Swinging a Sword at the Waves
A Hikaru no Go Fanfiction
Kono Me Ni Wa Utsuru
A quiet whimper broke the still silence of the humid summer night. Artificial light from the streetlamp across the road shone in through the naked window and splashed bluish-white squares across the far wall. In the darkness enveloping the rest of the room there was the slight rustle of shifting sheets as a small figure rolled over and ineffectually batted at a nightmare assailant. The quiet sounds were disturbing, echoing slightly in the spacious room with the frosted edges of fear that disrupted the peaceful night. Within nightmare fabrications the dreamer battled against unseen attackers, incorporeal and omnipotent in the nature of all of illusions creatures.
Another low whimper drew the attention of the rooms one other occupant. Until the nightmare sounds had woken him he had been drifting unaware in the ethereal state that was as close to mortal sleep as the straying dead, like he, could achieve. Slanted eyes the second-to-last colour of the rainbow opened slowly and travelled over the room to settle on the figure tossing slightly among the bed sheets. Lavender painted lips eternally stained since his death parted as the indigo eyes blinked mildly in surprise.
“Hikaru?” He questioned, rising to his knees and leaning over the figure on the bed. He was bending down further for a closer look when the figure rolled over abruptly, flinging out a wildly flailing arm that caught the violet-haired observer squarely on the jaw and sent him reeling back down to the floor.
Lying flat on his back, Sai listened inattentively to the incoherent mutterings of the dreaming boy and silently wondered at the strange workings of the universe. Only in a world where Chaos reigned could there be a strange metaphysical law which allowed one person to be able to see and to touch him, while the rest of the world remained oblivious to his presence and used his incorporeal personage as free air space. Though, despite how rude the world had become since his death, it still carried the stones of Go; so he could forgive the oblivious living for walking through something they didn’t know was there.
“No! Don’t puddat’ere…”
Sai lifted his head as from out the mumbled incoherent ramblings emerged a somewhat clear, though heavily slurred and barely understandable sentence. It was followed immediately by another.
“Ow! Dat hurt, stupid!”
Slowly pulling himself back up to the bedside, he watched curiously as the dreamer continued to mumble his dream-rantings, focusing on the rapid movement beneath the closed eyelids while keeping a steady eye out for more randomly swung arms.
Sai blinked, then felt his lips thinning as he smiled. The boy was even playing Go in his sleep. He admired his determination, and his skill in how quickly he had picked it up. He’d only been playing for little over a year and a half now – with tutoring from Sai – and he was already well on the way to becoming a brilliant player. He was trying for the pro’s… already an Insei. He was determined to catch Touya. Sai knew exactly why he’d been the one to see the stain of Torajiiro’s blood and set him free from the Goban and his seemingly endless slumber – the boy had the soul of a master within him. Perhaps it was the way he approached each game as though it were another test of skill, or maybe the way he showed sudden bouts of genius in the placing of his stones. Or it could even be in the way his eyes burned as he played - with a fire he claimed to see in others, but failed to notice in himself. Near the beginning of his training he had always commented on the seriousness he saw in all of his or Sai’s opponent’s eyes, as though the game was a battle they could not afford to lose. He had never realized that that same look of determination was shining in his own eyes as he fought to protect against the death of his stones.
Sai wished wistfully that he could watch the game that Hikaru was playing in his dreams, but abruptly changed his mind when the boy flung himself over again and kicked wildly at his bed sheets, shouting.
“No! No – get away from me! NO!!!!”
The fourteen-year-old boy sat up slowly, eyes squinted painfully shut as he tenderly felt his head for the bump he knew would soon be forming on it. “Itatatatataaaa….” He hissed, fingers finding and probing the painful spot on his skull that had met the floor before the rest of him. “Stupid Touya...”
The green-eyed boy ceased his squinting and looked up, meeting Sai’s concerned gaze with a sleepily annoyed stare of his own.
“Daijoubu, de gozaru ka?”
Hikaru nodded, then abruptly looked pained as his bruised brain battered against his skull. “Too much Kenshin, Sai. But yeah, I’m okay.” He rubbed at his head again. “Just some really whack dream.”
“Touya?” He’d heard Hikaru mention the name a moment ago, and decided that he could be correct in assuming that the other boy had something to do with the lump forming on his student and host’s head.
“Yeah.” Hikaru muttered, slowly rising to his feet and turning to sit on his bed. “He was trying to squash me with a Go stone.”
“How was that possible?” Sai questioned, a perplexed look on his face.
“They were really big.”
