title: The Apple and the Tree
fandom: Hikaru no Go
characters/pairings: Ogata, Shindou, OCs
rating: Teen
warnings: alcohol, smoking, and swearing
summary: Ogata, at a turning point
notes: none

It was too early in the day to be nearly out of cigarettes. Though, actually, Ogata had no idea what time it was, but he hadn't had lunch yet, so as far as he was concerned, it was still morning. He took another sip of his coffee (which he should have added more whiskey to) to extend the life of the cigarette he was currently working on, and he placed a stone.

Kudo-san chuckled a bit, and started to say something, but he was a blowhard. A retired salaryman who came around Ogata's go salon to pass the time, Kudo-san was probably the most skilled of his regulars, but he was still a rank amateur. He wouldn't know an interesting hand if he saw one, which was just as well, since Ogata didn't feel like being interesting.

He was just thinking about calling for that kid so he could send him out for more cigarettes when the brat appeared at his elbow, looking anxious. It was a bit startling, but this brat was always within reach, so Ogata took it in stride. "Ah, Sasaki-kun, good, I want you to run an errand for me."

"Ah! Sensei, I'm so sorry!" Sasaki paled. He was always too damned eager to please. "There's, uh, there's someone looking for you...?"

Ogata gave his student a funny look. He usually occupied the back room of his salon, so anyone coming to look for him would just come on back. So, who...? He leaned over in his chair to look toward the counter of the salon. There, chatting amicably with the frothy girl he paid so she could text her boyfriend and do her nails, was...

Sighing heavily, Ogata took a big damned gulp of his coffee (damn it, why did he only add one shot to this?) and he stood up. He pulled out some cash from his pocket. "Sasaki-kun, go out and get me some cigarettes. Sorry, Kudo-san, this shouldn't take too long," he half-heartedly apologized to his opponent.

Kudo-san, though, had known him for too long. "I don't know about that, sensei. Whenever my ex shows up unexpectedly, it always takes a long time."

The regulars chuckled and Sasaki gasped. Well, whatever. Ogata straightened his jacket (he would straighten his hair, but that would be too obvious. He was getting grey, anyway. She would mention that, right? Damn it all...) and strode up to meet his ex-wife.

"You're always the last person I want to see on any given day," he sighed, greeting her.

She just smirked at him, which was too damned sexy. She reached out and started to straighten out his tie. "You're such a dishonest man, Seiji. You know you're happy to see me." She patted his chest for good measure.

He was really in for it.

He put his hand on the small of her back and shepherded her into the office. She still had her figure. No one would guess that she had turned 40 a few months ago, or that she'd given birth twice. He pulled his hand away as soon as they were inside, and closed the door. "You're looking good, Kaya. Aren't you going to get married again? I'm sick of paying you alimony."

She just laughed, and leaned back against his desk. Actually, when they were married, that was her desk, wasn't it? She'd picked it out and...

Damn it.

"Once again, you're lying like crazy. You'd absolutely hate it if I got married again. So far, you've said two things to me, and they've both been lies," she teased him, her eyes sparkling.

He was getting too old for this. "I said you were looking good. Was that a lie?"

She smirked at him (damn that smirk) and looked away. "I need to talk to you about our son."

He straightened up a bit. "Something wrong with Keigo?"

"I guess that depends on your perspective," she sighed. Now, he was really getting worried. "I came home last night to find him plastered all over one of his classmates on the couch in the living room."

Ogata didn't say anything for a moment. Slowly, he nodded. "Ah... well, I suppose he's at that age..."

"His classmate was another boy," she said pointedly, giving him a look.

Ogata just met that look, though. "As I was saying, he's at that age..."

"We've been doing nothing but fighting for weeks now," she burst out, her frustration and desperation breaking out suddenly. Just her tone of voice told him everything he needed to know. "He's going completely wild. He... insists that's he's gay, that I don't understand anything, and he rushes out of the house without explanation, doesn't... doesn't always come home at night," Her voice broke, and she wasn't looking at him.

He wanted to... reach out to her.

"I'm at my wit's end. And clearly, he isn't going to listen to a damned word I say." She lifted her chin and looked him straight in the eye, her gaze flinty. "I need you to be a father for once, Seiji. I need you to talk to him. He's going to have to get ready for college exams soon! He can't be screwing up his life now!"

Ogata took his time before he spoke. He wanted to say that he had always wanted to be a father, and their situation was her design, but that wasn't entirely true. He also wanted to say that even if Keigo had to go ronin for a year or something, it wouldn't ruin his life. It took him a moment to collect himself enough to say what she wanted him to say. "Of course. Should I... come over...?"

"I don't want you to come over," she said, too quickly. Damn it. "I'll send him over here, soon." She gave him a measuring look. "Try to be sober for when he comes."

He inclined his head, but there really wasn't anything he could say to that without either lying or starting a fight. Damn it, damn it, damn it.

She walked past him to the door, but stopped with her hand on the handle. "That all too eager boy who greeted me... Are you sleeping with him?"

"Just what the hell are you asking?" he muttered, searching his pockets for a cigarette. Oh, right, Sasaki had gone to buy him some... "He's my student."

"I'm sure he's learning a lot from you," she said with a loaded, wooden voice.

"Don't believe every damned rumor about me. Sheesh." There was once a time when she knew him better than anyone else did. It was too short a time, but.

"I don't need rumors, Seiji," she said, glaring at him. "I still have all the photographic evidence from our divorce."

