Shindou Hikaru stood in his bathroom, gaping at his own reflection in abject horror. He could see the white ringing the desperate green of his eyes. This was... it was... He stared a bit more, then emitted a scream of rage and threw the first thing that happened to be underhand — a bleach bottle which was, fortunately for him, empty. Otherwise, his mother would start nagging at him again for stains on the floor, and wasn’t it about time to grow up, and look how nice Touya-kun always looked, and maybe it was time to get rid of the bleach altogether, and so on.
Well, he felt plenty grown up, though he doubted his mother had meant this in her lecturing — fortunately, she had grown too used to him “making a ruckus by himself” over the past few years to come and check on him. As for Touya... well, Hikaru was sure he was sitting with his nice Touya hair somewhere and having a great laugh at his expense.
He stomped down the stairs. His mother did call after him then, and he shouted back that he was fine and he just needed to use the phone, and to never mind and leave him alone. He picked up the receiver and stabbed in the familiar number before bringing it to his ear. When he was greeted, he said in quite a polite and controlled voice, considering the circumstances, that he was very sorry to call so late, but was Touya-kun at home?
When Touya finally came on the line, he didn’t sound like he had spent the past half hour laughing his head off. Hikaru, however, was not convinced. “Hello, Shindou. Did you forget something?”
“You bastard,” Hikaru hissed into the phone, cupping the receiver, because heaven forbid his mother become curious and decide to listen in. He was really getting a cell phone. Now. Tomorrow morning. No, the day after — he had bigger things to worry about tomorrow. “You know I have a Honinbou League match in the morning!”
A pause, then, “Of course I know. I assume that’s the reason you kept me at the Go salon two hours past closing. What’s the matter? Did you suddenly think of a brilliant way you could have won our game today? You know, you only get one chance tomorrow.” Touya's voice was warm when he teased, lately, and anyone who really listened would know that the bite wasn’t there. On the Go board, Touya still took him apart as mercilessly as he ever had; off it, his hostility towards Hikaru was gone, replaced with something else entirely. Hikaru had been wondering idly how soon others would start to take notice.
Tomorrow morning, obviously.
Hikaru refused to smile at the good-natured teasing, and he refused to take the bait and argue about this as he was meant to. As Touya diversionary tactics went, this was weak — and he had other things to fight with Touya about. “That is not why I’m calling. You know very well what this is about!”
“Contrary to popular belief, Shindou, I cannot read anyone’s mind, least of all one as illogical as yours,” Touya said, sounding very reasonable and oh-so-innocent.
“You don’t need to read my mind, because you know what this is about!” The volume of his voice was rising with something like oncoming hysteria; realizing this, he tried to speak more quietly. After all, this was the key point, and a source of a great deal of embarrassment. “You left a mark,” he accused in a furious half-whisper.
Again, a moment of silence, and then an obviously amused Touya told him, “You weren’t complaining.” This was a very valid point — Touya was very hard to refuse at any time, and Hikaru would have been insane to complain when Touya pulled him close into the circle of light pooling beneath a lone lamppost as they were cutting through the park to the subway, because Touya so rarely chose to show affection, and never in a such a potentially public place. And if Touya hadn’t kissed him first, he probably would have done it himself, with the wind blowing the fine, silky strands of Touya’s hair into a rare disarray, and that little, secretive smile playing across Touya’s lips, and Touya’s hand warm in his. So if they had ended up making out on that deserted park bench, it was hardly Touya’s fault alone.
“That’s not the point!” Hikaru whined. “You know I have a match! It’s Honinbou League! They’re going to be taking pictures!”
“Then I recommend you procure a turtleneck,” Touya suggested, clearly not the least bit affected by Hikaru’s hysteria. “It’s such an interesting thing to wear in mid-April, isn’t it?”
Hikaru felt his jaw drop in shock, because he knew very well what Touya was referring to. But that had been an accident! Even if he had laughed at Touya’s panic, afterwards. “I was right; you did do this on purpose! This is payback, isn’t it?”
“Maybe,” said Touya, with an enigmatic note in his voice, which meant ‘yes’.
“I hate you,” Hikaru informed his rival, no longer bothering to keep his voice down. “I am going to kill you next time I see you.”
“I’ll look forward to that,” Touya said, clearly smothering a laugh. “Good luck in your game tomorrow, Shindou. Take some of your anger out on Hibiki. I’ll come and see you after you’ve slaughtered him — I’m sure you’ll look nice in that sweater.”
With another scream of rage, Hikaru threw down the phone. He was halfway through wrapping a scarf around his neck when his mother finally ventured out of the kitchen. “Hikaru? Where are you going?”
“Out,” he told her shortly. Some of the bigger department stores would probably be open another hour. He might make it, if he hurried.
“Do you really need that scarf?” she asked him. “It’s such a nice, warm night.”
“I’m cold,” Hikaru said through gritted teeth. He wasn’t sure why, but after arguing with Touya, he sort of felt like giving in to hysterical laughter. He wondered, not for the first time, what Sai would have said. Probably freaked out about Hikaru losing his focus, though his winning record was better than ever. He finished wrapping the scarf securely around his neck and tried to keep the laughter in. “I’ll be back soon.”
“Was that Touya-kun you were yelling at on the phone earlier?” his mother asked. “I don’t know why you fight all the time; he’s such a sweet, polite boy.”
“Oh yes,” Hikaru said, already on his way out the door. “You can’t even imagine.”
That’s how Hikaru found him when he came home, sprawled on the floor and laughing helplessly amidst heaps of books and magazines. “And next week’s headline — TOUYA MEIJIN LOSES HIS MIND,” Hikaru said, stopping just inside the front door to regard him with a fondly amused look. “What, laughing at one of my old games again?”
“The year we were sixteen,” Akira managed to choke out through his laughter. “The stupid sweaters. All the way until June!”
Hikaru grinned and plopped on the floor next to him, pulling at the old magazine until he could see the picture of murderous Touya-not-yet-Meijin. He grinned. “Ah, revenge was mine. I won — you admitted defeat first.”
“How we didn’t kill each other I will never understand,” Akira said. “And you didn’t win. I got my title first, despite your every attempt to distract me.”
“I won,” Hikaru told him firmly, tackling him to the floor — not too difficult a task when Akira was still weak with laughter. “I have my title now, and you fly out to defend yours in the morning. Watch out, or you’ll have to see if those sweaters still fit — and it’s almost August.”
Akira felt his eyes widen. Whatever went on beyond closed doors, they were mature Go professionals now, titleholders even.
Well, he was mature.
Except when Hikaru wouldn’t let him be.
Hikaru only grinned down at him. “Well, if you claim I didn’t exact my revenge properly back then…”