title: Learning the Divine Move, Step Two
fandom: Hikaru no Go
characters/pairings: Hikaru/Akira, Touya Kouyo
rating: Teen
warnings: road trip, sex, introspection
summary: Akira stumbles, and Hikaru opens a new path.
notes: pretty much all of my hng fics fall into the same loose universe, but this is definitely part of the same universe as Learning the Divine Move, Step One and lost stones, directly.

They watched from the room next door to where the match was going on, Hikaru seated quietly behind Touya Kouyou. The Go master watched his son's faltering hand placing the stone loosely; he was looking to cut his opponent rather than connect himself. It was reckless, but then... this was the fourth game in the Meijin title match, and there wouldn't be another.

Touya Kouyou sighed deeply.

Hikaru closed his eyes, and smiled. He stood up, and stretched out. Amano frowned slightly, looking over his shoulder. "You're not leaving, are you, Shindou-kun? That's not showing much loyalty."

Hikaru just winked at him. "Loyalty's not the question here. And the end isn't too far off, so."

"How can you say that?" Amano sputtered. "Touya-kun is just about to make his move!"

"His move was made ten hands ago," Hikaru replied with a shrug. Touya Kouyou nodded sadly. "I'll be back, though. Just have a few things to do."

Last night, and the night before, and the night before that, he'd done everything he could to try to relax Akira, but nothing could work. Hikaru had seen this coming for months, and nothing he could do or say could help Akira. He took the elevator to their room, and went to the back of the elevator car, sighing.

Losing was the only thing that could snap Akira out of it, though it would be a harsh lesson, and he might not get it.

If only he didn't have to lose to that sleaze Ogata! That man would keep the title for another year. But just one more year.

Hikaru was going to see to that.

He packed up their room quickly, the phone cradled on his shoulder as he made the arrangements with the front desk. He put the phone down, and cleared out the bathroom. By the time he was done, the porter was at the door, ready to take their bags. He tipped the guy well to make sure everything went smoothly, and then he went back down.

As expected, they were in the endgame.

He leaned against the back wall, watching the stones placed rapidly on the television. Akira was playing desperately, and he was making plenty of mistakes, but none of them mattered. He was jockeying for position when he should have been resigning.

It was hard to watch.

His father even had his eyes closed. Amano was furiously scribbling on his pad, probably already fabricating the explanations for why Akira had lost his bid for his father's best title, since, naturally, Akira couldn't lose unless there was a reason. Hikaru understood how Akira's fans felt, but he could have told them before the game began how it would end.

There was only one way, after all.

At these times, he really missed Sai. Just having someone to talk to when he couldn't really talk... Even at his age, he still felt anxious at times when he had to be still. And Sai... would definitely have something to say about Touya's performance. It was up to Hikaru to carry on Sai's wisdom. That was the burden of the race for the Divine Move, as much as Akira's inheritance, which left no room for loses.

When Akira's bowed head finally appeared on the screen, it was a huge relief to everyone in the room. Most everyone got up to go to the match room, and discuss the game. The makeshift Room of Deep Reflection, set up in the posh hotel in Sapporo, had plenty of room for everyone, but Hikaru and Touya Kouyou stayed right where they were.

Touya Kouyou cleared his throat. "I trust I can leave my son to your care?"

"You trust me?" Hikaru blushed deeply. "Well, I'll do my best, then, sir."

Touya Kouyou smiled softly.

A few minutes later, Akira burst in, looking like he'd very much like to start hitting things. "Shindou. We're done. Let's go."

"Aren't you even going to greet your father? How ru~de," Hikaru yawned.

Akira grit his teeth. "Father. If you'll excuse us." He nodded, and turned, but Hikaru was still not moving.

"Is that all? They're still discussing the match. If you haven't seen where you made your errors, you should patiently go through it now, while it is still fresh." Hikaru looked up at the ceiling, bored.

"Why you..."Akira growled, his fists at his side.

"If you're going to have a temper tantrum, get it out of your system now," Hikaru looked Akira in the eye. "Losers should be more graceful."

"Loser?" Akira snidely spit out. "Who is a loser here? Surely not me."

"You have to prove that," Hikaru challenged. "You've already been eliminated from the Honinbou league. It'll be another year before you can get a title. Sorry, but you're going to have to bow your head to me after I become Honinbou."