He just stared at her. "Why the fuck would you hang onto that crap?" he asked, genuinely confused.

She smiled viciously. "Oh, they are my precious treasure. Every time I remember how nice it was having you around, how wonderful everything used to be, I just look at those and remind myself what a complete bastard you are."

He shook his head, looking away. "Go on and get yourself a new husband. Damn. You're too good for all that petty vengeance crap."

She didn't say anything, but after a moment, the door opened and then shut again.

When Sasaki slipped in, Ogata was just staring at the floor. "Ah... sensei? I... I got your cigarettes?"

Ogata held out his hand for them without looking up. "Sasaki-kun. Don't get married."

Sasaki was laughing nervously, but Ogata wasn't paying attention to the brat anymore. He needed a damned cigarette.

The Meijin tournament was going into a seventh game to decide the victor. It was absolutely shocking to Ogata that he didn't know anything about either of the players, but some of his regulars were excited about the kifu for the sixth game, so he was doing his best to explain it for them. At least he could still do that. It was a pretty dense game, too. Who the hell was this Yoshida-6 dan? How long had he been playing?

It was frustrating. Ogata wanted a stiff drink.

"Yo, old man."

He looked up from the discussion of the battle on the right side of the board to see his cute son. Ogata had to grin. Damned kid was the spitting image of his mother, so he was a knock-out. No wonder he was going a bit wild. He probably had tons of options.

"Excuse me, gentleman," Ogata smiled for his regulars, and then he went over to his son. "Keigo. What kind of uniform do they have you in? You look like an anime character, all this piping and decorations..." he shook his head. Though, the highly stylized suit jacket suited his son. He really did look a bit like an idol.

"Hey, this is a very exclusive high school! Very swanky. You should know, it's your child support that's paying for it. I don't know who mom had to sleep with to get me in..." Keigo countered, but Ogata quickly tapped him on the top of his head with his fist.

Brat! "Don't talk that way about your mother. It's far more likely that she paid someone off. Are you hungry? You want to go somewhere to get something to eat?" There was a nice soba restaurant nearby they could sit and talk in, but someone Keigo's age probably wouldn't want soba, right? Ogata didn't really know what kids this age did anymore.

"Nah, you got something to drink, though?" Keigo asked, giving a pointed look at the glass on the table the regulars were crowded around.

Ogata couldn't actually serve alcohol but he allowed his patron to bring it. And of course, he always had his own. He shook his head and grabbed his son by the collar, dragging him off to the office.

"He sure does seem like your son, sensei!" one of the regulars called out as they left. Ogata also noticed his slutty receptionist checking out Keigo's ass.

With a bit more force and a lot of relief, he closed the door behind them. He motioned to Keigo to take a seat, and then he opened the small refrigerator and got out a CC Lemon.

Keigo gave him a funny look and grinned wryly. "This isn't what I had in mind, you know."

"I'm well aware of what you were thinking. Just drinking the damned soda, you brat," Ogata sighed, lighting up a cigarette. At least Keigo smiled at that.

"You're going to get lung cancer," Keigo informed him cheerfully.

"Yeah, I figure. So what's going on at home? You can't get along with your mother?" he asked, getting straight to it. This would be easier if the last time he'd seen Keigo, he'd been bigger than waist high. His own son, and he barely saw him. It was a pain he wasn't aware of until Keigo was right in front of him.

That was probably him lying to himself, though, huh?

"Mom's freaked out because I'm gay," he shrugged, looking up at his father challengingly. "She just can't handle my love for dick."

Ogata grunted. "So, you're sexually active?"

"That bother you, too? I'm here to get straightened out?" Keigo narrowed his eyes, readying for a fight.

"You have a boyfriend or is it multiple partners?" Ogata asked, still keeping it on point.

Keigo shrugged, and grinned. "Oh, I'd love to get all romantic with that one special someone, but I learned from my father that it's better to shop around."

Ogata rolled his eyes and strode across the room. From his trench, he pulled out the bag he got at the convenience store today, and dumped out the contents, tossing the box of condoms over to his son. "Use one of those, every time. That's not a joke. Every time. Try to be a bit selective. There are plenty of predators out there. It's all right to have fun, but you'd be wise not to get yourself hurt."

Keigo looked at the condoms, and then he looked at his father, obviously confused. "Um... what is... you understand, right? I've been sucking dick and taking it up the ass. And all you have to say is... use protection?"

"What do you want me to say? Stop having sex? Be straight?" Ogata shook his head and took a drag from his cigarette. "You're a damned good looking kid. I'm guessing if you wanted a chick, you wouldn't have any trouble finding one. So, it's not a choice and you're not acting up. You're my son and I accept you for who you are. I also know what it's like to be a teenaged boy. So, yeah. I'm saying, use protection."

"It doesn't bother you that your only son is gay?" Keigo asked, really examining him.

Ogata had to laugh, though. "I can be pretty hypocritical when I want to be, but there's no reason for me to be a hypocrite with you. I don't really care who you sleep with or who you fall in love with, as long as you're happy. I've had sex with men before, though I prefer the company of women. You don't want to hear this, but you're still a kid. You're going to do all sorts of stupid things before you can call yourself a man. Even after you're a man, you'll keep doing stupid things. As a parent... well, I'm a lousy parent, I suppose. I don't know what your mother was expecting, but. This is all I've got." He halfway shrugged.

Keigo was looking at him in an odd way, though.

