Waya is walking behind Shindou and Touya when he realizes that he just can't take it anymore. He speeds up, cutting in front of Shindou and blocking his path.
"Seriously, what's wrong with you?" Waya demands.
Shindou stumbles back a step and blinks at him, his weird, stripey hair looking even weirder from the light filtering through his freakish, stripey umbrella.
"What?" Shindou says. "You're the one who's forgotten how to share the sidewalk. What's wrong with you?"
"You're a grown-ass man," Waya says--and Touya makes some sort of muffled choking sound, but Waya isn't interested in figuring out what Touya's problem is, too. He's Touya; they'd be here all week trying to figure that one out-- "So why do you insist on carrying a child's umbrella?"
"This isn't a kid's umbrella!" Shindou shakes his yellow-and-black eyesore about like he thinks that maybe Waya's mistakenly talking about some other umbrella. "Look at how big it is!"
"It looks like a giant bumblebee. Adults don't go around carrying giant--"
"I'm a grown-ass man," Shindou says. "I can do whatever the fuck I want."
"Well, I can!" Shindou says.
"Well, I can't keep walking with you when you look like you're clinging to the butt of a giant, mutant bumblebee," Waya says.
Shindou stares at him, speechless.
Touya smiles. It's a really nice smile. Waya didn't know he could even do that.
"He's right," Touya says. "You bear more than a passing resemblance to a clump of pollen stuck to a bee's posterior."
"What? You told me you liked this umbrella!"
"I said it looked like you," Touya says.
"Ha!" Shindou shouts. "I'm fine with that!" He twirls around, brandishing the umbrella like a weapon. "I am Shindou Hikaru! Fear my sting!"
Without another word, Waya leaves them there. He's going to catch his train before someone loses an eye.
This is why Waya prefers to walk with Isumi. It's too bad that Isumi's opponent resigned so early that Isumi went home before lunch; Waya never has to worry about serious bodily injury when he's walking to the station with him. Isumi makes everyone saner, even freaks like Shindou.
It's sort of weird, though, if you think about it. Touya is rather reserved. You'd think that he would have a similar calming effect on Shindou, but instead he makes Shindou mental. Well... more mental.
It's a nice, rainy spring day. One of those days when sure, it's raining, but Waya really doesn't mind it. He's walking along with Isumi, his nice, sensible green umbrella bumping every once in a while against Isumi's nice, sensible blue umbrella, and everything is right with the world, until--
Oh, for crying out loud.
--Waya catches sight of a stripey splash of yellow out of the corner of his eye.
Shindou is standing in the rain, soaked to his skin, while he stares down at his open umbrella.
"Ah," Isumi says quietly. "It is May again."
Waya doesn't stop to ask what that has to do with anything. He walks up to Shindou and smacks him--lightly--upside the head.
"Seriously, what's wrong with you?" Waya says.
Shindou looks up, and for maybe half a second, Waya thinks this is one of those cliched 'can't see my tears in the rain' moments, but then he comes back to his senses. Shindou isn't like that.
"If you're going to keep carrying that mutant thing around, the least you could do is use it properly."
"Oh. Waya. Isumi. Hi."
"It's an umbrella. If you put it over your head, it'll actually block the water that's falling from the--"
Isumi touches Waya's arm, and Waya loses track of his words as he looks over to see what Isumi wants. Isumi shakes his head, a gentle 'no,' and then asks, "Are you okay, Shindou?"
"Yes, thank you. I'm fine. I was just... Have you ever thought about umbrellas?"
Waya opens his mouth to say something like 'Most of us are smart enough to use umbrellas properly without a lot of thinking first,' but Shindou cuts him off.
"Not you," Shindou says. "I already know that you think about umbrellas because you have more opinions about them than any sane person--"
"Don't 'hey' me, crazy man. I'm just saying what we all know is true," Shindou says.
"What about umbrellas?" Isumi asks.
"I had a friend once," Shindou says. "He was... sort of a history buff. We were talking one day about things that have stayed the same for hundreds of years like Go boards... and umbrellas, more or less."
"Hmm," Isumi says. "The materials have changed. They're all nylon and plastic now. But you're right, their basic form hasn't really changed for a long time."
Shindou nods at him and wipes some of the rain off of his face before smiling. Isumi smiles back at him, and Waya feels a little twinge of jealousy. But that's ridiculous, just as ridiculous as Shindou's giant, mutant bumblebee.
"So, I'm okay," Shindou tells Isumi. "I was just having a moment... walking in the rain and suddenly feeling more connected with the past than usual."
"Ah," Isumi says. "A bit of nostalgia."
"Now you're making me nostalgic, too," Isumi says. "Want to get sushi with us before catching your train? It will be just like when we were all insei together."
Okay, so maybe Waya feels more than just a twinge of jealousy at that. It was better when it was just Isumi and him and everything right in the world. He wishes...
Well... Waya wishes that some things weren't the same as they've always been.
Isumi stops abruptly in the lobby of the Go Association. Waya and Shindou almost bump into him.
"What's wrong?" Waya asks.
Isumi nods towards the glass doors and the pouring rain outside. "Was it supposed to rain today? I didn't check."
"You didn't bring an umbrella?"
"No, I didn't."
"That's okay," Waya says. "I have mine--"
Shindou laughs. "Of course, Waya has his. Waya has like a fetish or something, an umbrella obsession."
Waya ignores him. Shindou accusing anyone of having an obsession is totally like the pot calling the kettle black.
"We can share mine," Waya tells Isumi.
"Mine's bigger," Shindou says, and Waya fights a mad urge to kick him in the shins.
"That's good," Touya says, coming up beside them. "My umbrella seems to have gone missing. Walk with me, Shindou."
Shindou and Touya walk out into the rain together. Waya watches them for a moment, before turning back to Isumi.
"Share mine?" he asks.
"That sounds good," Isumi says. "Thank you."
They walk out into the rain, but it's not quite right. Isumi's not close enough. It's not what Waya wants.
After they walk for about half a street, Waya stops. "Seriously, what's wrong with you?" he demands.
Isumi frowns at him. "I'm sorry, what?"
Waya tugs at Isumi's sleeve. "The point of sharing an umbrella is that neither person gets wet. Why are you standing half in the rain? There's plenty of room if you'd just move closer to me."
"I don't want to crowd you," Isumi says.
"Whatever." Waya pulls him completely underneath the umbrella's dome. It is warm--Isumi is warm, pressed up against him--in the tiny, semi-enclosed space, and the rain patters pleasantly onto the surface of his nice, sensible green umbrella. "Now isn't this better?"
Isumi looks down at him and smiles. It is beautiful. It is the best Isumi smile yet.
"Yes," Isumi says. "Yes, it is."