Of Girls, Movies and Not-Dates.
Hikaru groaned when his mom called for him. It was his first free day after a whole week away and he had been intending to sleep until he had to go to Waya's house, late in the afternoon.
“I'm coming!” he called back after he heard his name stretched thin the second time, sighing as he stood up, putting on some jeans and combing his fingers through his hair and hoping that it was nothing important and whoever it was would hurry up.
“I still wish that Hikaru would've gone to High School,” he heard his mom sigh and he rolled his eyes as he walked inside the living room.
Thankfully, both his mom and Akari stopped talking about that – talk about flogging a dead horse -as Akari smiled at him, wearing her High School Uniform. Hikaru couldn't help to glare a little: the sight of people so cheerful when he had just woken up was awfully irritating.
“I was sleeping.”
Akari frowned then, huffing. “You're never around when I come and visit.”
“It's called having a job,” Hikaru said, plopping down unto the couch.
“Hikaru, be nice,” his mother chided, standing up. She smiled to Akari. “I'll bring you something to drink, Akari-chan.”
“Mom! What about me!” Hikaru sighed. Really, his own mother.
He heard the other couch creak as Akari sat down and he glanced towards her. “So?”
Akari took a deep breath and shook her head before shrugging. “Are you free this Saturday?”
He shrugged. “Pretty much, yeah. Why?”
“There's a movie I want to see, and I came to see if you're interested.”
Hikaru stared, and then stared some more.
“Akari! There are phones for that!” Hikaru groaned, sliding further unto the couch.
“But I never see you anymore!”
And there was a brief pang of guilt at that. When they'd been little, he and Akari had been pretty much inseparable. But then Sai had appeared and then go and...
He looked towards Akari. She was still frowning but she also seemed sad. Then she sighed.
“Nevermind, Hikaru, I–”
“It's not a girl's movie, is it?” Hikaru asked. “Nor something weepy?”
Akari blinked and slowly shook her head no. “It's a thriller.”
“Great, so you're gonna end up screaming.”
“I will not!” Akari stated, her frown deepening. Hikaru couldn't help but snickering; he had always had a magic touch to make her angry. But then she blinked again. “So this means you'll come?”
“Eh, why not.” Hikaru shrugged. “It's been a while since I've gone to the movies anyway.”
Akari beamed at that, a wide smile upon her face. Girls, Hikaru thought, got happy at the weirdest, craziest things. He would never, ever get them.
That night at Waya's, he was the last one to leave so he was, also, the one that helped Waya pick up the goban and clean the stones, hearing as Waya fumed about his last Shido-go game, where the woman had ended up stating out loud that she liked much more shôgi, Hikaru sharing his rage and nodding along.
“Oi, Shindo, you free this Saturday for a study group?” Waya asked once they both had cooled down (mostly after one of Waya's neighbors came knocking on their door to ask them to do so), picking up the soda cans. “Isumi-san asked if it'd be okay to move it a day.”
“Sure,” then something seemed to connect on Hikaru's brain and he moved a hand to the back of his head, looking towards Waya again. “Oh, sorry, can't. I told my friend Akari that we'd go to the movies.”
He hadn't even finished talking when Waya started snickering. Hikaru eyed him, but Waya kept on snickering, shaking his head, as if he had said the greatest joke ever. He frowned.
Waya shook his head. “Nevermind, Shindou. Have fun going to the movies with your friend.”
“She is my friend! And we're going to the movies!” Hikaru raised his voice, frown deepening, more confused than he'd like to be. “Waya, what the hell?”
As the other pro turned to look at him, still grinning. Hikaru wondered why he suddenly felt a shiver run down his back.
“It's nothing, Shindo,” Waya answered, snickering again before he shrugged, failing at nonchalance for about a million moku. “Have a nice time in your date.”
“Did you even play while you were away, Shindo?” Touya asked, his voice gone all huffy, the way it always did when he was angry.
Hikaru barely even paid attention. A date. He had tried to contact Akari again but the two times he tried calling her at her house she had been out, and he had been too ashamed to realize he didn't have her cellphone in his anymore to ask for her new phone. Especially considering what he'd want to talk with her.
“Even your yose was absolutely awful! What where you thinking when you played this hand?”
Surely Akari didn't think it was a date, right? Because, for starters, she had been the one to ask him to the movies, and that wasn't how dates went, right? Usually it'd be the boy asking the girl out or something. And besides! It was Akari! It'd be like dating his own sister – if he had one, of course. Hikaru shuddered.
Waya had to be absolutely wrong.
There was a moment of tense, heavy silence. “And then I decided to burn away my goban.”
“Uh- wait, what?!” He turned to face Touya, eyes wide and scared. “You did what!”
Touya's eyes narrowed into angry, extremely pissed off lines and Hikaru glanced to the game and he winced. He should be angry with himself, with the way he had played.
“If you didn't want to play,” Touya said, his voice this close to start shouting; Hikaru heard scraps of chairs and people muttering and moving away. “You could have said so instead of making me lose my time.”
Hikaru bristled, and he was about to answer back when he glanced at the goban and he decided that just this time and this time only, he kind of deserved this.