"It can't all be about you and some kid on the couch, though," Ogata sighed. "Your mother may have her own concerns, but she's not stupid or small-minded. She said you've been storming off and staying out all night?" Ogata could think of a lot of reasons why that might be, but he'd rather not jump to any conclusions.

Keigo did blush, and look away. He took a sip of his drink. "It's not that big of a deal. Mom is just... really unreasonable at times." He looked seriously uncomfortable complaining about his mother to his father.

That was understandable. "Well, don't push her too far. Personally, I think worse things could happen to you than having to go to a second-rate college, but... she is just worrying about your future. So try to give her a little leeway."

Keigo turned the box of condoms over and over a few times. "And. And what about... you."

Ogata cocked his head to the side. "What about me?"

Keigo took a deep breath. "If things get... get bad at home. With mom. Can I come live with you?" Keigo looked up at him.

It was amazing how his flinty stare was just like his mother's. And. Damn it. Live... with him? Seriously, after all this time? Ogata took a deep breath, a drag from his cigarette... "Of course. You are my son, after all. But even if you're living with me, you still have to go to school and study for exams and that kind of shit."

Keigo laughed a bit, looking away. He looked a little... sheepish? "You really are a lousy father. Spend all your time playing a board game, you don't know anything about me... You tell me to be safe, I can stay with you..." He lifted the box of condoms, seeming to examine them. "Why did you cheat on mom?"

Damn it. That was a.... "Ah, Keigo. That's all so long ago..."

"Nine years," Keigo cut him off. "You left us all nine years ago."

Ogata flinched from his son's glare. "That's not... exactly how it happened."

"So how did it happen? Are you saying... that you didn't cheat on mom? That... it was her fault?"

His son probably had a right to know something, but. Damn it, Ogata didn't know how to answer him. "No, of course, your mother was completely blameless. I was the bastard. Of course." He sounded...

"Did you ever love her?" Keigo asked sharply.

"Of course I did," Ogata stared right at his son. "I loved her more than I even knew I was capable of loving someone. Or anything. But things aren't always that easy."

"Why did you cheat on her?" Keigo pressed, leaning forward a bit. "If you loved her... I mean, I know things don't always work out, but that doesn't mean you have to cheat on her, right?"

"Right..." Ogata echoed quietly. His son was obviously asking because he wanted to know something, maybe about himself, maybe about love. He needed some information his mother couldn't give him. With a heavy sigh, Ogata pulled up the thin metal chair from the corner and sat down. "Look. I don't want you to misunderstand what I'm about to say. There is no way in hell I would ever blame your mother or anything like that... she didn't drive me away, or some stupid excuse guys give for being jackasses. When I met your mother, I was... I had three titles, on my way to a fourth, I was on top of the world, I was 36 and I thought myself... well, I thought highly of myself. Your mother was 19, the daughter of the Foreign Affairs Minister. I met her in Okinawa, some sort of... cultural convention, something like that. Your grandfather was there, and he brought your mother because he was looking to keep her close and controlled. Your grandfather played go with me, and invited me to dinner. I fell in love with your mother... almost right away." He took a drag of his cigarette.

This was painful.

"Obviously, the last thing your grandfather wanted was his young daughter being snatched up by some old go pro right under his nose. We eloped, and it was... it was a huge scandal. Your mother and I wouldn't have gone through all that if it was just lust. We really were in love back then. Your sister was born a year later... Our life back then was fairly sweet." He closed his eyes. "But, as much as we were in love, your mother was also just desperate to get her freedom, away from her father and his politics and machinations. I really do believe she loved me, but I was also a means to an end, and after you were... well, it wasn't because you were born or anything, but sometime after you were born, it started to feel like she no longer had use for me. At that point, she wanted freedom from me, too. And really, it's unfair to send a girl straight from her parents' house to her husband's. Everyone deserves a chance to find themselves. During that time, though, she vented her frustration with me in... ten million little ways. I even quit smoking for a while," he laughed, looking at his cigarette, "because she complained it was unhealthy. There was something else wrong, though, even after I did that. It got to the point where I knew that no matter what I did, she'd find fault with something, so I gave up.

"It's not something I'm proud of or anything, but I slept around just to hurt your mother. She was... well, she still is... such a proud woman. So strong and dignified. I wanted to humiliate her, so I slept around, and I didn't bother trying to hide it. If she was going to leave me, I was going to give her a good reason, not just... because I couldn't put my socks in the dirty laundry without help." He shrugged.

He had said too much, clearly, so he focused on his cigarette and didn't say anything. Keigo was quiet, too, for long enough that it began to make Ogata sweat.

"I didn't think you'd be so honest with me," Keigo finally said.

Ogata sighed. "Yeah, well... anyway. You asked, now you know... You really do look like her." He smiled a bit, and reached over to poke Keigo on his nose. "I can't tell whether you have her personality or not, but given the current situation... you probably do. So, you've got a little time of bashing heads with your mother ahead of you. If you're looking for some advice, though, all I can say is... well.

"Be a better man than your father, and you should be fine."

Sasaki had to jar him when they got back to his place. He had a splitting headache. He lost his match again. He couldn't even remember the last time he'd won, and he'd only been playing a 2-dan today. Damned brats. When he thought things like that, it just depressed him too much, so he spent most of the afternoon and early evening drinking with Saito-san in the back of his salon, enjoying the 'good-natured' ribbing from his regulars.

That morning, he'd spent three hours on the phone with Kaya. Of course she was pissed at him, but what did she want, exactly? She asked him to talk to Keigo, and he did, and this was all... this was just what...

