I do not own Fruits Basket or Ouran Host Club. If I did, Kyo would never end up with Tohru. :)
a/n: i originally wrote this a year or so ago. i had it posted but decided to move it to my new account (besides it is now properly placed in crossovers), hence its previous deletion. but here it is now. and hopefully those who did not read it previous did so now.
obviously, this was written as an alternative to furuba's senior trip.
Kyoya stared out the window, completely ignoring his companions. 'Friends' was far too strong a word, with needless connotations that suggested selflessness and dedication. To say the least, a relationship that simply rang false. 'Acquaintances' clearly wasn't believable. Acquaintances hinted at an unknown path, still yet to be walked. It meant unfamiliarity and awkwardness, which wasn't true. Kyoya could recite to you that exactly six forty every morning Tamaki phoned every member of the Host Club (with exception to Haruhi, who simply hung up) to wish them a good morning in his cheerful tone. Hunny, their oldest member, and especially one with the sweetest tooth, hated mint. He would accept chocolate mints before eating several, purely out of consideration for another's feelings before passing them onto Mori. Now, these simply could be the observations of a calculating man or natural information that one gathered after spending so much time with such a company.
Companions it was.
To state again the introduction: Kyoya stared out the window, completely ignoring his companions.
Dressed quite normally in his opinion, the tall student stared out the window, having just ended the phone call with the food caterer. Unfortunately, they were unable to meet the set requirements previously dictated to them. As a failure to do so, however, the company quickly and willfully contacted another much variety orientated catering service. At no extra cost, the Host Club would be dining with the set requirement, despite it being from an alternative.
"Kyoya, come away from the window before you catch a cold," rang out a familiar voice. The same voice belonged to an obnoxious, dramatic, careless persona by the name of Tamaki. Tamaki, their "father", the founder of the host club, the chairman's son, the king. So many titles, all useless.
Merely raising an eyebrow and turning his body to address the fellow host. "In summer?" he questioned in a flat tone that still managed to convey the absurdity of Tamaki's statement and his amusement. It was most difficult to believe, but Kyoya did have a sense of humor. It was dry, harsh, often undistinguishable from his other criticisms, but it existed.
Tamaki was speechless, his mouth hanging open in a lack of response. Kaoru and Hikaru snickered as one, which escalated the situation. Tamaki jumped up from the armchair he had been lounging on, distraught. "Such a lack of manners! After I display concern for your health, my wife-my wife!" he pointed out- "I get such a rude answer! You could have merely replied 'I have a sweater on', but you go so far as to defer such noble intentions from myself. How ungrateful are you?! I- I think this calls for a separation," he announced with tears in his eyes. And without another word, sulked off into his corner of woe.
Hikaru and Kaoru glanced at each other before trembling with fear. "Say it isn't so! What if there's a divorce?" Tamaki bawled louder. "Who would we stay with . . . Mom . . . Dad . . ." Kaoru suggested sadly, peering down into his lap.
Hikaru continued. "Or should we be separated from each other our entire lives? Forced to endure solitude?" He brought Kaoru's face up with his index finger. "I pledge myself to you! Come what may, we shall be reunited!"
The scene caused Hunny, easily the most deceptive of the group, to whimper. Sitting on the same sofa, Hunny turned to his cousin Mori, holding Bun-Bun tightly in his arms. "It's so sad!" He exclaimed, bottom lip quivering. "Nobody deserves that; it's cruel. Do you . . . is it really going to happen?"
Mori merely spread out his arms, which was exactly what Hunny needed, for the next moment he launched himself into the embrace. Mori held Hunny, seeking to ease his pain.
The only girl of the group and to be frankful one of the most mature, Haruhi, blew her bangs away from her forehead. Looking back down, she figured she should be done with the chapter reading within the hour. Still, she had yet to take the necessary notes for the exam, and complete the section review questions. Although it wouldn't be due for another two weeks, the teacher rarely discussed the chapter in class unless questioned. It would help Haruhi just in case if she did not understand the chapter.
"Of course they won't get a divorce," Haruhi finally said in a slight outburst, as if it was natural to be explanatory. "Kyoya and Tamaki are not even married."
There was a pause as Kyoya, interested in the comment, cocked his head at her. Tamaki lowered the hands cradling his head, realization stunning him. Hunny looked up from clinging to Mori, hope rising in his heart. Koaru and Hikaru blinked.
In an instant, Tamaki was by her side. "My poor daughter. Are you so deceived by appearances? This cruel world trapping you in its harsh realities." His fingers were lightly splayed across her chin, lifting her head upwards to him. "Forced from hopes and dreams into the dull, gray duties of routine. No imagination left. A heart too battered to dare believe. I will renew these childhood memories, Haruhi! I will make you proud of me!" His hands abandoned Haruhi all too quickly, and he assumed the 'stance'. His hands on his hips and he looks rashly into the distance.
Hunny tugged at Mori's shirt. "Isn't the child supposed to make the parents proud?"
Hikaru snickered, pulling Kaoru's hair lightly at the roots in a playful manner. "Milord has always been unconventional."
Kaoru laid his head on his brother's shoulder, relaxing. "He means backwards," he supplied.
