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Waya hopped onto his toes, trying to see over the crowds. Tall people congregated in airports; it was the only —


"Wah!" Waya spun on his heel, throwing out his arm to point at Isumi, who was laughing.

"You've got taller!" Isumi said, grinning at him.

Waya opened his mouth to say, It's been nearly a year, of course I'm taller. Or maybe, Don't sneak UP on people like that!

The words got lost somewhere in his throat.

Isumi was still smiling down at him, the shape of his mouth in some odd place halfway between cocky and self-deprecating. His head was ducked a bit, bottom teeth catching a corner of the smile as if he were trying to hide it. His fringe fell into his eyes in soft, feathery bars, and his eyes looked so dark, behind the hair, that they were almost black. His hair feathered over his ears as well, brushing the edge of his jaw, the angle of which continued in a clean line down under the white of his collar; and Waya wondered, with a distant panicky feeling, when Isumi had become the hottest thing he'd ever seen.

He knew Isumi's smile; he remembered it. It had never made him want to go up on his toes and lick the line of Isumi's jaw before.


"You changed your haircut," he said.

Isumi blinked. "I — what? I did?"

Waya fought down the panicky urge to bite his lip. He pushed his hands into his pockets and shoved at Isumi's side, finding a sunny smile somewhere that he could tilt up at him. "Anyway, what did you do in China?"


The problem was that he couldn't seem to get used to it. Isumi was talking about the pro test game he'd had that morning. He sounded almost supernaturally serene, as though his future didn't depend on these games at all, and Waya wondered whether the Chinese players had possibly slipped him sedatives at some point.

He mentioned this theory and Isumi bit his lip against his grin again. Waya felt the funny little lurch in his stomach that he was doing his best to ignore.

"I think Yang Hai would have slipped Le Ping sedatives before he wasted them on me."

Waya narrowed his eyes. "Le Ping," he said. Isumi just grinned. He grinned every time he brought up that name, but he wouldn't tell Waya who it belonged to.

Isumi went back to his tea, his fringe slipping into his eyes again, and Waya wanted so badly to brush it back that his fingers itched.

Even more, though, he wanted to have Isumi back the way he'd been; safe and respectable and normal; just a friend.

Since he'd never been especially good at ignoring his impulses, he leaned forward and pushed at Isumi's hair, trying to rearrange his fringe. He pulled back again, frowning.

Isumi's eyes had widened.

"Your hair used to be ..." Waya trailed off, but finished the explanation by parting the hair in a V over his forehead again. It slipped back into Isumi's eyes and Waya gave up, slumping back into his seat.

"It's just weird," he said.



He found out about Le Ping at the Hokuto Cup. Isumi tugged him forwards and the Chinese team skidded to a stop and greeted him with "Le Ping!"

Isumi thought it was the funniest thing in the world.

Waya would have thought it was funnier if Yang Hai hadn't spent the entire evening after the match lounging next to Isumi and watching Waya speculatively.

"Le Ping all grown up," he said, his voice rich with a lazy grin. His eyes ghosted over Waya's jacket and jeans. "Wonder if our Le Ping will scrub up so nicely in a few years?"

Waya's eyes promised Isumi death.

Isumi gave Yang Hai a wary look and told him to stop being a lech. Waya groaned and covered his face with his arm.


Parental Issues Boy — Yashiro? Waya thought that was his name, but he'd been sidetracked at their introduction by the other boy's instant segue into the parents who refused to be proud of him — was staying at Touya's house for another two days after the match. Waya wasn't sure how he and Touya and Shindou and Isumi ended up at Waya's flat instead of there, but Shindou was in a weird mood, changing direction at least four times as they walked from the station, and he pulled everybody else along in his wake.

They played go, obviously. Waya was going to kick them out after a few hours, but then Shindou mentioned the marathon go they'd played through the night before the Tournament and Yashiro's ears perked up and Waya got competitive and somehow they ended up with a Last Man Standing challenge on: to play until they couldn't keep hold of the stones anymore.

Isumi had a match the next morning. He shook his head at Waya as he left. Waya gave him a feral grin, a go stone held between two fingers.

They'd already slept so little during the Tournament that after thirty six hours, in the late afternoon sunlight, Waya was practically sleepwalking. Yashiro stared at the stones for a moment longer, stretched out on his stomach on the other side of the goban, then gave Waya a spaced-out nod which apparently meant that he resigned.

Waya grinned and tried to stand up; he stumbled and swayed as if he were drunk. Somehow this was incredibly funny.

Touya and Shindou were playing ferociously a few feet away, deep lines of concentration in their foreheads. Shindou hesitated as Waya watched, staring down at the shape of the stones.

"Touya," he breathed.

"Huh?" Touya looked up, blinking.

"Touya, do you see it?" He raised awe-struck eyes to the other boy's face. "A finger," he said. "Look, there. Touya, I think I see the Hand of God."

Touya stared at him for a second.

Then he exploded, leaping to his feet. "You complete moron!"

Shindou collapsed onto his back, laughing hysterically as Touya slammed into the bathroom.

