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21 February 2005 @ 02:43 am
Hello. I have a fic I to offer. Please tell me what you think.

Title: My Stranger, My Son
Author: Betula
Summary: Hikaru's father, on the subject of his son. Gen.
Disclaimer: Hikago belongs to Hotta and Obata. I'm just borrowing.

My Stranger, My Son

Hikaru was holding up much better than I had thought he would. He looked bored, and his half-dyed hair looked incongruous with his suit, but he remained tidy, and he hadn’t yet said anything completely tactless. Still, Hikaru was unpredictable, to say the least. A sophisticated party was no place for him to make a spectacle of himself, especially one hosted by my boss, in his home, for the benefit of an important new client.

Hikaru was not the only teenager present. Watanabe, my boss, decided to make this a wholesome family affair, and invited all the children of his employees that were old enough to deport themselves properly. After a few attempts at conversation with the other youngsters, Hikaru had declared to Mitsuko and I that he had little in common with them. They talked about school and strict teachers and university entrance exams. He now stood against a wall, sipping lemonade and looking distant.

My son has always been something of a nonconformist. The fault for that was mine and my wife’s, I suppose. We were never very strict with him. I had figured that society would force him into its mould sooner or later, so there was no need to over-control him. I underestimated how headstrong Hikaru could be. He found a way to cram society into his mould. He did it with such spectacular style, too.

Before he discovered go, we despaired over his schoolwork. Hikaru had plenty of brains, but was frustratingly reluctant to apply them. He wasn’t precisely lazy – rather, his attention wandered away from any subject he wasn’t interested in, and he made no effort to prevent it from straying. After he took up go, we thought that the intellectual game would stimulate an improvement in his marks. Only his history marks improved, however. And his go.

I have no idea what attracted him to an old man’s game. Go had none of the loud noises and flashing lights that attracted children nowadays. I had learned to play at the same age as my son had, and it failed to hold my attention.

My father taught me the game in an attempt at father-son bonding. I was all right at it, and it was fun to play once in a while, but I know my father was disappointed that I didn’t love it as much as he did.

Father has his revenge now, because my son loves go even more than his grandfather does. Hikaru even managed to convince his grandfather to buy him a goban – not a top of the line one, but not a cheap folding one either. I was angry with him for that, as I thought it too much for a boy whose interest would probably wane once he found a new video game he liked, or a sport he wanted to play, or girls he wanted to chase, or anything more normal for a teenager than go. When I confronted my father about indulging Hikaru’s whims – which he did semi-regularly when Hikaru’s allowance was cut – he was completely unrepentant.

“It’s different this time, Masao. Hikaru has a great deal of potential. I couldn’t, in good conscience, not give it to him.” Was all he would say on the subject.

Then Hikaru wanted to become an insei. We let him try because Hikaru volunteering to study anything was a trend worth encouraging. Mitsuko thought that the test must not have been very hard, since some of the insei were much younger than Hikaru. I didn’t disillusion her.

I have to admit, even with his conscientious study, Hikaru’s full ambitions didn’t dawn on me until he told us airily that he was taking part in the preliminaries for the pro exam. It was too late to discourage him. Hikaru was going to have to take the exam and deal with the harsh lesson failure would bring, we decided. But Hikaru didn’t fail.

Mitsuko was torn between pride in Hikaru and hopeless worry over his future. I knew he didn’t understand the concept of an adult career half as well as he pretended he did. It happened too fast, too young, and he would crash sooner or later.

And he did crash. At the time I put it down to typical teenage angst combined with the realisation that he had made a life commitment before he was ready, especially since he swore off go. I admit I felt some relief at first. Perhaps Hikaru would now direct his life along a more normal path, I thought. Go to high school, get a salaryman job, and get married to a nice girl. That changed as I watched him drift through the motions of normality like a ghost. Looking back now, I believe his behaviour was indicative of real grief rather than adolescent woe, and I was so estranged from him that even now, two years later, I have no idea what he was grieving for. Ironically, I was relieved when he returned to go with more enthusiasm than ever. He may have chosen an unusual life, but at least he was Hikaru again.

I was brought out of my reverie by Watanabe ushering Nakamura, the VIP, towards us. Nakamura was an imposing figure: a portly but tall man in his fifties. Watanabe looked weedy beside him.

