[[A/N: Sorry for the late update. Got kind of distracted after my exams and all so I thought I might as well compress all the chapters that came out after the one I updated.

I will like to once again emphasise that most of the things are just some random headcanons I thought for this fanfic so the characters might be a little out of character. Some of the things does not exist in canon at all and I just made them up. I'm still trying to grasp as much as I can about their personalities and stuff. ]]

This half would play a crucial factor as to whether or not they would win. Midorima has no doubt about this being a lot harder compared to before and where the both of them actually show more of this true strength in the game. It is where the real fight starts and he is certain his teammates know that much too.

There were signs of them wondering about Akashi's true strength and there was no way that the one that was leading the Kiseki No Sedai would only have such a level of playing style. Each one of them had their own special moves that they rarely used.

Much to his annoyance, Kise tried to talk to him once they were near each other. At least it was not Kagami and Kuroko, he would have to face two people he did not like much rather than just one. "Your condition doesn't look too bad."

He knows it was just Kise trying to cheer for him but Midorima did not need that and Kise of all people should know that the game earlier was child's play compared to what the game would be like in the next half. "Hmph. I don't know about that. Akashi hasn't used his 'eyes' yet." Akashi's deadly strength with it was no joke and no one had countered that before.

"If he's going to use that, it'll be during the second half. The real fight starts now." From Kise's expression, it was blatant that he had understood what Midorima meant and there was no longer any point to exchange any more words. Midorima was not even interested to talk to him right from the beginning though and neither would he need Kise to cheer him on. He would win even without all that.

Another flashback to his past only served his determination even more. "I find it amusing that you never give up challenging me despite knowing the outcome of the game." It was the third day that they had been playing Shogi against each other and Akashi had won every single match much to his displeasure.

"Hn. I said I would let you taste defeat didn't I?" Midorima refused to allow himself to fall prey to Akashi's words. If he lost faith in himself, the end result would be his lost even before he started doing anything.

Akashi''s chuckle caused his eyebrow to twitch and he had to restrain himself from saying anything out of irritation. Doing that would make things even worst for him and he had at least learnt what not to do around Akashi.

"It's so like you to keep this up, Shintaro." Midorima scowled and he moved his Shogi piece with more force than necessary. He was reaching the end of his limit soon and if Akashi pushed his buttons any further, he might really snap. "Are you making fun of me?"

Akashi made his move calmly despite being totally aware of Midorima's anger towards him. "Not at all. It was meant as a compliment." He had never faced a same opponent before who never lost faith that he had a chance of winning against him before so this was more enthralling to him than anything.

His curiosity in Midorima had only increased and he started watching him more than the game. Midorima was too engrossed in the game to notice that and it only made it more entertaining for him. That was the next fuel to his interest in Midorima.

Besides wondering what else Midorima would show him next, Akashi was rather pleased to see Kuroko again since the last time they met was before the Opening Ceremony. It seemed as a form of distraction from some thoughts that he rather not think of right now and Kuroko's partner does seem interesting. The outcome if he does play them would be the same regardless, it will be his win for sure.

Kuroko was the same as always and he was just about to leave the conversation at that till Kagami spoke to him. "Yo, you better not have forgotten me. You sure pulled some crazy shit on me back then." Like Akashi's memory would be that bad as to forget about Kuroko's partner and Kagami being able to dodge him back then.

Although he knew right from the beginning that Kagami would be able to dodge it on time, he still did it to serve as a warning anyway. "Kise and… you too. I'll crush all of you." Akashi had to fight back a chuckle from those words, as if he would ever lose, him who has never experienced a single lost ever.

"Of course I remember you, Kagami Taiga." He made sure to show his amusement in his tone for the next part of his words as he spoke up straightforwardly. "I do acknowledge your ability, but, let me give you a warning." His tone grew colder as he continued along with the aura he knew he was giving off.

"The only ones who are allowed to look me in the eye as I speak are those that serve me. No one that opposes me is allowed to look down on me." Because they had no right to look down on him when he is much stronger than them and he disliked people doing that to him. Those disrespectful eyes who think they are on the same level as him or below them especially.