Hikaru chuckled lightly, then immediately flinched, as the sound didn’t agree with his poor, aching head. Scooting further back onto his bed, he crawled over his rumpled sheets and slid back the window of his second-story bedroom. He sighed, closing his eyes as a cool breeze greeted his face. “Man, that dream was weird…” he mumbled, turning his face further into the breeze and smiling slightly as it ruffled through his fringe, pushing the bleached strands back from his heated cheeks. It felt great against his forehead, a cool contrast to the hot sweat that had dotted it moments before. It even seemed to be easing the throbbing in his abused head somewhat…
Sai felt a small smile forming on his lips as he watched Hikaru’s antics. The boy was carefree; entirely true to himself… he would never go the way of the sheep if he could help it. Sai somewhat envied him the freedom that he was unaware of possessing. “You want to tell me about it?” He asked quietly.
“Hm?” Hikaru turned from the window, shifting his half-closed emerald eyes to the kneeling figure just beyond the edge of his bed. “What?”
“Your dream.” Sai affirmed. “Sometimes they can mean something. If you tell me of your dream then I could tell you what the meaning behind it is.”
Hikaru’s eyes widened slightly, meeting Sai’s with just a little more alertness. “It was just a dream, Sai. A stupid nightmare. It has no meaning.”
“Maybe it does.”
“How do you know, Hikaru?”
“It’s MY dream.”
“That doesn’t mean anything.” The stubbornness in Sai just wouldn’t give in. “Most often the meanings are hidden from the dreamers themselves.”
Hikaru’s shadowed-emerald glare fixed itself on Sai, grass and ocean eyes meeting in a battle of determination that lasted until the pounding in Hikaru’s head forced him to break the stare. He closed his eyes, leaning his head back against the windowsill, the cool night breeze ruffling his hair and easing the pain in his skull minutely.
“I no longer dream, Hikaru.” The soft voice of Sai spoke after long minutes of silence. “I thought that maybe I could find meaning in yours...”
Hikaru sighed loudly. “So I dream for you now as well, eh?” He didn’t even bother trying to keep his voice light. This headache was really starting to annoy him… and Touya chasing after him with giant Go stones on a very large Goban was not something he really wanted to share… with anyone.
Sai exhaled quietly and smiled through the sadness he could feel gathering between them both. “No. Your dreams are all your own, Hikaru. I only wished for you to share yours with me so that even I might be able to learn something.” Sai knew he was sounding hopeful, but try as he might he could never keep his emotions from expressing themselves through his voice.
Hikaru sighed again. He could hear the hope in Sai’s voice – it was as plain as day to anyone who had spent almost two years with the spectre, and as usual he found it almost impossible to deny the one-thousand year old ghost anything he really wanted. “All right.” He conceded, maintaining the pretence of being annoyed despite the slight smile that he aimed at Sai. “I’ll let you analyse my dream, but only if you promise to let me sleep in tomorrow morning. No waking me up early, got it?”
“Yes, yes!” Sai smiled, nodding eagerly.
Hikaru flinched. “And try not to talk too loud. My head hurts…” he mumbled, rubbing at the knot starting to form at the back of his head behind his right ear.
“Eh.” The boy waved it off. “My dream was really weird, so no laughing, okay? I’ll try to give you as much detail as I can remember…”
Sai wriggled on his knees in anticipation. He was going to help Hikaru, and hear about the game of Go he was playing in his sleep! It was good to have this interaction with the boy - nowadays they hardly ever spoke about anything that didn’t concern Go (not that Sai minded, of course), but even then a normal-length conversation was rare. He missed talking with Hikaru. Sometimes Sai couldn’t help but feel neglected and unappreciated, but he supposed that was because Hikaru didn’t need him quite so much anymore, and maybe because of that he was also feeling a little bit… jealous? Hikaru was progressing beautifully in Go, was placing his stones in intelligent, strategically sound places. He didn’t need Sai to play for him anymore. And so, Sai envied him, longing to touch the stones, to feel their familiar weight against his fingers and to be the one to place them on the board instead of Hikaru. That didn’t help to keep the air between them calm and easy at all, and more often than not their energies clashed quite violently, resulting in the arguments that were becoming more and more frequent as the months passed.
Sai hated fighting with Hikaru, hated feeling so bad and making the boy suffer for his own phantom inadequacies. It wasn’t Hikaru’s fault that Sai couldn’t hold the stones. It wasn’t Hikaru’s fault that Sai had thrown himself into that river a thousand years ago and taken away any chance of his fingers being the ones to master the Hand of God. It wasn’t fair on either of them. So it was times like these, when Hikaru allowed Sai to help him and to share something personal between them, that Sai treasured with all of his heart.
