He was never a genius, except maybe at Go, but Hikaru knows there's something weird about one small, old-fashioned house in the middle of a block of office buildings, and a bunch of people having a picnic in the yard just makes it even weirder. It's only when the skinny kid in the apron nearly drops a plate of food to start pointing at him in a totally overblown way that Hikaru realizes he's walked halfway up to the door of the place. Of course, they're all staring at him at this point: the apron kid, an exotic looking lady with a long, ornate pipe, a tall kid in a yukata, a little blond girl, and some kind of black rabbit thing that was trained to hold a cup.
"Ah ha ha," Hikaru laughs nervously, scratching the back of his head. "Sorry. I didn't mean to bother you or anything. It was pretty rude of me to come in here, huh?"
The apron kid sighs. "It's not your fault," he says, shooting a glare at the lady with the pipe. "I guess you have a customer."
The pipe lady is staring at Hikaru like he's a ghost or something. "He's not here for me," she finally says.
"What, you're saying it's an accident?" the apron kid says, loudly.
The tall kid frowns. "I thought they can't enter unless they need to."
The lady leans back in a kind of dramatic pose, with her fancy pipe and everything. "He needs to enter. But he's not here for me." Then she looks at the little girl. "Is he?"
The little girl seems kind of startled, but she takes a good look at Hikaru and her eyes go wide.
"Um." Hikaru is scratching the back of his head again. "I don't think I'm here for anybody." He starts heading back toward the street. "Look, I'm really sorry."
But then the little girl is right next to Hikaru, gesturing for him to lean down, and he figures he shouldn't be mean to a little girl he doesn't even know, so he goes along with it.
She whispers, "He knows."
Hikaru frowns. "Huh?"
The girl's eyes are so big, and so, so serious. "Sai," she says. "He knows."
And suddenly Hikaru has been hit by a bullet train, or that's what it feels like, and he's sitting on the ground with tears in his eyes, and the little girl is smiling, like she's just given him a gift, which he's pretty sure she has.
"Shizuka-kun," she calls out softly toward the people at the blanket, but the tall kid is already standing there, holding his hand out to Hikaru, and Hikaru is letting himself be pulled up before he even knows what he's doing.
"I could have done that, Kohane-chan," the apron kid mutters, throwing a dirty look at Shizuka-kun, or whatever his name is, and Hikaru might find it funny if he wasn't so busy being shocked out of his mind.
"Please," Hikaru says, struggling to blink the tears from his eyes. "How do you know something like that?" But that's not really what he wants to ask so he tries again, leaning down toward the little girl. "You really know that?"
The girl is serious again, no trace of that brief, bright smile, and she nods.
"Oh," Hikaru says, and really he can't think of anything else at the moment.
"Don't forget the price, Kohane-chan," the lady says, gently, but in that same ominous tone she's been throwing around the whole time, and Hikaru starts to panic.
"Oh!" he says, rummaging through the pockets of his jeans. "Um. I was eating before, and I don't really have much left." His face is getting hot, and that nervous laugh bubbles up again. "Ha ha, um, can I send it to you or something?"
Now the girl is shaking her head, and the ominous, smoking, crazy lady is smiling at him in a really frightening way, the rabbit-thing is jumping around and speaking Japanese, and Hikaru starts to think he's pretty much doomed, as the girl takes his hand and leads him towards the others.
She squeezes his hand and smiles again. "Teach me to play Go."