Placing his hand on Kagami's shoulder, he remained unfazed when Kagami fell down to the ground due to the pressure and finished his last words to Kagami. "Know your place." It was always the same thing, people would view him all different soon after experiencing his strength and Akashi had no reason to be nice to people who do not know his strength or follow him.

"You too, Tetsuya. You'd better be prepared if you're planning to fight me." Akashi would not make it easy for Seirin just because Kuroko was part of his team in the past and neither would Kuroko like that either. That aspect of him was the same as Midorima who disliked being taken lightly and their opponent not playing with their all against them.

Kuroko probably knows the least about his ability as compared to Midorima since he is more of a support player. "I'm the one who first discovered your power. You'll come to understand what that means." One of the thing his eye could do out of the court and he was the one who gave Kuroko an idea on what to do as his playing style.

How well would this quarter go now that Akashi decides to use it? Knowing Midorima, there must still be something that he is hiding as a counter to it and Akashi looks forward to seeing what Midorima would do more than anything else. Because the end result will be the same no matter what happens.

To be honest, Midorima was not all that surprised to learn that Akashi would be facing him one-on-one. In fact, it was something that he was anticipating right from the start. The fact that they were only facing each other directly right now only showed how much Akashi had been holding back till now and how much of a lack of threat they were being treated till now. Although he knows that Akashi is still thinking that he would win for sure.

They both knew each other well enough to understand what the other party might be thinking. "I knew it. I knew you'd do that." After he broke past the people marking him, the only thing Akashi would do would be to mark him himself. That would be what he would do if he was in Akashi's shoes since this would achieve the most results.

"Come, Shintaro." An one-on-one with Midorima would be interesting, more than anyone else on the court and the only one who might stand a small chance against his eye would be him too. They had never got up against each other with everything that they got on the basketball court before since they were on the same team.

The only games they had often played against each other were just Shogi. With their frequent Shogi game, it was more than enough to grasp each other's character and just like playing against Midorima in a game of Shogi, facing Midorima on the court was more intriguing as compared to the rest.

The only one who would not give up challenging him despite knowing what he could do was just Midorima after all. This is why he had been looking forward to face him again, playing against someone you are interested in always makes his pay more attention.

Midorima was being cautious against him since he knows about what his eye could do but that would not help at all. Especially since he knew what Midorima would do. Midorima's sudden attempt to shoot a three-pointer would surprise everyone else but because of his 'Emperor' eye, it was futile. He had already seen that Midorima would do that and he effortlessly intercepted and hit the ball from Midorima's hands before he even jumped.

Although Midorima did seem a little taken aback that he had did it so quickly while the rest looked completely stunned. Leaving Midorima alone for the moment, he proceeded to steal the ball away before Takao appeared to stop him. "You're going to make way for me."

His words were going to be proven to be true in a few seconds. "No one that opposes me is allowed to look down on me." Akashi repeated his words that he said to Kagami earlier to get his point across. He could read his opponent's moves beforehand after all. "Know your place." He shot the ball right after that to show that his words are absolute.

Akashi would not deny that a small part of the reason why he did that was due to a personal reason but there was no point in saying that out loud. Why was Midorima so surprised though? Did their time apart made him forget what he could do? This should be within Midorima's calculations, unless he had gotten rusty.

Before he knew it, Akashi had turned the tables on him and the score between them was getting further and further away. Panting slightly, he assessed the current situation. Akashi's eye was fearsome as always and he hated that there was little he could do against Akashi. It was nearly impossible to get into shooting position with Akashi around.

Even if he wanted to make a pass, Akashi would be able to intercept it. This was unfortunately within his calculations although he did not think that he would actually be this useless by himself. Midorima still had an ace up his sleeves but he did not want to use it just yet.

How long will these people remain ignorant to his words? Akashi had stressed enough times that he expect people to follow what he says and it should be something that they should do. They just never learn. Akashi had asked them to move aside and yet they refused to. Silly people who think they could ignore his orders.

