title: Explain it to Me
fandom: Hikaru no Go
characters/pairings: one-sided Akari/Hikaru, implied Hikaru/Touya, Akari's mother
rating: G
warnings: none
summary: Akari can't explain why.
notes: written for the blind go challenge.

If she could explain why she liked him so much, she'd feel a lot better about everything. He wasn't the best looking boy she knew. He wasn't the nicest. He was selfish, rude, and insensitive. He was always teasing her, and acting so superior. She never knew what was going on inside his head. He would never share anything with her. It was obvious that he didn't like her; at least, not the way she liked him. And she was fine with that.

If she could stop liking him so much, they could just be friends. She'd like that, just like when they were kids. If she could see him just a little bit, now and again.

She'd like that.

She was starting high school in four days. Her new uniform was hanging on the back of her door. It was really cute, and she looked like a real high school girl when she wore it. She had wanted to show Hikaru when she got it, but she went to his house four days in a row, and for four days in a row, he either was out playing go, or he blew her off. He had a big match with Touya coming up, and that was all he saw.

She was jealous of Touya.

He could sit across the goban from Hikaru, and Hikaru could really see him, because they played a game together that mattered to Hikaru. She started to learn go at the same time as Hikaru, but she could never sit across the goban from him, and play at the same level. She couldn't even understand his game.

It was time for her to put away her childhood love, she decided. If she couldn't explain to herself why he was so important, then she just had to make him less important.

She got a big box out of the basement, and put it in the middle of the room, opened. She started near her bed. On her bedside table, she had three pictures of them together in frames. The largest one was of them talking at graduation. She liked it a lot, and wanted to keep it. But, she'd be able to take it out again when she was over him. There was also one of them in the park when they were six. She had skinned her knee, and Hikaru was crying because she was crying. The last one was of them in their middle school uniforms on the first day of school. Hikaru was embarrassed and annoyed, and she was beaming and hanging off of his arm. She wrapped them each in newspaper, and put them away.

In her bookshelf, she took out all her middle school yearbooks and scrapbooks. In each yearbook, it was the same. On the inside of the back cover, Hikaru had sloppily written in the corner, Why do I have to sign [your] book? We see each other every day! And then he drew a little face with a tongue sticking out. In the last one, he had also drawn a little heart, and then smudged it. She put those away, making sure they wouldn't damage the framed pictures.

On top of her bookshelf was the little bear that Hikaru had won for her at the festival the summer they were nine. There was also the teacup that Hikaru's grandmother had given her because she said it was pretty. The cup was chipped, so his grandmother was going to throw it away. Hikaru had chipped it when he banged the table, talking about his video game. It was Hikaru who had suggested that Akari could still use it to store things if she thought the cup was pretty.

He wasn't always an insensitive jackass, so maybe that was why... but she liked him the same, if he was mean to her, or if he was nice.

She wrapped the cup up twice in paper, and put it with the bear in the box.

She had a little fold-up goban tucked in next to her bookshelf, but she didn't need to pack that up. She started playing go to be with him, but it hadn't been about him for a long time. She was definitely going to play go in high school, even if he wasn't involved at all. It was hers.

On her dresser, she had a few pictures of him, and a few notes he had written, all tacked up on the edge of her mirror. She took them all down, and got an envelope to store them in. There was the brush he leant her during their fifth grade camping trip when she had forgotten hers. There was the ribbon he got her for her birthday last year. She hadn't expected him to get her anything. Usually, his mother bought things for her, and gave them to Hikaru to give her. Those gifts were always wrapped in beautiful paper, and came with lovely little cards that Hikaru had rushed to sign before giving her the gift.

The ribbon had been in his pocket. He bought it at a stall at the last go convention he'd been at. It was a blue ribbon, with little black and white stones embroidered at the ends. It was all wrinkled from being in his pocket for so long, but when she got home, she ironed it out. She hadn't worn it yet, because she didn't want to mess it up. It'll look good in your hair, he said. You like this sort of thing, right? he'd asked.

Her hand wavered as she reached out for the ribbon. She picked it up, and lifted it to her face. It wasn't soft, or silky, and it didn't smell like him at all. But it was the nicest thing he'd ever given her.

She fell to her knees, surprised by her lack of strength. She was crying, holding the ribbon to her face. It was getting all wet with her tears. Why was this happening?

She couldn't explain it.

