Alright, so sorry for the late update...I don't really have much of an excuse... anyways, the good news is I already have the next chapter planned out. I was going to put it together with this one but figured that might be a little too long...anyways, enjoy!

Before the Game

Chapter 7: Game Time

Asami walked cheerfully into math class. It had been a few days since she and Kikuzawa had made up and everything was going perfectly. It was a beautiful day, she had two friends to hang out with, and she'd even gotten 100% on her English test! She was in a great mood and nothing was going to bring her down.

Yokoya, on the other hand, was having an equally pleasant day. The longer he observed Asami, the better he felt. Things were going well. Very well, in fact. Since the day she'd first challenged him, he'd felt a nagging sensation constantly reminding him of her existence, so he'd come up with this plan to rid himself of such a nuisance. True, trying to split up her friendship with Kikuzawa permanently would inflict the most pain, but it had too many weak spots to work. After a few weeks, at the most, the misunderstanding would have been resolved. This alternate plan was much sneakier.

The math class passed without a hitch, and Asami was getting ready to leave when Yokoya walked up to her desk. At first she was going to ignore him, but when she heard him dump his book bag rather unceremoniously onto her desk, she knew there was no point.

"Why do I get the feeling I'm not going to like what you're about to say?" Asami muttered murderously, not looking up from her bag in which she was now placing her English quiz. This of course earned a stomp on her foot and a warning glance from Kikuzawa. Yokoya chose the path Asami had not and ignored this snide comment, and leaned in towards her so that she was obliged to turn around and face him.

"I'm here to warn you Asami. Cross me again, and you'll regret it." Yokoya hissed. Asami opened her mouth to reply, but was pushed out of the way by Miyagi.

"Why, whatever do you mean Yokoya-san? Asami has been the picture of politeness, following every one of your rules." She said smugly.

"You know perfectly well what is annoying me." He replied cruelly.

"Having friends isn't forbidden. Or will you not even follow your own rules?" Miyagi responded, a smirk on her face. Both Asami and Kikuzawa gulped. If they didn't stop Miyagi soon, things could get ugly.

"I think what Miyagi-chan means," Asami added quietly, "Is that we meant no offence or breach in... status." She was satisfied with her words: they were sensible and beyond reproach. Yokoya seemed to think differently however, and looked at her menacingly.

"Whether you meant to offend or not, doesn't change the fact that you did." He said. "And you forget that I rule here. If I don't like one of my rules, it's perfectly acceptable for me to change it. And I've decided that your smile and your friends bother me."

"But that's just ridiculous!" Asami sputtered. Something seemed off here. Yokoya didn't seem like the type to change rules so easily. He seemed more like the type who liked to beat people at their own game, relishing in rubbing the fact that he could beat them no matter the situation in their face.

"It is not ridiculous, and you WILL listen to me, or your friends" he smirked at the last word "will be the ones to pay the price." At this, Asami twitched a few times.

"That's it!" she said sternly, slamming her hand onto the desk and staring straight into Yokoya's eyes. Brown eyes met brown with an intensity so strong that the other two watching could swear they felt the air heat up. "You are acting like a spoiled brat!" Asami continued through clenched teeth. "Do you really think that just because you have money, you're so much better than others? That just because you're clever everyone should bow down to you?" Her voice cracked in indignation but she continued regardless and as her voice got louder and louder, her friends stepped back more and more. "Well I've had enough of you and your stupid, sneaky, underhanded way of doing things. Instead of sending your stupid little gang to do all of your dirty work, why don't you just face me like a man!" She shrieked, sending him the most vicious, hate-filled glare she could muster. Yokoya, needless to say, was surprised. He'd planned to get her angry, but hadn't expected her to be quite so irascible. He stared at her for a few seconds, noticing how flushed her cheeks were. She looked very... he couldn't quite find the right word, and decided to figure one out later. For now, he had to concentrate on his plan.

"Fine then." He answered coolly. "If you're not going to listen to threats, then how about we play a little game? If you win, I'll let you have as many friends as you want, and I'll even free you of the hierarchy. My dictatorship will have no power over you." Asami could only stare. She thought for a moment that she may have imagined his last words, but there he stood, waiting for an answer. An answer, Asami reminded herself, that should be made with caution.

" What'll happen if I lose?" she asked slowly, trying desperately not to show just how tempting his offer was.