"No. My orders are absolute." They all ended on the ground right after he used ankle break, a high level speed dribble that disrupts his opponents' balance and make them fall. It was simple for him to do with his eye and he could meet the criteria of them having their centre of gravity on their pivot leg while they are turning.

It would have been better for them if they had just obeyed his orders and the ground suits people who refused to listen to him. Akashi was used to using this move whenever people would not move out of his way and this was the same thing that he used against Kagami earlier.

Shutoku's captain sure was strange, did he think that he could stop him by preventing him from shooting? Things were boring if Midorima was not the one playing against him and he passed the ball over to Nebuya who easily scored a goal as the other party was not expecting it.

Takao seemed to have forgotten about the other members of Akashi's team and Midorima watched as he seemed surprised to have the ball knocked away from him by Mibuchi. The ball was passed over to Akashi like he thought and he stood directly in front of Akashi to try to stop him.

"Akashi!" That was all he said, this was not the time for him to say anything more and with just that, if it was Akashi, Midorima knew he would understand it was to show that he was going to stop him. "Shintaro. You're strong."

The words had him distracted for a split second and he had to stop himself from thinking about the times he heard Akashi saying that to him. If it was the usual him, Midorima would have argued that Akashi was just making fun of him but now was not the time for that and getting in a petty argument with Akashi would not help his current situation.

"But you'll lose. Who do you think was leading you guys?" Midorima knew this would come, even if Akashi acknowledges him or praises him, his belief that he would always win would not change. If he did, he just would not be Akashi as bitter as he like to admit that this is a trait he did not want Akashi to change. Unless until he beats him.

Despite knowing about Akashi's ankle break, Midorima still ended up falling for it. The pressure of the aura Akashi overwhelmed him along with it, causing him to stay on the ground for a while longer than he would like. "Even if it's the 'Kiseki No Sedai', no one can stand against me."

While he was on the ground due to the pressure, it was hard to stand up right away after Akashi used ankle break. This allowed Akashi to score and the score between Shutoku and Rakuzan just widened by a twenty point lead by Rakuzan.

Was this his fault for thinking that he could take Akashi on by himself? Midorima merely wanted to be selfish for a while and attempt to beat Akashi alone due to his promise from before about letting Akashi taste defeat. But this was not a game of Shogi he is currently playing where he has to rely on himself, this is basketball, a team match. He has teammates that he can rely on.

"Hey…Shin-chan…" He could hear Takao's voice breaking him out of his thoughts and this only confirmed what he remembered. The smack on his head only made him clear his thoughts better away from his lingering past that he allowed to affect him slightly. "How long are you staying on the ground, dumbass. I'm gonna mince you."

Midorima was taken aback by the hit for a while before he understood that it was Miyaji's way of cheering him up. Kimura's words too were for the same purpose. "Can't you see those words? Man up!" The words on the banner the other students were using to cheer them on were their motto, to 'Never Sway, Never Give Up'.

"Don't give up. We still got time. Let's start with a point." The captain's loud voice echoed and his three senior teammates walked ahead. It was rather ironic that he had to be cheered up and reminded that they should not give up yet and he could not deny that a small part of him had actually thought about it earlier.

This was why Midorima was unable to argue with them or resort by saying anything. It was alright now, he was back to his usual self already. Like what he said earlier, there is no way that's useless in Shutoku. Each of them had a part to play like him. His way of thinking had changed a little and his past self would not ever think of something like this.

"The more I look back, the more I want to play basketball with these guys." The earlier part of Takao's speech was less important compared to his last one and Midorima wished Takao had just gone straight to the point and save time by just saying this right from the start.

It might not be his character to do so but this was something he agreed and he should at least show his respect by admitting to it. "…That's right." Midorima hesitated for a moment before agreeing. He has changed, a lot more than he likes to admit and Akashi almost certainly picked that up too. Choosing this school and playing basketball with teammates like this was the best decision he had came up with back then.

He has someone to help him up when he needs it and a partner he can count on. Midorima might not have shown any appreciation towards Takao but in truth, he really does appreciate him and all that he has done for him. Midorima had never thought he would ever do something like creating a move like that but because Takao always stay near him despite him never saying anything nice to him, he had agreed to it.

