Disclaimer: I obviously don't own Hikaru no Go.
If you find grammar, punctuation, or word-choice mistakes, PLEASE LET ME KNOW!
"Mom. I'm telling you. I'm not going to die," Hikaru grumbled into the five blankets that were covering the lower half of her face.
"Are you sure you'll stay warm? Should I have the nurse bring you another blanket?" her mother asked, a deep frown marring her otherwise perfect face. The girl groaned. She'd also have face-palmed if she'd been able to move her arms.
"Mom. If you put one more blanket on top of me, I am going to die – from hyperthermia!"
Shindou Mitsuko sighed, tenderly stroking her daughter's forehead. "You nearly gave your grandfather a heart attack, you know?" The woman gulped audibly. "He said you were lying on the floor all of a sudden... after talking about your underwear… and what about that haunted tea table?"
"Goban! A haunted Goban!" Hikaru looked as if she was going to give her mother a full-fledged lecture on the correct terms for tables that were used for specific leisure activities, but then she merely pressed her lips together and pointedly looked away. Mitsuko managed to keep herself from pouting. Barely. She knew she wouldn't get her little girl to talk when Hikaru was having this look on her face.
"You are probably really tired. I will let you sleep now." She briefly pressed her lips to her daughter's forehead. Hikaru had to suppress an eye roll. Her mother wasn't usually that affectionate. Why now? Why now that they had an audience? Not that her mother was aware of that, but still… and Sai already had this repulsive kind of oh-isn't-that-cute expression on his face... ew! Hikaru glared at the ghost, who hastened to suppress his growing smirk.
Mitsuko looked around the room thoughtfully and shuddered. "This clinic is really good, but their air conditioning... oh dear. I will ask the nurse to bring two more blankets for you, just to be sure."
"Ugh!" the girl mumbled intelligently, trying to shift beneath the seven blankets that were making it increasingly difficult for her to breathe. Sai snickered. *Your mother is a kind and caring woman. You are lucky, Hikaru-chan!*
Hikaru huffed. "You wouldn't say that if you were lying in my place, old man! You'd only suffocate. Again." Hikaru stuck out her tongue.
Sai scoffed. *I have you know that I was barely in my early twenties when I committed suicide. I am not an old man!*
Hikaru smirked sardonically. Sai's eyes narrowed. He didn't like that smirk.
"Yeah, but you don't have a body now, have you? And your soul is what? A thousand years old? Or at least those 30 years with Shusaku and your own life span, huh? That totally makes you a geezer!" the girl laughed. Sai looked somewhat affronted.
*I am most certainly not a… a "geezer". I am a ghost in his prime!* he pouted.
"I'm totally gonna call you "Ojisan**"," Hikaru decided merrily.
The ghost pouted indignantly, turning his face towards the wall. Hikaru snickered evilly, threw off six blankets – with quite a bit of effort –, and snuggled into the remaining one. "G'night, Ojisan!" she taunted. The Heian-era spirit refused to deign that with an answer. He was waaaay too old, dignified and noble to indulge in such silly games.
*Good night. Munchkin!* Apparently, his inner child didn't agree.
"Good night. Stonehenge."
*What is a 'Stonehenge'?*
"Dunno. A bunch of really old stones, I s'pose."
At that, Sai resumed his pouting and granted the wall his full attention once more.
When Hikaru was nearly asleep, he whispered, *Hikaru?*
Hikaru grumbled something intelligible, trying her best to ignore him.
*I want to play Go tomorrow…* he whined for what had to be the three-billionth time since Hikaru had regained her consciousness this afternoon.
The girl merely groaned and turned away from him.
The only activity that Hikaru hated even more than playing the Shamisen was performing tea ceremonies. And of course her mother would insist that she did exactly that the very next evening, claiming that it would help her "calm down" after the incident at her grandfather's. Nobody in their right mind would have used "calm down" and "tea ceremony" in one sentence when it came to Hikaru, especially when she was in quite a bad mood already, but Mitsuko preferred to keep her illusions for at least a little longer.
The absolute worst thing about tea ceremony lessons was that they were often combined with calligraphy lessons. Hikaru's hanging scrolls usually featured scrawly pencil strokes that spoke of the girl's great dislike of most tea blends – on those rare occasions when it was actually intelligible. And her least favorite blend was usually the one she was supposed to use for her next ceremony.
And so it happened that Hikaru was sitting in seiza on a tatami mat beneath a scroll that described the striking similarities between Sencha and cowpat. Having added the water, she was now attacking the actual Sencha with a whisk as if the powder had gravely offended her in some way.