Now quite bored with the conversation, for it featured nothing new or of importance, Kyoya became entranced with the scenery once more. It was a Monday, which meant things were rather slow. By all means, Kyoya expected Tamaki to give them a detailed report of his weekend, beginning with the hour he wasn't with the others. It did not happen. Instead, the idiot launched into a rant about choosing the next vacation spot. Apparently summer was nearing, and since it was spring, its appearance was unexpected and the host club was unprepared.
He wouldn't tell them just yet he had this summer's activities planned since November. It would be enjoyable to watch Tamaki act like a chicken with his head cut off. He would stress and panic, before shouting orders to everyone (sometimes senseless), and gathering information. Then he would become indecisive, wondering which of the options would be best. Of course, he would review their finances, trying to measure out each detail perfectly. Until, at last, he would break down, sobbing crocodile tears, and beg for Kyoya's help.
It was one of the few joys in life.
"Haruhi, what are you studying?" Hunny inquired, leaning forward in hopes to catch a glimpse of a title or picture.
The girl's pencil did not still. "Human anatomy," she answered simply. There existed a moment where the world halted, each member reacting. A theatre in Tamaki's head began to play.
~She sat there on her bed, legs suspended in air, crossed at the ankles. The shorts easily framed her legs, exhibiting her smooth, pale skin. The shirt was loose but seemed appropriate. The pencil's eraser at the tip of her lips in thought. A small knock at the door distracted her and Tamaki entered casually, a soft smile blooming on her features. "Tamaki, can you help me study?"
He gave a noncommittal noise, hmmmm. "What subject?" Nevertheless, he walked towards her, unable to refuse any request.
The fond look on his face was inevitable. Haruhi would be indebted to him forever, viewing him as her savior. She would pass her exam; become a lawyer, thanking him everyday as they went out to lunch on the veranda. ~
Hunny nudged Mori. "Daddy's getting that look again," he remarked in a slightly confused/fearful tone.
Wisely, Mori decided not to comment. However, Kaoru and Hikaru glanced at each other slyly, rising off the sofa to engulf Haruhi on both sides of her armchair. Kaoru knelt beside the chair, making the conversation intimate. "If you happen to need proper viewing models, we're always free. The human anatomy can be very difficult to learn." He spoke in experience.
"You have the materials?" she questioned in doubt.
Kaoru smirked. "Of course. We always come prepared, Haruhi." He promised, yet softly admonished her as Hikaru moved behind the chair. He took the liberty of picking through strands of her hair, running his hands through her short locks which had grown an inch in length, twisting the ends before letting them drop; He inspected the effect before beginning again.
The effect was relaxing, if only the action was disturbing. It was like her scalp being massaged. Unknowingly, she tilted her head to the side, to consider Kaoru and giving Hikaru more access to her hair. Kaoru's eyes never left hers.
"We're not talking about human anatomy anymore." She stated in a rather blunt way.
Hikaru bent down, leaning just near her ear. "On the contrary, we are. Merely alternative methods of studying." His breath trickled through her hair, teasing her skin. Before she could retort, she sensed a presence nearby. Hikaru straightened, annoyance flickering across his face as Tamaki ruined their fun with their toy.
He cast a glance between the two. "Are you seducing my daughter?" He asked incredulously. "Before consulting the father? That's unhonorable!"
The twins glanced at each other. "The art of seduction plays on senses, reactions, passion and soul."
"Of course you don't consult the father. That's courting, trying to find favor with her family. Seduction cares for none of these things," finished the other.
Flabbergasted, Tamaki continued to protest.
By now, Kyoya had leaned against the windowpane, watching the events unfold with undisguised interest. The conversation about seduction and sexual advances had caught his attention, he will admit, by the abrupt subject. Now realizing what happened, he shook his head with disbelief at their antics.
Hikaru and Kaoru defended themselves, stalking towards Tamaki as a team. "And what is wrong with seducing a woman?" Kaoru questioned.
Hikaru smirked. "I think it shows great emotion. A burning inside that develops into unquenchable desire, reckless behavior, and abandonment of thoughts . . ."
Kaoru dipped his head before looking at Tamaki, giving him an edge of smoldering characteristics. "Left only with uncontrollable passion. Would you deny us our humanity?"
Tamaki swallowed deeply. "I- passion should always be withheld!" he exclaimed, suddenly pointing in their direction. "Especially when it applies to two scheming devils with unhonorable intentions."
Kaoru raised an eyebrow. "Oh? Even if it torments its holder? Such passion would destroy the person it resides in. You would . . . resign any of us to that fate?" he questioned, gesturing to the entire club. Once again, Tamaki began to vehemently argue the issue.
The simple statement alone could be found to be odd. Its abrupt appearance into the three sided conversation was worthy of merit, following it to the point. If it had not been an interjection by an outsider, that is. The three closed their mouths, one at a time, glancing at each other in confusion, brow wrinkled, mouth twitching, even an exhale. Turning slowly on their heel to observe the interloper, they all blinked. Sitting casually on the sofa, chin in hand as contemplation occurred, eyes a dark swirl.
