Title: The Game
Author: Emcee Frodis
Rating: K+
Summary: During 'the shoe incident', Tsukasa thinks about Makino and his war with her.
Author's Notes: This is based in the Hana Yori Dango Dramaverse, during episode two of the first series. Dialogue based on the SARS fansub translations.
Disclaimer: Hana Yori Dango belongs to Yoko Kamio, TBS and a bunch of other people that aren't me. This is non-profit fanfic.

Tsukasa generally had a rule not to red-tag two people at the same time. It split attention, giving the targets time to escape. After all... If you run after two rabbits, you'll get tired and fall down.

It usually didn't matter. Once red-tagged, it only took a day or two before the target was driven out of school. But that girl... That girl had somehow managed to hang on.

He had nothing against her friend. Yes, the klutzy little mouse was the one who had initiated the war between Tsukasa and that girl, but Tsukasa's thoughts were plagued with the commoner. His wrath was for her and her alone. Standing up to him was a far greater sin than soiling his shirt.

The mouse was a pawn. A means to an end. Pain for her meant pain for the commoner.

As the mouse cried, the commoner rose to her feet- all fire and passion- facing off against Tsukasa. At first, her words were tinged with a hint of desperation. Why couldn't this girl understand? The school was their battlefield and the mouse had chosen the losing side. The girl should ignore the mouse's tears and focus her energies on him.

She called him an idiot, her temper flaring further as she continued to berate him. No one had challenged him in such a way before. Tsukasa remained neutral, masking his emotions behind chilled calm. He was not going to show her weakness. Instead, he explained the game to her.

The idiots surrounding them spoke up, insulting the girl, throwing things at her. They understood the game even less than her.

But that girl... That spitfire of a girl... She fended off their every strike with her dirty broom. How fitting a weapon for a pauper. Her eyes were alit with fierce determination. He liked that look on her.

Then he saw it. The drop of syrup on his pristine shoes. He ignored the gasps and the queries of his condition. He focused all attention on that girl.

"YOU!" Here was the opening. The game was theirs once again... A battle of courage between king and pauper.

"Just die!" One of the rabble yelled at the girl. The rest of them joined in, attacking her anew. At first he thought she was weakening in the assault, but he realized she was protecting the mouse from further harm.

No, this wasn't the way Tsukasa wanted the game played. The girl was above the rabble that was attacking her. Only Tsukasa was allowed to make a move against her.

"STOP IT NOW!" He demanded, rising to his feet. Never again would they touch her.

"That's enough." He stared at the girl. She had a mix of relief and confusion on her face. Oh, his move wasn't a matter of mercy. It was of possession. She belonged to him.

He stepped forward, his gaze growing more intense as she rose up against him. It was time for the showdown. How far could he push her? Would she break and recognize his dominance?

"Lick it off," He placed his sodden shoe forward. He tried to remain casual, as if his request were not the greatest debasement he could think of.

"Huh?" Was the simple commoner's only reply. He shouldn't have been surprised. Only someone stupid would have been so brave in front of him.

He repeated his demand. "If you do, I'll call the game off."

He stared at her intensely, waiting for her response. If she were really the girl he thought she was, she wouldn't dare take such a request. How far would her courage take her?

Gazing into her dark eyes, Tsukasa hoped she would turn down the offer, call him an idiot and strike him once again. She was the closest thing he had to a worthy opponent.

He was only dimly aware of the clapping, the chants, the whimpers of the mouse. His world was the girl. The girl who... Was wavering?

As she fell to her knees, a wave of nausea passed over Tsukasa. He had broken her? No! That wasn't how it was supposed to go! The game wasn't supposed to end yet!

He was possessed with the urge to grab her by the shoulders, haul her to his feet and call her an idiot for giving in. This was not the girl who had punched him and told him not to be full of himself. He wanted that girl back! Not this quivering thing approaching his shoe, beaten and defeated.

"You were wrong!" Rui's voice rang through the now silent dining hall.

Tsukasa looked around, confusion and relief suffusing his body. The tension was now broken and the girl would live to fight another day...

But Tsukasa was bothered none-the-less. The girl and Rui had a conversation and he didn't hear a word of it. He was lost in his own thoughts. What the hell was Rui doing? Why was he rescuing her from Tsukasa's game? More importantly, when did Rui talk to that (his!) girl?

"It's over," Tsukasa said flatly. He tried to suppress the shame of nearly shattering his opponent so soon in the game. He wanted it to continue. Playing with Makino Tsukushi made school much more interesting.