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09 July 2007 @ 01:41 am
Traces of Distant Days  
I wrote this quite some time ago, but never archived it on LJ. It was written for my best friend who was contemplating moving very far away. Luckily, he ended up sticking around.

I also entered this into the first Maximum Challenge at Media Miner and won first place in Shounen-ai. (Some of you may remember me rejoicing.) I thought that I would share.

From the Judge: "Traces of Distant Days" is proof positive that shonen-ai can be written in a manner that is acceptable for all audiences - and that the love sometimes never comes to fruition. This fic pairs solid writing skills with a poignant look at one young man's feelings for another.

Original notes:

This is a ficlet, an Akira monologue. It is AkiHika, but this fic has a much deeper meaning, and there is no explicit material or any real Yaoi in it. It is purely Shounen-ai, and is pretty much G rated.

You might be wondering what possessed me to write this when I’m smack dab in the middle of a Hikago Epic right now. Well, this ficlet holds a lot of significance to me. It has a variety of influences, some of which I’ll name. For one, several fics I read played a role, two of which being ‘Unsent Letter’ at The Best of Hikago and ‘The Tangled Wood’ at the Hikaru no Go Yaoi Live Journal Community. Of course, my love for Akira played a role. You’ll notice the name of the fic is ‘Traces of Distant Days’. That is from a Japanese song called “Tooi Hibi no Nagori’, or, Traces of Distant Days. It played a very large role, and I even used a translated line from it in the fic. There are several other influences, but I will name one more, the real reason I wrote it. My best friend, Cody Cunningham.

This ficlet is dedicated to Cody Cunningham. Please don’t leave.

Traces of Distant Days

It was an exciting week for the world of Go. The new Pros had been decided. Someone new had taken the Meijin Title. Touya Kouyo had just released his new book of Kifu. Shindou Hikaru was promoted to 5-dan. Touya Akira was promoted to 7-dan. Today’s edition of Go Weekly was selling like never before. It was cause for celebration. But Touya Akira hardly noticed his colleagues’ excited chatter coming from the living room of his Father’s home. Touya Akira had nothing to celebrate.

For Akira, today was a day that he could never forget, but Go had nothing to do with that. Today he watched as his best friend got on a plane. Today he bit back tears as he waved goodbye. Today he couldn’t bring himself to say what he really wanted to.

Today, Shindou Hikaru moved to America, and there was no amount of good news that could ease the emptiness.

Journal Entry Number 75

Another Letter to Shindou

I remember it clearly, as if it were only yesterday, your shining green eyes and smiling face, that day you walked into my father’s Go Salon. It was a moment I have come to understand was always fated to be. There was no escaping you, Shindou Hikaru. And looking back on it now, I wouldn’t have it any other way. You gave me a strength that I had never known before. It is a strength that I know I will carry for the rest of eternity, and I thank you for that. But it is a strength that is incomplete, and I fear it will forever remain shattered and unusable now that you have gone.

I don’t want to fall asleep, for I fear that when I wake, I will find you were only a dream. Even if the dream ends with such bittersweet flavors, I can not allow it to fade away with you in its grasp. Memories are all I have left of you now. Some are sweet, some are embarrassing, but all are special in their own right, memories of things long past shaping the decisions I make today.

I once told you that I knew you better than anyone else. I felt so strongly then, and there was no doubt in my mind that I was correct. It may very well still be true. But why then did I not see this coming? Like our passionate Go matches, you were able to completely blindside me with one of your famous unexpected moves. Usually I can turn things around, counter attack and force the game to go as I wish. But this time, I’ve lost. What’s worse, I resigned before I was sure I would lose. But this was a game I couldn’t bear to bring to yose, for fear of how you might have responded to the moves I have longed to make for years. What would you have done Shindou?

I will never find the answer now. I long to tell you everything, just as you have told me. I know your innermost secrets, your fears, your wants, your pain. Yet still, you remain an unsolvable paradox, each door I open revealing many new paths. I’ve come so far with you, yet I have gone nowhere. Why do things seem so complex? These long years have been difficult, but without you, there are no obstacles. I have nowhere left to go, no one left to run from. Do you feel the same way? What will you do there with no one to chase?

When I found out that I was set to be your first professional match, my excitement was difficult to conceal. I had been waiting a very long time. I also knew that I could not let myself lose to you, for if you were to surpass me so quickly, I feared I’d lose you completely. I knew you had come to my world in search of me, and I could not disappoint you. So instead, I declared hostilities upon you, ignoring your wish for my acknowledgement. I am sorry for upsetting you. But I think you understand, that was my way of acknowledging you.

But we never played that highly anticipated match. My father collapsed that morning, and I had to forfeit. I suppose it is better that we had to wait. The game would not have been what it was if we had played on those poorly constructed hostilities.

