Midnight Game
by Jain

Written for 14 Valentines: Economics and Wealth.

Hikaru blinked awake, staring at the ceiling too far above his head, just visible in the dim light coming through Touya's blinds. He looked over at the other futon, but Touya was sleeping peacefully, his face blank and calm above a mound of blankets. Whatever had woken Hikaru up, it wasn't him.

The longer Hikaru stared at the ceiling, the less sleepy he felt. Eventually, he pushed back his comforter and got out of bed. Maybe if he got himself a glass of water, he'd be able to go back to sleep. He tiptoed carefully past Touya's parents' room and down the stairs, only to stop short in the hallway right before the kitchen. There was a light on in the study, and the quiet sounds of someone placing go stones on a goban.

Hikaru peered around the doorway and saw Touya's father, kneeling in front of the goban in his customary yukata. Though Hikaru didn't think he'd made a sound, Touya-san looked up suddenly and met his eyes. Hikaru stepped through the doorway. "Uh...I was just thirsty," he said lamely.

Touya's father nodded. "Get yourself a drink from the kitchen. If you're not tired, you can come back here afterwards and play a game with me."

Hikaru continued on to the kitchen, slipping a little on the hallway's wooden floor in his sock feet. He made sure to put the glass in the dishwasher when he was done with it. Then he returned to the study and knelt on the opposite side of the goban from Touya's father.

Touya-san had cleared the goban while Hikaru was in the kitchen. "Please."


They didn't talk--Touya Kouyo wasn't like his son, and Hikaru felt absolutely no inclination to disturb the silence between them with even the smallest noise--but somehow Hikaru felt as though they were having a conversation anyway.

The territory in the top right corner soon became almost a running joke between them, while on the left they formed a structure together that was almost unbearably elegant. Some of the moves Touya's father used were almost like teaching go, but it didn't feel condescending like when Touya did it. Sometimes, Hikaru would even play a hand that made Touya-san's eyes soften with approval.

Hikaru felt an unwelcome jolt of jealousy. No one could've been a better teacher than Sai, but he envied Touya for having Touya-san as his father, and envied him more because Touya's father was there and Sai was gone. And then Touya-san played a hand that literally took Hikaru's breath away, and he didn't have room for anything in his head but the game.

Touya-san won, of course, but Hikaru didn't have any complaints. If he was reading him right, Touya-san was even a little proud of him.

Touya-san started clearing the board, and Hikaru stared at his broad hand, so different from his son's. The only similarity between them was the long fingers and the clean, oval-shaped nails. Though it seemed as though it ought to be the other way around, Hikaru was more surprised at the fact that there were any similarities between Touya's and Touya-san's hands than that they were so dissimilar. Impelled by an emotion so impulsive that he didn't realize it existed until after he'd acted, Hikaru darted out his own hand and grabbed Touya-san's.

Neither of them breathed for a long moment. Hikaru stared at their two hands, clasped together on the goban. Slowly, Touya Kouyo placed his other hand on top of Hikaru's and gave him a small smile that Hikaru tried to return. He didn't think that he succeeded very well, but Touya Kouyo didn't seem to mind. He just held on until Hikaru finally pulled his hand away.

"It was a good game," Touya Kouyo said.

Hikaru bowed his head. "Thank you," he said, feeling certain that Touya Kouyo would understand all the multiple layers of meaning that went into those words.

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