Drunk, Ogata stopped in briefly to pay his respects, and found Akira rather than his father, right hotel room, wrong time. Yes, he would wait, yes, he would have another drink. A mistake. He was already drunk enough to miss the nervy determination in Akira, and the awkward too and fro of conversation didn't prepare him for the moment when Akira kissed him.
Ogata pulled back, shocked, when it happened. They were almost the same height.
Akira's face was stripped bare, and Ogata thought: he's only ever lost to people who are better than he is; he's never lost before because he miscalculated his own moves. For a moment he thought his own face had given away too much, but he'd only narrowed his eyes.
He had a woman waiting for him in his hotel room. Her name was Takeda something, Naoko maybe, one of the event organizers who had leaned into him, tipsy and giggling with her hand over her mouth. She was stupid, easy and attractive: the type he liked. Ogata was used to women who knew nothing about go and the occasional boy who smelled of sake and called him kawaii-chan. A catalogue of partners who were nothing like Akira. There was an unconscious guiding principle at work: don't fuck anything that resembles the heir apparent.
One less beer and he might have held to it; Akira's eyes had widened, and it took Ogata a moment to realise it was because he had leaned back in and with unmistakeable intent was tilting the boy's chin up.
The inevitable comparison: Akira's go was calm and complex; playing him was like drowning in steadily rising cool water. The kiss wasn't. It was inexpert, which Ogata found hot, liking the stiffening of surprise when he slid his tongue inside Akira's mouth. Akira didn't know what to do with his hands, placing one, singing with tension, on Ogata's hip. Ogata took his time, enjoying each sign of Akira's amateurism. Akira had never dated, as far as Ogata knew, just as he'd never had friends, particularly, apart from Shindou; his inexperience, which wasn't feigned, might be total. Ogata let his hands wander. Akira's reaction was such a mixture of inhibition and responsiveness that it was impossible not to imagine what it would be like to fuck him.
"I'm drunk," Ogata said, a disclaimer meant more for himself than for Akira. He spoke into Akira's ear; his hands were still on the boy's body. "I'm drunk and you have no idea what you're doing."
"Why, wasn't it--" Akira cut himself off. Flushed. A mixture of humiliation and annoyance surfaced briefly, and Ogata saw the pattern suddenly, the discomfort of the perfectionist, used to being good at everything.
One less beer and Ogata might have asked himself why he was getting off on that so much, and the answer, sharp-edged, might have made him back off, but everything blurred into one. At some point Akira had grown old enough to fuck, old enough to be a threat, old enough to replace Ogata as Touya Kouyou's successor--but that had happened long before, maybe from the moment Touya Kouyou, unsmiling, had ordered three-year-old Akira to take up seiza in front of a goban.
"My father's not back until eleven," said Akira.
The high school flavour of those words made Ogata pause, at the same time that it provided a transgressive thrill that he knew better than to indulge. The mention of Akira's father--
As a child Akira had never acknowledged Ogata or anyone else as anything more than a step along the road, his destination allowed no detours.
That was as it should be, perhaps. Until the wave hit, its tidal forces dragging Akira from that path and slamming him onto another full of bizarre twists and turns, like delaying professional go for a year to play an obscure sanshou in a junior school go tournament.
Sometimes, like now, he caught glimpses of it, the game he couldn't remember, and Ogata thought, if I weren't drunk, I'd--
Akira's face was flushed, and his eyes were glittering. It was easy to forget that this was what was inside. This was who you were playing. Not the polite, composed kid, but the depths beneath the still surface. He was never abandoned like this, except when he was angry with Shindou.
Everything resolved then, into a pattern.
"What did he do to get under your skin this much?" said Ogata.
Akira was a terrible liar. He knew every move on the board, but when you pushed him off it, he floundered.
"He told me something. It doesn't matter."
"I want it to be you. When I play against you, I know it's you I'm playing."
That didn't make any sense, but then, he was drunk. Akira said the words as though they explained everything, and maybe they did, maybe there was an answer here, just as there was an answer in the memory of that game, Ogata thought, as he let his hands find Akira's waist again, and leaned in.