There are so many people to blame for this I don't even know where to begin: mmmdraco, ametatsu, d_copper, flyby, and svz_insanity for starters. But the buck stops with orphne because this is really all her fault to begin with. (Also, thanks SO much to thehoyden for the squee and the beta note!)
First-time Hikago fic. Hope it doesn't suck. :)
After Shindou plays his father in the new dan match, Akira comes home and can't stop staring at himself in the mirror. He looks at himself and thinks of the green of Shindou's sweater, the green of Shindou's eyes, and wonders what Shindou would think if they were to meet right now, tonight. He is wearing a hideous red argyle thing his mother has chosen for him to wear, and he wonders if Shindou would ever let his mom dress him the way Akira does. He wonders if Shindou has been playing him with a handicap all along.
Been playing him all along.
Akira has insomnia for the next three nights. His face turns pasty and his eyes are red-rimmed. He wants to see Shindou, wants to throttle him and demand the truth and scream until he gets it, gets something out of Shindou. But that would mean admitting that Shindou has come this far, has maybe always been this far.
Akira doesn't understand him. He needs to understand; the desire to make sense of Shindou is churning his stomach moment to moment. He is no longer thinking of Shindou's kifu, of Shindou's hands on the goban, but of Shindou's bratty yell and his fierce determination, of his stupid hair and his stubborn silence and the way he hasn't faced Akira since he became a pro: and it doesn't matter that this is Akira's own doing; what matters is that Shindou is...
Shindou. Akira doesn't know what Shindou is.
Deep in the recesses of the third night, the thought crosses his mind that he may never know. He may never--may never matter enough to the person who handicapped himself against the Meijin. The thought tears through him: his hands shake and his eyes sting, and he wants to sleep for days, until Shindou becomes once again just another pair of hands across a goban.
The first time Shindou smiles at Akira, he feels as if he is playing the school tournament match all over again. He has chased Shindou chasing him and suddenly the chase ends--for a brief moment everything ends.
He wants to smile back but instead his hands clench. Shindou is still cat-and-mousing him, and Akira cannot rest easy in either Shindou's joy or his despair.
It dawns on Akira on the night after Shindou has forfeited his third match that if Shindou leaves the world of Go, truly leaves, he will be taking part of Akira with him--part of his Go, part of himself. Shindou has no right. Shindou has never had the right to claim so much of Akira the way he has. Akira doesn't know how to take any of it back, not at this point, not after he has spent himself again and again waiting for the one match to come, the moment when they will face each other again. Akira is only strong when it comes to Go. He isn't strong when it comes to loss, or disappointment. If it never comes, if he never learns Shindou's truth, never understands him or his Go or any of it, Akira doesn't know what he will be left with.
Quite possibly Akira doesn't know himself any better than he knows Shindou Hikaru.
Hikaru. He tries the name out faintly; his voice stumbles over it. It doesn't suit Shindou, he thinks.
If there is any light in Hikaru, it has yet to shine on Akira.
Shindou fixes him with a grin and grabs Akira roughly by his shoulders.
No one touches Akira this way, no one manhandles Akira this way, and Akira opens his mouth to say so, but finds he is too busy being pushed inside the ramen stand where Waya and Isumi are watching them both with looks of disinterest and amusement, respectively.
"Geez, Touya, you never just hang out like normal people do," says Shindou, shoving him into the seat next to Isumi and seating himself opposite. Akira is torn between the impulse to snap back a retort and the lifelong ingrained habit of behaving properly in front of people. In front of people other than Shindou. He wants to remind Shindou that Go players aren't like normal people, nor should they be, but instead he purses his lips and narrows his eyes enough so that he hopes Shindou gets the message.
Shindou is digging into his pockets for money, though, and the only one who receives Akira's expression is Waya, whose own eyes narrow in response. Akira feels sheepish and out of place, and wonders why he lets Shindou do these things. He doesn't need people the way Shindou does; he doesn't need anything the way Shindou does. Not the way Shindou seems to think he does. It's as if Shindou is determined to give Touya what Touya doesn't want, what he has no use for: a life outside of Go.
Akira wants to tell Shindou, some moment when it is just the two of them and they are quiet, in between games or while they are setting up a board, that he doesn't want it: he doesn't know why Shindou continues to push him outside of Go. Go is enough for him, he thinks. He can't do the other things the way Shindou can, and if Shindou won't see that it's certainly not his fault.
Akira is brilliant at Go. But Shindou--Shindou is brilliant at life. Akira watches him talk and laugh and make everyone else laugh, and most of the time Akira is too mystified to remember to laugh when everyone else is. He watches Shindou and thinks how easy Shindou makes it look, this business of being fifteen and being happy and having two different colors of hair and playing arcade games and causing his friends to light up when they see him.
He laughs later, sometimes, when no one else is around and it's easier to be so totally taken with Shindou Hikaru that he forgets himself.
"You should smile more often, Touya," says Shindou to him one day in the perfectly frank way he has of saying extraordinary things. "You look really good when you smile."
Akira loses the game by six moku.
