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Chapter 9 - Path

AU. Hikaru never entered the professional Go world, opting instead to placate Sai with NetGo and Go Salons. Years pass by and now Hikaru is a normal office employee going about his daily life until…

Chapter 9 - Path

Chapter 9 - Path

It was finally the promised day. Hikaru had been anxiously waiting for the very day he'd show up at the Institute and meet his two students' friends. Sure, he was nervous and all to be visiting a place full of not only people aspiring to professional Go players, but the professionals themselves. Tugging nervously at the neckline of his henley shirt, Hikaru swallowed down his nervousness and set his feet walking in the direction of the Institute entrance. As he walked into the lobby, he was overwhelmed by the awkwardness he felt standing there in a place he was not accustomed to. He moved his gaze around the vast space of the lobby, located the service counter and hurriedly walked there.

As he stopped in the front of the counter, he looked around for an employee to help answer some of his questions. Noticing the bell on the counter, he pressed it and waited for someone to come over. He did not wait long for a middle-aged looking man to approach and asked for his business there. Smiling sheepishly at the man, Hikaru asked about the insei classes that were going on and for when those classes ended.

"They end at 4 p.m. sir," the man answered, giving Hikaru a stern look. "Is there an insei you are looking for?"

Chuckling a bit in embarrassment, his hand scratching at the back of his head, Hikaru replied, "Yea. Two of my… students, I guess, asked me to come here to meet them today. I've never come here before, so I was a bit nervous about being in the way."

"No, no, visitors are always welcome to wait here in the lobby, the cafeteria or in one of the public study rooms," the man assured Hikaru while pointing out the designated areas before turning back to his work.

Feeling grateful towards the man, Hikaru thanked him properly, bowed and headed towards the cafeteria. After all, he was a bit early and a little snack wasn't going to hurt him any, though Akari may have something to say about that. Walking in the cafeteria, he noticed a few people sitting around the tables either eating or reading.

Finding the vending machines, Hikaru walked up to one filled with snacks, took out his wallet, fed some coins into the machine and punched a button for the snack he wanted. Taking the bag of chips out from the tray, Hikaru stopped and thought about getting some other snacks in case he wanted more. Glancing over the selection in the machine, he shrugged and got some more bags of chips and a few bars of almond chocolate. Passing by the drink machines, Hikaru stopped and bought a bottle of Coke and proceeded to take his stash of junk food with him back to the lobby. He was sure that if he stayed in the cafeteria then he would miss the meeting time with his students.

Taking up a spot on one of the benches scattered in the lobby, Hikaru dumped his food on an empty spot beside and proceeded to open up one of the bag of chips. Eyes idly glancing around the lobby while he munched on the chips, he spotted a rack of magazines settled in front of one of the pillars and next to a potted plant. Striding over to the magazine rack, Hikaru lazily flipped through the titles before deciding to go with Go Weekly. Heading back to his seat, Hikaru began flipping through the pages of the magazine, smiling at the page showing the Go problems for readers to solve, and another page filled with discussions of different moves used, their importance and the how's and why's to using them.

'Sai would have loved to read these.' Hikaru thought fondly, a gentle smile on his face.

As he continued reading through the stack of magazines he brought with him to his seat, Hikaru glanced at the large clock placed in between the two elevator doors a few times to ascertain the time. The clock struck four, yet no one had entered the lobby yet. Sighing, Hikaru continued to read the magazine he was currently holding, his ears listening for the shuffling of feet from the direction of either the elevator or stairs.

The elevator dinged and Hikaru heard a group of people step out of the elevator. Taking a quick glance up, he saw that neither Taguchi nor Ohka were in the group that just stepped off the elevator. It was 4:30 p.m. now. Setting the magazine down and brushing off any crumbs from his person, Hikaru stood up and approached a group of people who looked to be around his age.

Putting on a friendly smile, Hikaru interrupted the conversation with ease, "Excuse me?"

The group of four turned and all gave him questioning glances. Finally, dark blue-black haired man replied, "Yes? Is there something we can help you with?"

"Ah… yea," Hikaru fumbled to form a coherent sentence without sounding like a nervous wreck or a stalker, "I'm waiting for two of my, err… students from the insei class. I was told that the class ends at 4 p.m., but…"

The dark blue-black haired man's eyes lit up in understanding, "Oh! Well, yes the class does end at 4 p.m., but sometimes the instructor would keep students back to have some discussions with them about their games. They should be down soon now, there's no need to worry."

"Oh, err, thank you," Hikaru said, nodding his head in thanks. "I guess I'll leave you four to your conversation now. Sorry for interrupting."

"It was no trouble," the dark haired man replied politely. He gestured to himself, "I'm Isumi Shinichiro. These are my peers, Waya Yoshootaka, Ochi Kousuke and Fukui Yuta."

"Nice to meet you," Hikaru greeted, bowing his head, "I'm Shindo Hikaru."

"Shindo Hikaru?" repeated the brown haired man, Waya, frowning as he stared at Hikaru's face, "Never heard of you before. You a newbie or from another prefecture?"

Shaking his head in the negative, hands up in front of him in a placating manner, Hikaru answered, "N-no, no, I'm… -oof!"

Sitting up from where he was tackled down, Hikaru looked down to see both Taguchi and Ohka clinging onto him, faces smiling joy. He groaned, rubbed his temple in a soothing manner, and proceeded to pry both boys off his person. However, that wasn't working very well.

"Boys…" Hikaru started to scold the two, but was cut off by the two.

"Shindo-sensei! Shindo-sensei!" The two boys cried in joy in unison. "You came! You really came!"

Hikaru then felt an even bigger headache coming on.



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