IF ONLY THAT WORD COUNT WAS NOT FOR FOUR DIFFERENT, ALL EQUALLY UNFINISHED, FICS. *CRIES AND CRIES*
Sam says I can post this. I put all my blind_go fics on hold because I couldn't stop writing this, and now I like. You know, I just don't care whether it ever gets finished, or how plebey it is, or that it's AU futurefic with a completely fucked up Go timeline and probably a million errors and it hasn't been beta'd and the characters are all original, I DON'T CARE HERE IT IS OKAY. HERE THE FUCK IT IS.
Wallace Stevens: is it okay what does it need can i post it on lj as a WIP even though nothing has actually happened and i promised not to do that til i was totally done
Ezra Pound: klfj;sdfkalsmdflmksdgmdlskgk you can post it if you want!
Ezra Pound: you should post it in chapters
Ezra Pound: it's plebier
Wallace Stevens: yes! that's what i keep thinking asdlkfj;ds
Wallace Stevens: OH MY GOD IT'S.... CHAPTER ONE
Wallace Stevens: I HAVE A CHAPTER kslajdf;ds
Ezra Pound: LKJFALK;FJKFSKJLSD;JLFDASLJFDSALKFDSKJ
Ezra Pound: fuckkkk
Fandom: Hikaru no Go. (Futurefic.)
Warnings: Spoilers for the end of the series. Also, this hasn't been beta'd, it hasn't even been spell-checked. I'll probably edit it at some point. I think there are a hundred time line issues in here. WHO CARES.
Note: This fic was inspired by a conversation with forourlives on the Let's 5 meme I did a few weeks ago, about the future Shindou. This is for samenashi, who encourages me to write the kinds of fics that make me happy, and not worry so much about all the much smarter fics I should be writing instead. If this is plebey - and it is, oh god, it is - blame her.
May 5, 2092
How I Celebrate Boy’s Day
By Kenji Miro
5th Grade – Kaio Middle School
By Kenji Miro
5th Grade – Kaio Middle School
May 5 is a special day to me. To Go players all over the world, May 5, 2042 is known as the Day of the Divine Game. It was on that day that the greatest Go players who ever lived, Touya Akira (Meijin) and Shindou Hikaru (Honinbou) played what many believe to be the greatest game of Go in history, in the final day of play for the Meijin title. The game lasted over four hours and left only six moku of territory remaining on the board. When the game ended, it ended in a tie, but not before both players attempted to resign the match to their opponent. The officials presiding over the tournament then made the landmark decision to award the Meijin title to both players.
Shindou and Touya never played Go professionally again. They told people that they wanted nothing more from the game than what they had found in that match. The two players were best friends who did everything together and even lived together most of their lives. They died, too, on the same day – May 5, 2070, at age 83.
Before Shindou and Touya, people thought the Divine Move was a perfect hand – that sooner or later one person would find it. In that game, though, and in all their games together, their Go was about harmony between players – turning a Goban into a space to share and create beauty. Ever since Touya and Shindou played Go together, people all over Japan have come to see Go as a game of deep emotion and an expression of the feelings inside a person’s heart. More people play, and everyone tries to find their own Divine Move. For the strongest pro players, the goal isn’t to win tournaments, but to find their own perfect game with a rival like Shindou and Touya had. That’s where the famous saying “Go for two” gets its meaning.
To many people, May 5 is Boy’s Day, but to me May 5 is the Day of the Divine Move. Other people go to festivals and parade, but I try and play lots of Go because Go is my favorite thing.
Today is the 50th anniversary of the Touya/Shindou Meijin title match. They were both 55 years old. I am only 11 but what I want most is to play the Divine Game someday. With so many other people out there getting into Go, I know that I’ll find someone to play that game with me – my ultimate Go partner.