"You think so? You think you can beat Ogata in the qualifier? He's not as easy as you think," Akira challenged.

"And he's not as hard as you think," Hikaru countered immediately. "If you'd had your head in the first game, you would have won. There was no point in even playing this game. You were giving hands away to him. You have a lot of work to do before next year, you know. Who knows? Maybe after taking Honinbou, I'll take Meijin, too. It should be someone deserving, don't you think?"

"What makes you so sure you can win?" Akira challenged, moving to stand right in front of Hikaru. "What makes you think you aren't a loser like me?"

Hikaru grinned, and he knew it had to be infuriating to Akira. "There's no way I'd let anyone else take the title Honinbou. Didn't you feel the same way about Meijin? But you gave your father's title away. Instead of hanging your head in shame, you have the audacity to come in and face your father like a brat. Isn't that disgraceful?"

"You...!" Akira raised his fist, and slammed it hard, but Hikaru just kept smiling. He could feel the wall shake where Akira's fist pounded, but he didn't move an inch.

He leaned forward, and quickly kissed the corner of Akira's mouth. "There. That's somewhat better. But let's stop wasting time. We have to get going."

"Going... going where? Our flight isn't until tomorrow," Akira petulantly reminded Hikaru.

Hikaru just winked. "Nope. We're not taking a plane. We're driving."

Akira shook his head. "Hikaru... what are you thinking? It's...what, seven hundred kilometers to Tokyo by car? We're not driving. We have matches."

"Matches can bite my ass," Hikaru snarled, pushing forward, getting in Akira's face. "It's been, what, nine months since you've come up for air? And because of the insane way that you've been pushing yourself, you couldn't buy a hand in that match. So, now, I'm in charge. And you're going to shut your mouth and do as I say. And it's gonna be more than seven hundred kilometers, because we're taking the scenic route, and if you complain, I'm driving you down to fucking Nagasaki, d'ya hear?"

Akira blinked rapidly, totally shell-shocked, but before he could sputter anything coherent, his father started to chuckle. Touya Kouyou stood up slowly, putting his hands down on the table in front of him. He walked past them, still smiling, and he patted his son on the shoulder. He winked at Hikaru. "I leave him in your care, Hikaru."

Hikaru's jaw went slack. That was the first time Akira's father had called him by his given name. He had a weird feeling, like something had shifted between them, but he didn't know what.

Akira was gaping, too, but that was perfect. Hikaru took a deep breath, and took Akira by the hand. "Come on. Let's get going."

"Hikaru, you're being totally unreasonable. What about packing?"

"Done."

"Well... well...! We can't just skip our matches..."

"Yes, we can. I've done it before. It's not the worst thing in the world."

"Hikaru!" Akira tugged hard, but the elevator was there, and Hikaru pulled him in. "What are you thinking? I... All right, I admit, I've been a little... stressed... but if you think some long road trip is going to..."

"Have you ever taken a road trip before?" Hikaru asked, squeezing Akira's hand and leaning in to look Akira in the eye.

"Well... no, but..." Akira hedged.

"Then think of this as a new adventure, and be quiet," Hikaru insisted.

"Hikaru. We just don't have time. There's matches, and..."

"There's never time," Hikaru said seriously, pulling his hand away from Akira. "Never time for breaks, or vacations. Never time for anything but Go. You go to see your parents, and you only talk about Go. You schedule study sessions, tutoring, and games for every day of the week. You can't stand to have the television on, or the radio, or go to a movie, or an arcade, or do anything but play Go. We're not children anymore. Little by little, we're making choices that we'll live with for the rest of our lives. And little by little, I'm seeing that I'm not a priority to you. Only my Go."

"H-Hikaru..." Akira whispered.

He turned and smiled at Akira. "But I know that's not true. That's why we've got to break away. Spend a week... even two... doing things that have nothing at all to do with Go. Being together. Exploring this country together. Won't it be fun?" He grinned brightly.

Akira didn't say anything, but then the door opened, so Hikaru pulled on Akira's sleeve, and drew him along. Everything was set up at the front desk. The car he had rented - a Lexus convertible - was ready and waiting, and all their bags were already inside. The desk clerk gave Hikaru the keys as he paid for their room and Akira stood, staring at the car outside the front door.

