There used to be a time when she thought they were inevitable.
Back then, her friends were always asking, what did she see in him? He was just a bratty, short, loud-mouthed nobody with horrible grades. Not exactly the type one would crush on. But now, now that he was tall, famous, brilliant and focused, Akari found she would finally be able to turn to them and say, I told you so!
Except she couldn't. As if she knew him any better than they did. The Hikaru she'd known through childhood was gone now. They'd been walking in separate directions for years- when she went to the park, he went to Go classes; when she went to Go classes, he went to the Go club; when she went to the Go club, he studied as an insei and became a pro. Now, she went to cram school and he went to the Go institute. He was always one step ahead, and eventually, she couldn't even keep up and drifted behind instead.
The only thing inevitable was their separation.
At least she wasn't in as bad a shape as his mother, Akari mused, cleaning up her stones as Hikaru leaned back to stretch.
The cool autumn wind battered at the window of his room, and he yawned loudly without covering his mouth. All very familiar things, in an unfamiliar atmosphere. He had been tutoring her in Go.
These days, she found it difficult to talk to him unless it was about that game. Maybe that was why she continued playing it, even though she wasn't really all that good.
Sometimes Akari wondered if things could have been different if he'd never started playing.
Suddenly, a digitalized melody broke the silence and Akari dived for her bag, retrieving her cell phone. It was a text message from..."Hiroshi-kun."
"Who?" Hikaru asked.
There was a pause.
"YOU? Have a boyfriend? When did that happen?"
"Last month..." Akari muttered. For a second she actually hoped, that maybe...
"Huh." He pulled out some kifu and began scrutinizing them.
By now she wasn't even surprised.
And really, though sometimes she wondered, sometimes she dreamed, Akari never would have wished for anything else. She liked what Hikaru had become. So what if her competition was a board game? So what if their paths took them in different directions? He'd found something to be passionate about, and she felt happy for him.
After all, what else could she do?