*Careful, Hikaru-chan, careful! You're spilling the powder!* Sai admonished gently.
The girl grunted and redoubled her efforts. 'Good. Then I don't have to drink so much tea.'
"*Hikaru!*" Sai and Hikaru's least-favorite aunt, Shindou Minami, cried in unison. The girl sighed.
"Hikaru-chan, I am not quite sure you're even trying to understand the Way of Tea," Minami sighed.
'No shit, Sherlock', Hikaru thought as she tried to treat the powder a little more carefully. She'd heard that expression in an English movie once and decided that she quite liked the concept of irony.
*A lady shouldn't use such vile words, not even in her thoughts…,* Sai admonished the girl. A light blush appeared on his cheeks. *And what is a "Sheruroku"? It has to do with bowel movement, yes?*
Hikaru couldn't help it. She exploded with laughter, dropping the whisk in the process and spilling tea onto the floor. Both her aunt and Sai gasped in horror. A terrible scowl formed on her aunt's face as both Hikaru and the middle-aged woman tried to regain their composure.
'Oh-oh', Hikaru thought when she had regained enough of her composure to think coherent thoughts. That didn't bode well.
"I will speak to your mother," Miniami spat, looking at Hikaru as if she was a particularly nasty stain on an expensive piece of clothing. "No computer for another week!"
'Fucking damn nasty shitty SHIT! FUCKSHIT, for fuck's sake!' Hikaru screamed inside her head. On the outside, she merely hissed like a snake, causing her aunt to flinch ever so slightly.
*Hikaru-chan!* Sai gasped. *Mind your language!*
The whisk went straight through his head.
'No! No, no, no, and guess what? NO!' The girl frowned at the ghost, trying to convey all the shrillness that she couldn't express in a public space.
Sai had been ignoring her for nearly half an hour – apparently he didn't like having things thrown through his body, even if he didn't feel it – until his insatiable need to play Go grew stronger than his ire.
*But… but… please… Hikaru-chan is so mean!* The ghost wailed.
'This is sooo disappointing!' Hikaru hissed. 'I've always wanted to meet a real ghost. My whole life! And then it happens, and now… you.'
Sai shot her a hurt, questioning look. *Why do you dislike me so much? I am a real ghost, you see,* he mumbled.
'Yes, but why can't you be a scarier ghost? Like a demon? Or a yuki onna? A nine-tailed fox would've been cool, too. But all you do is bugging me to play Go! Go! Go! Go! Always Go!'
*But… but…,* Sai tried to defend himself, but there wasn't really something he could say that he hadn't said already a few hundred times. And he really just wanted to play Go, after all. Suddenly, he had an idea. He waited for a few minutes, pretending to be lost in thought, and then…
Hikaru slowly turned around – and was greeted with a sight of sheer and utter cuteness.
Sai was looming above her, crazily flapping with his sleeves, trying to imitate what was probably supposed to be a scary facial expression. But the fact that he merely looked like an oversized kid wasn't exactly helpful. And he was pouting. It was a very cute pout. It was so cute that Hikaru wanted to hug him and never let go again. Yes, it was now official: Sai was about as scary as a rainbow. Or a baby unicorn. Or cotton candy. Or a baby unicorn eating cotton candy while galloping on a rainbow.
"Awww! You're sooooo cute!" Hikaru squealed loudly, attempting to pat the ghost's head.
Sai's pout grew. *I'm totally scary! Boooohoooo!*
'Yes. I'm totally dying of fear. Oh, I wish I could pinch your cheeks…'
*I'll… say mean things to you!*
'Oh please do that! You're so adorable when you're angry!'
*I'll… I'll… talk about Go all day!*
'You're doing that already…'
The ghost gulped, trying to steel himself. *I'll… I'll… poke you mentally when you're trying to sleep! I'll… erm… cover your sight when it's really inconvenient to not see a thing!*
The girl was mildly impressed. 'If you don't let me sleep or do that when I cross the street, I might die. That would make you a pretty scary ghost, I have to admit, but then you can't play Go, ne?'
The heian-era ghost gasped in fear, tears already springing to his eyes again. *Oh no, I could never do that! I would never want to put your life in danger!*
'Well, I hope so! I'd come back to haunt you just so I can kick your ass!' the Girl huffed.
The ghost sighed. *But Hikaru… I just… I just want to play Go… why can't you understand that?*
'Because the only thing that is more boring than playing Go is my sister lecturing me on tea ceremony during my calligraphy practice,' the girl explained patiently as if she was talking to an especially stupid person.
Sai looked at her, clearly shocked. *So you really won't let me play?* he asked barely audibly.