Entrance Essay, Haze Jr. High
Nazume Shuu, age 12
My name is Nazume Shuu and I would like to go to Haze Jr. High so that I can become a successful student and join the Go club where the greatest player of all time played his first matches. Go is important to me because my mother plays Go, and her mother before her played Go during the age of Shindou Honinbou and Touya Meijin. Next year Haze Jr. High is to be renamed Shindou Hikaru Jr. High. Everybody knows that Shindou hated school, but I love school and I think it’s important to walk the path that he walked until I’m ready to find my own Go.
I’ve already started to play in amateur tournaments (even though my mom doesn’t want me to) and next year I am taking the pro exams. I have a long way to go, but I will work hard. My family is all about the game of Go because we all play it, and we all have family games nightly. But I want to make sure I have a solid education too, because I’m smart and my dad says that I should learn a lot now before I get too obsessed with Go to think about anything else. My ultimate goal is to play the Divine Game. But until then, I promise to try my best at Haze and make the name of Shindou Hikaru, and the name of my mother, Nazume, proud.
The thing about the fan, thought Shuu as he stared at the object hanging beside his dresser, was that it had gotten to be casual memorabilia. You liked Shindou, you carried a fan or wore one of the 5-shirts. Some fashion designer earlier that year had done some Go-themed fashion show and now the yellow and black designs were all over Tokyo. Everybody loved Shindou.
Shuu didn’t want to be fashionable. But the Divine Pair was trendy, everybody knew that, and they were just so easy to sell. Well, Shindou was, at least. The prodigy who’d gone pro after only 2 years of study, the brilliant genius with the epic speeches about Shuusaku and honoring tradition who played Go that no one in the last thousand years had ever seen. The crazy come-from-behind wins and the passionate matches with Touya. No wonder he was practically a national hero.
The movie a few years back hadn’t hurt, of course. And it was Shuu’s favorite movie, at that, but he still felt as though the Shindou he’d grown up with had been taken over and marketed as some sort of commercialized action figure. He believed that beneath all the hype and the myth, the light of Shindou’s personality still shone through, still drew people to him and his Go today. But it was hard to see it sometimes for the legend. And it was getting harder for Shuu to feel as though a piece of Shindou’s Go belonged just to him. When everybody knew who Shindou and Touya were - when “Go for two” was a t-shirt slogan - it was harder to link it back to its original meaning, to a beautiful game shared between two people long ago.
And the fans – the fans were everywhere. Shuu sighed and pushed his sloppy, dark bangs away from his forehead and left his own fan hanging beside the mirror. He would think of something else for today, some other symbol of Go and good fortune.
His mother was just serving breakfast when he came downstairs. The first thing she did was ruffle his hair. He scowled and pushed it back into place where she’d kissed his forehead.
“I didn’t even have to call you,” she smirked at him. “You must be excited.”
Shuu rolled his eyes and set about wolfing down his breakfast, content to eat in silence until Akime kicked him under the table.
“Hey,” she barked, flicking one of her braids at him like he’d done something to annoy her, which of course he had purely by existing. “You forgot something.”
Shuu eyed her as disdainfully as he could and purposely didn’t ask what.
“Touya Meijin was the youngest player ever to hold simultaneous titles,” she said triumphantly. “Three in all. It’s totally Touya.”
“Shindou Honinbou was the only player in history to take two titles from the same opponent in the same year and successfully defend both the following year,” Shuu said, dismissing Touya’s pretentions to the throne with a wave of his fork.
“But he lost the third to Touya!” She let out a huff of exasperation.
“And then he beat him the year after that, we’ve been over this already,” Shuu growled. “People have been arguing about this for decades. You’re not going to change my mind over breakfast.”
“Oh, get over yourself,” Akime said, kicking him again for good measure. “First-hand hoshi, upper left.”
“Easy, second-hand tengen.” He shoved a roll in his mouth. “You shouldn’t distract me before the exams.”
“Scared you’ll lose? And that’s a crazy move.”