“No, Touya, I do want to play. I've just been thinking about some things.”
Though he was still frowning, Hikaru thought that some of the anger left Touya's shoulders.
“Is there a problem?”
“Well, no, it's nothing serious, it's just... remember my friend Akari?” At Touya's blank face, Hikaru gave a mental wince. Oh, yeah. “... never mind. Well, she's been my friend since – well, forever. Before I started with go we did everything together.”
Touya gave a small nod, though he was still frowning. “Something happened to her?”
“Well, no. She just – so she stopped by yesterday and asked me to the movies and Waya said that it was a date and – Touya?”
The angry lines had come back full force.
“And that's why you played like a beginner?”
Before Hikaru could reply – so okay, the game hadn't been his best but to say it like that! – or add anything at all, Touya had picked up his things and had almost stomped his way out of the Go salon.
Hikaru blinked. Ichiwara-san blinked. The regulars blinked.
That was a first.
The world, Hikaru decided as he picked up the stones, had gone mad while he had been away.
Akari was already waiting at the movies when Hikaru arrived. She didn't seem to have dressed fancy for this, at least not fancier that she always did, and she still glared at himwhen he said hi.
“C'mon, you're almost late!” She said, pulling on his arms. “I already bought the tickets.”
“You didn't have to,” Hikaru said. “I'll pay you back.”
“That's okay,” Akari said. The small, annoying Waya-voice he had been hearing since Thursday reminded him, 'date'. But then Akari gave her most innocent, sweet smile. “You have to buy the popcorn, soda and candy.”
The Waya-voice was, thus, silenced for the moment.
Of course it came back full-force when Akari, just like Hikaru had known, almost left him deaf as she screamed, clinging to his arm.
As they left the movie theater, he glared, rubbing at his ear. “I told you you were gonna get scared. Why did you want to see this movie anyway?”
Akari shrugged. “You've always liked horror movies. You wouldn't have come other way.”
The Waya-voice sang the word 'date' again and again. Hikaru swallowed. Akari didn't seem to notice his discomfort, for all thet she pulled at his wrist.
“C'mon, let's go and have an ice cream before heading home!”
Hikaru liked Akari. Sure, she was annoying and she could barely hold the go stones and she was just plain ridiculous some times, but she was, in the end, his oldest friend. And sure, they didn't spend as much time together as before, and he was a little sorry about that, but that didn't mean he didn't like her.
As a friend. Or as a sister. Or as someone you absolutely didn't take out for a date.
As he handed Akari her milkshake, he wondered just how exactly was he supposed to tell her that.
“Akari,” he started, but then he didn't know what to say.
Akari smiled at him, though, nice and sweet and Hikaru wondered how it was possible for her smile to make him feel like a creep.
“Thank you so much for coming, Hikaru. I know you're very busy.”
He shrugged, trying not to seem too nervous. “It's okay. We're friends, right?”
And only friends, he added in silence.
Akari nodded, but somehow her smile seemed much brighter than before.
“You already said so.”
“Not for that,” Akari said, shaking her head. “For saying that we're friends.”
“Why would you say thank you for that?”
She shrugged. “We just... okay, I know you've go and really, Hikaru, I'm so happy for you! But... well... we barely see each other anymore, so I was wondering... I know you're busy with Go, and I'm also busy, that with High School and my boyfriend, but still. I feel like we barely ever see each other and I don't like that.”
The Waya-voice died just like that. Hikaru took a deep breath, both relieved and, again, feeling like a creep. Sure, he was busy and Akari said that she was busy too, but in a way, she had been there when he had found Sai's goban. As small as it was, she was also a part of the Sai memories he had.
“Nah, you're right.” But then he remembered part of her statement and his eyes opened wide while he gaped a little. "Wait, wait. You already have a boyfriend!"
Akari threw him one of her fries, frowning.
"Why do you sound so surprised? I'm sixteen!"
"Well, yes, but you're still so flatchested that I wouldn't have gues-"
Akari interrupted him by screaming and standing up, trying to reach for him.
Hikaru had to stand up from the table grinning, running away from the girl that had been his best friend for around twelve years. He would never want nor wish to go back to that, but this was okay, too.
At least it was okay until Akari managed to dump half of her milkshake down his shirt.
It had taken five calls and letting the fifth one ring twelve times before Touya had deigned to pick up his cellphone, voice sounding snappish .
“Shindo, it's late.”
“I'f you'd have picked up the first time, it wouldn't be so late.”
“Just because you had a date today, it doesn't mean that everyone else had the same free time.”
Hikaru snorted. “It wasn't a date. Akari just wanted to tell me about her boyfriend and her Go club... that's to show that Waya has no idea whatsoever.”
Silence from the line. “Shindo, it is late and I've an early game tomorrow, so if that's all...”
But he sounded a little less huffy.
“Yeah, sorry Touya. I was just calling to see when do you wanna have another game.”
“... I'm free next Tuesday after 2:00 P.M.”
“Got it. Hey, Touya?” When sudden inspiration struck, Hikaru couldn't help but grin.“You ever go to the movies?”