Mori continued. "It's selfish. It's all really selfish. Do you ever wonder why a person in solitude becomes mad, craving for companionship? Or a husband becomes jealous when his wife cheats? Why do we make friends at school? We can't help but be selfish. We don't want to be alone, don't want to be betrayed, and want to be liked. Behind every act of kindness, there is a selfishness to drive us."
Haruhi cleared her throat. "That's rather bleak," she noted. "And purely conjecture."
The older student didn't answer but gave a listless shrug. It was then Haruhi noticed Hunny dangling her human anatomy textbook by its cover, peering at it sideways. He screwed his face up. "This looks so boring, Haruhi! The words are so small; the sections are too long. It's so heavy! I'm not sure these are real pictures, either." He criticized, scrutinizing the book carefully with shrewd eyes.
Closing her notebook with thoughtful caution, Haruhi leaned forward to engage Hunny in a conversation. "Human anatomy is a very serious subject."
The boy nodded, tucking the book under his arm. "But you want to be a lawyer. Why do you need human anatomy?" He quizzed, genuinely stumped
"It is one of the requirements for a transfer."
"Ohhh," came the comprehending exhale. "Do you know which college you'll go to?"
She sighed, nodding her head in hesitation. "Yes. Kyoya made a few suggestions." With this, she noticed everybody peered at Kyoya in surprise, who had not moved. Hunny, who had only twisted his neck, a silly smile present on his face. He jingled his body in a cheerful way, albeit childishly. Seeing this, Haruhi extended her arm, allowing her hand to hover in the air. "May I have my book now?"
Haruhi blinked at the stubborn reply. Perhaps she had been expecting a teasing tone, a challenge of sorts, maybe even an acquiesce to her request. Yet he held it tightly under his arm, becoming rigid, and face assuming a blank stare. No, not exactly blank. It was . . . hard. The change in his mood had occurred so swiftly, Haruhi was moderately concerned. Was he feeling well? Hunny always behaved and respected her needs, unlike the others (Mori aside).
She risked a glance to his cousin. Mori viewed his relative emotionlessly, not having moved from his previous position. One of his fingers, however, was tapping the arm of the chair periodically in thought. He had made no move or interrupted, so Hunny couldn't really be ill. Otherwise, Mori would have rushed him home. What was . . . Haruhi blinked. "Why not?"
Thankful for not having to continue the charade, Hunny grinned broadly. "I decided to prove Mori's theory. For my own selfish purposes, I demand you stop working and play with me. I missed you over the weekend, Haruhi." He callously threw the textbook over to Mori, who caught it gently. The book was unharmed, but it had made Haruhi jump out of the armchair in shock. He claimed her hands, swinging them to and fro. "Please?" he begged. "It's a nice day and we never do this anymore. Just spending the day together, with no host duties?"
Bottom lip puckered.
"Hunny-" she began uncertainly.
Her shoulders slumped. Hunny cheered, and the twins clapped in recognition of his great acting/persuasion skills. Tamaki sighed, debating the point in his mind. He had not been the one to convince Haruhi, but nevertheless, it would be time spent outside the club. He had the prize, but not the glory. Ignoring the wake of celebrations, he joined Kyoya at the window.
"Admiring the scenery?"
Kyoya gestured to the glass pane, through the yard, to the far road. There, a group of students staring at the school. The shortest and obviously youngest, held a map in his hands. Every so often, he would address the group before pointing and gesturing. He bounced across the street without looking, causing worry in the others who reached out to grab him from such an action. Not only did they fail, but the blonde was across the street in no time, without a scratch, somehow dodging all the cars without looking.
There was an awkward silence as the two walked on the sidewalk. Tohru idly held her hands by her side. "Is- was a scavenger hunt your idea, Sohma-kun?" she asked
It broke Yuki from his thoughts. "Kakeru Manabe. The school thought a reward at the end of exams might be a motivation for higher test scores. This is only a trial," he explained. "If there is no difference, I do not think it will be held next year."
Tohru smiled expectedly. "We're the first class? That's amazing! We get to experience a change in the school, which is special. I think, even if this never happens again, I'll be glad. Glad to have been there...or here, depending on how you view it. Either way, it's a pleasant surprise. Who knew that when we entered the classroom, what awaited us?"
She smiled, nodding her head to herself in agreement. "How very clever! How do you think it will go, Sohma-kun? I hope not many students get lost . . ."
"Hmmm," was Yuki's response. It had not been too long ago that on the bus, Yuki had fallen silent when learning the objectives of the goal.
"Navigate your way through the city without getting lost. We gave each team the same map. Attached to it are directions and riddles. At each checkpoint, there will be a faculty member waiting to greet you. This is the starting point. If you do manage to lose your way, come back here and wait in the bus. This bus leaves at six tonight. If you are not on it, we will not wait," Mayu finished, tossing the rest of the instructions away.
Her indifference caused people to worry greatly. She hadn't noticed.
Tohru began to panic. "Is Sohma-kun well?" she inquired. He did not wish to be paired with her. Somehow she had managed to anger Yuki, for what else could be the cause for this? They walked together all the time: to school, to the secret base, to the grocery store, from work.