Since they spend so much time together, their coordination is better than the others too which is why it could only work with Takao. The hidden ace he had hidden till now, he knows it would completely be something Akashi will not expect. It has to be since even his past self will never believe that he will do something like this too.

"Let's go, Takao. We'll show them what we've got." He was not going to give up and he was going to fulfil what he said to Akashi all those years ago. This was risky and the chances of it being a success was low but he has full confidence in Takao and all his other teammates. His teammates all trusted him too and he would be sure to meet up to their expectations.

The more the match progressed, the more Akashi picked up that Midorima had changed. When he heard Midorima's agreement to what Takao said, he already knew that he barely knows this current Midorima anymore. Their time apart had caused a lot of changes within Midorima and it was obvious that he got along best with Takao among the other people in his team.

It was apparent when they almost always seem to be together and the first one to approach Midorima when he was on the ground was him. Was he being replaced now? Was Takao standing in the spot he used to hold in Midorima's heart? Akashi had no idea and he hated to admit that he was nothing but a ghost of the past to Midorima.

The thing that he wants from Midorima would be harder to get now. Even back then he had not expected to hear it and their current distance apart did not seem to help. Takao seemed closer to Midorima than he used to too and neither would he be able to get such an honest agreement from Midorima like what Takao did earlier.

Akashi smiled when Midorima bounced back up, the smile turning even more bitter when he heard those words. This only showed him how close the two were and how much Midorima believes and trust in him. It was something he had never seen back in their days during Teiko, Midorima working with someone.

Their play had always been a solo one, with Kuroko being an exception. They were nothing more than strangers who used to be close but drifted apart. Even if Midorima like him back then, the chances of it fading away was high. Watching them brought a stinging pain in his chest that he ignored, this was not the time for it.

'Shintaro. You—' To think that Midorima would even give up on his single play and do something like working with his teammates was not what he expected but he should have thought about that when Midorima had mentioned that no one on his team is a hindrance. It ought to have captured his attention during that time that Midorima actually thinks rather highly of them and regard them as important.

Sure he had expected that their time apart would change Midorima but he did not expect this much. Akashi especially did not think that the distance between them will grow so far apart. The one who made no attempt to contact Midorima was his own fault when he knew right from the start that there was no way Midorima would take the imitative to do so. He was naive to think their relationship would remain the same even if they were apart.

He has changed too, although Akashi doubted that he did as much as Midorima did. He was bitter and he fueled it towards his play instead. Because this match is something that he needs to give his attention to. There was no way he would cut them some slack after what he had just seen.

At least there were still fragments of the Midorima he knows and he still holds some part of Midorima's heart. If Midorima's desire to make him taste defeat is the only thing left to hold them together, he did not mind using it to tie them together and be a part of Midorima's life. No matter what, he still wanted to hold a place in Midorima's heart, even if this was just a small thing that is far from what he wants.

Perhaps this is what it means to truly be in love with someone. There is still a possessive streak in him that wants to hold most of Midorima's thoughts. Akashi knows the only way left for him is this, as long as he wins, Midorima will continue to chase after him and entwine them together. That is better than nothing and there is no way he will lose ever. He will always hold a place in Midorima's mind, someone that Midorima wants to beat more than anyone else.

The days where they play Shogi together seemed so faraway now and with it the Midorima of the past. It was not like Akashi's feelings are that shallow for it to go away just because Midorima changed because the thing that drew him in is still there and a lasting trait of Midorima that would not change. Akashi never knew he would actually like him that much; his interest in him was nothing but just something to pass time at first.

How much of his words back then did Midorima believe? Probably none and despite knowing that, he had done absolutely nothing to prove it. Akashi does not lie, he is always right after all and the one that does not believe in him more than anyone else is the one person he wished he did.

Glancing at Midorima again, his chest tightened at the closeness he had with Takao. It only slapped him in the face more that Midorima only allowed this close proximity to people that he likes and Midorima had only allowed him that hesitantly. He could not be mad at Midorima though so he directed his glare towards Takao.