He let Sasaki open the door for him, unbuckle him, and help him out of the car. Driving used to be one of the things that Ogata liked the most in life, but most often these days, he let Sasaki drive him home so he could drink.

If he started to crave brains, then he'd be sure he was just a damned zombie.

Sasaki kept chattering away, but Ogata had no idea what the younger man was saying. He straightened up and pulled away from him when they got to the door. He wasn't going to let the brat fish around in his pockets for the keys, much as Sasaki might enjoy that. He let them both in, threw his trench in the general direction of the closet, shoved his shoes off, and headed for the kitchen for a beer.

Sasaki hung his trench up, straightened his shoes, and scurried after him, nagging him about dinner or something. Dinner? Ogata would rather just drink and pass out. Dinner... what a waste of time.

"Huh, that guy is always following you around. So, is he who you're sleeping with, then?"

Sasaki shrieked like a little girl, as if Ogata's head wasn't hurting enough.

"Sasaki-kun, this is my son, Keigo. Keigo, mind your damn manners. This is my student, Sasaki-4 dan. Keigo is... going to be staying with me for a while." Ogata popped open his beer. Wait, didn't he have seven beers in there earlier? Damn teenagers...

"Really? You're... you're going to be living with your son?" Sasaki gaped.

"That is what fathers normally do," Keigo smirked. Damn, he had his mother's smirk. "I think your student is jealous. He wants more time alone with his sensei."

Sasaki turned purple.

Ogata rolled his eyes. "I'm going to take a shower. If you want some food, go ahead and order something or make something, Sasaki-kun. Feed Keigo, too."

He turned and went to his bedroom. He could hear Keigo laughing... It was no wonder Kaya was pissed at him. Keigo had shown up that weekend with a backpack and a sheepish grin. Of course, Ogata didn't really want to side with his son against his ex-wife. Kaya was right, she was the one who had put in all the work in raising both their children. It wasn't how he had wanted it, but it was how it had been. Ogata downed half his beer and then stripped.

Even if Kaya had been the one to raise them, right now, Keigo was going to rebel. Being with him was better than being with some random guy who was willing to take him home. Kaya would just have to accept that, hopefully.

Damn it.

He started to sober up a bit in the shower, and that wasn't really what he wanted. Still, it was probably for the best. Ok, he had to think like a parent. Wait, he was a parent. He had to think about Keigo. Obviously, he shouldn't be keeping so much alcohol in the house. He had... quite a bit stashed, so tomorrow, he'd have to do some house cleaning. Also, somehow, he had to get Keigo to talk to his mother. And, he had to get Kaya to actually listen to Keigo.

How the hell was he supposed to do either one of those things? Neither Kaya nor Keigo ever listened to him anymore! Well, Keigo hadn't been so bad since he came, but.

He didn't see Ogata as his father.

Ogata didn't bother getting dressed after he dried off. He got some boxers, and a robe. Good enough.

He went back out, expecting to see, perhaps... Sasaki cooking, or maybe Keigo playing that stupid video game machine he brought with him. He did not expect to see Keigo and Sasaki together on the couch, working on undressing each other, their faces plastered together.

He was going to need to be drunker for this.

"Sasaki-kun," Ogata growled aggressively. "Could you do me a favor and perhaps take your hand out of my underaged son's pants?" He opened the cabinet and got out the bottle of gin. He didn't even bother with ice.

"Hey! I'm sixteen! I'm not a child, I can decide things for myself!" Keigo pouted.

Yeah, Ogata was not drunk enough for this. "Sixteen is still below the Tokyo Age of Consent. In other words, Sasaki-kun, he's jailbait."

Sasaki jumped up, which was unfortunate, because Keigo had been rather effective at getting him ready and that was much more than Ogata needed to know about his student. "Sen-sen-sen-sensei! No, this isn't... I mean... I don't... No, I didn't mean...!"

"Pull your pants up, Sasaki-kun," Ogata wearily chided him.

Sasaki made a noise similar to a kitten being strangled. He pulled his pants up and turned to run, which was hard because, well. He was. He rushed out of the house, though, even still. Hopefully he wouldn't get arrested for public indecency.

"That was mean. You scared him away. ...I guess he thought I resembled you, huh?" Keigo smirked at him.

With his mother's damned smirk.

"You're thinking some pretty strange things," Ogata shook his head. "Since I gather Sasaki-kun didn't cook for us, shall we order something?"

"A bachelor lifestyle is pretty depressing," Keigo sighed. "Did you drink this much when you were married?"

Brat. "No, did you really think your mother would have allowed that, even if I had wanted to? But you know, when I no longer had a wife and family to come home to..." he trailed off.

Well, he might scare his son into going home to his mother by just being himself.

"So, alcohol replaced mom, Arisa, and me?" Keigo asked, sounding amused.

"No," Ogata shook his head. "It definitely does not. All right, I'm ordering a pizza. Tell me what you want, or else you can't complain."

He twirled the stone between his fingers. It was pointless to recreate this game for the millionth time. He wasn't going to find his fighting spirit here, in this game between the legend Touya-sensei and the elusive Sai. He really should get home... wait, wasn't it Friday? Keigo would be going out with his friends. Damned brat sure was popular. He'd mostly gotten used to having Keigo around, except he hadn't seen Sasaki since then, so he was having trouble getting someone to drive him home when he was too drunk. He needed to hire a difference receptionist. Maybe someone more like Ichikawa. No, wait, Ichikawa was kind of a bitch. Well, she was after that one night... no, wait...