Sensing Tohru's distress, he looked over at her. Pulling on Tohru's arm to get her to stop, once caught her attention but the next was necessary to steady her as she lost her balance. He was suddenly very conscious of how this appeared. He had not meant to manhandle her in any way. Guiding her to a bench not far away, he sighed deeply. This isn't how he wanted things.
For a moment, she stared at the bench in interest before sitting down, embarrassed. Yuki sat on her left and Tohru played with her hands, wondering what had happened. It was not often that Yuki acted so decisively. Elbows on his knees, he knelt forward, more intent at staring at his feet. Through his shade of hair, he saw her waiting patiently for him to begin.
"I'm very sorry, Honda-san," he began quietly. "Perhaps I'm not behaving like my usual self. I apologize if I've worried you. I'm not sick nor am I angry with you. I was very glad to be paired with you as a partner. I hadn't expected this to be so public. At any time, somebody could bump into me, or trip." He turned his head slightly to catch her expression.
Tohru's eyes widened in realization. How difficult it must be for Yuki, Kyo, Hatsuharu or Momiji. Away from the Sohmas. If one of them were to transform . . . who knew what could happen? It was unsettling. And how troubled Yuki was to have been dwelling upon such a thought. Despite the dreary situation, she felt comfort. Yuki felt honest enough to share his burden, explain his distant actions.
She smiled. "Thank you, Sohma-kun, for sharing this with me. Your worries have been halved. Mom always said it's better to confess, that you feel lighter if you talk about your worries or fears. It really says a lot about you. You're learning to trust in others, to believe. It can be scary, that feeling of doubt. But truly, everything starts here," she said, pointing at her heart. "To make others change, you have to make yourself change first. It's not easy. You're very brave, Sohma-kun."
Yuki swallowed at the compliment. How does she make everything seem okay with just a smile?
"I can't predict the future. But I can tell you we don't stop here." Rising, Tohru held out her hand for Yuki to take. Helping him up, she glanced at the sky. "We have a long way to go, Sohma-kun. If we don't finish this, we might never get home!"
Kyo dug his hands into his pockets, becoming fists immediately. He glared at the ground, cursing his luck, before looking away. He should have stayed at home. Or skipped the exercise at the very least. Then he wouldn't be stuck with the damn Yankee or his stupid hyperactive cousin. The last was partly his fault. But anything was better than the idiot he had been paired with.
"You have the map wrong, shortstuff. The writing is sideways, see."
Momiji fought the grip she had on the map. "Of course it is, how else would they fit all the street names?" He asked cheerfully, trying to edge away to loosen her hold.
The older student frowned. "That's twisted logic," she argued.
Kyo couldn't stop himself. Before he knew it, a loud, "Ha!" had escaped his mouth. He instantly regretted it, for her sharp features were turned onto him. Momiji, though, was now happy that she had let go of the map, crinkling its edge. She stepped towards him casually, which was more frightful. Lately he had been restless, but this isn't what he had in mind. Sure, he wanted a bit of exercise. But not with a cheating Yankee who considered pipes perfectly legal in a fight.
"Ya got a problem, orangey?" she demanded.
He snorted. "With you? You're barely worth my time."
Her lips contorted into a smirk. "Really? Who was it that ditched his partner to ride with us? I dunno, seems like you couldn't stay away from me. Or is it you couldn't resist this face?" she grabbed Momiji's jaw, forcing him to look at Kyo. Momiji, who had been listening the entire time, was gazing up at Kyo with devastation written over his entire being.
Kyo blinked, taken back, before he guffawed. "What? That's crazy! Damn Yankee. I should have known. And you-" he rounded on Momiji, "What are you doin'? Quit playing around. We've been standin' here for ten minutes. Just pick a direction to go! Who cares if it's right or not?" He ruffled his hair in frustration.
"So it is me," came the triumphant phrase. His eyes widened. Wha? The damn Yankee! "I knew it! Orangey is hopelessly in love with me. Who couldn't be? You've made it perfectly clear it wasn't your cousin," she explained at seeing his face. "If not, why didn't you stay with your group? After all, I remained with shortstuff." She pointed out.
Momiji nodded eagerly in agreement. "Tohru's friend is my friend!" he announced. "I am proud to escort Tohru's friend. I shall defend and protect!" He raised his fist in lieu of his pledge. "And if I do a good job, maybe Tohru will hug me!" The prospect of the hug allowed Momiji to become hyper once again. Not that he ever quit, mind you. But now, he had a purpose. This goal was worse.
Uo-chan ruffled his hair fondly. "You really like her, don't you? I don't know anybody who doesn't like Tohru. Well, maybe the prince's fan club, but we all know it's because they're jealous. Kid, you an' me are gonna get along great." Momiji glowed with the compliment. "But what's with all the hugging?"
The younger student froze. He glanced at Kyo. He hadn't really given anything away, per say. "We're not allowed to hug," he invented randomly. Momiji saw the disbelief on her face. "Ask Kyo, he'll tell you!" Momiji shuffled off, reopening the map.
He was going to kill the rabbit. Kyo groaned, he could feel a headache coming on. "What he says. It's forbidden for a Sohma to hug anyone that's not of the family." He shrugged mentally, it sounded plausible.
Uo-chan tossed her hair back. "So what's that mean? She's like an inductee into the family? Or is shortstuff gonna marry Tohru? Damn. And I thought for sure it'd be the prince..."