Waya wandered over to Shindou's prone form and prodded his stomach with his toe. Shindou looked up at him, his wide grin making him look about ten years old. Then he snagged his heel around Waya's ankle and pulled him to the ground, twisting to tackle him.

"Argh!" Waya twisted and pummeled at him; eventually he got him onto his back again, panting.

Shindou laughed harder. He dropped his head, focusing beyond Waya's shoulder, and gasped, "Hi — hi Isumi-san."

Waya twisted his neck. Isumi was standing in the doorway, holding the key Waya had given him.

He got to his feet, letting Shindou up. Shindou brushed himself down, still breathless and snickering, and disappeared into the bathroom after Touya. Touya started shouting again.

Waya noticed that in the five minutes since they'd finished their game, Yashiro's head had slipped the last two inches to the goban. He was either asleep or he was analysing the endgame really, really closely.

Waya tripped over him on his way to the door, which was also funny, especially when he only mumbled something and pushed his face further into his folded arms.

Waya reached the door.


"Um, hi." Isumi's mouth was doing something odd. Waya didn't quite have the mental faculties to work out what his expression meant.

"I see you guys took the marathon go seriously," Isumi said. Waya gave him a sleepy smile and slipped an arm up around his neck.

"Yeah," he mumbled into Isumi's neck.

Isumi stiffened. "Waya-kun —"

Waya molded himself closer, enjoying the way Isumi's shirt smelled, and licked at Isumi's neck above his collar.


Isumi's knees trembled and he let himself fall backwards into the low couch against the wall. Waya crawled into his lap and tucked his chin into Isumi's collar again.

"Waya?" Isumi said hoarsely. Waya gave him a sleepy-lidded smile and stretched to kiss him. His coordination was poor and he got Isumi's chin, but he barely noticed. He dropped his chin again and pushed his nose against Isumi's tie.

He felt hands tentatively touch his shoulders, pulling him into a less precarious sprawl further from the edge of the couch, but by that point his eyes were closed.


He woke to a warm body and something creased and slippery under his cheek. He rubbed his nose against it, yawning, and pried open an eye. A tie. Blue. It was scrunched and tangled on a chest that rose and fell softly as he watched.

He opened his eyes wider, tilting his neck to stare up at somebody's chin.

"Gungh!" He didn't realise he'd jerked back until he fell off the couch.


Isumi stared down at him. He looked intense and focused, and Waya wondered suddenly whether he'd slept at all, or if he'd just spent the night waiting for Waya to wake up so that he could ask him —

"What was last night about?"

Waya stared at him for a moment, stricken. Then he swore softly and looked away. "If you wouldn't look down from under that damned fringe and smile, then —"

Isumi shook his head. "Look, if it was just that you were so tired you didn't know what you were doing to m—" He hesitated. "I'm sorry, what?"


"Did you just ..." Isumi was staring at him as though he'd done something amazing. "Is that really what you meant about my hair, all those times?"

Waya blinked a couple of times. "Uh."

Isumi's stared had intensified even further. Waya shivered under it, feeling like a rabbit in headlights.

"Hell," Isumi breathed. He slithered off the couch and onto his knees. He reached out one hand, softly pressing Waya's hip, and Waya shivered again and met his eyes. They were black with desire, and god, if he hadn't already been on the carpet his knees would have given out.

Then Isumi was right there, and there were lips on his neck, hot breath on his skin, and Isumi was saying, carefully, "I had no idea."

"Oh?" Waya said. He shuddered at the thumb that stroked under the hair at the back of his neck, and tilted his head to find Isumi's mouth. When he surfaced again, breathless and dizzy, he pushed Isumi backwards and crawled between his legs. "Then you're really ... really ... slow." He let his mouth curve in a wicked smile. Isumi's eyes immediately dropped to his lower lip.

The bedroom door crashing against the hallway some time later brought them back to where they were. Waya pulled back, feeling woozy, and untangled himself from Isumi; which was hard, because he was warm and flushed and his mouth was swollen with the kissing they'd been doing, and all Waya wanted to do was crawl back into his lap, and then maybe into his clothes.

He turned in time to see Shindou zombie-walk past to the kitchen. That made him remember the other people in the apartment. He flushed, glancing at where Parental Issues Boy had crashed last night. There was no sign of him, though, and Waya supposed he must have stumbled into the bedroom at some point, along with Shindou and Touya.

Shindou came back out of the kitchen, holding a glass of water. He was rumpled and blinking, with pillow creases on his cheek. He squinted at them, leaning against the door frame, and Waya suddenly wondered what they must look like. He glanced at Isumi, panicking slightly, and realised that in addition to the kiss-red lips and the flush, his hair had been tangled and teased into a haystack by Waya running his fingers through it, and his shirt was untucked and partially rucked up. He blushed as Shindou squinted at them, and tugged it down.

"Good morning, Shindou-kun," he said.

Shindou tilted his head to the side. "D'jou do something to your hair?" he mumbled.

Isumi stared at him for a moment. Then he stared at Waya, who dropped his head back onto Isumi's shoulder and laughed until he couldn't breathe.

"You're really weird, you know," Shindou told him. Waya couldn't answer. He turned to press his face against Isumi's shoulder, muffling the snickers he couldn't stop.