around girls, though. He's seen Ko Yeongha with girls, and he never seems flustered or tongue-tied. Rather the opposite, Ko Yeongha is too at ease around girls. It makes Hong Suyeong jealous.

But not because he's in love with Ko Yeongha!

When he decides to spend his vacation in Japan, he makes a point of telling Ko Yeongha that he's spending the entire time with Hikaru. Staying in his apartment, playing with him constantly. Ko Yeongha should feel jealousy every now and again!

Ko Yeongha doesn't respond at first, and then he grins. Ah, you'll need this, then. I guess I can lend it to you.

Hong Suyeong is left with burning red cheeks and a box of condoms in his hand. He's not going to return it to Ko Yeongha, either! Since he decided to give it to Hong Suyeong, well...

He'll keep them! Just... to prove a point!

As a child, he used to be clumsy. He would trip on the hem of his kimono, and tumble head over heels. Once, his brother picked him up, and smoothed down his hair, frowning. Sai, you're hopeless! The blood flowing through your veins is the most elite in all the land, but you can't even manage to keep your head above your feet! His mother was more comforting, but she, too, would smile in amusement when he scuffled and tripped.

In go, he was never clumsy. Even when he was small, and still learning the game, his stones were placed with determination and purpose, and never varied from where he wanted them to land. Before long, everywhere he went was either heading toward the goban or heading away from the goban. At night, he would dream of stars being conquered and formed by black and white worlds.

Fujiwara-no-Sai benefited from numerous tutors and instructors, but his eyes were never focused unless he was staring at the stones. He once overheard his brother mutter Sai is just hopeless... He cares not a whit for politics, but is always immersed in his games! It was unfortunate, but not everyone could understand.

Sai's feet were firmly on the ground, and his head above them. Go was not merely a game. It was the purpose of life.

Okumura told his mother that he quit the Go Club because it was too much time away from his studies. He told his childhood friend that he quit because it was boring. He told his classmates that he quit because the club was too strong, and he'd never get to play in a tournament. He told the girl he had a crush on that he was bullied in the club because he wasn't strong enough. He told his uncle that he quit because the senpais in the club were much less popular than he'd thought when he joined. He told his grandmother that he quit because he lost interest in go.

He followed the pro test when Touya Akira was taking it, at least up to the point that Touya secured his success. He bitterly wondered why in the world Touya had put off taking the pro exam. Was it just so he could teach them all a lesson? About their place in the world?

When his little sister asked him why he quit the go club, her cute and still chubby fingers putting down a stone at 16-5, a bolder and more imaginative move than he had anticipated, he smiled bitterly, keeping his eyes down.

"As it turned out, oniichan... just wasn't good enough."

It's the first vacation he's gone on in... three years. And the first time he's gone on a trip with... with... well, with a girl.

A woman. His...

His wife.

Wang Xing is nervous. More nervous than his last title match. Last night when... when...

He'd had... opportunities before, but that was his first time. He'd always been far too wrapped up in weiqi. His wife... his family set them up. She was something like a neighbor from his childhood, but he didn't remember her from back then. She... had grown up to be beautiful.

"Darling?"

Wang Xing jumps when his wife touches his arm. She smiles, amused.

"Do you want something to drink?" The stewardess waits expectantly.

"Ah! Oh, uh... thank you, just a juice, please."

His wife looks at him, still amused. When the stewardess moved on, she leans in and whispered, "If only your rivals could see you now..."

She's the type who likes to tease! That's good to know...

She leans in very close, so he braces himself. "Thank you," she whispers.

"Eh?!" he flinches.

She snickers. "I mean... Paris was my idea. I know you didn't really want to go."

"Oh!" he relaxes. "No! That's... well. This is the beginning of our married life." Tentatively, he brushes his hand over her arm, and then takes her hand. She lets him, so he squeezes her hand. "I'm looking forward to it. I've never been to Europe before. I hope you don't mind, but I've arranged to spend part of one day visiting a local weiqi center."

