Author's note: Alright, I admit it. I love the AkashixMidorima pairing. If you happen to dislike them. Feel free to skip that part. Heheheh. Anyways- thanks for the loads of reviews (Blank Angel actually reviewed it from chapter 1-10. Thanks for the boost of ten reviews). I'm very happy.. I'm glad people are still following this story. More reviews, faster updates. :D.

Akashi personally felt like laughing aloud- because, in front of him, Midorima wore an expression like a dog that had just been kicked by its owner, some overgrown mutt lying drenched waiting for his master. That's not right- he thought- I'm the one who's supposed to assume that kind of expression, I'm the one who just got my heart spurned- I'm the one suffering from an unrequited love. But I'm the one who felt hollow inside- and he's the one who's wearing that expression.

"Shintarou." He called him, and Midorima looked up at him- hesitant and expectant. Almost like a little puppy. "You looked like a tortured puppy. Are you sad for me?" Akashi felt a smirk twisting up his lips as Midorima hides his eyes behind his glasses. He wondered how he does that- that convenient move of pretentious obviousness.

"I'm just sorry I could not be of more service." The young duke used to have his pride intact, until he met Akashi. This was the man he had decided he would pledge his life for- perhaps forever. "Prince Akashi."

Akashi's heart warmed when he saw the duke was still pretending- it was clear to see that he's passionately devoted to him, almost obvious from the gaze he was giving him. He has always been fond of his loyal duke, after all. He was so fun to play with- and the pain that always seemed to gleam behind those eyes gives him a kind of sanction. Of what kind he knew not.

"What are you saying, Shintarou?" Akashi touched the other's man chest, feeling it with his palm. Thump. Thump. Thump.

The resonance of a living being, fast and secure- almost like an irregular beat of love.

"This is going according to my plan. My brother had awoken from his slumber, that filthy commoner had been chased away. I'm happy right now." He smiled- he's supposed to smile, right?

"As you wish. As long as that pleases you." Akashi loved it- how the voice would be so monotone when the eyes were so pained, and eyes were the windows of the soul. "If you would excuse me then-" Midorima turned to leave, but Akashi gripped his wrist. But it was not his steely hold that had made Midorima stay- it was the invisible chains that connected them both together.

"I won't allow you to leave." You're to keep me company. Misery loves company, Shintarou. You're also breaking your heart, so let us break your heart instead of mine. Let us let you feel that pain in you- to compensate for this hollowness in my chest.

"Then I shall stay." Midorima replied. I shall stay, if my pain will do you good. Because I will die for your sake, as soon as you asked for it.

Akashi embraced Midorima- and they both know it was not an embrace for comfort- rather it was the embrace of a grim reaper about to reap one's soul- leading one gently to a false security- like the talons of a doting mother who's about to poison her beloved child. Feel my pain- Shintarou- feel it for me.

Akashi stroked Midorima's cheek as he murmured against his chest. Feeling the thump thump thump of his heart- waiting to hear the words resonates from inside Midorima- and the bullet was lodged.

"You're warm Shintarou. Very warm." Body grown rigid. "My brother's warm too." A soft laugh.

"If only- I could love you like I love my brother. Sadly, that's impossible."

Midorima accepted the emotional beating like a man- he didn't tremble, even though Akashi could hear his heart break from inside his chest. His eyes were stinging and his throat felt like he was being choked. But he kept himself quiet- because this is how he's going to love Akashi- by accepting his pain.

"I can't love you. Just like he can't love me." So this is my revenge. Akashi felt excitement as he waited for the inevitable tears to flow. But it didn't.

Instead, Midorima simply said- achingly and with a smile- something Akashi would never have done. "I understand." But I'll still be with you.

It almost sounded sincere. And it only makes Akashi more hollow.

Kise used to think that its impossible to love someone this deeply- he never knew it could be so suffocating and torturing. And somewhere in the way- he had taken it for granted when people claims they love him. Now, almost like his last resort to keep living- Kise tried to remember the past few seconds- the kiss that had weaken his resolve. Aomine always had that in him to reduce his legs to jelly- and his determination into doubt. He swept his heart like a wind- almost without trying. For auld lang syne- he remembered the cheeky tone of the tanned man he adored. For auld lang syne.

Had their thing really been that of the past?

Was it really a fling, a game- something you can easily forget?

His heart ached as he thought about it. Aomine. He longed for him. But he can't hurt Akashi- Akashi who also loves him whole-heartedly.

Kasamatsu entered the room, and Kise just realized his presence when he let out a laugh.

"What the hell, Kise? You looked like a heartbroken princess." But Kasamatsu's eyes was oddly gentle, almost pitying. "You love that tanned guy right? He's the one you've always mooned on from the tower- he's the one you had always watched smiling- like some sick idiot."

"Yes." Kise said, it almost seemed like nothing matter anymore.

"Do you love him?" Kasamatsu asked.

"Yes." Kise said, wondering why its so easy to say it. I love Aominecchi. More than anyone else in this world. I would even die for him. But I could not keep hurting people with my own selfish decisions.

If love is so troublesome he wondered whether it would be better if he had not fallen at the first place.

If only love was something he could easily control.

Kasamatsu slapped the back of his head. "It sure doesn't seem like you to look so listless."

"I'm sorry."

"Your sorry won't cut it, your highness." He lets out a sigh- a dramatic one. "I wonder why girls kept chasing you- and now guys are also chasing you. Quite the popular one, aren't you?" Kasamatsu must admit that Kise is attractive- and he had been tempted to bed him quite many times- but with suitors like Aomine and Akashi, things doesn't seem that attractive anymore.

"Here." Kasamatsu gave a letter to Kise. Kise looked at it.

"What's this?"

"Something that would bring you back to normal. The moronic, carefree prince."

Kise grumbles a bit, a pout in his lips. "I'm not moronic." But his lips were silenced as soon as he saw the name of the sender. Aomine Daiki.

The letter was quite abrupt and the handwriting wasn't that pretty- but it was enough for Kise to brace up and keep living.

'I love you, Ryouta. Let's beat your brother up. Be the king of the land. -Aominecchi.'

The words instilled something inside him- almost like a splash of soberity.

That's right, he can not be the damsel in distress any longer. A new resolve strengthen in his heart. I'm the one who's going to decide my own future- tears aren't going to cut it, cowardly moves aren't going to save him. He need to come to term with himself.

He took a long breath and let it out. From this point on, he's going to assume the right face to be the king of a country.