“Shindo-san, you haven’t had a chance to introduce your family to Nakamura-san yet, have you.”

It was true, but I wondered why Watanabe seemed so intent on orchestrating the introduction. I introduced Mitsuko and she exchanged pleasantries with Nakamura while I waved Hikaru over. He pushed himself off the wall and wandered to my side.

“This is my son Hikaru.”

Nakamura bowed, stared at Hikaru for a moment with disconcerting intensity, and said, “Shindo-sensei. Watanabe-san mentioned that you might be here tonight. It’s an honour.”


Hikaru blinked in momentary surprise, then flashed a grin. “You’re a go player, Nakamura-san?”

“Yes, of course. No greater game for an intelligent man, in my opinion. I saw your game with Hoshino-7-dan in Go Weekly. It was close for a while there, but you outplayed him in the end. That hand of yours in the upper left was brilliant. It completely devastated his territory.”

“It was a good game. He concentrated too much on attacking me, and left some holes in his defence, though.”

The two chatted amicably about recent games, leaving the rest of us floundering. Mitsuko spotted someone she knew (the wife of one of my co-workers) and gratefully excused herself. I made some desultory conversation with Watanabe to which neither of us paid attention.

Eventually, Nakamura said, “I would love to play you sometime, Shindo-sensei.”

Watanabe jumped in. “Why don’t you play now? I have a board in my study, and I’m sure no one will miss us here for a while.”

Nakamura raised an eyebrow at him. “You play, Watanabe-san?”

“I’ve recently taken it up. I’m just a beginner, though, nothing like you, Nakamura-san, or Shindo-kun here.”

Nakamura frowned. “I’ve no objection, but Shindo-sensei...”

“I don’t mind.” Hikaru interrupted. “I’d much rather play than stand around out here doing nothing.”

I closed my eyes. Hikaru was being far too familiar with a man more than old enough to be his father, who was accustomed to receiving the utmost respect. Usually Nakamura would have coldly put Hikaru in his place and not gone near my family for the rest of the evening. Now, Nakamura just smiled genially and accepted Watanabe’s offer of the use of his goban.


The study was relatively quiet once the door was closed. The goban sat on a small table with a chair waiting on either side. The glossy surface of the board was devoid of scratches.

Once Hikaru and Nakamura slid into their seats, Hikaru said, “How many stones would you like?”

“Four stones please, Sensei.”

The stones were laid in the four corners of the board, the two murmured the ritual phrase to each other and bowed, and the game began.

They were finished the fuseki before it occurred to me that I had never watched Hikaru play before. His callused fingers manipulated the stones easily, even gracefully. While Nakamura sweated and spent several minutes on each hand, Hikaru placed his stones calmly and with little deliberation. His face, usually so animated, was a mask with narrowed eyes and a straight, serious mouth. As the game progressed, I had the feeling that Hikaru was barely exerting himself. Black and white patterns formed to the hypnotic sound of stones hitting wood.

Nakamura bowed. “I resign.”

“Thank you for the game.” Hikaru bowed back.

“Thank you for the game.” Nakamura replied warmly. “I haven’t had a game that challenging in years.”

“You’re an excellent player, Nakamura-san.”

“But nowhere near your level. That’s the difference between a pro and an amateur.”

“Shall we discuss the game?”


Hikaru launched into a detailed analysis of Nakamura’s good and bad moves. Even I was able to follow his explanations. His tone was clear and his manner professional.

“The kogeima here was a good move, but an ogeima would have been better in this case.”

Hikaru had changed. He was as tall as me now, and had lost his childhood plumpness about the face, leaving him a lean, handsome young man.

“If you had played here, you would have saved these stones from being killed.”

Hikaru’s greatest changes have been in his heart and mind, not his body. He was now confident in himself and his abilities and was focused on the great goal he had set himself in life.

“You could have cut my stones here, it would have forced me to respond.”

The last vestiges of childhood had long been left behind. My son was all grown up, and I had missed it.

Watanabe still hovered solicitously over Nakamura, smiling in the way of someone wanting to appear knowledgeable when they were not. While Nakamura frowned thoughtfully over the board, Hikaru said, “Would you like a game too, Watanabe-san?” His tone was innocuous, but the look Hikaru directed upward was predatory, and Watanabe squeaked like a mouse confronted with a tiger.