"What's that mean?!" Kyo demanded in a rage. What was he, invisible? How could this stupid woman forget Yuki was his rival in everything? Now she had to go and mention that. Was he inadequate to even consider? It was always Yuki. Because of the damn rat, he was overlooked and ignored; he had always played the role of an outcast. Never allowed to participate, feared and loathed. And all because of a stupid banquet. Who needs them anyway? "Whatever," he brushed off.
~"Kyon-kun! Looks like we're partners!" exclaimed a very energetic and enthusiastic student. He slung his arm around Kyo, bunching them together in the crowd. "Don't look so grumpy. We all know it's just an act."
The statement alone was not much of a threat. It was tolerable, since he had become accustomed to such odd things. Being called a cat lover was one of them, it really didn't bother him as much anymore. He couldn't very well explain the kitten's presence due to him being the cat from the zodiac. And Kyon-kun was better then Kyonkitchi, which aggravated him to no end. Really, he had very little to complain about.
Except a curse. A violent cousin that insisted they would marry. A pervert. The perfect cousin. The abusive head of the family. An eager bunny that would turn him into an old man faster than he wanted. The rat's brother who declared himself royalty. A smart-mouthed Yankee. A psychic freak who laughed every time she read his waves. Relatives that seemingly came non-stop. An unorthodox teacher. A bipolar cousin. And not to forget, confinement for the rest of his life. He was pretty sure God hated him by now.
Kyo frowned suddenly. "What did you say?"
His startled partner stopped. "Huh? Oh. Well, nothing really. Just the riddle."
Not aware he was doing so, Kyo shook his head. "That's not it. You mentioned something about colors." He was sure of it. He might not have been paying attention, but he could still hear.
"We've solved the first riddle." A smile. There are many kinds of smiles in the world. A fake which is done for everybody's benefit, a gentle smile reserved for soft memories, the contagious smile, the playful smile existing for younger siblings, the teasing smile meant for friends. The smile offered in kindness or encouragement, the 'I've passed!' smile, the smile of relief after expecting a disappointment. The arrogant smiles (properly called smirks), the sly 'I have a secret' smile, the 'no reason' smile, the embarrassed smile, and, well, we should stop before we get carried away.
This was a goofy smile. From experience, Kyo knew not to trust it. Too many times had it lighted up Shigure's face right before a harebrained idea. Or Ayame, as he plotted his love for his younger brother. It was fairly frightening.
"Read it to me," Kyo demanded, inspired. "You might have missed something."
The boy shrugged carelessly. It didn't matter. "What is the opposite of green?"
Kyo blinked. Was he expected to answer that? What kind of question was it? What freak came up with this scavenger hunt, anyway? "The opposite of green?" He repeated tonelessly.
His partner nodded. "Maybe you should have taken art. It's obvious, then. The opposite of green is red. Clearly, then, we are meant to go to the red light district." This was announced in a flightily sort of way which strongly reminded Kyo of Shigure or Ayame.
He couldn't but explode. "What?! What kind of answer is that?!" He grabbed the map, ripping a large corner, before scoffing in disgust. "I don't know what the answer is, but it's not the red light district. Go have fun, be perverted, and see if I care!" He shouted, shaking his head. Walking away, he could clearly hear his partner call out to his other friends who were not far behind. Apparently, they had come to the same conclusion.
It was not until Momiji practically hopped in his lap (despite the fact that Kyo was standing), that he noticed Uo-chan staring at him in amusement. "You comin'?" She asked.~
"What?" Kyo growled, noticing Uo-chan had interrupted his thinking.
She snorted. "Sorry if you were off in wonderland, but it's time to come to back to reality. As I was sayin', shortstuff says we need to go... there." She jerked her thumb over her shoulder, displaying the building behind them. It was large, the grounds decorated with many plants. From the distance, he thought he could see a fountain.
"What is it?" The doubt surfaced in his question. Public building, maybe? Who else would have a fountain?
Uo-chan sighed. "Momiji figures it's a library."
For some reason, he just couldn't go 'oh' or 'ah'. For all he knew, it was a library; the open, looming windows seemed to verify the conclusion. Kyo remembered the riddle. "So this is where we need to go?"
The Yankee blew the bangs away from her face. "Who cares? I just wanna sit. If we're lucky, we can even have the librarian help us. It's not like she'll know what it is."
"Can you be more selfish?"
She snapped her head up. "Hey! I'm tired, okay? I covered for some dumbass waiter that couldn't get to work on time. Is that my fault? No! I blame you goddamn males! None of you can do anything right!"
The sudden burst of anger sounded vaguely familiar. Didn't they have a discussion like this before or something? A sense of deja vu...the ire behind the statement now refueled. And that was the comment about all the males, he'd heard something like that before. Right after summer, come to think of it. The light bulb flashed. "Is this about you getting stood up?"
"Stood up? By who? Some idiot? Ha! I, Arisa Uotani, get stood up?! Don't be an idiot!" She smacked him over the head in an attempt to scold him. Not to mention, rid him of the thought. Quite clearly, her vein was throbbing. She turned her back on him, ranting about his stupidity. Very loudly. "Stupid idiot! Who does he think he is? And where does he get off saying- hey, what is he doing?"