“Shindou used it against Waya Yoshitaka in the first match of the Ouza title,” Shuu retorted. Akime rolled her eyes. Their father appeared in the doorway and cast their mother an amused glance. She stuck her tongue out at him.
“You can’t replay Shindou’s games all your life,” he said, sitting down beside Shuu and placing a hand on his shoulder. Shuu looked down at his plate, hair brushing his eyes, and flushed. “Not unless you expect your opponent to replay Touya’s.”
Shuu couldn’t resist. “We could learn that way!” he piped up. “We could experience the flow of their Go, the patterns of the Divine Hands they played…”
He trailed off. His father was smiling, but shaking his head. “How many times,” he said, “have you watched a game and felt a spirit emanating from the board that you were unable to recreate later?”
Shuu sighed. It was no good arguing that he was too young to see into the game the players had, but that later he’d be able to. His parents never assumed Shuu was too young for anything. His father continued.
“And how many times have you seen your mother play a match she described as exhilarating, even though from the outside it looked simple and uninvolved?”
Shuu looked up at this and flashed his mom a grin. “Yeah, well,” he said cheekily, “Mom’s a freak.”
“You’re the freak,” Akime said sourly. “What have you got against the Meijin anyway?”
“Nothing!” Shuu spread his hands, all innocence. “If mom wants to be happy with a title Shindou only held once – “
“That match was the Divine Game, you moron!” Akime came very close to lobbing her eggs at Shuu while he laughed. She threw a beseeching glance at their mother, who was hiding her own laugh with great difficulty. “I can’t believe you’re letting him take the pro exams! He’s a disgrace to the game!”
“Upper-right star,” Shuu snapped.
“Reverse counter hoshi,” she shot back.
“Hazama,” she retorted, and then yelled, “Ha!” in triumph when it took him a moment to recover. “It should be me, not you.”
“You just did a counter-tsuke on an extension, it’s like you think you’re playing Battleship!”
“Another way of saying you’re awed by my genius strategy!”
“What genius strategy?!” Shuu shouted.
“What polite children we have,” their mother inserted calmly, looking at their father across the table.
“But she – “
“Shuu-kun,” their mother said, lightly rubbing his shoulder. “Do you feel relaxed yet?”
Shuu hesitated. He’d been jittery when he came downstairs, but in the ensuing argument he’d all but forgotten what today even was. He started to reply, then let out a huff and slumped back against his seat.
Akime stuck out her tongue.
“You call him –san,” he settled for pouting, jerking a thumb towards his father. “Why can’t you call me –san?”
“Pass the pro exams,” said his mother blithely, “and I will call you Shuu-sensei if you like.”
Akime snorted. Shuu kicked her under the table this time, even though he knew it was no fair kicking girls younger than you, even when the girl was your bratty little sister.
“Alright, Shuu-san,” his mother said, waggling her finger. “Listen and listen well.”
She put on a mock expression of seriousness, a parody of the expression she wore when she actually sat before a goban. Shuu listened.
“There are times when the only way you can truly understand a game is to be in the middle of it,” she said. “To make the moves and know the thread between you and your opponent.” Shuu found himself sitting up straighter in his chair by force of habit.
“Those are the games that come closest to tapping into the Divine,” she said. “You won’t find them by replaying the games of others - even the games of Touya and Shindou – because only the connection between the players placing the stones can elevate a match to a higher level.” She studied him. “Yes – I’m saying that only Shindou-Honinbou and Touya-Meijin knew whether they had played the Divine Game or not. And they did know. The rest of us can only guess.”
“But Shindou and Touya were…” Shuu hesitated. “They were Shindou and Touya. They shared everything.”
“They were in love,” Akime said dreamily. Shuu rolled his eyes and ignored her, because that fight never got him anywhere.
“You can’t expect a connection like that with every person you play, right?” he challenged his mom. “Can you?”
He thought he saw his mother pause for a brief moment before her eyes met her father’s and she covered Shuu’s hand with her own.