"If you lose, you can no longer have any friends in this school." Yokoya answered silkily. "You obviously have much more to gain and much less," he sneered at Kikuzawa "to lose. So what do you say?" Asami looked at her two friends to see what they thought. Miyagi seemed eager, while Kikuzawa seemed a little more doubtful. She then turned and eyed him suspiciously.

"Before I answer, I'd like to know exactly what kind of game we'd be playing. I've had enough of your ridiculous mind shenanigans." Yokoya merely smiled, as though he'd been hoping she would ask just this. He reached into his pockets, pulling out a deck of cards. The cards were placed in what looked like an expensive velvet container, and on their backs was an intricate design, practically screaming out how much they must have cost. Asami rolled her eyes. Rich kids.

"We're going to play a card game-"

"Yeah I figured that..."

"-and it's really quite simple. We each start off with an entire deck. You pick any five cards from your deck for yourself and I do the same with my deck for myself. Next, we try to guess the cards our opponent picked. For every card you picked for yourself without your opponent guessing it you gain one point, and for every card you guess correctly from your opponent's hand, you steal one of their points. The person with the most points after 3 rounds wins."

Asami pondered this. It did seem simple (sort of) but something was off...

"Wait a minute!" she exclaimed "This game is based solely on luck! It's a matter of odds and probability! No way would I make a bet on the outcome, that'd be completely crazy!" Yokoya merely smirked at this conclusion.

"That's because those aren't the only rules, simpleton. We'll each have one chance per round to interrogate one of the members of our opponent's team of our choice (don't look so surprised of course it's in teams) about what the other's cards are. We can then use whatever information is required to guess what the opposing side has. Isn't this what you wanted, a chance to prove how strong friendship is? I hope you can trust them because if you can't," He stepped towards Asami, looking directly at her with his cold narrowed eyes, their faces inches apart. Asami gulped and couldn't help but take a step back, her heart beating erratically "then I win." With that he whipped around and walked brusquely out of the room. Asami merely sank to the floor, her knees no longer able to support her weight, and laid her head in her hands.

"Oh gosh, did I seriously just challenge Yokoya to a mind game?" she moaned.

"Yeah, you did that." Kikuzawa affirmed weakly.

"We're so screwed." Miyagi sighed.

!

The school bell rang the next, signalling the end of the school and...

"The end of my life as I know it. This is the end to all that is good in the world." Asami murmured as they approached the library: the appointed battle field. She found it strange Yokoya should place it somewhere she felt so comfortable in, but figured he was trying to lull her into a false sense of security. Miyagi snorted at this lack of confidence. "How can you be so calm?" Asami muttered irritably. "You have stuff at stake here too you know!" Was she the only one who cared?

"It's not like we're really friends anyways." Was the only reply she received. Nice Miyagi, very nice. Kikuzawa turned towards Miyagi and said a little harshly:

"Oh thanks a lot, like that's reassuring."

"And what's that supposed to mean?" Miyagi answered, narrowing her eyes.

"Oh please, like we don't all know Yokoya's got you in his pocket like a good little mouse. You're just another greedy narcissist."

"Why you little- "

"GUYS!" Asami interrupted, turning towards them. "I trust Miyagi-chan. And anyways, we're here." They were facing the oh-so familiar dark mahogany doors. She went to push them open but found her hands were sticky with much unwanted sweat. Wiping the smelly substance quickly onto her uniform, she closed her eyes in order to calm herself down. Her friends didn't bother her as she filled her nostrils with one, two, three deep breaths of air before opening her eyes once more. Her face was the picture of determination as she whispered "I can do this" before finally pushing them open.

Yokoya watched patiently as the three entered the library. He observed Asami's face as she walked confidently towards him, her chin tilted upwards with pride. Her courage was commendable he supposed, but far from intelligent. She would be much better off cowering like Kikuzawa.

"Take a seat." He told them while gesturing towards three cushy arm chairs across a large square table brought in specifically for this event. They all sat down and he introduced his own team mates (Kinoshita and Sunao) who were sitting on his left and right. And then it was down to business: each team leader (Yokoya and Asami) took a deck of cards from the center of the deck and looked at the cards. Yokoya picked the three, four, five, six, and seven of diamonds. He knew anyone would assume he'd taken the most random cards of all different suits in order to make things more difficult to guess, and would therefore not expect such a tactic at all. He put his cards face down on the table and waited patiently for Asami to pick her own cards. Her poker face was awful: she barely concealed her nervousness and frequently had to look to her friends for reassurance. It didn't really matter though, because the more care she put into picking her cards, the more of an advantage this posed him. He watched her finally pick her fifth card, and smiled: now came the interrogations, his favourite part.

