It was even hotter than he'd expected. Hikaru wiped the sweat from his brow and did his best to ignore his discomfort. It was like they said: No pain, no gain. He would endure this and achieve his goal.
Touya placed his stone and then got up to stand in front of the open window. He sighed in relief, even though there was hardly any breeze at all.
"What a day for your fan to break."
"Yeah," Hikaru said. "No kidding. This is awful, isn't it?"
"Are you sure it's broken? Maybe the knob's just loose or something." Touya turned to Hikaru's electric fan and twisted the knob to no avail.
Hikaru placed a stone, cutting off Touya's advancement along the left side. "It's definitely broken. I tried it last night and nothing. It's dead."
"Hmm." Touya poked a finger through the guards and nudged one of the fan blades.
"Hey. It's your turn."
"Just a minute."
"Touya, it's too hot to play such a slow game. You're taking too long."
Touya tipped the fan on its side and then--Uh oh!--pulled at its power cord.
"Ah ha!" Touya triumphantly held up the plug. "Here's your problem. It's unplugged."
"Really? Huh. I wonder how that happened."
Well, maybe next time he'd get it right.
This plan was totally a cliché, but things were clichés for a reason, right? This would work because it always worked.
Hikaru opened a bottle of pineapple tea and took a sip. Then casually, oh so casually and naturally, he started walking across the room to where Touya was sitting at the table giving a packet of wasabi peas a distrusting look.
Okay. On the count of three.
Hikaru tripped for real and spilled tea all over his own shirt.
And it was his absolute favorite yellow '5' shirt! He was too busy yanking it off and trying to wring it out to even check if Touya ogled him while he was shirtless.
"I can't believe I forgot my house keys," Touya said as he placed another stone on the board.
"Yeah," Hikaru said, shifting position, because Touya's house keys were really pointy and digging into his thigh something fierce. "It's not like you to be absent minded like that, but it's okay. I asked my mom and she said you can stay over. We can play more Go and watch movies!"
"It's very kind of her to let me stay." Touya dipped his hand into his goke and then sighed. "I wish I had an overnight bag with me, though."
"Oh, hey, don't worry about it. Here!" Hikaru jumped up and bounced over to his chest of drawers where he'd stashed the special Project Touya pajamas. He pulled them out and handed them over.
"Shindou, what is this?" Touya made a sour face while he held the bright, lime-green fabric far, far away from himself.
"Pajamas! They're my spare pair."
"They have feet."
"I know. Aren't they cool?" Hikaru grinned.
"I'll just sleep in my clothes."
Dammit. Touya was supposed to choose sleeping in his underwear over the Fuzzy, Footed PJs of Doom.
Hikaru hovered uncertainly over the shop's selection of novelty items. Should he? Maybe? It would certainly work, right?
He picked up the can of itching powder and...
No, he couldn't do it. He'd get Touya out of his clothes, but not that way.
"So, Touya? I was thinking..."
"Yes?" Touya finished clearing his stones from the goban and then waited, looking expectantly over at Hikaru.
"Um. Do you ever think that maybe we need some more excitement in our games?"
"What? No. I like our games now, except for how you keep making those idiot moves like that attachment you made in--"
"That was not an idiot move! That was brilliant! And the only reason you keep harping on it is because you wish you'd thought of it first!"
"Right!" Touya said. "Because I'm the sort of player who's jealous of losing moves? I don't think so!"
"It would have been perfect! I'll show you." Hikaru dug into his goke and forgot all about Attempt #12.
"Hey, we could play strip Go!"
"Shindou, I really don't drink."
"But it's for New Years! How about just one more glass?"
"All right. But that's it. Just one more."
But then Waya and Isumi dropped by, and then Nase. And then, strangely enough, Ochi. Who the heck had invited Ochi? And someone kept handing Touya drinks, so when the night was over, he was listing a little to the right and looking deliciously tipsy.
"Hey," Hikaru said once they were alone again. "We could play strip Go!"
"Ha," Touya said. "No, we really, really couldn't."
Dammit! Impaired judgment wasn't at all like it was supposed to be.
This was a rather desperate attempt. It would win him only a glimpse. But when you're on a losing streak, even a small victory could be enough to turn the tide.
"My mother bought me this. I don't know what she was thinking, it's so not my style. But maybe you'll like it."
Hikaru tossed the sweater at Touya, who caught it, though he was clearly startled. Hikaru watched him unfold it and smiled when Touya's expression changed from bemusement to admiration. Come on, Touya, you know there's no resisting the lavender-and-navy argyle.
"It's very handsome. Your mother has good taste."
Hikaru shrugged. "If you say so."
"And it's very soft."
"You should take off your sweater and try that one on."
"No, I couldn't. Your mother intended it as a gift for you."
