AN: Gah! I'm so sorry that it's taken me this long to update! I've been kind of busy lately, due to my life kind of falling apart. Plus, I got like half way through this chapter, realized it sucked, and had to rewrite it.

My updates will hopefully be getting better soon. I've been working on the next two stories, so those might be up soon. They'll probably be SanadaxOC or AtobexOC and TezukaxOC in case you wanted to know.

Also, there's a little bit of cussing in this chapter, just to warn you.

Enjoy!

-Coco

Chapter 14: A Simple Equation

Niou looked up from his algebra homework when Yukimura cleared his throat. The senior regulars were having a meeting during their lunch break, and everyone was either cramming for a forgotten quiz – Marui, quietly observing everyone – Yanagi, waiting dutifully for Yukimura to start – Sanada, silently reading a novel – Yagyuu, trying to rest a bit before going back to class – Jackal, or waiting to start talking – Yukimura.

"Is everyone ready for me to begin?" the captain asked quietly. He gave a pointed look towards Niou and Marui.

"What?" The trickster looked down at his homework. "Oh this? It's the homework for tonight. I'm being a good boy and getting ahead."

"Meaning that he'll be busy with a prank tonight," Yagyuu said, putting his novel back into his bag.

Niou gasped. "Yagyuu, how could you say something that cruel? I thought we were supposed to be friends." He pretended to wipe a tear from his eye as the others, minus the Three Demons, chuckled.

"Masaharu-kun, as amusing as it must be for you to mock your doubles partner, I believe Seiichi has something to tell us."

"Thank you, Renji," Yukimura replied, smiling at the data master. "Now, we have a problem. You may have noticed that our youngest member isn't with us, that is because this little problem involves him."

Niou stiffened. He knew what Yukimura was talking about. They probably all did because Niou could feel the stares of his teammates on him as he finished his last problem.

Jackal cleared his throat. "So, Yukimura-buchou, what are we talking about?"

"I'm worried about Akaya. I've called you all here so that we can talk to Kumiko-chan."

"Talk to her? She's not here," Marui said, looking up from his history notes.

"She'll be here soon enough. What we need to figure out is what we're going to say to her."

"Let's just be straightforward and ask her if she's screwing with the brat."

"Niou-kun!"

"What? Buchou wants to know if she's just playing around with him. What did you think? ...Oh, you thought I meant she was ha-"

"Niou-kun, stop it!"

"Geez, Yagyuu, okay message received. No need to spazz."

Rie sat on the stairs between her floor and Akaya's. She needed to tell him that she'd be gone all next week. She and Yuushi were going to a beach resort and they were leaving tonight. She normally would just leave without telling anyone but she wasn't sure how Akaya would take that.

Her phone started buzzing and she saw that it was Yuushi. "Hey, Yuushi, what's up?"

"Hello, darling," he said seductively. "I just called to see if you got rid of our little problem."

Rie rolled her eyes. "Yuushi, he's not a problem. He's my boyfriend and he deserves to know."

"You just don't want the thing with Niou to happen again."

"Well I… I have to go. I'll call you later."

Rie sighed as she ran her hands up and down her face. She was so tired. More mentally than physically. And now she had to go deal with Yukimura and the rest of Akaya's team… and Niou. The frowning girl pushed off the stairs and took a deep breath. She'd known she'd have to deal with this at some point, but she had hoped it would've better later rather than sooner.

She stared forlorn at the stairs leading up to the roof. Why must all their confrontations be up there? Did they have some obsession with the roof of their school? Or were they planning to push her off and make it look like an accident? Rie shook her head. No, she decided, she was spending way too much time with Mukahi, and the red-headed acrobat was filling her head with nonsense.

Biting her lip, she started up the stairs. Confrontations had never really been her thing because confrontations usually lead to fighting. And fighting… well, she just hated it when people fought. She knew why too.

Flashback

"Ryuu, darling, won't you just think about it?"

"Emi, we are not having this discussion. Rie is only ten," Kumiko Ryuu replied without looking at his wife.

"But he's a nice boy," Emi said trying to reason with her husband.

"He's also sixteen."

"And?"

"And? You are not marrying off my little girl to someone that much older than her."

"But-"

"They've never even met."

"Oh, Ryuu, that doesn't matter. They can meet after the arrangements are made."

"Emi, I said no. That is my final answer."

Rie was listening outside the door and flinched. She had never heard her dad use that tone before. He sounded really upset. She heard her mom say something else and then there was a crash. Rie bit her lip, it had always been one of her nervous habits, and walked into the room. She saw her mom and dad, but something was wrong. One her mom's china plates was laying shattered on the ground.

"Daddy?" Rie said quietly.

However, Kumiko Ryuu, in his anger, didn't even notice that Rie was there. "That's it, Emi! You've been trying to get rid of my little girl since she was five! What do you have against her?"

"…" Emi was too busy crying to reply.

"What? You finally have nothing to say?" Ryuu continued, glaring at his wife.

The small 10-year old, she had always been kind of small and vulnerable looking, walked up the angry man.