Her ranting was short-lived as curiosity overwhelmed her. Uo-chan had just noticed Momiji rocking on his heels, lingering dangerously on the edge of the sidewalk. The map securely in both his hands as he whistled a tune. This cheerful side was no different than the one he was usually accustomed to. And Kyo wouldn't have suspected anything of it, had he not recognized the song -it was the weird nature one he was always singing.
Leaping forward, Kyo reached out to drag Momiji away from the street. His hands swiped barely swiped the cloth, only brushing, for Momiji had moved. The boy skipped across the street, head buried in the map. Cars honked their horns but never slowed. Fearing a screech of tires and what to tell Hatori, Kyo waited for the inevitable crash. It never came. On the other side, Momiji seemed to notice the lack of company. Looking around, he saw Kyo and Uo-chan on the other side of the street. He waved, "why are you over there?"
Kyo nearly collapsed in shock from a heart-attack.
Uo-chan, who had also made a grab for Momiji, shook her head. "How does he do that?" she questioned in wonder, untangling her arms that resulted from the empty space. Kyo didn't have an answer. The cars zoomed by. "Looks like we'll have to wait."
"Somebody's coming!" Tamaki whispered unnecessarily. "Everybody in their places. Remember to smile!" he called out in his cheerful tone, trying to inspire the others. Koaru leaned down to match eyes with Hikaru, who laid in his lap, resting lazily. Koaru brushed the hair from his eyes. Hunny jumped into Mori's arms, toppling the two into a chair.
Kyoya straightened his tie as he made his way across the room, standing behind a chair, ready to pull it out just in case. Having guests demanded etiquette.
Haruhi settled herself into the table after adjusting the tea set. Pouring herself a cup, she carefully replaced the kettle onto the tray. The tea set was new, decorated wonderfully with beautiful, delicate yellow flowers. The vines twisted around the handles. In this retrospect, Haruhi had to admit she favored this set compared to the others.
Tamaki panicked. "Who left the curtain open?" He violently exclaimed, rushing to close them. He was not quick enough. Just as he pulled them shut, the doorknob slowly began to turn. He could either duck behind the curtains and be noticeably absent (especially if it was one of his designated), or emerge fantastically, blinding them with his beauty. But still, one would wonder, why was he behind the curtains?
Seeing no alternative, Tamaki sneaked down the wall, trying desperately not to be seen. Luckily, the person was very slow in opening the door. It was pushed open and Tamaki bowed deeply in front of the person, not even looking at her. "Welcome, my lady. You do us a great honor by coming here. I am Tamaki. Please, let me be your host." He held out his hand to escort her to the table. He would straighten, smile, and charm her with a compliment.
He was rewarded with a heavy object that was most decidedly not her hand.
Raising his head, he was confused to meet a black parasol. "For the coat rack," she explained quietly, her voice eerily distant. "It is very hot outside." And without waiting for him, moved inside the room. Tamaki was still immobile when a multicolored haired youth followed her, hands in his pockets.
He glanced around, taking in the furniture, the large windows with curtain, and its occupants. "This isn't a courtroom," he remarked simply.
The black clad girl sighed deeply. "No, it is not. It appears our journey has come to an end." Her tone drifted, amplifying her dream-like state.
Haruhi took the time to study the girl as the two strangers stood in the middle of the room. She wore a simple black dress down to her ankles. The collar spoke of another era, trimmed with lace and four white buttons. The long sleeves were fitted to end delicately at her wrists, so they would not ride up. Her shoes were buckled, but still did not reveal skin. From her hands and face, there was a milky skin, and the dress did nothing to hide her thin frame.
"Should we leave then?" The boy asked in a monotone. He had a mix of black and white hair, several piercing in his ears, two or three necklaces around his neck, and a white shirt that opened up midsection. His face was fixed into blankness, and it seemed he held no opinion or thought. He simply viewed. It was obvious, though, despite their odd words and short sentences, that they were comfortable around each other.
Tamaki turned to Kyoya in distress. They were completely being ignored! How-why- it wasn't fair! How could this happen? He wondered wildly.
The girl blinked slowly. "No. I believe we deserve a rest." She spotted the tea and passed the others without a word, sitting herself down across from Haruhi. Busying herself, she lifted the teapot, pouring the semi-hot liquid into the cup. Indulging in its smell, she lifted the cup to her lips before pausing. Then she sat it down, turning.
"Hatsuharu-kun, would you like tea as well?" The boy, his name now known, stared at her before responding. He joined her at the table, looking quite bored.
There was silence as the girl sipped from the cup before snatching up a cookie.
Mustering up his courage, Tamaki decided once again to attempt to chat up his guests. He drew up a chair next to the girl. "Excuse me for interrupting but I simply must-" she cut him off.
"Introduce yourself? Of course. I was beginning to wonder at your lack of manners," she finished softly.
Hikaru and Koaru stiffened before peeking at one another, trying to stifle their laughter. Kyoya smirked in amusement, Haruhi's eyebrows rose, and Hunny tugged on Mori's shirt. Tamaki was wide-eyed, speechless. Lack of manners? He? What of her, who barged in the room? Who treated him so roughly as to mistake him for a butler? Oh, the cruelty. Gathering himself from the despair, he swallowed his pride. He would try again, and succeed!
