He notices her as soon as he enters Shindou's apartment - she is sitting on the couch, laughing and shoving Waya-san with her free hand. She looks up and meets his eye and smiles, leaving the group of former-insei and heading to where he is standing awkwardly by the table.
"So," she says cheerfully, "you're Touya Akira."
"Ah, yes," he says uncertainly. Shindou is nowhere to be seen, which doesn't entirely surprise Akira - Shindou always somehow manages to vanish at these parties, saying that Akira needs to socialize, god - so he smiles. "I'm afraid that I don't know you're name."
"Nase," she says. "Come over here, Touya-kun. We were talking about Shindou and Waya's game."
Waya is glaring, and Nase elbows him. There is something about the way she smiles that reminds him of Ichikawa-san. Somehow, the comparison is comforting. He sits next to Nase and listens as Nase tells Waya everything he's ever done wrong on the goban.
By the time she's done listing all of Waya's faults, the party has thinned out and Shindou has reappeared. "What's going on?" Shindou asks, looking at Akira, who is trying in vain not to grin, and Waya, who looks like he would drown himself in Shindou's couch if it were possible.
"We were just talking about your game with Waya," Nase replies nonchalantly. "Which reminds me, what was that move at the beginning of yose? Were you trying to lose?"
"Hey! It was a brilliant move!" Shindou argues, clearing a spot on the coffee table and sitting down. Akira shoots him a disapproving look, but Shindou ignores it.
"Brilliant?" Nase snorts. "Back me up here, Touya-kun."
"That move was idiotic," Akira agrees. "Not even a 20-kyu would make that mistake."
Shindou glares and Nase laughs. "Even Touya-kun agrees," Nase says and stands. "As much fun as it is to needle you, I've got class in the morning."
Waya, who has been quiet for the last fifteen minutes, stands as well. "I'll walk you to the station, Nase."
"You coming, Touya-kun?"
Akira shakes his head. Shindou drops onto the couch and grins. "Naw, he's staying here."
Nase gives them a look and Akira can feel his face heating up. "Well, it was nice to meet you, Touya-kun," she says. "What's your mail? We should get coffee sometime."
"Nase," Waya hisses, "what are you doing?"
She rolls her eyes and waits patiently as Akira stares. Finally, he gives her his e-mail address and she smiles. "I'll e-mail you tomorrow," she promises, and then her and Waya are out the door.