It took them twenty minutes to get out of the city, and Hikaru got off the expressway as soon as he could, taking the scenic route. Akira didn't say anything, but his brow was furrowed, and he was chewing on his lip. Hikaru kept looking at him sidelong, but he had to watch the road, too. He had his mp3 player plugged into the stereo on random, so at least they weren't driving in silence. Eventually, Hikaru stopped looking at Akira, and just got into the driving. He had his license, but this was the first time he'd really spent any time behind the wheel, and this car was fucking incredible. It was still a bit too cold to have the top down, but once they got a bit south, it should be incredible.

Without thinking about it, he started tapping his finger along with the music.

"Can we stop?" Akira asked quietly, but his voice was still a bit shocking to Hikaru, since he'd gotten used to the silence between them.

"Eh?" Hikaru asked, looking at Akira briefly.

"I'd like to change my clothes," Akira said, sounding tired. "And... maybe eat. Maybe... we can stop for today?"

They were on no schedule, and Hikaru would rather that Akira wanted to stop sooner rather than later. "No problem."

He headed for the closest town, which was Niseko. On the way there, they passed a number of hot springs, so Hikaru just chose one at random for them to spend the night. The place he picked didn't look too horrifically traditional; in fact, they were rather amused to have actual Japanese customers, so they got the best room available. Akira changed clothes, and Hikaru stretched out on the tatami mat, staring at the ceiling fixture. It was just a couple of hours driving, but it was a lot more taxing than he'd expected. The trip might take longer than he had expected.

He didn't mind.

Akira came out, and Hikaru had to grin, because he didn't seem that much more casually dressed than before. At least he wasn't wearing a tie.

"Are you hungry? Or do you want to go for a walk?"

Akira looked out their window. "You're giving me a choice? Isn't this a kidnapping? ...Let's go for a walk."

"We don't have to..." Hikaru sighed, turning onto his side.

Akira was quiet for a moment, and then he poked Hikaru with his toe. "S-Sorry. Let's go."

Hikaru sat up, and looked Akira in the eye. It was... awkward, growing up. Especially growing up with someone else. Perhaps it was the mature thing, not to say anything more, or perhaps he should say something gallant, or perhaps he should say something sweet. He really just wanted to say something bratty.

He got to his feet, and brushed his fingers over Akira's hand, but they really couldn't go out hand in hand. He opened the door, and led the way.

There were numerous footpaths around the hot spring into the foothills of the mountain. Even at that time of year, there were wet patches of snow sparsely clinging to the grass all around, which looked particularly beautiful as the flowers were starting to bloom. Hikaru's uneasiness about the mood with Akira slowly bled away in the fresh air.

He turned and smiled at Akira. "Isn't this beautiful?"

But Akira wasn't looking at anything but his feet. "Do you... really think that... I care more about your Go than you?"

Hikaru's shoulders slumped. He'd like to say no definitively, but there was no way he could lie, even partially, to Akira. He looked down at his own feet, at his yellow and black sneakers, and the snow melting around them. He stepped closer to Akira, and took his hands, pulling Akira close. He kissed him, pulling Akira into his arms.

He tried to think of the last time they had just kissed, but he really didn't think they ever had. They kissed over meals and over the goban and they kissed each other in private, but he couldn't remember ever holding Akira in his arms, and kissing him this thoroughly before.

It wasn't just Akira, of course. He knew that. He brushed his nose against Akira's, and smiled.

"Do you know why you lost today?"

Akira looked away, sheepish. "Of course. Everyone does. I was reckless, trying to build dangerous shapes. I wasn't looking past the next hand or two. It was a mess."

Hikaru shook his head, and Akira gave him a strange look. "Oh, no, you're right, you were a mess, but that wasn't why you lost. You have to think of why you were a mess."

He moved away from Akira, taking his hand, and, ignoring Akira's look of confusion, he pulled Akira along.

They bathed in the hot spring that night, and when they couldn't take the heat anymore, they made love in their room, taking their time, holding back each time the passion was on the verge of overwhelming them, as often as they could, until they couldn't hold back anymore.

They overslept in the morning, and missed breakfast, so they bought some bread on their way out of town. It was Akira's suggestion to follow the coastline as best they could. After an hour, he hijacked Hikaru's mp3 player, and picked out a playlist. Not much longer than that, they stopped to get snacks, and take a walk along the rocky beach. Twice, Akira tried to bring up Go, but Hikaru just ignored him, and starting to talk about something else.