And then he was tearing up again, this time in earnest. His brows turned upwards. Glittery tears were wetting his beautiful face as his expression turned deeply sorrowful, ever so slightly bordering on despair. A mere second later, Hikaru felt her lunch head into the wrong direction with great determination.
"DAMN IT, SAI!" Hikaru shouted loudly and ignored the scandalized look a passerby was giving her.
But it only made things worse, causing Sai to start sobbing uncontrollably. The girl hastily tried to think of a way to make him stop. But obviously, there was just one course of action that would save her from the embarrassment of vomiting in public.
"Er… o-okay, okay. Geez. Okay, s-stop crying, you big fat baby! I'll let you play Go tomorrow," Hikaru hissed through clenched teeth, trying to keep her lunch where it was.
The spirit's demeanor changed abruptly, his eyes instantly sparkling with joy instead of tears. *Yay! Thank you, thank you!* he squealed, jumping up and down happily.
Hikaru groaned and rolled her eyes but couldn't quite suppress the smile that was tugging at the corner of her mouth. Sai was definitely the most annoying being on earth, probably one of the reasons why heaven rejected him still, but he was also kinda… cute. Especially when he was trying to be scary.
And maybe if she played Go, she wouldn't have to… to…
And finally, the penny dropped.
'Waitaminute… I just said….,' she began.
*Wait? But… But… you said-*
'What actually is more boring than Go are probably all those other traditional things my mum forces me to do…,' Hikaru pondered. She blinked.
'Sai… that's it! You're a genius! Go is a traditional game! We're playing Go from now on! As often as possible! Then maybe I don't have to-'
But Sai had stopped listening after she'd said, "We're playing Go from now on", and was already doing a happy dance in the middle of the street.
But the next day, Hikaru and Sai were in for some bad news.
"We are going WHERE? DOING WHAT?" the girl screeched loudly, making Sai, her mother and her sister flinch.
"I said that we are going to have tea with some friends of mine at La Patisserie du Soleil at five. And maybe they will bring their children, too, so I trust it won't be too boring for you," her mother said with a wink. "There might even be boys your age, come to think of it!" She raised her eyebrows suggestively.
Okay, now it was painfully obvious that there would indeed be boys. Because she and her friends were playing matchmaker. It was also painfully obvious that her sister would raise to the occasion and spend the whole afternoon batting her eyelashes at whoever was unlucky enough to be that friends' sons, given that they had at least reached puberty. Poor lads.
Hikaru groaned. This was far, far worse than letting Sai play Go. And she'd also have to put up with his whining for at least another day!
"Oh man! What should I talk with such stuck-up idiots? You can't talk about the weather for three hours straight, can you? Isn't it enough if Kaede goes there?" she hissed.
"Oh, but Hikaru-chan, I promised to bring you both!" Mitsuko pleaded with her younger daughter. The girl grumbled in defeat.
Pleased, the middle-aged woman clapped her hands. "Now get ready, my lovelies! We don't have much time to get you dressed! Barely more than five hours!" Squealing in delight, the middle-aged woman headed back into the kitchen.
"Oh, shit…," Hikaru wailed. "My brain cells are gonna die of boredom!"
"Be quiet, Hikaru-chan. You should be grateful that we get the chance to meet such wonderful people!" Kaede hissed, imitating aunt Minami's scowl with scary perfection.
It was obvious that Kaede thought this chance to be wasted on Hikaru. The elder sibling lent forward and – making sure her mother wouldn't be able to hear what she was about to say – softly growled into the younger girl's ear, "Don't you dare mess things up today! I'll make sure you'll never see your computer again if you embarrass me in front of that boys!"
"Oh I'm pretty sure you'll manage to embarrass yourself quite a bit without my help", Hikaru scoffed. "Especially if you're really going to wear that thing. How much was it? A billion yen? A custom-made kimono is a bit over the top for a mere tea party. Makes you look a little desperate, Oneechan."
"What do you mean?" Kaede growled, causing her astonishingly beautiful face to twist into an astonishingly ugly grimace.
Hikaru pouted sweetly. "Awww. Not being married at the old age of sixteen must be so horrible..."
"At least I have a chance at getting married someday, unlike someone as rude as you!"
Hikaru scoffed once more. "Please. I am not rude, I merely have a personality! Unlike some people here."
Somehow Kaede's expression grew even darker. Hikaru had no idea how this was physically possible, but somehow it was. "I'm trying to be presentable. And you… wearing rags and makeup that makes you look like an oversized… kid… with… makeup!" she snarled haughtily.
"You do know that this wasn't exactly insulting…"
The older girl shook her head and stomped off.