"Aw, no. That doesn't-- Her feelings won't be hurt, I swear. Just try it on."
"Shindou, I thank you for the thought. It's truly generous, but it would be inappropriate. If you don't like it, you should return it to your mother and maybe she'll be able to return it to the store."
Hikaru sighed and took the sweater back from him. His plans simply were not working. Maybe he was overthinking them. Maybe he needed to be more spontaneous... But first, he'd better find that shop receipt. Cashmere sweaters weren't cheap.
"Oh, man. These Go retreats are real killers."
"That's because they're not retreats for us," Touya said. "We're working."
Hikaru stood and stretched and tried to unkink his back. "Oof. I think I've been turned into an old man."
Touya smiled at that, and Hikaru took a chance.
"You know what I've been thinking about for the last couple hours?"
"I assume it was Go, but perhaps that goes without saying."
Hikaru laughed. "I think about Go all the time. I mean the other thought in my head."
"I'm almost afraid to guess."
"The hot springs!" Hikaru said. "They're supposed to be really great here. ... I know it's late, but would you like to join me? Nice long soak after a day like today?" Please? Pretty please?
Touya hesitated. Oh, he was definitely thinking about it!
"I'm sorry," Touya said. "I'd like to, but I promised Ashiwara a game tonight. He's preparing for an important match."
"Oh. Okay. You'll be missing out, though."
"Yes... I'm sorry."
Geez. What did a guy have to do?
"Hey, do you want to take a break? Maybe do something different?"
Touya rolled a stone between his fingers. "I don't know," he finally said. "What do you have in mind?"
Hikaru wasn't sure. He was feeling restless, though, after sitting for half the morning and staring at Touya.
"Um... It's a pretty nice day. We could go to the park?"
"All right," Touya said.
"Yes. Some fresh air would be nice."
"Great! Hey, maybe I should bring my football. Maybe we can find a pick-up game or just kick it around some, just the two of us."
"I'm uh... You'll be disappointed if you're expecting to get a decent football game out of me."
Hikaru laughed as he dug through his closet looking for the ball.
"I'm a Go pro, too, you know. It's been ages since I last played football. We'll just fool around, have some--Ah! Here it is!"
They walked to the park together and even that was pretty fun. It was really an incredibly nice Spring day, and it felt good to be spending time with Touya that wasn't centered around Go. Although...
"Have you ever noticed how a football kind of looks like it's made up of Go stones?"
Touya laughed and laughed like Hikaru had never heard from him before.
"You have Go on the brain worse than I do! I didn't think that was possible," Touya said.
"I'm not that bad!"
"I think you are." Touya smiled, so Hikaru was pretty sure that wasn't actually criticism.
The park was small, but there was a good open field for playing. There were a few young children there, but no one old enough to join them in a game.
"Want to play just you against me? Shirts versus skins?"
"Shirts and skins. It's how you tell teams apart when you're playing a pick-up game. I'll be shirts, okay?"
Touya laughed, and Hikaru kicked at a clump of grass and tried hard not to frown. Hell, he hadn't even meant to make an attempt there, but it still sucked to fail once again.
"There's just the two of us," Touya said. "If we need help remembering who we're playing against..."
"Yeah, yeah. I wasn't thinking. Let's play or go home, all right?"
"I don't want to go home," Touya said. "I'm having fun."
Hikaru kicked the ball and they both chased after it.
"Yeah," Hikaru agreed.
They were lying in the grass at the park and breathing heavily.
"I think we over did it," Touya said. "Or at least I over did it."
Hikaru flopped onto his back and stared up at the sky.
"But it was fun, wasn't it?"
"Yes," Touya said, and then his hand bumped into Hikaru's. "I'm glad you asked me."
Hikaru held his breath. All of his instincts were suddenly saying that he should give it one more try. And yet... he almost didn't want to risk it.
Touya's hand didn't move away from his, and Hikaru couldn't move at all.
Okay. One last try.
"Say that I... Say that someone... um... couldn't stop thinking about getting you out of your clothes."
It seemed like the whole world went silent for the long moment before Touya responded.
"Okay," Touya said. "Say that someone did want that. What's your question about it?"
"How... How would you suggest that person go about it?"
"Ah. Well... if that person were you, I would suggest that you try asking me plainly for it."
Hikaru rolled over and looked at Touya. He was all mussed and flushed from the exercise and smiling in a way that Hikaru had never seen before, not on anyone.
"Really," Touya said. "Though, I must also suggest that you try asking when we're not in the middle of a children's park."
Hikaru laughed and twined his fingers with Touya's.
"Yeah, that sounds like good plan. I'll do that."
"I'll look forward to it," Touya said.
Yes! Attempt #21 was going to be awesome!