They ate lunch at a little place with an open patio overlooking the water, and they ate fresh fish, and argued about politics for the first time ever. Hikaru hadn't even been aware that he had any political opinions, but he figured he should think some things in opposition to Akira just because.

They went through the little shops in the small town before heading out, and Akira bought some trinkets for his mother, and a disposable camera, since Hikaru had neglected to bring one. He then took pleasure in upsetting Hikaru by using up most of the camera just on pictures of Hikaru driving.

They couldn't get a ferry ticket for that day, so they stayed in a small, cramped motel and ate pizza, and fought over the remote. When they made love, they made a game out of deciding who would top, and they fell out of the bed, and the manager came knocking on their door, yelling at them to Stop roughhousing! Damned boys!

They ended up laughing so hard, they couldn't continue.

The next morning, while eating pancakes at a family restaurant, Hikaru bumped Akira's foot, and grinned. "Hey, do you know what? All over this country, there are guys our age, sitting in stuffy school rooms, studying their asses off, trying to get into good colleges, so they work like dogs their whole lives at jobs they hate, and they'll never see their families, and their hearts will probably explode when they're forty. And here we are, doing whatever we like, because we've already got careers, and it's doing what we love to do most of all."

"You're really just a horrible slacker at heart, aren't you?" Akira teased affectionately.

"Hey!" Hikaru kicked his shin gently. "You should take a lesson from me. Learn to relax and appreciate what you have more! It'll make you happier."

"Winning would have made me happy," Akira said sadly, looking away.

"If you want to win, you have to figure out why you lost," Hikaru warned him.

"Since when did you start giving me Go lessons?" Akira asked wryly.

"Watch it," Hikaru winked. "Pretty soon, you'll have to call me Shindou-honinbou in public, and then you'll regret those harsh words. Besides..." he leaned in and grinned. "Have you forgotten who my teacher was?"

"Stuff it," Akira shook his head. "You can't forget who my teacher was, either."

"Mm. But my teacher beat your teacher."

"I've been studying Go for a lot longer."

"And yet, we're still at basically the same level."

"I'm going to make you eat your words the next time we play an official match," Akira said, grinning predatorily in the way that got Hikaru really excited.

He licked his lips, and watched Akira watch the progress of his tongue. "I'm going to kick Ogata's ass all over the goban for you when I play him in a month."

"You damned well better," Akira said viciously.

Hikaru beamed. "That's the spirit."

Akira shook his head, looking embarrassed. "I don't know about that. Hikaru. Tell me... Why... Why did I lose?"

Hikaru leveled Akira with a piercing stare. "Come on. You know it won't mean anything until you figure it out yourself. Don't worry." He stood up, and fished out his wallet to pay the bill. "I'll be your teacher on this trip. I won't let us get home until you've learned your lesson."

"Great. Well, hope we get back in time for you to... ah, kick Ogata's ass over the goban." Akira's cheeks pinked adorably, and the way he said ass made it seem more like a foreign word than a curse word. Of course, Akira never used vulgar words or phrases, so that was more accurate.

Hikaru laughed, and patted Akira on the back as they walked out. "Don't worry, I don't think you're that dense."

Akira played at swatting at Hikaru, but he was laughing, too.

They got a ferry ticket for the last ship going out, but then they couldn't decide if they wanted to follow the east coastline or the west. They ended up just getting a bed and breakfast in the town the ferry left them at, and spent the night reading books the matronly owner of the house lent them. Akira put his head in Hikaru's lap, and made Hikaru read to him, and then he read for a while. Hikaru ran his fingers through Akira's hair, winding the strands around his fingers, and endured Akira's teasing about his pronunciations while he silently admired the sound of Akira's voice.

Their room was right next to the owner's room, so they didn't make love that night. In fact, since they were given a room with two beds, they decided to use both beds. Strangely, though, they both had trouble falling asleep, even though they'd been sleeping in separate beds since a month before the Meijin tournament began.

