mirabella: (HnG Shindou wiped out)
mirabella ([personal profile] mirabella) wrote in [community profile] mirabellafic2013-04-16 08:49 pm
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Well, I apologize, or something. Trying to track down all my fics and put them over here has proved to be a pain in the ass of utterly defeating proportions. I can't even find The Art of New Games on the Wayback Machine, Christ only knows where Rashomon is, and I don't even want to contemplate trying to find my Faculty fics.

Well, it's the internet. Everything is ephemeral, except when it's not.

Title: And I Am in Arcadia
Fandom: Hikaru no Go, more or less Shindou/Touya, PG-13
Summary: When you look into the abyss, the abyss also looks into you.
Warnings: Seriously, seriously AU.

When the phone rings, some part of Touya snaps on like a tape recorder to record the date and time – 10:34 P.M., August 17th. He writes it down on the notepad by the phone and then watches the phone ring, tiny neon lights flashing in the darkness of his living room, not quite able to bring himself to pick it up. This phone hasn't rung in almost a year. Somewhere in the back of his head Touya had started letting himself hope that it never would again, and the sound strikes his stomach now like the first step of a very long fall.

Finally he reaches out and picks it up, because even now he can't bring himself to do anything else. He holds it up to his ear, not speaking.

"Jeez, Touya, I thought you'd never pick up. 3-4."

The voice on the other end is brash, confident, younger than Touya has felt for the last five years. If you listened to the tape that's silently spinning between them and didn't know what you were listening to, it might sound friendly. Affectionate, even. And in its own way it is, which comes very close to being the worst part.

"Shindou," he says. "It's been a long time."

"Yeah, I was out of the country," Shindou says offhandedly.

Touya writes down Interpol on the notepad and underlines it.

"It was fun, but I got homesick, y'know? I missed you. The guys in those other places, it just wasn't the same. Come on, it's your move."

Touya closes his eyes. Outside his eyelids, the moonlight is still bright, ascetic white. He wonders what color Shindou is looking up at. "How many did you kill, Shindou? 17-6."

"Still conservative. 5-5."

"Answer the question."

He saw a photo of Shindou once, a surveillance camera picture taken when Shindou was still learning to be careful. It showed a lean, handsome, very young man with a bright shock of bleached hair at the front, looking over his right shoulder as if he were about to start talking to someone who wasn't there. That had been right after the first girl, and when they found the Go stones Akira had gone to his father.

Shindou had played the Shuusaku Diagonal, after all.

"I don't know, five or six. Not many. I told you, it wasn't the same. Those guys were idiots. One of them thought I was the Green River Killer, do you believe that? C'mon, Touya, play me. I missed you."

Shindou sounds wistful, almost forlorn. He's good at that. He has a smile as bright and empty as all of Akihabara, and there's no woman on Earth Touya could blame for walking out of a bar with him.

"4-2. How's Sai?" he asks.

There's silence for a minute on the other end of the line, broken only by the light sound of Shindou's breathing. "Good move," he says finally, and Touya doesn't know whether he's talking about the stone or the distraction. "You know, all the speculation over that always made me laugh. I only wrote his name on the wall that once, and it was all the papers could talk about for weeks. I watched one so-called expert after another on TV claiming it was everything from the initials of a terrorist organization to me claiming to be a weapon in the hand of God. But you… you knew it was a name. I've never been able to figure out how you knew. Tengen."

Touya closes his eyes and visualizes the board, leaning his forehead against the cool wood of the wall. "You promised one day you'd tell me who he was." He has his own theories. An imaginary friend, another personality, a childhood mentor, a delusional structure. He wants to know.

There's a soft noise that sounds like Shindou shifting to get more comfortable on a pillow. Touya can see him as well as he can see the board, lounging on the bed in some cheap motel or an even cheaper apartment, his eyes fixed on the television flashing muted images with the sound turned off. Shindou likes to keep up with the news. "I will, too. But not tonight. When you catch me. If you catch me. When we meet, if you don't."