Maybe it was just jealousy and he just needed to direct his irritation towards the matter towards something. But since they are in the middle of a match, no one would ask about it and probably think of it as something normal. The real cause of it would never be known, especially since Midorima himself did not know that Akashi really does like him.

Midorima's next move would most likely be Shutoku's trump card and despite his bitter emotions, Akashi still looks forward to see what Midorima would do. The one that would surprise him is always Midorima and something he will not be able to expect. Part of the reason why he had never lost interest in Midorima ever. If things always go according to plan, that would just be boring.

What they were planning to do was rather risky, hence why they had not use it until now. Frankly, it was a move that they had never used in a real match before but only during practice. The effectiveness could only be tested now but neither of them would mess up due to nervousness or anything, he has absolutely fate in Takao and he has done everything he could to make sure he luck goes well.

Takao is a strange person though. His first impression was nothing good and he thought that he was a frivolous guy and he paid no serious attention to him. But yet Takao seemed to be always watching him and following him. It was rather irritating to have someone laugh at him for reasons unknown to him and most of his actions would earn some kind of snicker from him.

The practice at Shutoku was rather harsh and he could even say it was more rigorous than Teiko. The number of people dropping out when he first joined increased rather often and he thought that they did the right thing since they probably would not be good players if they could not take the training.

The number of First Years who stayed back for extra practice was few since they were mostly wiped out with the normal practice already and they did not since that keen to improve their skills anyway. Midorima had a feeling they entered Shutoku thinking that it is one of the 'Three Kings' and they just wanted to be part of the basketball team for just the name.

There was no way those shallow people would ever make it to First-String or Regulars for that matter if they act like that. For some strange reason, Takao would stay back whenever he does and it brought a nostalgia feeling when he recalled that Akashi used to do the same. Although the reason why he did was most likely different from Akashi.

Midorima had noticed the way that Takao seemed to be competing against him during their usual practice, maybe he saw him as a rival or something? Akashi on the other hand had never viewed him as a rival before and Akashi had no doubt never seen him as a threat to him ever.

He had never said a thing to Akashi back then since Akashi had never bothered him at all, unless he decides to join him that is. Even then, Akashi had never made fun of him or anything and Midorima had long came to terms that Akashi's company was always peaceful even though he gets annoyed by the way Akashi talk about things.

At the beginning Midorima had thought that Akashi had some kind of complex since he seems to give off an air of superiority but that was not true. Akashi just does things naturally and it is just a part of his character just like how he believes in fate and horoscopes. As irritating as it might be, there were always truth in what Akashi says when he is often correct and Akashi notices things that he usually miss out on too.

Even in intellect Akashi shows his capabilities by acing his tests and exams. Akashi is like some perfect being except for some traits of his personality that throws that off and scare people away. No one dares to defy him as they will find themselves intimidated by him and Midorima had times when he was intimidated too.

Midorima refused to follow what Akashi says sometimes though. Even threats would not make him do something that he did not think is correct and he accepted punishment that came as a price for it. Akashi appeared to be amused more than anything else when it happens and he supposed he got it easy compared to the rest.

The other four had never thought it was strange since they knew it was part of his stubborn personality and they never paid much attention to how Akashi would brush it off sometimes without doing a thing. The reason why was most likely due to the fact that Akashi treated him as a source of entertainment and he often seemed to enjoy messing with him. A part of him had always questioned why he goes along with it and allowed Akashi to have his fun. Was there a reason for that?

Akashi was not here with him anymore so he did not bother to come up with an answer for it and it was all in the past now. There was no reason to be stuck in the past and they had all gone their own separate ways already.

It was strange to learn that the reason why Takao looked as if he was interested in him was because he had beat him once in Middle School. Midorima barely remembers most of his opponents from back then since the number of teams they won against back then were a lot and he did not take much notice of them.

So the reason why Takao showed that much interest in him was due to the fact that he wanted him to recognise him. Midorima could understand that way of thinking, wanting someone who won against you to recognise you. That was what he was doing too when he continued challenging Akashi to Shogi.