The next morning, they took the first road they came upon. They drove through rugged mountain passes to luxurious valleys. Akira spelled Hikaru off on the driving for a bit, but as it got later, they realized that they weren't near any towns. They found a farm, however, and the older couple who lived there were willing to let them stay for the night, just for helping out with some chores. Akira ended up in the kitchen with the old lady, helping her clean, and also sort her knitting. Hikaru went down to the basement with the old man, who showed Hikaru his woodworking shop. He gave Hikaru a small, carved bird polished black. The old man told him about the crows that some people said took souls away to the next life. He had made the bird a long time ago, when their first grandchild had died in childbirth. After all the time that had passed, though, he was willing to let the bird fly free.

Hikaru held it in the palm of his hand, admiring the artistry the old man's hands used to be capable of, and thought about Sai, and whether there was some crow that came to take his soul away.

That night, they slept on bedrolls set up in the room that used to belong to the couple's son. They didn't say much to each other before falling asleep, but they reached out to each other, and held hands. Just before falling asleep, Hikaru asked Akira if he was any closer to knowing why he lost, but Akira just told him to sleep.

They next day, they drove through the pouring rain. When it got so bad they couldn't see a meter ahead of them, they pulled over. After a few minutes of teasing each other, Hikaru crawled out of his seat and into Akira's lap, and they had quick, dirty, rough sex in the car with the rain pounding all around them.

They followed the expressway for a while, because it was easier to find places to stay. They still found plenty of ways to get off the beaten track. They went fishing for the first time, and caught three tiny minnows. They went to a temple in the mountains, and Hikaru bought Akira hakama pants and a formal haori jacket, despite Akira's protests that he already had some. Hikaru also bought a long, black, silk ribbon, but he wouldn't tell Akira why.

Akira wasn't about to let it go, though. All through dinner, he kept poking Hikaru, and asking him. They were at a hot springs that night, and under the water, Akira pinched Hikaru, and asked him who his girlfriend was. Back in their room, Akira took a different approach.

As soon as he slid the door to their room shut, he pushed Hikaru down onto the bedroll, and opened his robe. He kissed Hikaru hard, and then worked his way down Hikaru's body, stopping to enjoy Hikaru's nipples, and belly button. "Hey, Hikaru," Akira whispered.

Hikaru just groaned from behind his arm, though, damning the thin walls of old onsen.

Grinning, Akira leaned down, and very deliberately licked up the underside of Hikaru's cock. "If Sai were still with you... do you think he'd watch us having sex?"

Hikaru thrashed, and grabbed Akira, turning them over. "Idiot!" he hissed, but his cheeks turned bright red.

Akira's eyes widened, and he licked his lips. "Did you love him?"

"Shut up!" Hikaru petulantly complained. "Don't... it wasn't like... you can't imagine! He was always with me. He taught me everything. He gave me this life. It should have been his own..."

Akira viciously kissed Hikaru, leaving him totally breathless. His hand went around Hikaru's cock, and he started to stroke gently, without any rhythm. "I can't understand, I guess. But... I'm glad to have you to myself."

"I-I-Idiot... F-faster..." Hikaru begged.

Akira's eyes gleamed with what could only be called evil. "Tell me why you bought a ribbon today."

"B-bast-ard..." Hikaru gasped.

And then Akira pulled back, and shifted away. Completely away.

Hikaru whimpered.

Akira smiled angelically. "Well? Tell me, and I'll take you in my mouth."

Hikaru really wanted that.

"I-Idiot." Hikaru blushed bright red. "I-It's nothing, ok!"

"Ok," Akira replied in a singsong voice, but he didn't move a millimeter closer to Hikaru.

This was intolerable. "Fi~ne. Brat. You're so spoiled, Akira. I'm going to complain to your father." He ignored Akira's snort. "I just thought... your hair hasn't changed since you were three. I think... you should grow it out. And then we could tie it back, and you could be like... like... a samurai," Hikaru muttered, his voice diminishing with each word.

Akira just blinked. "Is this some sort of sexual fantasy?" he asked in a hushed voice.

"No!" Hikaru said too loudly. Then he blushed more. "Well. I mean. That's not all. I just think it's fitting for you. Samurai Touya. Merciless on the goban!"

Akira shook his head, grinning. "You really are an idiot."

Hikaru kicked him, and pointed to his flagging erection. "And you have the hair of a child. You said you'd finish me off if I told you!"

"Yes, yes," Akira sighed, cajoling Hikaru. He leaned forward with deliberate sexiness, his lips parted. Just before the tip of Hikaru's cock touched his bottom lip, he grinned. "Though, you know, your hair hasn't changed since I met you, either."