Returning his attention to Hikaru, Sai smiled euphorically and waited for the boy to start speaking again. After all, Hikaru was going to share his dream with him.
“I remember…” The boy started, quietly and introspective. “That at first there was no colour. Aside from black and white, that is. It was just all different shades of grey. There was a wind, and it was cold, and it smelt like dried leaves do when you scrunch them up in your fist, you know?”
Sai nodded. He remembered how that smell had filled the air in the mid-autumn months, when he was playing Go with the Emperor or one of his guests out in the palace gardens.
“I started looking around, wandering all over the place until I realized that I was standing on a giant Goban.”
Sai blinked. A Goban? Settings were the central-points in dreams… so it had something to do with his playing?
“There were already stones laid out, but they were way bigger than me so I couldn’t see who was winning, though somehow I knew that it was white leading by only half a moku. For some reason that scared me. Usually I don’t feel much emotion in my dreams, so that was really weird.”
Sai nodded again. It was true that Hikaru rarely made any motions in his sleep; he had just always taken the boy to be a mellow dreamer – and that’s what made the nightmare this evening such an odd occurrence.
“Do you remember which you were?” He asked.
Hikaru shook his head. “I think I was white, but I kept feeling as though I was playing as black as well. It was strange. Anyway, I kept getting this sense that I had lost something, and that whatever I did I had to find it – that it was really important to the game. I started running, trying to find whatever it was, but a black stone moved into the way and trapped me. I tried to move it, ya know, pushing at it and stuff – but it just grew bigger and got even heavier so I couldn’t budge it at all. And my reflection in the stone… it wasn’t even me! Even though when I looked at it I was thinking ‘Oh, yeah, man I look a mess’, it wasn’t my face at all!”
“Whose was it?” Sai asked, knowing the answer to this question was going to be very important. There was definitely a hidden meaning within Hikaru’s dream, and seeing someone else’s reflection in a mirror was most certainly a sign of ill omen. “Did you recognise the face?”
“Aa.” Hikaru nodded. “But that’s another thing that was weird. Half of the face was completely covered in shadow; the other half was covered in a red light. And Sai, the other half of the face was you.”
Sai grit his teeth to keep from gasping. Not good, no, not good at all. Hikaru seeing his face in place of his own was definitely a sign of there being something wrong… but what was it that was the problem?
“And that’s when things got even weirder, ‘cause Touya showed up out of nowhere, really huge, and ordered that I continue the game with him. I refused, thinking that I still had to find what I was looking for, but he kept insisting that the game was already finished. Then he started playing anyway, and I had no choice but to fight him. Then he tried to squish me, and I woke up.”
Sai’s face took on an almost unnatural-looking expression as he concentrated, and Hikaru watched him at first with a mild amount of trepidation, which quickly grew to worry as the specter remained deathly quiet.
After a moment Sai raised his head and settled his almost stone-like indigo eyes upon the worried green of Hikaru’s.
“There’s definitely a meaning in your dream, Hikaru.” The ghost said quietly after a moment. “And I’m afraid it’s not very good.”
Hikaru could barely keep from swallowing in nervousness at Sai’s tone. He didn’t really buy into all the dream-meaning mumbo-jumbo stuff, but the thousand year-old spirit was certainly creeping him out with his strange behaviour.
“Most people don’t dream in colour, but aren’t usually aware of it because they naturally assume that it is. The fact that you were aware suggests that the colours or lack thereof hold especially significant meaning. The white stones possibly represent the lighter side of yourself – your hope and positivism, the part of you that deals with the day-to-day things in life, while the black stones could represent the unknown part of yourself, the hidden things you keep away from even yourself, or possibly even your emotions.”
Hikaru’s eyes flashed slightly. “Are you saying I delude myself?”
Sai shrugged. “Everyone does, Hikaru. I do – and I’m...”
“You don’t need to say, Sai.”
Sai nodded quickly to hide his sudden regret. “Aa… To continue, to have these two parts of yourself fighting each other tells me that you fear both failure, and exposure, so you are fighting to keep those parts of yourself hidden – which would explain why white was winning. Black was being subdued, hidden away – but barely.” Sai’s eyes raised and met the almost wide-eyed stare of the fourteen-year-old sitting on his bed. “There’s something you’re hiding from yourself that is taking a lot of effort to keep secret, Hikaru. And the fact that there was a wind in your dream – which represents unsettled emotions and a need for change – only strengthens the belief that it’s something emotional that’s being hidden.”
“So what does that mean?” Hikaru asked. “That one day I’m gonna wake up and whatever I’ve been hiding from myself is gonna be there?”
