It wasn't the first time that Seiji had watched Shindou Hikaru drink sake. But, it was the first time that the other man had done so as his guest at the bar after a long day spent in exhibition matches. Hikaru was taller than he remembered, as though they hadn't seen each other almost every week for most of the last decade, and his hair was badly in need of a touch-up to the roots of the bit he still kept blond. There were moments of the day to discuss, but, as he watched a drop of sake pool in the corner of Hikaru's mouth only to be chased by his tongue a moment later, Seiji found himself unable to focus on anything but the physical. Hikaru played some wonderful hands that day: an atari that forced his opponent's hane which turned the game from something even to Hikaru's overwhelming victory, a small twist on his joseki that rattled his opponent from the third move on, a yosu-miru play that lost him 2 stones but gained 20 moku of territory, and then the casual way he approached Seiji afterward and licked his lips before pouring a glass of water for himself, grimacing as he said, "Not exactly what hits the spot after a long day, right?"
Of course Seiji had to invite him for a real drink. It was the gote to his sente. And if Hikaru had no intentions, then it was a drink between colleagues who were closer in age than Seiji was to most of the other high-ranking men in the league.
There had been other players in the league whom he'd spent some time with in bed, but they'd all been women who competed in the regular leagues rather than the women's league. He didn't need his bed partners to know go, but he couldn't help but feel as though the women's league was merely a step up from amateur play and if they were going to be dedicated to go, he wanted true dedication. He couldn't proclaim to understand the people he'd never played, though. As it was, he had played numerous games against Hikaru over the years and he still couldn't seem to understand him. "Were you hoping for this invitation?" He said the words as he slid a finger through the ring of water on the bar top left by the condensation on his scotch glass.
Hikaru laughed, his lower lip pressed against his sake cup for a moment, and nodded once. "It seemed like it was time."
"Time for what? Getting to know your rivals? You should have started with the old man before he finally retired." He huffed out a breath through his nose at the memory of having to fight for the rights of the title Honinbou Kuwabara had left behind.
"Who says I didn't and I'm just stealing his techniques?" Hikaru shrugged a shoulder in a low curve and set his cup down. "I'm older now. I think I'm finally just seeing things clearly for the first time."
Seiji knocked back half of his scotch and let it trickle down his throat slowly, smiling as the last bit slipped off his tongue. "Then tell me what you see."
Tracing his finger along the rim of his cup, Hikaru hummed a moment, his eyes narrowing. "I see that there are more people, other than Touya, who could be both friends and rivals. Maybe not too many? But, I think... Ogata-san, I think we're both looking for the same thing."
"An escape from omiai?" Seiji snorted. He'd received one such envelope the previous day and had merely added it to the pile on the corner of his desk.
Hikaru nodded, his eyes tracing over the way Seiji was sitting with his legs spread maybe a bit wide and turned more than halfway toward him. "It doesn't have to be escape. I'm not trying to suggest that you give me anything you haven't already considered." He paused. "It's pretty easy to notice, really. There's a look you give my games that you don't give anyone else's, and some of it goes away when I'm not still sitting at the board." Picking his cup up again during Seiji's silence, he finished his sake and put the cup down once more. "So, am I heading back home to my place, or are you going to drive me back to yours?"
Seiji's eyes widened and his scotch glass fell the few centimeters from his hand to the bar top, clattering. "You're still this blunt?"
"I thought you would be at first. You forced my hand." Hikaru pulled out his wallet and started to take out money for his drink, but Seiji's hand covered his a millisecond later. "What?"
"I asked you out. I'll pay." Seiji grabbed his own wallet and then quickly drained the rest of his drink before pulling his money out. "There's something about you that shows you can't actually be forced, you know. It's the thing that intimidates people."
With a deep sigh, Hikaru turned on his bar stool so that his back was leaning against the edge of the bar, his face still turned toward Seiji. "You still haven't said if I'm coming home with you."
Waving off his change as a tip, Seiji sighed loudly and stood up, his arms folding across his chest easily. "Isn't that something that's up to you?" He dropped his arms to dig his keys from his pocket. "I'm leaving now. Decide quickly."
"You know, if I'm coming with you, I want to know that you actually want me there." Hikaru stood up and smirked. "What's that thing they say? Even monkeys fall from trees?"
Ogata grunted out a laugh and let his thumb slide along the edge of his car key. "You assume an expertise here that I don't have. Like you, most of my life is go."
"I guess it wouldn't hurt to try, then." Hikaru led the way, looking back over his shoulder with a smirk. "You coming?"
"I could still go drop you off at your place, brat." Seiji adjusted his glasses and walked faster to catch up with Hikaru. "You're not the only one who can't be forced into position."
Hikaru held the door open for Seiji and said in a whisper as he walked through, "Are you sure about that? Well, I guess we'll have to see."