Why me? Touya wants to ask, and doesn't. The truth, which he won't admit to unless it's staring him in the face when Shindou's on the other end of the line, is that he would give anything, anything, to be free of this, and yet he doesn't want it to be anyone else. Doesn't want this bright, beautiful, oddly fragile monster with the brilliant, fascinating Go to fixate on someone else and leave Touya behind to watch as he fences with another agent. He hates himself for it. "17-8," he says.

"It's too early to extend there," Shindou says, sounding almost annoyed.

"17-8," Touya says again.

Shindou gives a low chuckle, shifting again – slowly this time, fabric moving by the mouthpiece of the phone in a slow drag against his hair. "You're stubborn. 18-4."

"18-5. What do you want, Shindou?"

"Maybe I just wanted to hear your voice." Shindou's voice has gone low and smooth, and there's a slight catch in it. Touya clenches his fist against the wall and presses his knuckles into his forehead. "I played Go a lot while I was gone, but… it was never you. Go salons are the same everywhere, you know? A bunch of old guys sitting on folding chairs smoking and drinking crappy tea. Why didn't you go pro, Touya?"

"I was going to," Touya finds himself saying. "But… I lost something. I don't know what. I was twelve years old and all of a sudden it felt like there was nothing left to gain."

"Not even the Hand of God?"

"I don't believe in the Hand of God. I think it's a story Go players tell themselves so they won't open their eyes one day and find out that they've spent their whole lives piling stones on a slab of kaya wood and there's nothing left to strive for."

"No, it exists," Shindou says sharply. "It has to. That's what Sai –"

Touya is silent, holding his breath, waiting.

After a moment, Shindou chuckles ruefully. "Damn, Touya. You almost got me. Was that on purpose?"

It wasn't. Touya doesn't tell him that. "You haven't answered my question."

"17-5," Shindou says as if that's the answer. Behind his eyelids, Touya watches Shindou's stones curling lazily around his own.

"What do you want, Shindou?"

"If I tell you, you'll hang up. I want you to talk to me. I want you to play with me." That soft huskiness is back in Shindou's voice. Touya digs his knuckle into his forehead hard enough to bruise and swallows.

"Don't hang up, Touya," Shindou wheedles. "There's nothing you can do now anyway. She's been dead for hours."

Touya's eyes fly open, staring sightlessly at the wall. "16-3," he whispers.

"That's better," Shindou says, sounding a little smug and a little breathless. "3-7."

Five years ago, Touya would have grabbed the other phone, the one that isn't Shindou Hikaru's private line, and called the station. He did that twice before he learned not to piss Shindou off. Humor him and eventually he'd tell where the body was. They never found those first two.

He met Shindou's mother once, years ago, a small woman with a certain faded prettiness and an air of bewildered devastation that Touya suspects will never go away. She let him stand in Shindou's old bedroom, rain beating against the windows, years-old discarded issues of Shounen Jump scattered everywhere, a goban thick with dust beside the bed with a game on it half-played. She said there were no pictures left of him in the house, and might even have been telling the truth.

"4-6," he says. "Who was she, Shindou?"

"I don't know. No one," Shindou tells him. "I bought her a drink. With cash, sorry."

Touya reconsiders that line of questioning. Most murderers will talk about their kills until physically made to shut up, but Shindou gets surprisingly irritable when asked about his – another piece of information Touya's not quite sure what to do with. And he wants to keep Shindou on the phone as long as he can, because one day Shindou will slip up and say something he didn't mean to. And then there's his Go, which tells Touya more about him than even Shindou probably guesses. "If you keep going like this you won't be able to connect in the midgame," he says instead.

"Yes, I will," Shindou says, arrogant as usual. He really won't, but Touya doesn't argue the point. Shindou will find out where he's left himself open soon enough.

"What do you want from me?" he asks instead.