Akira is sixteen, and he is never going to reach the Hand of God if he has to keep playing Shindou Hikaru to do it, because it means sitting across from Shindou's green eyes and the flare of his bony wrists and the curve of his collarbone and the flex of his biceps when he wears the world's most indecent cutoff shirts. It means having to stifle the urge a thousand times a second to trace his fingertips over the Go stones and up Shindou's hand, and up further to the mysterious parts of Shindou like Shindou's lips and the place where his hair falls over his jaw.
Akira doesn't know what is happening but he knows that logically it means he can't stay near Shindou this much, because it will only mess things up in ways he isn't prepared to think about. Yet day after day, there is Shindou, and Akira can't change the way they always are, which is just basically always together; but if he can't change it, the closer he comes, he thinks, to losing it altogether.
Akira doesn't want to lose Shindou Hikaru. He doesn't want to so much.
When he can't sleep he tries the name "Hikaru" out against the darkness of his room, and wonders how he ever could have thought it was awkward upon his lips.
Shindou is starting to watch him more carefully, more closely, and Akira is paranoid he is hunting for some sign of Akira's betrayal of him, of this wonderful stupid obsession they have with each other. He does his best to throw him off the trail: he snaps and bickers and makes his voice cold in ways he hasn't done since Shindou's first year of being a pro. He realises the effect is reduced by the fact that he is spending perhaps more time with Shindou than ever, but he does his best anyway.
He has trouble stopping himself from saying Shindou's given name at odd moments. He thinks he might want to at some point, in some moment when they are alone, but not if he can't stop tripping up and doing ridiculous things like staring at the arch of Shindou's neck when he is turned away, or thinking up reasons for him to stay a little longer each night over the goban, or being too distracted by Shindou's stupid reckless brilliance to remember to scream at him for his stupid, reckless, brilliant hands in their last match.
They are playing one night at his house after he and Shindou have had dinner. His parents are out but Shindou is over so much that Akira is allowed to have him there whenever they are gone. He has just beaten Shindou in a game so intense their faces are still flushed from the excitement of it, and Akira can swear that Shindou's heart rate has sped up in the final attack. They are sitting across from each other at the goban and Shindou is staring at him without saying anything, just staring at Akira.
It is one of the best, no, the best game they have ever played, but at its conclusion neither of them can move to begin the game discussion. Akira wants to ask if this is anything like the Hand of God but it doesn't feel that way--it feels hot and passionate and not like anything divine at all.
The truth hits him so hard in the moment that he winces. The game feels this way because this is how he feels. For Hikaru.
He leaves Shindou sitting staring fixedly at the stones, and gathers the dishes in an excuse to fumble around the kitchen and make noise. He is bending over the sink with his hair brushing his eyes when Shindou enters. A moment later Shindou walks through for a glass of water, and puts his hand on Akira's waist for a moment as he passes.
Akira straightens so suddenly that soap suds fly from his hands, and Shindou's hand leaves his waist as though it were on fire. Akira feels his face flushing even more, and he does his best not to turn around. The kitchen is wide and roomy and he doesn't know why Shindou is right behind him, why he is so close Akira can almost feel the warmth of his skin beneath his pullover. He should move, he thinks hazily. He should move and then apologize for getting in Shindou's way; he should--
"Touya," says Shindou in a new voice.
Akira knows Shindou's voice so well that the thought of something new in it makes his hands shake. He reaches up for a towel and dries them because it gives him an excuse not to look at Shindou while he steadies them.
Shindou is not moving away, and Akira takes twice as long drying his hands, because once this is done he doesn't know what to do or where to look, and if he has to look at Shindou he might be tempted to--
Behind him he hears Shindou draw in a shaky breath, and everything hits him at once.
Akira turns around. Shindou is there, right there, staring at him with his eyes wild and confused and his hands making pointless motions at his sides.
Akira leans in and runs his hand through Shindou's hair. It is soft at the roots and full of hair gel on the top and just like he has always imagined it would be. Shindou's eyes go even wider, but he doesn't pull away.
"Could you move out of my way, Shindou?" Akira asks. "I have to dry the dishes."
Shindou is shell-shocked, but Akira knows it won't be long before he catches up.
He has made his move and it's Shindou's turn. It takes him a couple of weeks, in which he is nearly driven crazy by Shindou's touches, his looks, the wary way he says "Touya" every now and then as if he is afraid Touya will spring something on him he isn't prepared for. But he waits.
It happens so suddenly the next time Touya's parents are out that it takes him three days longer to fully process that Shindou has been waiting for a reason, has been steadily taunting him for two weeks with touches and looks and his low haunting voice on purpose.
They are lingering over dinner, over each other, and as they move to put the dishes away Shindou remarks, "So are you going to kiss me this time or just flirt around with my hair?"
The clatter of dishes as Akira drops them in the sink from shock is not quite as loud as the explosion of his heartbeat in his chest.
He turns and reaches for Shindou before he can think twice, and Shindou is there.
Akira is waiting for a moment when he can say the word "Hikaru" as if it were the most natural thing in the world, a moment when neither of them will forget it.
In the meantime Shindou captures his wrist and strokes the inside of it and pretends not to notice Waya eyeing their hands under the table whenever they are together, and Akira knows Shindou is waiting too.
They wait, together, to say each other's names.