“I don’t know.” Sai replied, dropping his face to look at his hands. “ B-but the face in the Go stone… that’s not good, Hikaru. It’s not good that it’s mine. The shadow… the shadowed part is the part of you that you hate. And the other side – the side that is me – that it is red could mean any number of things. Red is a complex colour representing passion, heat, fire, anger, and the feelings that one is not efficient enough.” Sai swallowed, wishing that the next part didn’t need to be said. “The face… could mean that you are… comparing yourself to me, not liking what you see… and then hating me for it.”
Sai waited, but there was no sound from the boy sitting on his bed. “Do you hate me, Hikaru?” He asked.
There was a slight creaking from the bed, from the direction of where Hikaru was sitting, but Sai didn’t dare look up. Aside from the man who had been his co-instructor at Igo for the Emperor, no one had ever hated him. He didn’t know if he could deal with seeing a look of such loathing on the open and smiling face of his host. He didn’t know if he could take it on the face of anyone, let alone Hikaru!
There was a heavy sigh from directly in front of him, and then he felt the strange, distantly familiar sensation of hands settling on his shoulders. Was Hikaru touching him? That was odd… Hikaru never touched him. It had always been the other way around – Sai hugging Hikaru when he was delighted about something or another. Hikaru didn’t like to touch him and hadn’t done it save the one time when he had tripped and reached out to steady himself against the nearest thing he could reach – which had been Sai. He had said that Sai felt strange; sort of fuzzy around the edges, and that he hadn’t liked it much. That had hurt when he’d told him that, but…
“No. Sometimes you annoy me, Sai. But I don’t hate you.”
Sai’s eyes rose to meet Hikaru’s, the rich indigo instantly trapped in a penetrating stare of shadowed emerald.
“Besides, it was just a stupid dream and it means absolutely nothing. Either that, or you’re just really crappy at deciphering dreams. How did you learn that stuff anyway?”
Sai blinked at the rapid change of direction the conversation had just suddenly taken. Since when had Hikaru become adept at diverting the trains of discussion? The boy was, what, fourteen? Sai wasn’t even that skilled at it and before he had died he had been a constant member in the Emperor’s Court since he was ten! Maybe it was because children talked a lot more in this time… it would account for the way he could so easily distract him when he was getting overly excited about something that Hikaru thought to be trivial – like the microwave, for instance. Sai still couldn’t figure out where they hid the fire youkai in that tiny metal box.
“I - I was taught by an old Miko when I was a young boy. I had been having nightmares and she offered to teach me to decipher their meanings myself so I wouldn’t keep waking her up at night.”
Hikaru grinned at him. “You annoyed a shrine priestess? How old were you?”
“Um,” Sai thought for a moment. It was so long ago, but he did recall that the nightmares had started assaulting him a few months before an incident with a neighbouring Village boy, so that would have made him… “I may have been nine.” He replied.
Hikaru’s brow raised itself slightly as he took this in. “You know…” He started, somewhat hesitantly, as if unsure how Sai was going to react to what he was going to say. “You never talk about your past much. All I know is that you taught Go to the Emperor, and was accused of cheating by your crappy opponent who was the one that was really cheating. I don’t even know how old you were when you… well… I mean…” He screwed his face up in disgust at himself. God, he could be so idiotic sometimes. “What I’m saying is – how come you never talk about it?”
Sai shrugged, his face impassive but eyes holding the weight of those thousand years that pressed behind them. “It makes me sad.” He replied quietly.
In almost two years of sharing his existence with the rather spontaneous spirit, Hikaru had come to recognize almost all of his expressions. And even if he couldn’t sense the sadness that licked at the edge of his awareness with eerie persistency, the look alone in his symbiont’s eye would have told him that this conversation was not going to continue tonight.
“Eh, I’m tired.” Hikaru stated, stifling a yawn and changing the tide of the conversation once again. “And my headache’s gone now, so I’m gonna go back to sleep.” Sliding back onto the bed, the boy swivelled around and lay back down, dragging the thin summer sheet back up over himself. “Goodnight, Sai.” He said, his voice bouncing off of the wall he was facing to reach the spectral ears of the ghost still kneeling behind him.
“Goodnight, Hikaru.” Sai replied softly.
After a few minutes of silence the sound of Hikaru’s deep and even breathing started to fill the room. A breeze still entered in through the window the boy had left open, occasionally flipping at the corners of the posters on the walls, but still remaining mostly silent and gentle.
Sai sighed heavily into the quiet, then turned his back to the wall again and folded himself up to rest. Closing his eyes he settled into himself. Maybe someday God would grant him dreams again…
That would be nice.
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These Eyes Will Probably Reflect It