"Daddy, please," she said quietly, wrapping her arms around her father's waist. "Stop."

Ryuu, seeing his daughter's tears, calmed. He looked from his daughter to the broken plate on the floor to his wife. "I… I'm sorry."

After that day, it took a little while, but things eventually got better. Not back to normal, but better.

End Flashback

Niou, as inconspicuously as possible, starred at the door. Where was Rie? Lunch would be ending soon and she still wasn't here.

The door to the roof opened. "Sorry I'm late!"

"It's fine, Kumiko-chan," Yukimura said smiling at the girl.

"So, what did you guys need to talk to me about?"

Her gaze swept over all the regulars and Niou thought she waited a second longer on him, but it could have just been wishful thinking.

"Kumiko-chan, why are you dating Akaya?" Yanagi asked bluntly.

Rie's mouth dropped open into an 'o'. "Um… I'm sorry, I don't see how that is any of your business… Did Akaya ask you guys to come talk to me?"

"No, we're just worried about him."

Niou rolled him eyes. We? Haha, what a joke. It was Yukimura who was worried. Niou knew that Rie won't hurt the brat.

"Well you don't need to be. I'm not going to hurt him. I really care about Akaya."

"But why do you love him?" Yanagi pressed.

"Yanagi-kun, have you never been in love?" Rie asked suddenly.

"No I haven't," Yanagi answered, watching her.

"That's the problem then. You wouldn't understand even if I told you. Love isn't rational. It's not something you can get down to a science. Love… it's when two people are truly happy to be together."

Niou frowned. This wasn't right. Everything Rie just said describes them, how they were back when they were together. How could she say that she loves Akaya when he knows she love him!

Rie sighed. "Look, I know you're just doing this because you care about him, but I'm not going to hurt him. I wouldn't dream of it. Sorry, I have to go," Rie said shaking her head. She turned and left right back through the door.

"Well that was a bust." Niou rolled his eyes. He kind of knew that was going to happen. It didn't take a genius to figure out that Rie didn't like it when people didn't trust her.

"There has to be some way we can get something out of her. Maybe we could talk to Oshitari," Marui said, followed by a pop of his gum.

"Che, what a stupid idea. There's no way that Oshitari-baka would help us." Niou's voice was slightly condescending.

"Geez, Niou, what your problem? You've been acting like a bitchy, PMS girl for a while. It's getting old."

"Fuck off," Niou shot back.

"I'm just trying to help!"

"You can't help because you don't understand! You've never been in love! I mean, who would fall in love with a pathetic loser like you!"

"Niou!"

Jackal held Marui back when the volley specialist tried to lunge at Niou.

"Niou," Yukimura said, "maybe you should take a walk before lunch break is over."

Niou thought for a moment, he only had civics and German left. "I'm think I'm going to skip for the rest of the day. Yagyuu, make up an excuse for me."

The Gentleman nodded to his partner. "Sure, I'll simply say that you aren't feeling well."

"Yeah." And with that Niou was gone.

The Trickster walked a little bit away from Rikkai. There wasn't really anything that he could do since school was in session. He was just glad that Yagyuu was covering for him. He couldn't take anymore unexcused absences, and if that fake-genius had covered for him – as if he would know – the teacher's wouldn't have believed it. But everyone just loved Yagyuu, the nice boy, the gentleman.

'You aren't feeling well' how clever. It's a lie, but not entirely. Niou hadn't felt right in a long time. And it irritated him. Che, and he called himself a trickster. He prided himself on being able to have perfect control, not only on himself, but on everyone around him. No matter what, he always made himself feel… apathetic? No, that's not that right word… Well, whatever the word is he's definitely it, all the time, no matter what.

Rie internally cheered when the bell rang. As much as she loved French, she preferred it or any class really, in small doses. An hour at the end of the day is not the best thing for her. She grabbed her schoolbag and rushed out the door. She had to find Akaya to talk to him. She found the second year as he was walking out of his last class.

"Hey, Akaya," she greeted. "Why were you still in class?"

Akaya smiled sheepishly at her. "Sensei wanted to talk to me about my grades."

Rie sighed. "Akaya, you have to keep up your grades to be on the tennis team."

"I know, I know, but the classes are so hard and so long!"

Rie smiled at him. She felt the exact same way. "Well if you want I could tutor you."

"Yes! That would be awesome! We have this giant test in two weeks and sensei said that if I can bring my grade up by then, I'll pass!"

Rie laughed softly. "Akaya, I actually need to talk to you about something…" She sat at the bottom of the staircase and motioned for him to sit down her to next. "You remember Yuushi, right?"

Akaya scrunched his face up as he tried to remember. "Yeah… He's the sleepy guy?"

"No, that's Jirou. Yuushi's the one with the blue hair."

"Oh! I know him! Why?"

"Well," Rie said sighing, "Yuushi's taking me to the beach for all of next week and I just wanted to let you know."

"What?"

AN: Yeah, so it probably wasn't worth the wait… Sorry. I wanted to make it longer but I couldn't because then it would've had to wait like another day or two.

Hope you liked it!

Review!