A bottle of Chambord blackberry liqueur appeared on the board.

He raised an eyebrow, and looked up. He almost wished he hadn't. Still.

"It's been a while, Shindou-kun. You get a night off from the little woman to drink?" Shindou was carrying two glasses, too. Ogata sat up a bit. This might be interesting, after all.

"Little woman. You know, Akira loves it when you call him that. I always tell him." Shindou sat down opposite Ogata, setting the glasses down. He glanced at the board. "You've got to stop living in the past, Ogata-kun. Thinking like that ages you."

Ogata-kun, huh? Well, he supposed someone as high and lofty as the mighty and undefeatable Shindou-kun wouldn't need to bother with respecting his elders. Ogata took the bottle and opened it up, taking a nice long sniff.

Good stuff.

He poured out two glasses. "Life ages you whether you like it or not," he sighed. He raised his glass to Shindou with a muttered 'Kanpai' and took a sip.


"Is it good?" Shindou laughed. He poured his own glass, and then held it in the palm of his hand, swirling it around the glass. Right, you were supposed to let warm like that or something. It did its job either way, though. "I was talking with Kurata-san today. You know, the Honinbou League quarterfinals are beginning. I told him I was going to see you and he said I shouldn't waste my time on a drunk."

Ogata grunted. He'd love to show that immature slob Kurata what a drunk could do, but it was pathetic. He couldn't do a thing against Kurata these days. He stared at the stones on the board, longing to feel their flow.

"I have to apologize to you, though. It would seem I've poached one of your students." Ogata looked up at Shindou quizzically. "He came to me blubbering something about how he didn't have the right to stand aside of you anymore, or something like that. I wasn't really following him between his sobs."

So, Sasaki was with Shindou now. That was like trading crap for gold, and getting change. "Take good care of him, then. I think he has promise. I didn't think you were taking any new students, though."

"Oh, yeah. For a while there... my study space was getting too crowded," the little shit laughed. Even Touya-sensei never got to the point where he had to turn students away. "I then started having two sessions a week, so it's not so bad anymore."

"How nice for you," Ogata sneered. He couldn't help it. He was jealous of this damned punk. If it hadn't been for him, Shindou would never even have become an insei.

Fucking brat, surpassing him so easily... it wasn't supposed to work that way!

"Judging by your latest kifu, you might be sleepwalking through your life these days, but you know, some exciting things are going on. For instance, did you know they made Ko Yeong-ha an honorary Japanese go pro?"

That was surprising. He hadn't heard anything about that. "Really? Why'd they do that?"

"You know, in Korea, he's considered something of an elder statesman. It's hard for him there. The sponsors and the media are all about the young players. He's got an apartment in Tokyo now, and he's able to compete in our tournaments and leagues. He might be the one challenging me for the Honinbou title. I'm not just going to give it away, though," Shindou laughed. "It's my goal this year to get six titles. That would be a record, right? Well, it's kind of an easy year, in some respects, since Akira is still on sabbatical, writing his father's memoirs."

Ogata pondered that. "Touya-sensei's passing... I'm sure it's been hard on him."

Shindou didn't reply for a moment. "Well, naturally. Though... he seems to have taken a shine to writing. He also seems to be writing some kind of historical romance about Heian era court's go instructor." Shindou shook his head. "I just don't get it, but. It's good to have something that drives you, isn't it? Ogata-kun?"

He wanted to respond, but chose instead to just finish his glass. This damned brat. He poured himself another. "What drives you, Shindou-kun? To come and spend time every month or so with this pathetic loser? Just looking for someone to drink with you, I suppose?"

"It's never too hard to find someone to drink with," Shindou shrugged. He waved vaguely to the board between them. "Do you remember how to play, or is this just a tool for your recollections?"

Ogata narrowed his eyes. "You seem to like to play me when I'm drunk."

That made Shindou laugh. "I never said anything about liking it. Hey, if you want, you can even lay down a few stones," Shindou offered cheekily, but he was already clearing the board.

Fucking shit.

"Gee, you're so generous. I'm not quite at the point where I need charity from brats. All right, be white if you want, but if you're expecting something great, just remember, you don't have it in you to bring that out of me," which was a weak assault, but it was at least true.

It made Shindou laugh, too. "I'll cry myself to sleep over my inadequacies later. Please," he nodded to Ogata, smiling freely.

Ogata just rolled his eyes, and laid down a stone.

"You lack manners," Shindou shook his head, grinning. He placed his first stone without any real consideration. Well, Ogata had just played his first stone without thinking, too.

"If you dislike it so much, go play go in your own salon. I hear you're running one these days, right?" Ogata placed another stone. Damn, it was like he was recreating a game instead of creating one. This was pointless.

"Oh, yeah... heh. Well, that's... that's a place I used to go to all the time, even before I was a pro. The owner left it to me... it's a little embarrassing, going there now. Ah, it's just a bit weird now... you should come by sometime. The old geezers will get a kick out of it," Shindou offered. He was still laying down his stones without thinking, but whereas Ogata's stones were just laying on the board, Shindou's stones were giving the impression of a shape.

As to be expected of a man who could lightly say he was aiming for six titles. He might do it, too. But then, Akira should come back to go and win seven. Or even eight.

"Yo, old man."

Ogata was shaken from his reverie. Keigo smirked at him and held out his hand.

"Old man, I need some money."

Ogata grunted, and shifted to get out his wallet.