Sai eyed the younger girl with suspicion. She looked too pleased with herself. Way too pleased.
*You are very, very mean, Hikaru,* Sai stated.
'I am being mean? What about her? But yeah, I know,' Hikaru snickered smugly as she walked back to her room. 'But ya know what? She deserves it and you know it. Didn't you have any annoying siblings that you hated sometimes?'
*Well… when I was very young, I did have siblings that I sometimes quarreled with. But at your age I was already expected to act like an adult. Such behavior wouldn't have been tolerated at court, you see. There were a lot of rules. You had to be very careful,* he answered thoughtfully.
Hikaru closed the door behind her. "Ew. That must have been boring as hell", Hikaru said aloud to the ghost, looking positively horrified.
Sai raised an eyebrow. *At least the court women weren't wearing cleaning rags!*
Hikaru was not impressed. "Yes. They were wearing… what? Twelve-layered kimonos? I suppose many ladies died from the heat each year?"
He blinked. *No, no, not that many. I think. Well… maybe one or two. Or three. Or… erm… come to think of it…*
Hikaru raised an eyebrow.
*It really wasn't so bad. Erm. And I was allowed to play Go all day! That was all I ever wanted,* he said with a very sad smile. *To this very day.*
Hikaru scoffed. "I suppose if you hadn't started haunting that Goban, you would probably have married it."
"Would probably even marry it now if you could, wouldn't ya?"
Sai first looked merely confused, but then his eyes became as big as plates. *Could I… could I have married a Goban in modern times?*
And once again, there was awkward silence.
"Erm… Sai. That was a joke."
*Oh… erm… I… know that! I totally know that!*
Hikaru was probably not the most sensitive and also not the most sensible person. But she knew that sexuality and such things were difficult topics that should only be talked about with care. But could you even speak of sexuality when it came to spirits and their… objects of… attachment? "Erm… would… you have liked to marry a Goban when you were alive, Sai?" she asked tentatively. Now that they were back in her room, she didn't have to worry about her mother and sister thinking she went nuts because she was talking to Sai.
*Erm, no. But… being an eligible man of noble birth often made things difficult for me.* He hedged. *I would have married a Goban without a second thought if it had permanently saved me from the more ambitious or…*, he gulped, *lust-minded women at court.*
The girl giggled loudly. "Oh, I'm sure there were a lot of women that would have liked to draw a little of your attention away from the Goban."
Sai merely shuddered. *It was a little… scary.*
"Awww… Sai had overly attached fangirls! How cute!" Hikaru squealed.
The ghost frowned. *Yes, they were cute. In the beginning. Before Lady Kogo and Lady Saisho started asking me which of them I liked more. And then Lady Mume joined them… that was when all the trouble started.*
Hikaru snickered. She had a somewhat evil glint in her eyes. Sai shuddered. *I'd rather not speak of it.*
"Sure, sure, whatever," a broadly-grinning Hikaru relented. "I have my whole life to get all the naughty stories out of you!"
*There are most certainly no naughty stories to tell!* Sai huffed indignantly, his cheeks turning a cute shade of pink. Hikaru decided to have mercy – for now.
"Well… I've never heard of a man marrying a Goban, but an object? Oh, yes. I am pretty sure that some guy was on the news because he married a pillow."
*A… a pillow?* Sai gasped. *Why would he marry a pillow?*
"Well, I think there was an Anime character on it. With anti-gravity boobs."
*Ah, Anime! This is what you were watching on TV in the hospital, right?* He asked thoughtfully. *But what are… 'anti-gravity boobs'? Have I already seen such a thing?*
The girl snorted with laughter. Cute, innocent Sai had just said 'anti-gravity boobs'! Now she could die in peace.
And so it happened that a thousand-year-old noble from the Heian era learned the meaning of the term 'anti-gravity boobs'.
** Japanese for "uncle", also used by kids when addressing a middle-aged man
I absolutely ADORE Japan and its customs and culture, by the way. But well, this story is supposed to be satire, and Hikaru is pretty tactless and hates everything traditional. So… yeah. Don't feel offended. Please.
And I have no problem whatsoever with people marrying pillows. Hikaru just happens to find it hilarious.
I suppose Hikaru is really, really, really rude by Japanese standards. But yeah, that's the difference between Anime and real-life. ;)
Alright guys, I'll continue. But I ask you to continue with writing a review now and then. They do wonders for my motivation ;) Unfortunately, updates will be infrequent until October.
In case it wasn't as clear as I thought it was: "…" = Hikaru speaks aloud, '…' = Hikaru speaks in her thoughts (Sai can hear it)