He spoke again, calming himself. Forcing himself to impress and not insult her, he began more smoothly. She would need to take convincing. He paused, deliberating the effect. "I am Tamaki-"
He blinked. "No. My name is Tamaki-"
"My companion, Hatsuharu Sohma."
At this he became convinced she was doing this on purpose. How cruel! He wasn't even allowed to introduce himself! How was he supposed to explain to her he was the founder, the grand host, if she would not let him? Could he really be blamed for being a bad host if she refused to be civil? How must this reflect upon Haruhi! She had seen him fail. What would become of him now? Had he lost his charm? Haruhi was most difficult to charm, he understood, due to the lack of female influence in her life. But now two? This stranger, this Saki Hanajima...another failed attempt? Was there a divine force trying to tell him something?
Hanajima paused in her actions. "You have most pleasant waves," she complimented Haruhi suddenly. There was a pause as everybody became confused. Haruhi cocked her head, unable to decide how to react. "They are very stable. You have a great deal of common sense, this is a blessing. In a world so fraught with sadness and anger, it will do not to lose yourself."
Haruhi's mouth twitched in tension. "Thank you."
It was then that Tamaki noticed Kyoya moving towards the table. Laying his hands on Haruhi's chair, he leant forward. Overshadowing the female, he glanced at Hatsuharu. "Sohma? That name sounds familiar but I cannot place it." Of course, he was lying. It was merely an introduction, to make Hatsuharu join in the conversation.
The youth made no movement except to shrug before looking away. Obviously he was not enticed. "Ahh. The Sohmas own a large amount of land, correct?" Kyoya questioned, realizing Hatsuharu was not willing to divulge much information. Or perhaps he knew nothing about it...could he be from another branch of the Sohmas? Either way, he was not of the talkative sort.
"You must forgive Hatsuharu. He rarely speaks unless he deems it necessary. I should warn you, to continue on your path would bring great unhappiness."
Kyoya smiled politely.
Jumping up out of Mori's arms, Hunny ran to her side. "What waves? Are you like a gypsy? Can you tell my fortune? I can't decide between lemon or strawberry . . ." he trailed off, chewing on his thumbnail. His distress called out to her.
"I read denpa waves. Signals from your brain. I cannot tell you your fortune." At his crestfallen face, she patted his head in consolation. "I would recommend strawberry."
Hunny clapped his hands together. "Yay! It's strawberry, Mori! Mori! Koaru, Hikaru, come have your fortunes told!" He skipped away happily.
Hanajima shook her head in disagreement. "I should I not divulge too much. I had best not voice the duty and dedication lacing his thoughts, the embodiment of selflessness. It is too much," she sighed. Turning to look at the twins, she frowned. "Unity yet separation. Your bond speaks of many levels of intimacy. There is no room for growth; you stifle yourselves and yet hope blooms. I bid you good luck in your quest."
The twins snickered to themselves at her wording, wondering if she actually knew anything.
"And me?" Tamaki whispered from his corner of woe. He had his hands around his neck, dropping them from his ears. He had spent an unsuccessful ten minutes trying to block out her comments. And the thoughts in his head.
She turned her gaze toward him. Unblinking, she assessed him. Her expression was as blank as the youth's. She did not view him favorably. Tamaki groaned silently. Her silence was disturbing.
At last she spoke. "Incidentally, your waves are the most suspicious."
He fell over in shock. "Suspicious?" he cried out.
Hanajima raised an eyebrow at his exclamation. "Yes. I feel I must also warn you your endeavors are useless. You cannot possibly win her favor." He sulked in the corner once more, rocking back and forth in sorrow. She sighed once more, twice as deeply. "The miscommunication of generations."
Tamaki breathed easier.
Momiji skidded to a stop outside the room, the large sign just now registering. For a while, he stared at it. The vertical rectangle plastered neatly on the wall. Deep black brushes on the white background, similar to several ink blots knitted together. The false appearance of fresh paint made the boy wonder. How was it kept in such prime condition? Was there chemicals or some film to protect the sign from wear? Had it been recently replaced?
Opening one of the doors, Momiji pushed his head through as his eyes scanned the place, before he slipped his body through. One of the first things he saw was a cream colored floor, a large reception desk off to the left, an area for computers, printers lined in the back. Tables that were square, tables that were round, some with scattered students. Reading or writing, one or two with large headphones covering their ears as they worked diligently.
And suddenly, he was standing inside, impressed by the silence held so reverently by its occupants. The three assistants at the desk worked at a slow, steady pace, practically ignored until needed. One man was checking in the returned books, one woman was currently loading a cart to replace the returned books. Another woman sat in the front, waiting for customers and until then, typed on a computer. The counters were a light color that reminded Momiji of bamboo.
Tossing his arms behind his back, Momiji wandered farther into the room, gazing at the bright ceilings and walking at a march- type pace. He was not worried that people would bother him. This library seemed to be a sanctuary of sorts.