"Don't tell me that your cute little Kei-chan is already old enough to be this brat?" Shindou laughed. Ah, that was right. Shindou would remember Keigo as a child. "And he comes in here and asks for money and you just... give it to him? You don't bother to ask why he needs it? Maybe he needs to go buy some drugs, or pay for a prostitute, or jump on a plane to Hong Kong or something?"

"Hey!" Keigo objected, eyeing Shindou. "I'm just going to karaoke with friends! Don't be so judgmental! ...What, are you some... go pro?"

"That's an excellent deduction, Kei-chan," Shindou teased. "However did you come to such a brilliant conclusion? You know, I remember when you were just knee-high, and you'd run around here like a lunatic. You were too damned cute to get mad at, though. At least that's what your father said." Shindou winked at Ogata.

Yeah... those were good days.

"Really? I don't remember any of that shit," Keigo said distrustfully.

"Yup, he's definitely your son," Shindou laughed, taking a sip of his drink. "Just as tasteless. Of course you don't remember! I just told you, you were only knee-high!" Shindou shook his head at Keigo.

Keigo was still looking Shindou over distrustfully. "I resemble my mother. Are you sure you're a go pro? You kinda look too hot to sit around all day playing a board game."

Shindou laughed out loud at that. "I guess that's a compliment? I am right now, kiddo, the number one go player in the entire world." And Shindou had to wiggle his eyebrows at Ogata.

He was surrounded by brats.

"Number one in the world, huh?" Ogata grumbled. "If you say so, Shindou-kun."

"It's not like you'd be able to tell, Ogata-kun," Shindou rejoined easily. And then he laid down a stone. It really only took a small part of his concentration to play Ogata, huh?

"You guys are odd friends," Keigo said, watching them.

"We're not friends," Shindou informed him immediately. "I guess the most you could say is that we're drinking buddies. Except, even the word 'buddies' is a bit strong. Hm. Back in the day, when your dad could still play, he was one of my idols, if you could use that word in this way. We were both unwilling 'students' of the same go master, this crazy-cool old man, Kuwabara. Nowadays, he's someone I used to lose to, but don't anymore."

Ogata was starting to feel something sick in the pit of his belly.

"So, you're saying my dad used to be great, but isn't now? So, what happened, Mr. Number One? Was it just age? 'Cause if so, then the same thing will happen to you," Keigo teased him, half-sitting on the table next to them.

Ogata's sick feeling got worse. Shindou was clearly trying to catch his eye, but Ogata just poured himself another drink.

"Nah, it's not just age. Well, I wouldn't want to judge. Love can leave terrible wreckage behind, once it's gone."

Ogata wanted to punch Shindou in the face. He placed a stone, took a drink, then realized he moved on the wrong side of the board.


"You're blaming my mom for his decay?" Keigo asked. That flinty tone... no wonder Kaya and Keigo were having so many problems. They were really so alike.

"Love is a force of nature," Shindou replied loftily. "There's no one to blame once the earth stops shaking. It just is what it is. Hey, don't be so defensive, kiddo. I always liked your mom. She made that guy a better man. That's the best you can hope for."

Ogata grunted. He wasn't even completely sure he was still in the room with them. "You think being married for a few years makes you some kind of damned expert? Brat."

That made Shindou laugh again, which pissed Ogata off even more. "What are you talking about? First of all, it's not legal for Akira and I to be married, but setting that aside, we've been together for over twenty years. I don't know if that makes me an expert, but it's not nothing."

"You haven't been together for twenty years," Ogata scoffed. "You're only thirty something."

"We're thirty-eight," Shindou replied merrily. "Which means we've known each other for twenty-six years now. You have no idea when we lost our virginity, but we first moved in together when we were seventeen. That's twenty-one years of living with the same person."

"Whoa! You've been in a relationship with the same person since you were... wait... what was it... twelve?!" Keigo gasped.

Shindou was way too damned amused by every damned thing. "Well, we were just friends back then, but. Essentially, yeah."

"How is that possible? I mean, old people sticking together, I can understand... but... did either of you ever cheat on the other?" Keigo asked, leaning forward.

Ogata felt the hairs on the back of his neck raise.

"Eh, you know. Life isn't a damned fairy tale. We've been through hard time and stuff, but Akira's the only person I've ever slept with, and I'm pretty sure I'm the one he's ever slept with. We just have a lot that holds us together, I guess you could say." Shindou sipped at his drink and put down a stone. He didn't even have to play well at the moment, but ignoring Ogata's stones, he had a nice flow to his.

It was frustrating, and this conversation was dangerous.

"Haven't you ever wanted to just... I don't know, try something with someone else or something?" Keigo asked. He was genuinely amazed by all this.

True love was fucking annoying.

Shindou fished around and pulled out his cell phone. He chatted as he poked at it. "I'm not saying that I've never met anyone else that I was attracted to, or that I felt a connection with, but. Look." He showed Keigo the phone and then he flashed it at Ogata.

It was a picture of Akira, hair flying, his face twisted into a mean-looking expression. This had to have been taken in the middle of one of their famous fights.

"No one else has ever gotten my blood boiling like he does," Hikaru smiled affectionately.

"You're weird," Keigo bluntly replied.

"Yeah, that's true. It's one of the dangers of playing go, I suppose. You put this passion in the center of your life, and everything gets caught up in it," Shindou mused.

"No, it's just you two," Ogata corrected. "You're both weird."

That made Shindou laugh.