“There is more than one way to find the Divine Move, Shuu,” she said, smiling. “Every opponent you meet shares a piece of themselves with you in their Go. That in itself is Divine, too.”
Shuu bit back a reply, then said cautiously, “But some players are….. more Divine than others.”
“Perhaps,” his father responded. “But Shuu, do you imagine that even Shindou and Touya learned about the game only from each other, and not from every opponent they played who led them to the place where they were able to face one another?”
Slowly, Shuu shook his head. But Go is a game for two, he thought. Not six or a hundred or a generation.
“You’ve never found them, though,” he said to his mother, who was still covering his hand with her own. “You’ve never found your perfect opponent, and you’ve played thousands of players all over the world.”
His mother laughed, completely unconcerned. “Ah, yes, about that,” she said. “Someday, maybe I’ll tell you.”
“About the perfect opponent?” he squawked, and he and Akime all but shot out of their seats in unison. “Mom!”
“Who, mom, who?”
She beamed. “Why, Shuu-kun,” she said beatifically. “Look at the time.”
Shuu glanced at his watch and then really did bolt from his chair. He had 45 minutes to get to the station and to the Go Institute, and he really wanted to stop along the way at the corner shop by the train station to see if he could find a good luck charm to replace the fan. He muttered, “Okay, okay,” and finished the last of his breakfast. “I’m off. Wish me luck.”
“Go, go, Honinbou!” his mother smiled.
“I hope you use up all your time and your buzzer breaks,” Akime said pleasantly.
“So polite,” said their father, before sticking his nose in the newspaper.
Shuu whistled as he trotted toward the train station. The day was bright and sunny – a good day for Go, he thought with satisfaction. His mom had won her title on a day like this. He’d been too young to really remember the game, and Akime hadn’t even been born yet, but he still remembered the blue, cloudless sky overhead, and the way he’d looked up and seen a universe full of endless possibility.
It was this he thought of as he stopped at the corner shop outside the station. He had to hurry, but he knew exactly what he wanted.
“Do you have anything with planets?” he asked the vendor hurriedly.
“Planets?” the vendor echoed dubiously.
“Or stars or something?” Shuu hopped from foot to foot. “Just anything, really…”
“We have this,” the vendor said awkwardly, reaching below the counter and pulling out a rack of key chains. On it was a cheaply made, gold-plated comet followed by an array of alloyed silver shooting stars. It was clunky and ridiculously overpriced.
Shindou Honinbou once described the goban as a constellation waiting to be created, Shuu thought. He held out his hand.
The Go world is still reeling from the revelatory Mejin Title final last month and the subsequent retirement from the Go world of two of Japan’s living legends - unquestionably the greatest players of the era - Touya Akira, Meijin, and Shindou Hikaru, Honinbou-Meijin. The Meijin final match has quickly reached mythical proportions, with many calling it the greatest game in the history of Go, and some going so far as to label it the Divine Game. The players themselves have declared that they have no wish to pursue professional Go beyond that match. But is this really the end of what many consider to be the greatest Go rivalry the world has ever seen? Go Weekly caught up with the international Go celebrities shortly after the tournament at their home on Inno Island, where the lifelong friends say they plan to retire.
GW: Have the two of you played Go since last week’s phenomenal tournament?
Touya-Meijin (TM): I think for the first few days we were overwhelmed. Neither of us could really think about sitting down for a regular match. We were still dealing with the press at that point, and everyone’s attention was consumed by the game and what it meant.
Shindou-Honinbou (SH): We both realized after a few days that neither of us had played since that game. I could tell Touya was scared he’d never beat me again so I dragged him front of the goban and trounced him by three moku.
TM: After I beat you twice, you mean. And I wasn’t – you were the one who was worried our Go wouldn’t be the same after that.
GW: Do you feel it has changed?
TM: Yes and no.