"I'll be taking Miyagi-chan to the other side of the library to interrogate." He said silkily. "You can stay here with..."

"Sunao-san" Asami requested. Yokoya wasn't too worried, and an evil grin graced his face. At least his followers were completely under his control.

"All right then. Let's begin the interrogations." He went to the other side of the library with Miyagi to a pair of armchairs and sat down. She followed his example, and then crossed her legs. "So," began Yokoya. "

"What cards did Asami pick?" Miyagi smirked a little at this.

"You're quite the little cheat, aren't you?" she asked in a very amused sort of way. He merely shrugged. It wasn't his fault if Asami was a naive idiot.

"Just answer the question, and you'll be rewarded as planned." he ordered.

"Fine fine. She picked a king of hearts, ace and three of spades, nine of clubs, and eight of diamonds." was the rather resentful answer. Some people just don't enjoy being bossed around. Yokoya glanced in Asami's direction, it seemed like she was finished. He got up from his chair to return, not bothering to check if Miyagi was following. His footsteps echoed loudly on the wooden floor, alerting Asami of his approach and causing her to glance in his direction. He smirked back and took a seat.

"I trust your investigation went well?" he asked with faux-politeness in his voice.

"Very well actually." She added with a contemptuous smile. Needless to say, this disconcerted Yokoya a little bit. He turned around to Sunao accusingly. Sunao started sweating profusely before squeaking out a terrified:

"S-sorry sir! I l-let slip that you'd only picked cards in the diamond suit. S-she's really tricky!" Sunao then continued to splutter a thousand apologies, obviously fearing for his life. Yokoya merely rolled his eyes.

"It's all right Sunao. I didn't pick you as a partner for your intelligence, but rather just to be following the rules. If I thought there was any way your incompetence could possibly ruin my plans, I wouldn't have picked you at all. As it is, my plan is completely fool-proof." At these words Asami perked up a bit.

"Is that so?" she asked quietly. "You seem awfully confident Yokoya-san. Not planning on cheating are you? Can't beat me on fair ground?"

"I could say the same thing to you." He countered effortlessly. "You've seemed confident enough since entering. Are you sure you aren't the one cheating?"

"I trust in my friends." Was all she said.

"Then you're a fool."

"Luckily for you, your so-called plan is fool proof, right?"

"Hey guys..." both turned to face Kikuzawa. He squirmed nervously. "Shouldn't we, um, get back to the game?" Truth be told, he didn't like them talking to each other.

"Kikuzawa-kun is quite right." Asami said staidly. "We shouldn't let ourselves get distracted."

"Then I'll guess first." Yokoya declared. "You picked a king of hearts, ace and three of spades, nine of clubs, and eight of diamonds."

Asami paled visibly, as did Kikuzawa. He flipped her cards over to find... a king of hearts, ace and three of spades, nine of clubs, and eight of diamonds. She'd really believed that Miyagi hadn't told him anything. She really was just a naive fool. It surprised Yokoya somewhat, he'd expected something more. It was almost...disappointing.

"H-how did you...?" was all Asami could say.

"You should ask Miyagi-chan that. She's the one who told me."

Kikuzawa rounded on Miyagi. "How could you? You two-faced lying sycophant!" He lunged towards her only to be stopped by Yokoya's men. Miyagi got up from her seat with dignity and crossed her arms.

"I told you we weren't really friends, and I meant it. It was all just an act."

"Wait...you mean even when you helped me earlier? It was all just...?" was all Asami could mutter.

"...yes." A cold reply. "And you're stuck with me as a team mate till the end. It's your own fault. You really shouldn't trust people. Not in this school anyways."

Yokoya watched this all with a gleam of triumph in his eyes. He could practically see what she was thinking. How could Miyagi betray me? What should I do? I'll never defeat Yokoya now! The last thought gave him particular pleasure. Yes, she really was painfully predictable.

Current score Yokoya: +5 Asami: -5

So...I hope you liked it. I had a lot of trouble coming up with the challenge. Is the game too difficult to understand? Anyways, constructive criticism is always really welcomed, and I won't mind anything from spelling and grammar corrections, to suggestions about plot and whatnot.