"Well, if it's weird, than I like being weird," Shindou smiled. "I depend on him. And he depends on me."

"That sounds nice," Keigo said. He looked like his mind was a million miles away. "So you really knew me and my sister when we were young?"

"Oh, yeah," Shindou nodded. "And your mom. My partner's father was his teacher, so your dad knew my partner when he was a baby. We weren't at your parents' wedding, but I don't think anyone who knew them was. I think we even babysat for you two once or twice."

"It was once, and it was a bad idea. Who leaves two kids with a couple of only-son brats?" Ogata huffed.

"So your boyfriend is that guy... Touya Akira," Keigo mused.

Ogata regarded his son. That was... and odd thing to say, and an odd way to say it, wasn't it? He was about to pour himself another drink, but suddenly the bottle was out of his hand. He looked across to find Shindou sealing it up.

"I think you've had enough. Even if we've barely started, it's pretty much time for you to resign, isn't it?" He tucked the bottle under his arm and picked up the glasses. "Kurata was right. No need to waste the good stuff on a drunk. I've been wanting to say something like this for a while, but it seems like a good time now." Shindou glanced at Keigo. "Even if the tree has withered, the fruit it bore is still sweet, right? Sensei. Pull yourself together, please." He smiled brightly at Keigo and ruffled his hair as he walked by.

That fucking brat.

"That was a weird guy. ...So, that's who Touya Akira is with, huh?" Keigo wondered.

Ogata furrowed his brow. He didn't have time to think about that idiot Shindou. What the hell was his son thinking, after hearing all those strange things?

"So. Um. Would you... would you have... been happier, I don't know, something like that... if... if Arisa or I had taken an interest in go?" Keigo asked. He picked up a stone, and turned it around a few times.

He was purposefully not looking at his father.

"What are you asking? If... our divorce was because... you kids didn't play go?" Ogata asked, incredulous. He would laugh, but it was just too ridiculous.

Keigo turned bright red. "I...! I didn't mean it like that!" He looked at his father, and then tossed the stone down. "Look, I was seven when you two split up! I thought all kinds of stupid things and then just... stupidly kept it to myself so no one would think I was stupid!"

Aw, shit.

"Son," Ogata reached out awkwardly and covered his son's hand with his own. "I'd be lying if I said I wouldn't have loved it if you or your sister had taken an interest in go. But. Look. Sit down, ok? The divorce was just... between your mom and I. I would have preferred to stay with you three. It's just... it's what happened." Ogata sighed. He looked around. Damn Shindou took his drink... he felt around and pulled out a cigarette.

Keigo sat down, but he was looking at his father distrustfully. This was apparently a conversation neither of them wanted to have.

"Have I ever told you about your grandparents? I mean, my parents?" Ogata started.

Keigo looked at him strangely, and then shook his head. "Actually... I never thought of it, but no."

Ogata smirked, and nodded. "Well. My father... was a brilliant surgeon. He travelled all over the world, published a million papers... he was always on call. His family ran a rather prestigious hospital, known for the research it supported, here in Tokyo. My father was exceptional, even in an exceptional family. My mother was the perfect aristocratic wife. She was... always cool and composed, she had no ambitions or hobbies, but she played the koto and the piano, could sing, she hosted celebrated tea ceremonies, and did traditional things like flower arranging. Both of them were cold people. I don't ever remember being close to either of them. I had a nanny I was devoted to, but she was sent away when I was eleven.

"I was taught go by a tutor when I was a child because my mother considered it to be essential cultural enrichment. I was also taught shogi, and othello, and a number of other things l was supposed to know in order to be a proper Japanese boy. I enjoyed go more than any of my other pursuits, and convinced my parents to let me continue my education in it... But the first time I met Touya-sensei, I was amazed by how... warm he was. ...That would seem extremely funny to you if you'd ever met him, because most people thought he was carved out of wood or stone. But to me, he was this... extremely cool adult who actually was interested in me and was passionate about something I cared about. When I finally became a pro, my father wrote me a check.

"He told it me it was my inheritance and that I should go off and be independent if I was so intent on not being a part of his family."

"What, seriously?" Keigo's eyes went wide.

Ogata chuckled. "Yeah... I thought at the time that I'd regret it someday, being cut off. I thought that what I had really wanted at the time was for my father to acknowledge me. A few years later, when I became a 3-dan, Touya-sensei told Weekly Go that I was the student he was most proud of... and then I felt what... a young man should feel when his father accepts him. So." He halfway shrugged.

Keigo was looking at him, measuring. "So... does that mean that... Touya Akira... you think of him like... a little brother?"

Ogata snorted. "Little brother? No, not quite like that. More like... he's my teacher's heir, so his success reflects Touya-sensei's success."

"So you... it's not that... you didn't want your son to be..." Keigo hedged.

For fuck's sake... "I'm quite glad that you're you, and not him. You're... you're every bit as headstrong and confident, brash, independent, and dazzling as your mother. You and your sister. Arisa is so straight-forward and ambitious. I'm sure she really will be the first female Prime Minister. Whenever I hear anything about the two of you... I'm proud of you. Both. Akira has always seemed a little bit like a doll to me. That's not entirely fair, but... I respect a child who knows his or her own mind much more than one who wants to trail endlessly after his father," Ogata scoffed.

"That would mean... I am a bit like you, then," Keigo suggested, actually looking a bit shy. How cute. But Ogata had no idea what Keigo was talking about, and it was clear that Keigo could tell he didn't. "I mean... you didn't become a doctor like your dad and his family. And. I didn't become a go pro."