SH: Touya’s father, the late Touya Kouyo 9-dan, lost his final professional match, but he achieved a new freedom… from the games that he played during that tournament. He continued to play amateur Go and became stronger than ever. That’s how it feels now for us.
GW: So you will continue to play.
TW: Yes. Always. Our Go won’t end after this; it can only evolve.
GW: Returning to last week’s match. This was the first time in the record of all your official games together that a match between you has ended in a tie.
GW: Do either of you feel that you could have done anything differently to have changed the course of the match and altered the outcome of the game?
SH: I want this question, Touya.
TM: You better not say you would have won.
SH: Oh, as if you wouldn’t.
TM: This is Go Weekly, Shindou, you know which of us they’d believe.
SH: Only because they don’t know about you and that time we made up the Go drinking game.
SH: So, the – ow - the question. Ow! Honestly, in the days before the match, I felt confident that I would win, and knowing how important the Meijin title is to Akira, that’s a bold statement to make. Because he’s the strongest player there is, and he felt the same way. But when we sat down at the goban, it just felt different somehow. Our eyes met and he kind of smiled and –
GW: Touya Meijin smiled? Before a match?
SH: (laughing) I know! You’d think it would have thrown me, like maybe it was part of his master plan to distract me. But instead I felt this sense of calm wash over me. I can’t explain it but it was like we both knew that this was the game, this was our game and it was just time.
TM: In yose – I didn’t count, did you?
SH: No. There was so much territory claimed and it took such a long time getting to yose anyway – but it wasn’t a normal match. I didn’t think about counting.
TM: Right, because it wasn’t a normal match where you’re focused on resolving the winner and loser. The flow between white and black was not one of competition but harmony.
GW: Was that why you both attempted to resign?
TM: …We both felt that the beauty of such a match would have been dimmed by declaring a winner and a loser. We’ve been working towards it for too long for it to be any other way.
SH: I wanted him to win as much as I wanted me to win. It was like that.
GW: Was it the Hand of God?
TW: (After a very long silence) It was Go with my best friend – the person who knows me better than anyone. It was as it should be.
GW: Could you have played that game against anyone else?
TM: I wouldn’t have wanted to.
GW: One last question.
SH: We’re done? Touya, you’re too serious, I told you you’d scare them off.
TM: If your hair hasn’t scared them off after this many years, Shindou, I doubt anything can.
GW: Well… the photos for this shoot will be in black and white….
SH: Next time I’m beating you by four moku, you jackass.
TM: (laughing) I’m sorry, what was your question?
GW: Why Inno Island? We miss you back in Tokyo and everyone is wondering if it’s because of the connection to Shuusaku that you chose to retire here?
TM: Hikaru… do you want to answer? … I think… first of all, we miss everyone in Tokyo too. We had a housewarming party a few nights ago and everyone from the Institute came, which made it really feel like home. It will be nice to interact with new players and have new experiences a little further away from the city, and we can always go back for tournaments and exhibition matches if we start to miss it too much.
GW: And Shuusaku?
TM: I was the one who first brought up the idea of Inno. We hadn’t really talked about retiring until the match, but we had been to the island several times before and we knew of this location, so when the subject came up we knew it was the right thing to do.
I find it difficult to talk about Shuusuke without also talking about Shindou. …Shuusuke’s Go is alive today in Shindou. It’s what first drew me to Shindou’s playing style, even before it evolved to its current level.
GW: So could you say you wanted to be closer to Shuusaku in order to be closer to the source of Shindou’s Go?
SH: Not just my Go. Shuusaku’s Go is alive in Touya as well. We don’t really think of it like that – it’s not really his and mine anymore.
TM: It’s ours. Shuusuke is alive in our Go.
SH: That’s what the Hand of God is. It’s not one player’s hand, but both. Go for two.