When she could swallow down her tears without more surging up, she moved over to the box, and dropped the ribbon in. She looked around quickly, and made sure she had everything. She closed up the box, getting packing tape to seal it, as if she could lock away her feelings as easily. She took the box downstairs, ignoring her mother who called out to her, asking her What in the world are you doing?

She tucked the box into a corner of the basement, behind some of her father's things. She could get it out later. She'd get over him. They'd be friends again, someday. Just like when they were little, and their mothers would get together, and they'd play in each other's rooms, or backyards. When they started school, she thought he'd reject her, because he had all the other little boys to play with, but even if they didn't spend every recess together, they still walked home together more often than not. When he got stupid ideas, he'd ask her to go with him, like that time he wanted to sell his grandfather's old junk. She couldn't even remember now what it was that he had wanted to buy.

That day... that was the beginning of the end, wasn't it?

"Akari?" her mother called out, tentatively coming down the stairs. "What in the world have you been doing down her so long?" She wiped her face and her nose, trying to make herself say something, placate her mother, so maybe she wouldn't come all the way down, but the tears kept falling, and she couldn't make herself speak, because her voice wouldn't work. "Akari, are you all right? Akari!"

Her mother's arms pulled her into a tight embrace. She pressed her face to her mother's chest, and let herself bawl for him.

"Oh, darling," her mother fussed, kissing the top of her head. "Whatever is the matter? What happened?"

She didn't know what to say. She couldn't explain it.

"Akari!" her mother called out. "You have a visitor!"

She put her book bag next to her bed, and loosened her tie. "Be right there!" She hadn't even had time to change out of her uniform! No one ever came to visit her without calling, either...

Standing in the genkan was Hikaru, wearing that silly '5' sweatshirt, smiling politely at her mother. "Hikaru!" Akari dashed down the last few steps. "What are you doing here?"

Her mother winked at her as she passed, leaving her in peace with Hikaru. Hikaru looked her over, and she couldn't help blushing. "Ah, that uniform is really cute! Are the boys' uniforms nice?"

"Th-they're plain. Seriously, what's up? And why are you just standing there? Get inside! I'll make tea," she laughed. He was still such a dork.

"Sorry, sorry," he waved her off, "I'm on my way to the Institute for a study session. But I was passing by, so I wanted to know how school was going. Do they have a go club?"

She blinked, grinning stupidly. "Yeah, there's a club. They're not half bad, either. I really hope I can play in a tournament. They have different levels, so I'm hopeful. Our school hasn't gotten past the first round in a tournament in ages and ages, though. Don't suppose you'd like to come and teach us, huh?" she asked, laughing. He'd never do that.

"I don't mind," Hikaru shrugged. "That sounds nostalgic. Team tournaments... I'll never forget how fun those are!" He laughed and smiled brightly, just like he had when he was five.

She inhaled deeply. "You're still the same. You just love playing games," she teased him.

"Shut up!" he whined. "Don't say it like that. You'll sound like Touya! Oh, you won't believe what that brat did to me! Ok, we were at the salon last night, and it was near closing time, and we were just starting the endgame..."

He continued on, telling the story with animated motions. His voice was colored with emotion, too. His cheeks flushed, and every time he said Touya's name, it sounded a little bit different.

Her eyes widened. She didn't believe it. Her heart pounded, and she couldn't hear him that well. It was like she was blinded. How could she not see it before? It made sense, though. So much sense. She should be outraged, maybe, or hurt, or...

She felt relieved. So relieved. It made sense, at least.

Impulsively, she leaned down, and kissed his cheek. He reared back, shocked, and she laughed at how immature he could still be. "You're going to be late for your study session!" she scolded him. "Go on, I'll call you later about coming to my go club."

He wiped at his cheek impishly, scowling at her. "Y-yeah, ok... wait, I'll call you. I have a cell phone now. It's a long story... let's go out Sunday, and I'll tell you everything, ok?" He turned to leave, and waved to her. She stood there, waving to him.

Her mother came out a moment later to find her crouched down at the edge of the genkan, smiling to herself. "Is it time for another round of double chocolate swirl?" she asked warily.

Akari laughed, and wiped her cheeks clean. "Nope. This time, I'm just happy for him."

She shrugged, and ran upstairs. She could explain it to her mother later.

Maybe after she explained it to Hikaru himself.