"Of course I don't mind!" she laughs. And. She squeezes his hand, hard. "I wouldn't have married a weiqi player if I minded something like that! Maybe there will even be a player on my level there. I think it will be fun."

That's right, she played, too. He'd only played her once, a year before their engagement. He'd given her a nine-stone advantage.

"Someday... our children will play, too, don't you think?"

Their... their children?! That was right!

This was even better than winning Chang-ki Cup!

He told someone at the Nine Stars Club once that Waya was like a little brother to him. He felt like this should be true, because Waya was closer to Kenta's age than his, but it wasn't true. The kind of affection Isumi had for Waya... it wasn't at all like how he felt for Kenta or Naoko.

And that was damned good thing, because he'd have to move out and never see his brothers again if he felt that way about either of them.

Still, he wishes that his feelings for Waya were more like they were for Kenta or Naoko. He'd feel more at ease around his younger colleague if that were the case. He'd feel less like he was lying to Waya every time they were together.

It was probably a factor in how he felt about Le Ping. Here was someone who was so much like Waya in so many ways, but he was younger than Naoko, and Isumi clearly saw him as just a child. A friend. A cute little brother.

It was getting harder and harder to treat Waya like he was another friend. Like he was the same little brother he'd been all along. Isumi had dated a few guys... but his heart was already fixed on a target.

He was afraid. It would... ruin everything, wouldn't it?

Being a foreigner could be advantageous at times. Especially in Japan, where sometimes he could pass for invisible just by being Korean. There were times when it was a huge comfort, being a stranger in a strange land.

There was no comfort in feeling like a foreigner at home. He kept up with the news of baduk, but he didn't recognize one of the title holders even when he passed right by him. He was made to feel like his colleagues and friends were indulging him to play against him. After all, he had to go to Japan to find a place to teach baduk. He had to be well beneath them, right? Every time he came home, too, things changed more and more. He was sure a day would come when he wouldn't be able to find his own way home from the airport.

He was a foreigner everywhere.

Why did you go to Japan, anyway? he was asked.

His answer was vague, uncertain. Thinking back... why had he left his home? A broken heart? A fear of increasing irrelevance to baduk?

The reason... didn't seem to matter anymore. The only thing left that was relevant was becoming accustomed to being alien.

Sakurano expected to be married by this point in her life.

She knew becoming a go pro would be more of an obstacle to her future married bliss than anything else, but there was nothing wrong with being good at something, right? And there were all sorts of young men in the go world, and in the Nine Stars Club, particularly. These young men were interested in go, so they already had something in common! In fact, when she was first starting out as a go pro, finding a handsome young go pro to marry was her number one goal. Not that she ever told anyone that... she'd be looked down upon by everyone if she had. She just.

She wanted to be in love.

She couldn't fall in love with just anyone, no one could! Someone who was a banker or a doctor or a lawyer... they would just think go was a game. She truly derived passion from playing, so wasn't it reasonable that she could find someone likeminded to marry? And she thought she was pretty attractive for a female go pro. Maybe not the prettiest, but...

It was quite possible that the greatest impediment to her happiness in life was the seeming preponderance of gay men in the go world.

Because he had to quit his job already to take the pro exam, Tsubaki got on his bike once it was all over, and took a trip. He went to the sea and screamed at the ocean in the pre-dawn hours, and ate fresh fish for breakfast before getting on his bike again. He met a pretty-enough girl and spent a few extra days pretending he was a decade younger than he was. He met an old man who ran a convenience store and listened to his stories for half the afternoon. At least some of those stories had to be true, or some parts of them, and they were hilarious.

He went to visit his father's grave, and he washed the stone down and said prayers for the first time since his father had died.

He came back to Tokyo, and he found a job the next day. A buddy of his from a construction company he worked at a few years ago was short-handed, and in desperate need. After just two months there, Tsubaki got promoted to foreman. He met a woman with a tattoo and a young daughter, and started to take her and her kid out for dinner once a week.