- Inno Island, June 2042
The kid sitting in front of Shuu for his first official Pro exam match didn't look like any Insei Shuu had ever seen before. His shirt was nice but rumpled, as if he'd picked it out of a pile of its equally rumpled companions, and he wasn't wearing a jacket. His hair was dark and messy, falling in uneven clumps almost to his shoulders, and there were circles under his eyes that not even the thick round glasses he wore could hide. Shuu, who had dressed in a proper suit and tie because that's what you were supposed to wear to your first official Go exam, felt somewhat offended, as if anybody thought they could just roll out of bed and show up for the Pro exams.
Nonetheless, he held out his hand.
"I'm Nazume," he said. "Nazume Shuu."
The kid with the messy hair nodded. He shook Shuu's hand a bit awkwardly, and said, " I know." It wasn't uncommon for people to be familiar with the Meijin's son, so Shuu didn't bother responding.
Then the kid continued, "Your grandmother was a Go player, right?" and that got Shuu's attention. At the startled look on Shuu's face, he blanched and laughed a little hurriedly. "Sorry," he said. "My name's Kenji - Kenji Miro."
Shuu considered him a moment before holding out his hand. When he took it he noted sweaty fingers; if his opponent was nervous, then he already had the advantage going in.
“Have you been playing Go for long?” he asked politely.
Kenji hesitated, then looked self-consciously down at the Goban. “About five years.”
“Oh.” That was a bit under the average for serious players their age, but it meant Shuu had another advantage because he’d been playing since he was old enough to place the stones. He had learned to play Go before he had learned to read. “Who’s your teacher?”
Kenji raised his eyes from the board to meet Shuu’s steadily, and Shuu felt a momentary pang of guilt for grilling the kid like he’d intruded on Shuu’s territory.
Then the reply came. “I don’t have one,” Kenji said, and try as he might to keep the astonishment from showing on his face, Shuu knew that for a moment shock and pity flickered plainly in his expression.
“That’s… that’s okay!” he said after a moment’s recovery. “Lots of Insei get started without having a master first.” He thought he saw the other boy start to flush, and added hastily, before he found himself talking to a bowed head again, “I mean! I mean five years is a plenty good start even without a sensei.”
Kenji considered him for a moment before responding in a barely audible voice, “I suspect I don’t look much like an Insei to you.”
“Hey,” Shuu said, smiling his most charming smile. “Don’t be so modest. You look just fine! I’m just curious, sure, because I don’t remember seeing you around the Institute before. You know what, if I’m asking too many questions, you can just tell me to shut up.”
“Oh,” Kenji replied quickly. “It’s fine. I wouldn’t expect you to recognize me. I just started last fall. And – I used to be a lot shorter,” he added, as if the thought still annoyed him.
“You just started this year?” Shuu said, suddenly interested. “As an Insei? And already you’ve qualified for the pro exams? You must be really good.” He took another look at the figure across from him, who met his eyes levelly.
“I’m still weak,” Kenji said calmly. “But I can see my way to improving.” He took a deep breath. “Nazume,” he said, “your mother is the Meijin and your grandmother played beautiful Go against Shindou-Honinbou and Touya-Meijin.” His voice held a firm, clear note of reverence that Shuu knew too well. “I look forward greatly to this game with you.”
Shuu tried not to stare, failed horribly, and finally managed, “Let’s have a good game!”
The response was drowned out by a commotion near the door. Shuu looked up as a group of Insei entered the competition room in a cloud of laughter. He could tell they were Insei straight off – they were just another kind of Go club, after all. He wondered briefly that the guy across from him hadn’t come with the rest of them, but then the middle Insei stepped forward, eyes searching the room until he met Shuu’s, and all other thoughts were driven out of Shuu’s head.