"You always ask that. My answer's always the same. I want to play you. I want your Go and I want you to want mine." It's strangely intimate, that answer, and Shindou's voice suits it.

"You don't have to strangle women with a piano wire to get my attention, Shindou," Touya says.

There's a brief pause, and when Shindou answers Touya can almost hear him smile. "That's the nicest thing you've ever said to me."

"It's true. Your Go would be enough." He's never asked Shindou to stop killing. Asking him would do far, far more harm than good, and might destroy the fragile rapport that will one day put Shindou behind bars for the rest of his life. But sometimes he can't help trying, obliquely.

"I made this one special," Shindou tells him. "I'm glad I did, now. It's a special occasion anyway."

A case file opens in Touya's head and dates fly past him, a split-second each. None of them is in August. "What's the occasion?"

"Today was the first time I've ever seen you. In person, I mean, not on TV or in the papers."

The room is like ice suddenly, cold concentrated in a bright sheet down Touya's back. Staring blindly into the darkness, he skims frantically over every moment of his day he can summon, searching for a shock of blond in the crowd, for Shindou's eyes.

"You're beautiful, Touya, you know that?" Shindou says. "That tie doesn't really suit you, though. And you look tired. You haven't been taking care of yourself while I was gone."

"Where are you, Shindou?" Touya whispers harshly, turning away from the wall. Moonlight spills in from the doors leading onto the deck. They look like glass, but the first thing Touya did when he moved in was have them replaced with bullet-proof plexiglass. Outside, as far as he can tell, nothing is out of place. Not unless it's in the shadows.

"3-9," Shindou says. "I have a surprise for you."

Touya's stomach lurches. He takes a breath, thinking past his nausea and the pounding of his heart. "What is it?"

"Something I think you'll like. You know, I saw that news segment about your father. The one where they were hitting the 'Touya Meijin at home' angle. Those moves you were making in the game you were playing with him – that was a message to me, wasn't it?"

Psychiatrists call them delusions of reference. Touya wonders if they're still delusions if Shindou is right. Because the truth is that he sees Shindou in every game, in every opponent, not the dark twistings of his mind but the bright ones; every move he makes, he wonders how Shindou would counter it. It's been a long time since he gave up hoping that one day the brightness would drive away the shadows. Now he just tries to keep himself from wondering if he would sacrifice the darkness if the light went with it.

Most of all, he tries to keep himself from wondering if that light was what he was searching for when he was twelve years old and never found, and what it means that he's found it now.

"Yes," he whispers.

"I'm not resigning," Shindou tells him, his voice a strange cross between pugnaciousness and affection. "But I have to go. You'll find out soon. It's a good surprise. Good night, Touya."

The phone goes dead in his hand. Touya stares at it for a long time, numb. He doesn't think he wants to know what Shindou's idea of a good surprise is.

It's late. He logs the call, writes a brief summary in the official notebook and a verbatim transcript in one he keeps hidden. Then he checks the locks, checks the alarm, changes the alarm code, and goes upstairs without bothering to turn on the light. Halfway up, he notices that he's still carrying the phone.

As he steps into the hall at the top of the stairs, he notices what he might not have if he'd turned on the light – that the dim, flickering glow of the television is spilling from underneath his bedroom door.

One of his guns is downstairs. The other is in his room. Halfway between, he'd never get to either in time. Touya edges forward carefully, making no sound on the elderly wooden boards, listening for the faintest sound of movement. He opens his bedroom door just as silently, guiding it all the way back until it touches the wall.

His goban has been moved to where he can see it from the door. On it, stones gleaming in the uneven light, a game is set up. 3-4. 17-6. 5-5. 4-2. All the way to 3-9, formations barely started.

Hands settle onto his shoulders from behind. One of them is holding a cell phone. "Akira," Shindou whispers, his breath hot against Touya's ear. "Surprise."

Touya's eyes close, and the phone slips out of his hand.

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