Title: Drunken Promise
Author: Luce Red
Series: Hikaru no Go
Disclaimer: Characters are the property of Obata and Hotta, Jump and Shueisha
Type/Notes: General fic.  Hint of AkiraHikaru.  First of the In Vino Veritas series.
Summary: Hikaru gets drunk.

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Touya Akira glanced up doubtfully at the signboard at the entrance of the bar. It was no different from all the other establishments on this street: it was small, seedy-looking and stank of stale cigarette smoke. This was his last shot. Shindou had better be in this one, otherwise, Touya decided, he was going to go back and apologise the next day instead.

No, Touya acknowledged to himself—he’d probably continue looking until he found Shindou. It was truly a slip of the tongue: one that Touya usually prided himself on not making. Shindou, however, had a talent for making him say impossible things at times. Still, he knew that demanding Shindou to tell him about Sai was probably unwise, especially when it was approaching May.

Luckily, he spotted the familiar blond head at a corner of the bar, slapping down a cup with clumsy enthusiasm. Shindou seldom drank unless he had company, and it looked like he had found a drinking buddy. Touya entered, nodding at the proprietor’s greeting and indicating with a lift of his head that he was with them. The bar was empty otherwise.

As he approached, he could hear Shindou say, “Oh, yeah! Did you know, if you play with your left hand it makes you look clumsy, and then your opponent underestimates you?”

“That reminds me of the time I played with Maeda… I played with both hands. It confused him.” His partner gave a rumbling laugh. “Lost by eight moku and a half.”

Shindou pointed at him. “You’re a wicked old man,” he shook his finger severely, and suddenly sounded more enthusiastic. “You pretended to be dozing when you were playing Mashiba-san, didn’t you?” He didn’t seem to notice as Touya sat down beside him, and neither did Kuwabara.

“He was so nervous he didn’t know what to do with himself,” Kuwabara chuckled. “Come on, drink up!”

“Yeah!” Shindou downed the next drink. “You’re famous for…”

“Holding on to my title?”

Shindou waved a hand in denial, and Touya watched as he nearly swept the cups off the table. “Nah. For scaring people and out-psych…psych-ing them. I heard what you did when Ogata challenged you the first time. You made him so nervous he couldn’t play properly!”

Kuwabara’s laugh echoed through the empty bar. “Stick with me, punk, and I’ll teach you some good tricks.”

“Che!” Shindou snorted. “I have pretty good ones of my own, old man!”

“Oh, yeah? Like what?”

“Like… like if I play 'attach' over here, you’d think I was making a big mistake!”

To Touya’s amusement, they were discussing Go on the counter, on a 'Go board' formed artfully from toothpicks and pieces of candy.

Kuwabara cackled. “Call that a trick?” he scoffed. “You’re getting known for playing tricks on your opponents, punk. No one will ever fall for that!” He knocked back his own drink—he and Shindou kept filling each other’s cups—and nudged a ‘stone’ (actually a sugar cube) two spaces away. “See, that’d reel them in!”

Shindou peered at the makeshift Go board, his eyes nearly crossing. “Might work, yeah…” he looked up at Kuwabara. “You’re a bloody genius, old man. Have another drink, it’s on me!”

“Thank you.” The older pro drank, then spoke. “Isn’t it a bit late for you, punk?” he asked. “Look, your other half’s already here to get you.”

Touya barely had time to blink at the realization that Kuwabara had noticed him, after all, before Shindou swivelled around, and spotted him.  His cheeks were reddened with alcohol, making him look about five years younger.  “It’s Touya!” he crowed.

With that, he latched onto Touya’s neck like a limpet, nearly upsetting the two of them to the floor by the force of his movement. “You’re here, Touya,” he said as he slobbered into Touya’s shirt.

“You’re drunk, Shindou,” Touya said, trying to disentangle himself. If Kuwabara’s grin got any wider, his face was going to split in two. With some difficulty, he managed to pull out his wallet and take out enough money (he hoped) to settle Shindou’s bill.

“No!” Shindou shook his head vehemently, worrying at Touya’s shirt collar like a terrier.

“Yes. You’re drunk, Shindou.”

“No! ‘m not Shindou.”

Touya paused. That was not what he was expecting. “Yes, you are,” he said. “You’re Shindou Hikaru. Remember?”

“I’m Sai.”

Certainly not what he was expecting. “What?” he asked, before he realized he was questioning someone who was currently incapable of telling right from left. “Never mind. I’m sorry I asked you about Sai. Now. You’re Shindou Hikaru. Let’s go back, all right?”

“No! I’m Sai,” Shindou nodded his head firmly, his chin knocking on Touya’s shoulder with each movement. “I am Sai. Sai am I. That’s the secret.”

“What secret?” Kuwabara asked.

“Shhh!” Shindou shushed him. “I said, it’s a secret!”

Touya tried not to roll his eyes. “Of all the times for you to tell me about Sai…” he began.

“Sai!” Shindou moaned. “I’m Sai!”

“Well, it’s time for you to turn back into Shindou Hikaru again, all right?” he asked.

“I want Sai…” Shindou said, but let Touya pull him to his feet. “Let’s play Go. We’ll play for a thousand years, okay?”

“Yes, Shindou,” he said.  At least Shindou had stopped insisting he was Sai.  No wonder he balked at revealing the details about Sai; it seemed to be a complicated secret.  He shifted Shindou's arm so he could hold on to the other pro properly, before glancing at Kuwabara. “Sensei…”

“I’ll be fine. They can call a taxi for me. You'd better bring Shindou back.” He seemed utterly content to sit there and contemplate the makeshift Go board.

Despite the clinging weight on his arm, Touya managed a polite bow.  "Goodnight, sensei," he said, before he half-dragged, half-walked Shindou out. 

The cold air outside seemed to revive Shindou a little, and he began to stand on his own.  "Do you know the older pros do weird stuff at title games to rile one another up?" he asked.

"I've heard that, yes," Touya said, wondering if they ought to call for a taxi.

"Kuwabara says he sings drinking songs while his opponent is thinking," Shindou said.  "And he says Sakai-sensei does the rumba while sitting down.  Do you think we will ever be that weird?"

"I hope not."

"I think it sounds like fun.  Even your father does it."

"My father?!"  He reminded himself that despite his even tone, Shindou was rip-roaringly drunk. He was not responsible for the things he said.

"Yeah... I mean, he doesn't do anything funny.  But he gets this look, like you owe him a billion yen or something, and he puts down the stones extra hard, and they're always perfectly straight.  That must creep his opponents out."

Touya fought a snort.  "That's all?" he asked.

"I mean, they don't even wobble!  That's weird, right?"

"Shindou, I never thought I'd say this, but you're thinking too much."

"No!  I'm Sai."

Before Touya could correct him, Shindou nodded once.  "I'm Sai, Touya.  Really.  Or rather," the expression on his face turned sad.  "I was Sai."

"Shindou..."

"I'll tell you, if you really want to know," Shindou said. 

"What?"

"Tomorrow.  First thing tomorrow."

His heart beating fast, Touya stared open-mouthed at Shindou's sudden, determined look.  Remembering the events of the evening earlier, he said, "Shindou, I shouldn't have pushed. You don't have to tell me if you don't want..." 

"I want."  Shindou hummed to himself, and nodded again, the sadness lifting his face just as quickly.  "Sai's Go is in my Go," he said with another nod.  "I don't mind."  Shindou shook his head wildly, and swayed, as though dazed by the movement. 

Touya reached out and grabbed his wrist, hard.

Shindou stopped swaying, and turned to grin at Touya, his smile so infectious that Touya found himself smiling back, helplessly.

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