“No thank you, Shindo-sensei. I must return to my guests, I’ve been neglecting them shamefully.” He bowed to the seated pair. “Feel free to remain here as long as you like. Shindo-san and I will leave you to it.”

I could only exchange brief bows with Nakamura and follow my boss in his retreat.


It was late when we arrived home. Mitsuko went to the kitchen for tea and Hikaru started up the stairs, stretching his arms above his head.

“Hikaru.” He stopped and turned to look at me, but did not come down again. “I apologise for tonight. You shouldn’t have had to do that.”

Hikaru shrugged. “Doesn’t matter. It’s what I do.”

“It may be your job, but you weren't getting paid for it tonight.”

Hikaru shook his head impatiently. “The party was boring, I didn’t mind playing shidogo instead. Go is my life.” As he turned to continue up to his room, I realized he was trying to tell me something important. It was a simple thing, but I had nearly missed it.

“Hikaru, why don’t we play a game sometime.” I heard myself say.

Hikaru stopped and looked at me again. He smiled, and it was like the sun had risen. “Sure. I’d like that.”

“I’m rusty. I haven’t played in years.”

“Don’t worry about it. You can have as many stones as you need.”

Current Mood: chipperchipper
Teka Lynntekalynn on February 21st, 2005 04:07 am (UTC)
Cat's in the cradle...what a lovely story. I think this is only the second "Hikaru's Father" story I've ever seen.
betulaleafminer: snailbetulaleafminer on February 21st, 2005 09:44 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I haven't seen many either. (I have that song stuck in my head now).
Lady Addictionlady_addiction on February 21st, 2005 05:05 am (UTC)

Shindou with his dad are so rare to see in a fic that I immediately read the story, and do not regret it in the least. A great and plausible story from his father's pov, and I really like how it ends -- with him and his father may be beginning to find a way to connect with each other through Go.
betulaleafminer: snailbetulaleafminer on February 21st, 2005 09:54 pm (UTC)
Thank you! The Hikaru in my head thinks everything has something to do with go.
The Elf: HnG - happy Akira -by me-ina on February 21st, 2005 08:22 am (UTC)

Nice POV and it's always fun to see Hikaru through the eyes of others especialley his father, who didn't even appear in the mange, at least not as a person.
betulaleafminerbetulaleafminer on February 21st, 2005 10:02 pm (UTC)
Thanks. That seems to happen a lot in manga and anime - parents either nonexistant or seldom seen or mentioned.
(Deleted comment)
betulaleafminer: snailbetulaleafminer on February 21st, 2005 09:57 pm (UTC)
Thank you for commenting! And gah, where did I do that? I have no beta, so if there are any mistakes feel free to tell me.
Helenstrikeatsunrise on February 21st, 2005 11:48 pm (UTC)
That was fantastic. It totally captured the "coming-of-age" factor in Hikaru no Go and reading the story's progression through Hikaru's father's pov was a nice twist.

And, on a side note, I'm grateful for the lack of romance in the story. Can you imagine Hikaru's father dealing with his son being gay along with everything else?
Ssvz_insanity on February 22nd, 2005 05:05 am (UTC)
Aww... I love this. I had to go before I could comment, but I had put this in my memories. I love Hikaru's father's POV and the little details.

I love the ending. My mind is now busy imagining a heart-warming father-to-son Go match image(or, Hikaru-kicking-his-dad's-ass image XD).
Green Eyesshinra_lackey on March 2nd, 2005 03:28 pm (UTC)
An excellent fic. I loved how you put Hikaru's back-story through his fathers eyes. My favorite part, however, was when Hikaru challenged Watanabe for a game. I didn't realize until another reading that Watanabe was the boss of Hikaru's dad, but when I did, I was laughing so hard.
Luce Redissen4 on April 2nd, 2005 11:49 am (UTC)
Sorry I'm late to the party~ as usual.

Just wanted to say that I liked this very much. I was just thinking that there isn't enough fic about Hikaru's dad, and voila! Here it is.

