- 33 -

Niou was sitting on the ground of the locker room, his back pressed against the wall. Yagyuu stood on one side of him, while Akaya sat next to him. Marui and Jackal entered silently and sat on a bench, Marui shooting a desperate look at Niou.

Yanagi, Sanada and Yukimura entered moments later. Yukimura stumbled when he walked, like he had taken a strong pill. No one seemed to notice. No one but Akaya.

"Due to recent circumstances," Yukimura began, his words short and choppy, "we need to vote on something. Genchirou."

Sanada nodded and handed a piece of paper and a pan, and then took off his hat.

"What are we voting on?" Yagyuu asked curiously.

"Whether you want me to quit so Niou and Marui to be together, or if you want Kirihara to quit, me to stay, and them to be apart."

Akaya stood up rather violently. "That wasn't the deal!"

Their deal had been if Niou and Marui broke up, Akaya would quite. Yukimura smiled weakly. "This is still my team, not yours. Please explain the rest, Renji."

Yanagi nodded, but his face gave him away. He didn't want this. "Write your choice, then fold the paper and place it in the hat. We will call out the vote and the results will be put into effect immediately."

"Did you ever think we don't want to be together?" Marui asked. He was glaring at Yukimura. "Did you ever get your head out of your ass and think that maybe this was a scam to piss you off?"

Yukimura knew it wasn't. They looked at each other like he looked at Akaya. He could allow them to be together. Yanagi would lie for them, for Marui, his friend. Yukimura could feel his head ache through the pain killers.

Yukimura looked at Yanagi and gave a slight nod that no one seemed to notice.

Yanagi opened a notebook he had brought with him. Had Yanagi known Yukimura would give up his own sanity for Niou and Marui? That he would back off and allow Niou and Marui to be together?

"Chance of their relationship being a sham –" Yanagi paused. Yukimura snapped something about the data, just for show. Yanagi continued: "Chance of their relationship being a sham, 98 percent."

Akaya was sitting close to Niou, as if to protect him from a lion. Marui didn't look like he had even cried.

Yukimura pressed his lips together. "Fine. But, if I see you so much as touch hands, you'll both be off this team before you can say 'Seigaku.' Do you understand me?"

Yukimura turned a left. Sanada awkwardly took his hat back, following him.

"You didn't need to do that," Sanada said when the door shut behind them.

Yukimura laughed bitterly. "Maybe they can be so happy it affects me."

Akaya left a minute later, confused beyond belief. Niou and Marui stayed inside.


A/N: Whoop-de-freaking-do.