And then he took Hikaru in, all the way to the hilt, after a fashion. Hikaru had to bite his arm to keep from screaming out. It was just so damned good... so hot and wet and Akira started to suck. Tears streamed down his face. It had never been this good. They'd been... well, a bit shy about sex for a long time. And then.

There was always Go.

Akira had only gone down on him a few times, and never like this, never like he was starving for it, and Hikaru thought he'd go insane from the pleasure of it.

His teeth broke the skin, and his mouth was flooded with the bitter taste of his blood, and he whimpered, and came in Akira's mouth.

Akira leaned back, licking his lips. "Hikaru," he hoarsely whispered. "I'll grow out my hair if you change your hairstyle."

Hikaru started to laugh, almost hysterically. "I shouldn't say this, but I'll agree to pretty much anything you ask of me right now."

Akira slithered down to slip in next to Hikaru, putting his arm around Hikaru's waist. "You definitely shouldn't say that." He started to nibble on Hikaru's ear. "I wish you'd help out more with the dishes and cleaning."

"I should definitely help out more," Hikaru agreed fervently, turning to slip his arm around Akira, and pull him closer for a kiss. "I'll work on that."

"Mm. And I want you to talk to your friend Waya about calling me 'that Touya' when he's talking about me."

"Well, he doesn't always..." Hikaru said vaguely, trying to open Akira's robe. Akira pushed away from him, and Hikaru pouted. "Ok, ok, I'll talk to him. But stop being so selfish. Don't you want me to return the favor?"

"I think we're both tired," Akira admitted sheepishly. "Kiss me again."

"Yeah, I can do that," Hikaru promised with a grin.

They were both tired, but it was over an hour before they fell asleep. Kisses, both deep and playful, kept them awake, even as their eyelids started to droop. They overslept the next morning, but the owner was pleasant about it, and even packed them some onigiri for the road. They drove for hours, but they were still sluggish, so they bought some more disposable cameras at the first convenience store they found, and they made a game of stopping by the side of the road every time one of them found something he wanted to photograph.

They made it to the coast, to the rocky shoreline, with deep wave pools. They slept in the car, wrapped up together, the car facing the sunrise so they could get an early start. They headed back into the mountains, and ate ice cream outside of a temple, while Hikaru teasingly flirted with the temple maiden.

It started to rain more, and they found a town that had a bit more to it than just farms and rocks. Hikaru disappeared in the morning, leaving Akira to wander through the tiny library, swearing that he would stay away from the Go books. Two and a half hours later, he found Akira engrossed in a book of Chinese history. He tapped Akira on the shoulder, and grinned.

Akira smiled up at him, and then he gaped, and jumped to his feet. "Hikaru!"

"A~ki~ra!" Hikaru shushed him. "We're in a library."

Akira blushed, but he still reached out to touch Hikaru's hair. "You... you... you..."

Hikaru laughed, and rubbed his hand through his hair nervously. "Do you like it? She cut it a little, and dyed the front black, and then bleached all the tips. I was really nervous at first! You should have seen this woman! She was about five times my size and she wore enough makeup to make a geisha sweat. But I think it came out ok. Ah, right? It's going to take some getting used to..." He watched Akira's face closely. Actually, he'd been a lot more than nervous. It had been his mother's idea to bleach his bangs, to keep him from dying his hair green like he said he would in the fifth grade. That was a long time ago, and he'd gotten so used to that look being him...

Akira leaned in, and kissed Hikaru's lips quickly. "It looks... really sexy. Mature. You know, I might take you seriously as Honinbou with this hairstyle. We'll have to see."

Hikaru laughed, and looked around. There was only one librarian, and he seemed to be in the office. They were the only ones there, still. He put his hands on Akira's hips. "So, you'll grow out your hair?"

Shaking his head and blushing, Akira shrugged. "I guess I have to. I guess I'll be your samurai."

Hikaru beamed.

They didn't get very far that day. They didn't leave the small town until nearly dusk, and they didn't get anywhere near anyplace to stay, so they drove through the night. They made too much distance then, and got too close to home. They found a beach with white sand, and they used Akira's robe as a beach towel so they could sit down in the sand. They listened to the waves crashing against the sand, their fingers interlaced next to them, and their feet knocking into each other.