I like the way you have Hikaru's father consider the changes in his son, and the way he observes how his son has changed, and finally, that he decides to do the father-son bonding through Go. Hope you don't mind, I'm reccing this!

silvermusesilvermuse89 on April 2nd, 2005 04:43 pm (UTC)
Very nice fic - I liked how you wrote it through Hikaru's father's POV. The ending was perfect and I liked the progression of Hikaru's Go career in his father's mind, though I wish there was a mention of Akira ^_^
2naonh3_cl22naonh3_cl2 on April 7th, 2005 10:54 am (UTC)
I heart you. betulaleafminer is love. It was quirky, well written, and the thoughts of Hikaru's dad were spot on. It was funny, randomly, when it got to the part where Hikaru asks Watanabe for a game, I kept thinking of the manga where Hikaru is talking to Waya--I think it was when Hikaru was supposed to play Waya during the next insei day--and Waya is teasing Hikaru about how he's going to win. Then Hikaru is like, we'll see...and there's steam soming out of his nose like a bull about to charge. Waya flinches and says, "bastard." I don't know if that was something you had planned, but it was cool anyway.
orpheneritus: atobe <lj user=" title="orpheneritus: atobe " />orpheneritus on January 2nd, 2006 09:48 pm (UTC)
I really enjoyed your story a lot. I felt it was regretful but with a touch of hope at the end. It's hard for parents to accept they don't understand their children and your portrayal of Hikaru's Father was insightful. In the series Hikaru's parents have no voice.
orpheneritusorpheneritus on January 2nd, 2006 09:52 pm (UTC)
BTW, I was directed here via rec_a_day
betulaleafminerbetulaleafminer on January 8th, 2006 11:17 pm (UTC)
Thank you! The hope in the end was something I really wanted to get across - a sort of 'it's never too late' feel. I think Shindo-papa was having a mid-life crisis in this story.
Jae - Apprentice Sakurazukamorisakurazuka_jae on January 8th, 2006 11:42 am (UTC)
I also came over via rec_a_day and am very glad I did so. It was nice to get some insight into Hikaru's character from a not-quite outsider's point of view. I also liked the way the politics of schmoozing worked into it - the way Shindo-elder's connection to Hikaru was used as a work asset, and the way his father felt a bit ashamed of this.

The final line is great too, kind of reconciliatory.
betulaleafminerbetulaleafminer on January 8th, 2006 11:23 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I had the last couple of lines in my head long before I wrote the rest of it. (The rest of it grew out of the fact that I hate work functions!)
Victoria: Yukino Victoryvpatrician on February 14th, 2006 10:10 pm (UTC)
Great fic. Hikaru as a young pro is always interesting to read about especially out of the go world setting which is rare.
(Anonymous) on August 30th, 2006 03:05 pm (UTC)
I really have no idea how I found this fic. But I think it is utterly amazing. ^_^
Tuesdayeverysecondtues on June 16th, 2007 02:27 am (UTC)
I've always been a little fascinated by the idea of fic with Hikaru's absent father. This was an interesting look at a possible relationship between the two. The ending was a satisfying resolution to overcoming their estrangement.
Aiaiwritingfic on November 11th, 2007 12:57 pm (UTC)
Here from corbeaun's rec. That was lovely.
lilithofdaemonslilithofdaemons on December 13th, 2007 07:05 am (UTC)
This is so lovely and touching. The way you paced it was wonderful, letting Masao's realization unfold gradually. Very bittersweet.
Thank you for this delightful gem of a story.
lilithofdaemonslilithofdaemons on December 13th, 2007 07:10 am (UTC)
Also a tiny tidbit that I adored.
The fact that Watanabe reffered to Hikaru as "Shindou-kun" while Nakamura used the proper honorific of "Shindou-sensei" was a delightfully subtle way of showing the office politics and just how ignorant Watanabe really is.
yamina_chan: Hikaru no Goyamina_chan on July 10th, 2009 09:27 pm (UTC)
I haven't seen a story from that point of view untill now.
It was realy good too. Well thought of and a nice writing style.
ursabee: tokenursabee on November 20th, 2010 10:05 am (UTC)
“I’m rusty. I haven’t played in years.”
I love this whole fic, but that line was so rife with meaning, it made me ache a little, for both of them. He's talking about more than Go, isn't he?

(here via corbeaun's recs list-- and don't ask me how I got THERE, because frankly, the rest is a blur *is on a hikago spree*)