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Caught In a Ladder Chapter the Seventh

Title: Caught In A Ladder
Author: sinnatious
Rating: PG-13
Summary: A chance encounter with Ogata and a slip of the tongue turns Hikaru into a victim of Sai's success.  What is he supposed to do when even the truth won't save him?  Predominantly angst.
Author’s Notes:  A rather short chapter this time, admittedly, but it's either short chapter or long waits between updates.  I thought I'd try the short chapters route for a change.

Prologue - Nigiri
Chapter 1 - Unlucky Encounter
Chapter 2 - Trapped In Your Own Design
Chapter 3 - A Game of Patience
Chapter 4 - Rules of the Game
Chapter 5 - Steps in the Path
Chapter 6 - Ko Threat

Caught In A Ladder
Chapter 7 – A Wrong Move
By Sinnatious
The next day, Hikaru found himself ignoring his growing hunger in order to focus on his games with the Jyudan. Even if his game was a great deal better than the games the previous day, it obviously wasn’t enough to please the Jyudan. It never would be. It was getting to the point where the sho-dan was wondering if even Sai’s skills would be enough. 
Still, obviously the elder felt that he had the upper hand in the situation now. Sitting back in his chair with a smug smirk, he idly remarked, “You know, I’m supposed to be going to Touya Kouyo’s study group tomorrow. I wonder if he has anything to say about you being Sai?”
“He won’t have anything to say, because he already knows it’s not true,” Hikaru retorted shortly, even though a part of him wondered about that aborted question in the hospital. “And YOU won’t say anything because then people will know you have something to do with my untimely disappearance.”
“I don’t know, brat, it appears to me no one has really noticed yet. The Institute just seem to think you are rude for not calling in sick.” The Jyudan laid down his stone with a smirk. 
Shindou’s only response was the ‘pa-chink’ of stone on wood. Ogata frowned slightly at the move and abandoned the conversation, concentrating instead of saving the stones that the last move had threatened. 
The sho-dan used the brief opportunity to observe his opponent carefully. He’d spent the previous night in deep thought, and though an easy way out of his situation had yet to present itself, with Ogata’s ultimatum the stakes had changed. So the teen had to change his own strategy accordingly. And he had to act SOON, before hunger weakened him.
His options in this regard were limited. Ogata tied him up while he was out, and the rest of the time he was either trapped in the room with the Jyudan outside, able to hear if he tried anything too tricky, or sitting there playing Go under the elder’s watchful eye. It was already plenty clear that he wasn’t ever going to able to escape that room, having to deal with the dual struggle of both freeing his hands and then finding a way around the lock on the door, so the only possibility was to act when he was free in the living room, playing go. He’d been reluctant to make a dash for the door, as Ogata had already once proven himself quick to intercept, and the time he’d spend opening the door would no doubt be more than enough for the Jyudan to catch up, but he was desperate enough now to take his chances. All he had to do was wait for the right moment, when the Jyudan was distracted and would be slow to react.
Which meant now. 
There wasn’t likely to be a better time. Hikaru cupped his hand around his bowl of black stones. It was practically blasphemy for a Go pro, but it would gain him precious seconds. "Sai, please forgive me for what I'm about to do."
Ogata, in deep concentration, never saw it coming. Hikaru suddenly threw his bowl of stones directly at the man’s head, with a strength and speed he didn’t know he possessed. The blonde-haired man swore loudly as the heavy bowl connected with his left temple, showering him with small black stones. This was his chance! He leapt from his chair, making a mad dash for the door, ignoring Sai's surprised exclamations from behind him. The youth almost tripped over his own feet in his haste to reach the exit, where he fumbled frantically with the lock.  Freedom was so close, if he could just get outside....
He choked, suddenly tugged backwards by the neck of his shirt. The youth only caught a glimpse of Ogata's fist before it slammed into his face, sending the world spinning as he was knocked to the ground.
“You little brat! How DARE you?!” The elder accented his words with a hard kick to the teen’s stomach. Hikaru gasped, curling in on himself as Ogata, blinded with rage, rained blows down on him. His feeble attempts at shielding himself were ineffectual; his head was still swimming from the first punch. 
He was vaguely aware of Sai’s angry flailing in the background.  “Stop it! Get away from him!"
God, it had been his worst idea yet. If his near-escape before had made the Jyudan mad, he was positively FURIOUS now.
A sharp pain exploded in his temple, followed by a blossoming sting to his right leg, then another on his side. It continued for what seemed like forever, but it was probably only another minute or so before Ogata, rage and energy spent, grasped the dizzy and winded youth by the neck and dragged him back to the room. The world spun crazily as the teen’s head throbbed and he choked, struggling to draw breath until he was released again. For a long couple of minutes he wasn’t sure which way was up and which was down, though a distant part of him protested as his arms were wrenched painfully behind his back, drawing a gasp, and the fabric was wound around them again. 
When the sho-dan’s head finally cleared, he was surprised to see that his captor's familiar glasses had cracked, and that the normally well-groomed man had an unsightly growing egg on his forehead. It seemed like a shallow comfort, as Hikaru had no doubt that he looked much worse. His entire body felt like it ached.  It didn’t help that Ogata had obviously tied him back to the chair even more tightly than normal – he was already becoming preoccupied with the flow of blood to his fingers. 
“You just don’t learn, do you?!” Ogata sneered, kicking the chair once more for good measure, grazing Hikaru’s leg with the side of his shoe as he did so. The youth was busy just concentrating on getting his breath back, and couldn’t manage to wheeze out a reply. “Brat! You’re lucky I don’t fucking KILL you!” The Jyudan stalked from the room and slammed the door shut so hard that it was mildly amazing it didn’t fall off its hinges.
“Hikaru! Hikaru!” Sai called, hovering anxiously by the sho-dan. The ghost was alarmed at the youth’s raspy breathing, and downright terrified by the lack of focus in his eyes. 
“I’m… okay Sai.”
“No you’re not! You’re not okay at all! That man is an absolute monster!” The ghost glared at the door, then turned back to hovering in concern over his host. Hikaru was wincing through his gasps, a pained expression on his face, and his eyes kept drifting lazily around the room without seeming to see much of anything. 
The youth didn’t respond. His head lolled to the side, eyes closed.