"Do you have a plan to beat Ogata?" Akira asked quietly.

"That's not something I want to talk about now," Hikaru replied loftily.

"You don't need to tell me it. I just want to know. That you have a plan." Akira was staring into the water, but his eyes weren't narrowed, and his voice didn't sound tight.

"I have a plan," Hikaru assured him confidently.

"It better be a good one," Akira teased him.

Hikaru laughed, and bumped his knee against Akira's. "Yeah, it's a good one, no worries."

Akira raised his eyebrow, and grinned. "Good enough to beat me?"

"Nope, it won't work on you," Hikaru shook his head, amused. "But I won't be playing you. It'll work on Ogata."

"How can you be sure? I know him better than you do. He won't be easily overturned," Akira warned.

"Don't worry, don't worry," Hikaru laughed, bumping him with his knee again. "Trust me a little. I know him well enough to know how to get the advantage." He looked out to the water, and narrowed his eyes. "No one is going to stand between me and the title."

Akira nodded slowly. "Because of Sai."

"Damn straight," Hikaru forced himself to smile brightly. "If. If he can only live in my Go, then my Go will have to be good enough to carry his name." He nodded, and swallowed hard.

And then he laughed.

"I'm ready now, anyway." Hikaru leaned back, tipping his head back, breathing in the salt air as deeply as he could.

"To be his heir?" Akira asked quietly.

"To follow his lead, and step down the path. We're walking together, right?" He squeezed Akira's hand. "Tell me something, Akira. What do you want out of life?"

"What do you mean?" Akira frowned. "Isn't it obvious?"

"No," Hikaru said slowly. Patiently. Going to Akari's school's Go club was making him better at teaching obvious things. "Getting titles, playing Go... Akira, we're already doing that. And even though we're doing that, we've still got our whole lives ahead of us.

"Other guys our age, Akira... they're still dreaming. And so should we. Someday, maybe, we'll go to America. Or Europe. Someday, we might own a house. Someday, we might have some project or something with Go we want to do. Someday, we might help found an all-Asia pro league. Someday, we might do something with online Go." He coughed slightly, and looked away, feeling embarrassed. "Someday... we might adopt a baby. Er, or child."

"Wh-what?" Akira asked, pulling back and staring at Hikaru.

"Well!" Hikaru crossed his arms over his chest, and looked away. "I mean years from now! Years! We could adopt some cute Chinese baby girl, or something like that. Don't they kill girls in China or something? So... it shouldn't be too hard. We could have a family... maybe three or four children. And we can teach them Go, and go to the movies, and stuff like that." He blushed furiously. "L-like our parents taught us stuff. And did stuff for us. Don't you want that?"

"With me?" Akira asked, his voice sounding shallow and scared. "You want... want children with me?"

"Well?" Hikaru asked, impatient. "Who else? I suppose we could get some girl to have one of our babies, but then she might want to keep the baby. It's better not to involve anyone else, I think."

"You... you've thought about these things?" Akira asked, amazed.

"Yeah, well..." Hikaru looked Akira in the eye. "I do set some time aside each day to think about stuff besides Go."

Akira blushed bright red, but he persevered. "You think about... our future? Like... like that? You want to be with me... forever?"

"Of course I do," Hikaru said seriously, and he didn't like at all the sharp pain in his chest. Didn't Akira...? "I think about it a lot. Isn't... isn't that normal, when you love someone?"

Akira bowed his head down, and reached out, putting his hand on Hikaru's thigh. He took a deep breath, and then he put his head down in Hikaru's lap. "Yeah. That's normal. ...I think I understand now. I lost before I even got on the plane to get to Hokkaido, didn't I?"

Hikaru pushed his fingers through Akira's hair, smiling affectionately. "You lost before you qualified, Akira. You completely burned yourself out getting that far. Too many matches and too much studying and too many tutoring sessions. You're all set to conqueror the world, but by the time you get it in your hands, you'll have forgotten why you wanted it at all."

"Stop that," Akira teased, swatting Hikaru's cheek playfully. "If you keep saying smart things, it'll just make me feel even more stupid."

"Hey!" Hikaru objected, laughing, and he grabbed a small handful of sand, throwing it at Akira. "Don't mock your teacher!"