He knew before he'd started that he wasn't really cut out to be a go pro, and that he'd have a life without go.

It would just never be the same.

Ambition takes many forms. Yang Hai has met many players, from all over the world, who want to change the face of the game. He does, too, but the ways in which he wants weiqi to change...

It's always been about more than just weiqi. He wants to change his parents' lives, and his hometown. He wants to change his home country, and he wants to change weiqi. There's an exciting new world out there with no boundaries besides imagination. He wants to usher weiqi into that world, and broaden the scope of both the world and weiqi as a result.

Yang Hai does not believe in boundaries, or in small dreams.

He also wants to have sex with an idol. A Japanese one, and a Korean one. Or, more than one. Possibly, at the same time.

Small dreams are for small minds!

If asked, he would always say that he didn't think about stupid stuff like kissing or dating or all that girly crap. People should just focus on go, and stop gossiping and all that shit! That's what he would say, if asked, but he always thought his first kiss would be with Isumi-san. He'd thought that since just about the time he first met him, when Waya was still just a little kid.

It wasn't like that, though.

His first kiss was in the Weiqi Center, with a young Chinese pro. He couldn't speak Chinese, and the other boy couldn't speak Japanese. At first, Waya thought that maybe he was a stand-in for that obnoxious Le Ping, but looking into the other boy's eyes, he got the feeling he was being kissed despite resembling that brat. The first kiss was quickly followed by a second kiss, in which hands were employed, and that melted into his first real make-out session.

He'd come to China with Isumi-san, but Isumi-san had already been immersed once, and had been studying Chinese. He spent a lot of time with Yang Hai, and that Le Ping, and others, too, that he'd met before. He didn't notice when Waya and the boy he'd played that night slipped out of the game room. He didn't notice it the second night, either, when they left in the middle of dinner to go back to the other boy's room.

Waya nearly lost his virginity on that trip, but the third night, as Waya and the boy, Lin Huang, were slipping away after their last match, Isumi-san followed them. He called out just before Lin Huang pushed him against the wall in the stairwell.

Since it's our last night here... I thought we could all go out together... do something fun.

Waya didn't want to read anything into Isumi-san's expression, and he didn't want to see if Lin Huang was disappointed or not. But, he choose to go along with Isumi-san.

He still had the key to his family home, though he didn't really feel like it was his family home anymore. Since the divorce was finalized, he really didn't expect to find his father sitting in the kitchen, going over paperwork like...

Like everything was normal.

Waya no longer knew how to talk to his father, though. He froze, just barely able to choke out a greeting.

His father had always seemed... large, and very masculine to Waya. He also seemed like he and Waya weren't really from the same planet. It was a feeling Waya didn't like to contemplate very much. He could come up with a hundred reasons for it, and a hundred excuses why the gulf was unbreachable, but nothing really mattered. It was just a fact. They didn't get along.

His father looked old, and tired, as he looked up. "Ah, Yoshitaka. It's... it's been a while."

"Yeah. How... are you holding up?" That was a stupid question, but Waya didn't know what to say. He hadn't known what to say to his mother when she announced that she and his father were splitting up, either.

His father sighed. "Mm. Well. Your mother tells me... she tells me that you've moved. You're sharing a place. With another go pro."

Waya felt like shrinking away. He didn't actually plan on coming out to his mother, but it sort of happened naturally. He didn't want to have this conversation with his father. "...Yeah."

His father looked him in the eye. "Be happy, son. Be... be happy."

Waya swallowed the lump in his throat, only able to nod. You, too, dad, he thought.

Nine years after he graduated from middle school, Koike Hitoshi used a long weekend to go up to Sapporo to watch one of the Honinbou title games. Shindou Hikaru was challenging for the title for the first time. In the fancy hotel, they had the room set up for the game, but they had a conference room with a monitor set up for spectators. In a room stuffed with mostly smoking, old men, Koike watched as his former senpai played to win one of the most prestigious titles in Japan.