"…Why didn't you say anything?" Midorima felt that it would be better if you let the other party know. Otherwise the other person might never know about it or realise your action. He had always made it clear to Akashi that he would win against him and Akashi had always ask him to do it if he thinks he could.

Takao ended up laughing at his question and he had angrily questioned why he had laughed. The lame remark kind of struck a nerve since that was in a sense what he had done in his case. But Takao's next remark had him overlooking it. "Well, I bet you don't plan on doing that anyway. In fact don't recognise me yet. I'll just practice more than you. It's just something I decided to do by myself."

That was what had changed his impression on Takao and the reason why he did not mind his company that much. Midorima understood what he was thinking and he did not want to deny him that since he was the same. "Before you know it, I'll send you a roaring pass. Remember it, Shin-chan!"

"Stop calling me by that excessive friendly nickname, Takao." Although his view on Takao had changed, Midorima still did not like the nickname that Takao used to call him. Even Akashi who he is closest to in Teiko call him by his first name and not a nickname that is derive from his first name. Midorima did not think that they were on close enough terms for him to refer to him by his first name either.

This is a gamble, Midorima knows that best of all. He chooses to believe in himself and his teammates. Everything that he has might not be enough but there was no uncertainty since his teammates are doing everything that they can as well. He would believe in them and believe in Takao who really did achieve what he said before.

The effort of Takao's practice would be shown in this and his own as well. The only thing they had that could stop Akashi's 'Emperor' eye is only this too. He rather gives this a shot than lose without doing a single thing and giving up the chance of it being a success.

All he had to do was get into shooting position and image that he has the ball and believe that Takao would do the rest and pass the ball to him at the right time. There was the chance of it being a surprise to Akashi and he would not be able to stop this even if he can predict it happening as he would not be able to stop it.

Midorima believes that Takao's pass would make it and the ball reached him when mid-air and he shot from there trusting that it would go in. Takao's accuracy was aided by his 'Hawk' eye that he could find a blind spot to pass the ball to him. Most of it being a part of Takao's hard work of practice that he could make the ball reach him at the right time.

Yet another thing to show how much Midorima has changed. Akashi could not imagine Midorima ever doing something like this in the past. Midorima had always only shoot when he has full confidence that it will go in. The fact that he had attempted that earlier demonstrated how much confidence he had in Takao to make it work and that the ball would reach him for sure.

The amount of trust Midorima had in Takao was a whole lot more than he expected. This match really is interesting like he thought; he had seen a lot of things that he had not imagine to happen. To attempt a shot that he is prepared to lose, Midorima's desire to beat him must be strong.

In a sense, it would be because of him that Midorima changed? So the one that pushed him towards someone else was himself? Was that even possible? The bitter feeling from before reappeared full force and the feeling was much worst compared to before. To have absolute trust from someone like Midorima was a big deal and he doubts that he even stands on the same level in Midorima's heart.

As much as it hurts watching the match, Akashi was not going to lower his guard and let them do what they want. He acknowledges them though, Shutoku was able to make the ball reach Takao for him to pass to Midorima.

Just like he thought, playing against Midorima is always interesting since something unexpected will always turn up. Things never do go according to his plans all the time when it comes to Midorima, sure he can push the right buttons to get what he wants from Midorima but there are times when he is taken aback by Midorima's actions.

His teammates seemed to be rifled up while Midorima's teammates appeared much calmly than his own. They were blatantly threatened by Midorima's and Takao's coordination play that they were acting rashly without thinking.

Another successful score, Shutoku is strong, no doubt one of the 'Three Kings'. He expected that much from them and for them to put up more of a fight compared to the other schools and this was a school that Midorima decided on. There was no way Midorima would pick a weak school and put up with it. That was the reason why he had decided to be starting player this time, not only out of respect for Midorima.

Watching Midorima's interactions with Takao after they performed the shot had a rather big impact on his emotions that he shoved aside. This match was making him sweat and that showed how much effort he had put in the game.