Ogata smiled, and then, the more he thought about it, he laughed a bit. "You're right. That's true. Well, you are my son. It'd be strange if you weren't like me at all." He felt himself feeling... something. Something he hadn't felt in too long.

His son, that was true. Keigo was his son.

Keigo sat up straighter, smiling a bit. "You know... you know, I guess all this shit between mom and I really started when I told her I wanted to go to a music school."

Ogata's eyes widened a bit. Really... his son was going to open up to him... now? He wasn't going to have to thank that little shit Shindou for this later, would he? "Music, huh? So you still play. That's great. I remember... we got you that... child-sized piano, and you played it all the time, until you wanted a full-sized one. And then... didn't we also get you a guitar? Of course, you were still... so young then. So. What kind of music do you play now?"

Keigo flushed a bit, shyly looking away. "I still play the piano the most. I... I've been writing some music. Mom thinks... mom thinks it's just not prudent, or something. Like, it's too hard to break into music, so I should plan to have a backup, or something."

Ogata took a long drag from his cigarette. "Well... your mother... is probably right, I suppose, but she's also wrong. See, this is something I actually know about. I realize it's not the same as go, but... only three people a year can become a pro, and you can't take the pro exam if you're over 30, so. Any young go student has to know that there's a good chance he or she might not have what it takes to make it. But, if you don't go for it with all you've got, you definitely won't make it. And if you don't make it, and you didn't even try, well. All you'll have is regrets." Ogata shrugged.

It seemed logical when it was put like that, right?

Keigo was staring at him like he just sprouted six heads. And then suddenly, he burst into the most glorious smile. "Yes! Yes, that's it exactly! I mean, if it doesn't work, I'm still young enough to do something else later!"

Ogata nodded. It made perfect sense to him and to his son... "I agree... I suppose I can see why your mother is concerned, but... look, she really doesn't listen to me... and since you've been staying with me, she doesn't even like that I try to talk to her, but... I can try to make her hear you out. And. I'll do what I can, you know. To support you."

"I guess that's not nothing," Keigo smirked. Ogata didn't mind it on his own son, it seemed. "So, seriously... is this game any fun?" he laughed, poking at the stones on the board.

Ogata smiled. Well, this game wasn't at all fun, but... "Yeah. Yeah, if you really get into it... you can never really get out of it."

Class ended a few minutes ago, but he was still scribbling in his notebook. If he were basically anyone else in class, someone might assume that he was a really serious exam student, but since everyone knew him well enough to know better, anyone would assume he was too engrossed in whatever he was thinking about during class to notice the bell.

Still, he wasn't too engrossed to fail to notice that there was a group of giggling girls crowding around Kaname's desk right behind him. He was trying to finish jotting down the melody line he wanted to sound out later, but when Kahoko-chan leaned over to stick her face between him and his notebook, he still hadn't quite gotten it all down.

Damn it.

"Kei-chan, we're thinking of doing some karaoke now. You wanna come?" she asked brightly.

He tipped his head back, catching Kaname's eye. Kaname was grinning a bit, so he shrugged. "Sure, why not?"

He'd never be able to finish what he was trying to write there, so he'd just have to hope that he could work with what he had written down. He closed his notebook while the girls cheered because Kei-chan is coming! Ami-chan dashed off to try to grab a couple of other boys.

A hand came from behind him and snagged something from out of his bag. "What is this? Did you get... a newspaper?" Kaname laughed.

Keigo let his friend take it, but he rolled his eyes. "Yeah, right. That's Weekly Go. There's an article in there about my father." He said it lightly and didn't act like he cared, but damn it, if it got to wrinkled and passed around, he'd have to buy another copy.

"Weekly Go? Your father is a go pro?" Kahoko-chan frowned.

"Yeah," Keigo replied, watching her. Well, being a go pro was weird, sure, but it was better than being some boring salaryman or something.

"That's kinda cool! Let's see the article!" she bounced to look over Kaname's shoulder. "Whoa! He's not bad looking. Well, I guess he is Kei-chan's father. Ogata-sensei's spectacular come-from-behind victory in the Meijin League means he will challenge Yoshida-meijin for the title! ...Hey, he talks about being an alcoholic in here!" she blushed.

His dad sure didn't pull any punches. Keigo just grinned. "Yeah, he quit drinking while I was living with him last year. He was kinda horrible for a spell, but he's a totally different man now."

"That's so strange to just... talk about like that... in an article and everything," she shook her head. "Your dad is kinda cool, Kei-chan."

Keigo winked at Kaname. "Well, yeah, he is my father."

"But why did you move back with your mom, then? You moved back over break? I've wanted to ask you. Things were good with your dad?" Kahoko-chan's questions were partially out of concern, so Keigo didn't mind, but the girls were all clearly curious, too.

That was ok. It was to be expected, he supposed. "Yeah, it was fine with my dad, but he lived kinda far from school. It was just more convenient, and you know. Mom made a deal with me that if I could get accepted into the music college I wanted, she wouldn't stand in my way and stuff, so it all worked out." He grinned, like it was all easy.

It has been anything but, though his dad really had kept at his mom until even she had no choice.

Ami-chan came back with two boys from the basketball team. They were cool, so it looked like they were set. "Are we going now?" she asked eagerly.

Keigo slipped the copy of Weekly Go back into his bag quickly, making sure it was between two notebooks. He stood up and flung his bag over his shoulder.

"Yup, let's go!"