He couldn't follow the game at all.

The first half of the game ended just after seven, so Koike stood up, feeling slightly dizzy, thinking about dinner. It would be nice... to try to see Shindou-senpai, but. No, something like that was impossible for him.

"Koike-senpai?"

He jumped, completely absorbed in his thoughts, and totally caught off guard. Matsuno Aito did a reasonable job hiding his amusement at Koike's surprise. "Ai-Aito-kun. It's been a really long time."

"I thought I saw you watching, but I wasn't sure until you stood up. You got a bit taller!" Aito grinned.

Koike flushed. He suddenly remembered that Aito had kissed him, once...

"Want to get dinner together?" Aito suggested casually.

"Sure!" Koike agreed quickly. He'd come up alone, after all. This was definitely a welcome surprise. "Is your sister here, too?"

"Nah," Aito laughed. "We stopped being joined at the hip in high school. She's in graduate school now, in Europe. Studying art or art history..." he shrugged.

"Ah, well... good for her!" Koike grinned. "So, what are you hungry for?"

Koike had to be imagining it when Aito's eyes looked Koike up and down. After a pause, though, the other man just grinned. "Anything that satisfies you is good for me!"

He dried himself off, put his clothes back on, and slipped into the room. His 'partner' was face down on the bed, the sheet partially covering her ass. She looked pretty good from this angle, but Kadowaki knew now it was because the low lighting helped to encourage the illusion of ageless beauty.

"I'm going to pay the bill. Stay as long as you like."

She groaned. He'd love to think that he rode her so hard, she wouldn't be able to lift her head until morning. Unfortunately, he had a lot of help from the drinks at the gathering.

Something was bothering him.

The bill was more than he'd like to pay for half a night's pleasure. The love hotels near his college were a lot more affordable. And the girls were worth much more of his time and money. Actually, he never had to use them much then. Kaho had her own apartment, and then they'd shared one. He thought they were going to get married. She did, too. But she thought they were going to get married right after college, and he thought they'd be getting married someday.

Neither one of them had been ready to get married. He'd been through three jobs since college. Kaho had gotten married two years after college, and from what Kadowaki heard, it wasn't a bushel of roses. If he ever met the guy who was supposedly cheating on her, he'd bash the fucker's nose in, but he didn't want to see Kaho again.

What did he want?

That girl back in the hotel... she'd been fun, but she left Kadowaki feeling emptier. He jumped onto the last train before the doors slid shut.

What did he want? Oh, yeah, there was a go tournament this weekend! Now, that would be fun!

It hit him, like a bullet train. Go. He wasn't too old. Not yet, but damn it, that deadline was approaching. He could do it, right? He was good, and he was winning tournaments. He was going to go pro!

He didn't stop grinning until after he fell asleep. Sometimes, he was just a fucking genius!

He never thought that go would become a huge part of his life. He'd always thought that it was something that he was good at, though it didn't take long in the club before he was disabused of that notion, and sure, he always liked playing, but.

Natsume just wasn't the sort of boy who really got into things. He'd never really belonged to a club before, either. He'd tried to join the basketball team at first, but gave up when he realized that he was too slow on his feet to ever get to play in a real game. The basketball coach sheepishly suggested that he try something that would allow his size to be an advantage, like maybe judo. Natsume wasn't that interested in being thrown around, though. Being part of the go-home club was fine with him.

He wasn't the smartest kid in class, or the best looking, he didn't have any remarkable skills... so going home and walking his dog, playing video games... there was nothing wrong with that.

Why did he join, then? It didn't hurt that a cute girl practically begged him to join. No, that didn't hurt at all, even if he thought Akari-chan was way out of his league.

He really didn't know why he had joined Haze Middle School's Go Club, but he could see it in his opponent's eyes more than he could see it in the stones. He was about to win his first match in a tournament.

This was so much fun!








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