Then something unexpected happened. You left the Go world. How I wept for your return. Without you, the very game I had loved for so many years felt meaningless and empty. I prayed that I could change your mind the afternoon I found you in your school’s library. But when I saw you there, your head resting on your backpack, pain radiating from your very being, I knew that there was nothing I could say. Yet I had to try. You ran from me then, even as you run from me now. I had always thought that it was I who ran from you. But I see now that at the slightest hint that you had stopped your pursuit, I began chasing you. It was a very intricate game of cat and mouse, and the roles were ever changing. I feared it all would end there in that library.

When you appeared before me the day you returned to the Go world, I was happy. I couldn’t bring myself to say it to you, but deep within I thought that we would never be separated again. It was then that I realized I loved you. I told you to come after me, and you did. I longed for you to give me a reason to run again.

When the final match came, you were just as nervous as I was. To see you, finally seated across from me, electricity shot through my body. It was finally here, I could finally pour my heart out to you with the silent patterns of our stones. It was a difficult game, one I could never forget, and I had managed to win by two moku. Could you hear my heart speaking to you? Could you hear my words with each stone I placed? My despair with each ate, my need with each tsuke, my love with each hane, my desperation with each atari. Did you feel me pull you closer?

That game was the bud that led to our beautiful flower of friendship. Was it the game? Or was it the words I said to you that day? I couldn’t be sure, but that doesn’t matter now. The only thing that matters now is you. Not Go, not my family name, not manners or respectability. There is only you now.

You asked me if I wanted to come with you. I laughed and told you I couldn’t possibly leave my responsibilities behind. It’s funny, I had so many reasons why I had to stay here, but now I can’t think of any. You were so excited, and I stood there with you at the airport, smiling and nodding, pulling at my coat sleeve. I couldn’t speak, for fear that it would only be a strangled noise. I pray even now that my eyes did not betray my smiling façade.

The announcement rang over the loud speaker and I flinched, not at the sound, but at the words. ‘Boarding flight 407 to America at gate 67’. You chuckled as you mistook me for being startled. You hugged me then, a warm, friendly hug that, under normal circumstances, would have warmed the soul. Instead I stood stiff, a painful cold creeping over my body, my fists and teeth clenched. My eyes followed your smiling face down the long hallway, and you looked back to wave before you turned the corner. I opened my mouth to speak, to say anything, something to keep you here. But all that came out was a low, painful cry, quiet enough to only be heard by my own ears. Salt blurred my vision as I fought off the urge to cry. Then you were gone.

My eyes lingered on the corner, my heart wishing, hoping you’d reappear. Tears stung my cheeks as I stood, unable to move, unable to breathe properly. People stared as they walked by, at the boy sobbing uncontrollably in the middle of the terminal entrance. But I couldn’t see them. The afterimage of you burned into my mind, your smiling face as you turned the corner, was all I allowed myself to see.

For three long hours I stood there, my eyes never leaving the spot you had last been, the last memory I would ever have of you. My cheeks are still red and I can still taste the salt on my lips. Did you know how I felt? Could you tell I was dying on the inside? What were your last thoughts as you waved that final goodbye?

I couldn’t bring myself to speak. I will never regret anything in my life more than that moment. I had so much to tell you, so much I needed to say, but you will never hear my words. I can’t do anything, anything but sit here in my room in the fragile hour between twilight and starlight and pretend you can hear me through these pages. The moment is gone now, and I know you will write, but my questions will never be answered. We will write of Go and of our families, and we will exchange polite inquiries into each other’s lives. Never will we share intimate conversations under a starry sky, and never will we reserve a quiet table for two to share a meal on an anniversary. Never will we have romantic moments or share an innocent kiss. We can never have that now.

And as I write these painful words, as I admit these truths to myself, the salt begins to run the tracks they have engraved, both on my face and in my heart. Without you Shindou, there is no life. I always longed to throw away our formalities, to know you as Hikaru, the one with the key to my soul. And I wished for you to know me as Akira, the one who would love you like no other. We became trapped by our identities, Touya and Shindou the Go rivals. We didn’t take the time to unravel our true selves. Even now, I’m learning who I am through you. Did you learn from me as I did from you? And are you still walking about with your shining eyes?

Shindou, I love you. I have to say that in these pages because there is nowhere else I feel appropriate to confess it. I have known for a very long time, but I could never bring myself to say it. It wasn’t appropriate, I thought. Locked up by a world of manners and formalities that I alone lived in. You never cared about the right thing to say. Maybe I shouldn’t have either. I assumed I had the rest of my life to tell you. But with you gone, I realize my mistakes.

If only I had the audacity to show you what I keep secret in this journal. It’s too risky now, what if you stop contacting me all together? I will look forward to your letters. But I will always hope for something more.

Without you, I’m nothing.