"Don't misunderstand, Akashi. Shutoku's not over yet. The real game starts now." Midorima was still very much pissed how Akashi thought that they had no chance of winning whatsoever after he used his 'Emperor' eye. This would be his first step in gaining Akashi's recognition and achieving his promise of teaching Akashi the feeling of defeat.

Akashi should be honest right now; Midorima's actions had earned that even if he was rather displeased with it emotionally. As a basketball player, he acknowledges Midorima's actions and personal thoughts should not be allowed to affect his play. "This is beyond my expectations, Shintaro. This is how it should be."

The match will lose its entertaining factor if it was something he could predict accurately without any problems. Games with Midorima should be like this where even he will not know what will happen. The only thing Akashi knows is that the end result of the match will be his win, no matter how much effort Midorima puts in.

Akashi has never insulted Midorima though, in fact he praises him. He had put up a good fight, it was just that Akashi will never lose and if it was someone else as his opponent, there was no doubt that Midorima would win. He is a special case where no one will be able to win him. Just that and nothing more.

The first time where he faces Midorima with his full strength in a basketball match like this was a first and it would be less memorable if it ended up with a win without him doing much. None of them had ever played against each other with their full strength before in spite of them knowing each other's abilities.

Since their bodies would not be able to keep up with their strength, the time where they could use their full strength was short. This was pretty good coming from Midorima who despite knowing his about his 'Emperor' eye had never experienced it against him before. It was just like him to come up with a counter of something other people would never be able to think of.

No one out of them would put in as much thinking as Midorima. This must have been planned beforehand just in case they might face against each other in the Winter Cup. How much effort had Midorima put in to think of this? It makes him happy to know that he had made Midorima spend time to think of something against him.

Being able to hold Midorima's thoughts is something he is happy to learn since he was not even present and yet he was in Midorima's thoughts. The things Midorima sacrificed for this made him happy too. To think the day that Midorima would sacrifice his accuracy would come and it was all for the sake of winning him too.

He prefers to think of it as Midorima wanting to keep what he said to him and as Midorima's personal reason than Midorima wanting to win for the team. Midorima's words when they first started playing had showed that Midorima still remembered what he said to him all those time ago and it being the biggest push for him in this match.

His 'Emperor' was that much of a threat to Midorima and he could feel the slight pressure from Midorima. It did not deter him though since there was no way he would lose. Akashi would show that to him soon. No matter how strong Midorima is, he would not be able to beat him.

"I won't let you through, Akashi!" Midorima's defense was good, he acknowledges that. "It's pointless. Out of my way, Shintaro." His ankle break was still effective against Midorima since there was nothing he could do to stop him. Midorima should understand this best of all and yet he still tried. Stubborn as always. He would laugh if it was some other time.

"My orders are absolute." They are unless he did not mean it. That was why Midorima managed to escape unscathed sometimes despite him refusing to listen to him. Some of them were said on purpose as he knew Midorima would not agree to it and if it was something he meant, he would have Midorima to agree to it one way or another.

Midorima gritted his teeth in frustration; he had fell prey to Akashi's ankle break yet again. But he could not give up just yet, not after how much everyone had put in. He should not let such a small setback affect him and there was something he could still do. This was not the end and he planned to make his words come true.

His teammates were shouting his name and they were counting on him to stop Akashi. He cannot let things end like this. It is not over yet and he must not give up. There is no shame in falling down; lots of people fall down before they stand up again. Everyone started off from the ground and when they first started walking, they would fall a few times and the fact that everyone could walk now shows how they had continued even after that.

The real shame is to fall down without standing up again and allowing yourself to stay on the ground without attempting to do anything. That is what real shame is and sinking into self-depression. Midorima willed his legs to stand up and jump to prevent Akashi from scoring. Akashi's 'Emperor' eye would not work if he acts behind him.

"Akashi!" Maybe that was what gave Akashi the chance to switch to a pass. Akashi's situational analysis speed has always been good, Midorima knows better than anyone else after playing Shogi with Akashi so much. He could always make the right move in just seconds and his shout earlier had informed Akashi that he could not attempt to score already.