"Since when are you my teacher?" Akira said, challenging, and he grabbed a handful of sand himself.

An epic battle began, the two of them tumbling around in the sand and throwing it at each other. At some point, they started to tear each other's clothes off, but then, the sand became a lot less fun, and they raced into the freezing water. Wet, the sand stuck to their legs, and they raced back to the car, still naked, still dripping, still feeling rambunctious. Once again, they had sex in the car, and when they were done, they just clung to each other.

Akira looked Hikaru in the eye, smiled, and told him he'd like to have babies with Hikaru someday. Hikaru laughed, and they started to wrestle again, joking about who would carry the babies, and they had sex again.





Akira fumbled through the folders of photographs. He'd already filtered out the ones he'd rather his parents didn't see, but really, most of them were pretty much the same. "Here. These are from a temple... I forget the name of it. It was Fukushima, in the mountains. It was really amazing." He set the pictures down, and his father leaned over, and nodded.

"Ah, Akira, your hair is getting a bit long, isn't it?" his mother fussed, tugging at the back. "Are you too old to let me cut it? I don't mind, if you have time tonight."

Akira flushed slightly. "Actually, Mother, I'm going to, ah, grow it out."

"Grow it out?" his mother repeated, her eyes widening. "How long?"

Akira shrugged, realizing that he never asked Hikaru. "I guess... until I can cut off the top knot," he joked.

His mother looked horrified.

"You should see Shindou's hair, Mother," he diverted quickly. "It's really different. He dyed the front black again, and just bleached the tips of his hair, all over. It looks really good."

"It's going to take more than a new hair style to help him to win next week," Ogata said challengingly. "Aren't you going to play me at all, Touya-kun? I didn't realize we were going to be looking at pictures all night," he sighed loudly, still placing stones as he replayed their first game in the Meijin tournament.

Akira just smiled politely. "Sorry, Ogata-san, but I promised Shindou I wouldn't play for another month."

"What?" Ashiwara said, looking crestfallen. "But your matches..."

Akira scratched the back of his head, sheepish. "I've already called the Go Institute. Hikaru said I needed a secondary hobby."

His parents shared a look, and he realized his mistake. Well, it wasn't like everyone here didn't know he lived with Hikaru...

His father picked up a picture of the shoreline, and nodded. "Perhaps... you should try to take up calligraphy. You always did have such neat handwriting."

"Ah, that's true!" his mother said, sounding delighted. "I have some of my old equipment, if you'd like to try, Akira?"

"All right," he said, looking up at his mother with a smile.

Ogata snorted. "Is Shindou using the same method of training for the Honinbou league? I don't mind if he wants to forfeit."

"He's not going to forfeit, Ogata-san," Akira assured him.

"You should call me Ogata-meijin," Ogata reminded him unkindly. He smiled at the way Akira turned his nose up. "Well, you can call me Ogata-honinbou soon."

"That will never happen in your lifetime, Ogata-san," Akira cheerfully informed him. "It'll be Shindou-honinbou."

"Oh-ho," Ogata said, and the air virtually crackled with intensity. "You really think so? He can do better than you, then?"

"Mm," Akira carelessly riffled through the photos, picking out ones he wanted to show his father. "We'll see in a week, won't we?"

"That we will," Ogata said darkly.

Akira's father picked up a picture of a snowy mountaintop. "You might consider photography as well, son. Some of these are quite good."

"Eheh," Akira laughed nervously. "That one, Hikaru took," he admitted.

Ashiwara laughed. "Oh, man. These are great. I should take a road trip, too! You think that Saeki-kun would want to go with?"

"He's probably pretty worn out from league play, too," Akira helpfully shrugged.

Ogata opened his mouth to say something, but Akira's father stood up, and patted Akira on the head. "I'm proud of you, son. Come. Let's have tea. Your mother got Castella cake."

"Ok," Akira agreed, standing up, but his legs felt shaky.

Ogata was gaping, but Akira couldn't help but feel proud of himself, too.

They were only just beginning down the path, but neither of them would ever be alone, and they were walking determinedly forward. Next year, without a doubt, he'd get back his father's best title, just like Hikaru was going to win the title of his teacher.





i couldn't bring myself to make akira's mother call him 'akira-san.' that'sjustsowrong. ^_^;;;;;;;;;;




BACK