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The Usual Approach

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Akagi calls Akiyama on some unpleasant (for Akiyama) business:

"Are you and Kanzaki…you know…seeing each other?"

"No we're not." Akiyama already hates this conversation. The natural awkwardness inherent in the topic multiplies by however many times in the past week he's been trying not to let his thoughts stray further in that direction than they already have.

There's no way anything can happen between him and Nao. Love and lies don't mix. He's under enough pressure to keep her safe without the additional complication of a romance. He's not much inclined to be with anyone right now anyway, and even if he were…she deserves a lot better than an ex-convict.

Shit, that doesn't sound good even in his own internal monologue. He decides, wisely, not to elaborate. "Definitely not."

"So you don't mind if I see her? I mean…if she agrees to it of course…"

"I don't mind at all." He shouldn't mind, even as he keeps telling himself that the pangs in his chest are not jealousy at all. What Kanzaki Nao does with her life outside the game is not his business. Just as long as she doesn't drive herself into a corner, his involvement ends with the games.

And, being objective, if Kanzaki Nao had to be dating someone from the Liar Game tournament, then Akagi wouldn't be a bad choice for her. He's a good person, cooperative, and, while he could have left the tournament incredibly rich, he chose to pay Kanzaki's debts off instead. From a logical perspective, Akiyama can't make an argument against it. Unless. "But there are three things you should consider before you decide to make a move."

"Huh?"

Akiyama ticks his fingers, suddenly feeling a lot more comfortable with his logic. "First, no matter what, you won't get her to quit the game." He should know, considering how many times he's tried to steer her away. "She's determined to save as many people as she can, even at risk of bearing a tremendous debt herself. You'll have to be able to deal with that. It's a tall order, even before you consider the likely outcome."

"Huh? What outcome."

"That's the second point. Think a bit about what drew you to her in the first place. It was probably the relief that came from her saving you from such a tremendous debt, combined with her warm and open demeanor. It's easy to feel affection for her in those circumstances. But that also applies to the other players she saves. You aren't the first player to have a crush on her. And you won't be the last."—unfortunately.

"Hmm…so what's the third point?"

"Oh, nothing too complicated. Just, even though there is nothing between us, Kanzaki Nao is under my protection. Anyone who decides to date her should make sure to be very careful about not breaking her heart because it could end very badly for them." It will. He can't control who, if anyone, Kanzaki Nao falls in love with—doesn't want to despite all these uncomfortable twitches—but he can just say that. "But hey, if you can deal with all that—and Kanzaki Nao agrees—then I wish you both the best."

"Uh…hmm…"

Akiyama ends the call confident that he's at least given Akagi something to think about.