He was short for someone who looked around the same age as Shuu, but it took Shuu a moment to realize this because of the self-possession with which he entered the room. It had to do with his eyes, Shuu thought: they were bright and alert as they found his own, and he had no doubt that whoever this guy was, he knew the name and the face of Nazume Shuu. He had a flat, square jaw and a smirk that ran in a long line all the way across the bottom of his face. His hair was drawn tightly back out of his eyes and into what appeared to be a jeweled clasp, two hairpins jutting in a long gold X out the back. He wore a suit even nicer than Shuu’s, and despite the hairpins, the rest of him didn’t look the least bit traditional at all. Shuu stared and had the fleeting thought that if this guy had told him he didn’t have a master, he would have had no trouble believing him.
The room suddenly seemed a lot smaller, perhaps because the guy across it had been walking his way from the moment he laid eyes on him. Shuu had time to think that it was sort of rude to just come up to a person and introduce yourself like you were somebody – but this thought was quickly followed by the reflection that whoever he was, he was definitely somebody, before the Insei was standing in front of him with his arms crossed, somehow managing to look towering despite his lack of height.
“I’m Yumero Ohta,” he said, addressing Shuu and completely ignoring the other guy.
“Hi,” said Shuu.
“You’re Nazume,” said Yumero.
“Yeah,” said Shuu.
“I’m going to defeat you.”
“Okay,” said Shuu.
“Huh?” said Kenji. “That’s not what you’re supposed to say to a challenge.”
Yumero looked over at him for the first time. “Oh, Kenji-kun,” he said, uncrossing his arms. “You’re here already.”
“I hate ‘Kenji-kun,’” Kenji muttered. “Yes,” he added. “I’m right here.”
“That’s right, you wouldn’t have come with the others.”
Feeling a pang of jealousy, Shuu intruded, “What makes you think you’re going to defeat me so easily, huh?”
Yumero Ohta – Shuu busied himself trying to memorize the guy’s name and not stare too hard at the hairpins – turned back and eyed him, the smirk slowly spreading into a grin.
“Because,” he said. “I’ve been waiting to play you for three years, and I’m not going to lose.”
“Bingo.” Yumero winked at him, still grinning, and Shuu, feeling the glow of thinly veiled obsession behind that smile, almost grabbed him by the fancy lapels and shook him from curiosity. Yumero took a step back, however, and glanced back at Kenji. “However,” he said politely, “I won’t distract you from your – game.” Shuu heard the slight pause, heard the worlds of meaning in that one split-second hesitation: I won’t distract you from your easy victory; from your child’s play dressed up as an Insei.
Yeah, Shuu thought, this guy really is rude. Funny how much he didn’t care.
Yumero nodded to Kenji, who bowed his head politely over the board and then went about biting a fingernail without looking back up. Shuu laughed what was hopefully a haughty laugh. “Sure, sure,” he said. “Do me a favor, though, and remind me your name again later.” He smiled sweetly. “I tend to forget.”
Yumero’s eyes flashed. Then he knelt down beside Shuu next to the Goban. Ignoring Shuu’s momentary panic, he leaned in and said, right next to Shuu’s ear:
“Believe me: you’ll want to remember everything.”
Shuu tried not to shiver. It didn’t work. He turned his head away as snootily as he could, and only asked in an eager whisper as soon as he could tell Yumero had rejoined his friends, “So is he any good?”
He ventured a look up at Kenji, who was frowning deeply at the Goban.
“In most opinions,” Kenji said finally, sneaking a glance up at him out of darkening eyes, “he’s exceptional.”
Shuu regarded him. “You’ve played him?” he said, trying to match the cool tone and utterly failing to hide his excitement.
Kenji fidgeted. Shuu noticed him playing with the edges of his sleeves before he looked back at Shuu.
“You want him to be your rival, don’t you,” he said. Something about the way he said it made Shuu’s stomach drop out, like he’d just accused him of cheating at yose instead of aiming for the hand of God.
“So? Everybody needs one,” he answered defensively.
“Hmm,” Kenji responded. “The right kind, they do.”
Shuu looked over his shoulder. Yumero had his back turned to them and was laughing with the other Insei he had come in with. Something twisted in his stomach.
I’ll make you turn around, he thought.