Even so, Midorima had done it since he had faith that his teammates would be able to stop it. The shouts from the audience had proved his point along with Takao's remark about Otsubo being awesome. Because of that he could ready himself to shoot; Takao would make the ball reach him on time for sure.

Thus, he had to have confidence in himself that he can make this work. His shooting would not work if he doubts himself even a little. Their score had narrowed down to an eleven points difference and that was not enough yet. He had to close the gap even more, they would not be able to win otherwise.

Rakuzan seemed to have grown flustered after three of his shot had gotten in and their formation seemed a little off. Midorima paid no attention to that, his target was just Akashi and Takao had joined him in marking him currently.

His eyes widened in surprise when he spotted Akashi shooting the ball in his own goal. It was unexpected but the reason behind that had to be for a reason. There was no way Akashi would do a thing like this for no reason and he had a good hunch what it is too.

This had gone on long enough. Akashi had left them alone because he thought that they could pick themselves up themselves but it appear that it did not happen and they just seem to be even more uneasy as Midorima closed the gap. He had pushed his personal emotions aside and focused on the match more than on Midorima.

"When did I tell that you could relax? The match is not over yet. The temporary point difference has made you slack off in the match. Even a few consecutive goals have made you uneasy." As expected of Midorima to be able to make his team members flustered with what he did, however this was just unsightly.

The way they had started playing after the lead was below their capabilities. "If the point difference had been smaller, we wouldn't have displayed such unsightly plays. It would be better if we didn't have an advantage at all. Cool yourselves off a little." This was his way of waking them up.

"However, if we lose, my own goal just now would be the reason. You can blame me as much as you like. I will take responsibility and quit the club. As a symbol of my atonement, I will gouge out both of my eyes and give them to you." Akashi was perfectly fine with saying things like these, there was no worry of him having to do that anyway.

The point was just to make his teammates put in more effort in the game and nothing more. "It's only if we lose. There is no problem if we win. I am not worried. Because I have confidence. There is no way we could lose with you guys." From the bottom of his heart, that is what he believes in. He always wins after all and it was easy to smile genuinely.

Midorima had watched silently. This was exactly what he thought. Akashi's encouragement always sounded strange and definitely Akashi's style to do it like that. The effectiveness of it is always what Akashi wanted too even if it was a little creepy when he says things like gouging his own eyes out.

It works anyway, especially when he gives honest statements like the one earlier. The smile was real, Midorima could tell. It was probably the biggest encouragement Rakuzan could get from it and Midorima's gaze lingered a little longer than it should. That smile resembled the one he should to see from Akashi when they were alone and a small wave of jealousy hit him.

He brushed it away since he had no idea why was he jealous of it. It was just a smile and he had never thought that he is the only one to receive Akashi's real smiles anyway. The feeling he had in his chest seemed to say otherwise but he had no time for that now. Akashi's prep talk had awakened the other Rakuzan members and if he wastes any more time thinking about this would disrupt his attention to the game.

The encouragement and Akashi's order for them to be more serious had reached them. The game would be harder from this point on and Akashi had showed him how serious he is about this match like he wanted. Part of this might had been Akashi's plan to tell him that he was respecting him and playing for real.

The game continued quickly and Rakuzan was quick to make a return and score. Akashi's words had completely recovered them and he would not have it any other way. The was no meaning if his opponent was not serious. Midorima would rather win when it's this way than win when his opponent is holding back.

"No, too bad for you. The match has already ended. Let me tell you this. You will no longer even be able to touch the ball." What did Akashi mean by those words? Rakuzan had started playing for real that much was certain but surely their level would not be that different that he would not be able to touch the ball anymore.

This is Akashi, there must be something he is plotting. Midorima would have to wait to find out. Akashi always managed to irritate him with his words and today was no exception.

[[A/N: Some parts might seem repeated but they seemed relevant to me so I didn't remove them. It might seem a little confusing for some parts and some of it will be addressed in the later chapters. The ending does seem a little stranger than I like… ]]