The rows were alphabetical, of course. Staring at the books, Momiji had to jump to read the titles of the ones on the top shelf. He had yet to experience his growth spurt, though waited patiently. It didn't bother him much. Being short came with it's advantages. He was short, cute, blonde, and his childish antics were simply adorable. The bright colors he wore enhanced his features, the lace and frills he wore let others underestimate him. They let themselves be deceived by appearances so easily. Really, it was unfair of him to trick others but that was the rabbit, wasn't it?
Glancing around to be certain nobody was in the aisle with him, Momiji clambered onto the bottom shelf (which was empty), which greatly released the tension growing onto his neck from gazing up. The strain had eased for the moment and being so light, he needn't worry about breaking the shelves. It was all in good fortune.
"Momiji!" chorused two voices. One sounding more exasperated and temperous than the other. Perhaps he had spoken too soon. Kyo walked down to where Momiji clung to a shelf, anger obvious in his wake. He could practically see the vein popping out of his forehead. It was amusing.
"What are you doing?" he demanded.
Momiji blinked innocently, which didn't fool Kyo. "I didn't want to disturb the receptionist," he explained. "But I was right, this is a library!"
"Of course this is a library! You're in a school, dammit!" He shouted.
Uo-chan tipped her head back. "What he meant was why are you on a shelf?" Before Momiji could answer, Kyo rounded on her.
"I know what I meant, ya damn Yankee."
She sighed, gesturing to the short boy on the shelves. "I was talking to him." Amazingly, right now, she had a lot of patience. It was very uncharacteristic.
Now feeling slightly dumb, Kyo attempted to defend himself. It was pathetic, really. "I don't need you to translate. Now get off that damn shelf!" He ordered to Momiji.
"But I'm getting a map," explained Momiji.
Kyo rolled his eyes. "We already have a map. What good would another do?" It had seemed his temper deflated miraculously. That boy was like a faucet. Hot, cold, hot. "And why are you looking for a map in this section?"
He shrugged. "Map starts with a 'm'." He reasoned in his best 'duh' voice. "Wah! Uo-chan, rescue me! Kyo's gonna pull me off. I'm gonna fall and get hurt! Let go, you're hurting me!" Momiji wailed as Kyo lost his temper and decided that logic wasn't the best course in talking the hyperactive bunny down. Momiji clung to the top shelf, trying to pull himself up by using his elbows. When this didn't work, he simply tightened his grip as Kyo tugged at his legs.
"I don't stretch, Kyo!" Momiji yelled, thinking maybe his cousin had forgotten he wasn't a toy. "Hey, that's my shoe!" He shouted in protest, as Kyo fell back against the neighboring shelf, which didn't topple over but made a loud clang. Kyo threw the shoe on the ground before dashing for Momiji's legs which were dangling in midair as he tried to find the shelf again. "Uo-chan, please!" Momiji pleaded.
Unable to avoid neutrality any longer, Uo-chan sighed somewhere between exhaustion of their antics and amusement. "Just let him go, orangey."
A growl from Kyo as he considered the thought laughable. As far as he was concerned, the rabbit had it coming to him. Momiji hid his smile as the two exchanged words. "Let him go? Sure, just let the damn idiot get away with everything. Like he always does, running to someone else. Not this time. And you stay out of this Yankee! I don't need your lip!" Kyo voiced, his eyes now achieving a strange Kagura-like glow. You know, it was the sparkle she got whenever she was near Kyo . . . Momiji winced.
"Hey, look at this!" Momiji exclaimed in surprise, completely forgetting about everything as he took one of his hands off the shelf to grab a book. The result was instantaneous. Kyo lost his balance, his arms waving like windmills, before falling on his butt. With him, he brought Momiji, who dangled in midair for a moment before falling as well. The book he had grabbed was secure in his hands, but with it came all the others. Books rained down upon them. Well, upon Kyo. Momiji had been quick enough to place the book above his head, protecting him from any sharp corners or hard blows.
Momiji chuckled awkwardly as he lowered his arms. "He he." He fell silent at seeing Kyo's glare.
The book was plucked carefully from his hands. Still standing and uninjured due to her reluctance to get involved, she had escaped unscathed. Momiji grinned as she read the title, "A Hearts Healing . . .? When his fiancé left him, Dr. Yuri Ranji had developed into a recluse, his heart sealed. Three years later, the wounds still fresh, Dr. Ranji is expanding his business. Accepting a new nurse to train, he is struck by her lively attitude and carefree spirit. What Hana Miwa doesn't know are the secrets Dr. Ranji hoards deep within. Will Dr. Ranji open his heart to Hana Miwa at last? More importantly, will Hana accept him?"
She studied the book once more, her face falling at the cover, where a doctor peeked over his shoulder to the lovely nurse, who was busy filing reports and hadn't noticed. She tossed it back to Momiji. "So?"
"Yeah. Sounds like one of those books that Shigure is always-" Kyo's eyes nearly popped out of his head, realization stunning him unkindly. "This? This . . . is . . . one of . . . those?" The words would barely come out. He shivered at the mental image. He had been tainted. He hadn't even read the book, and he was already tainted.
Momiji clapped his hands. "Yep. Under a penname. And can you guess what? The main character, the doctor who lost his love, can you guess who that is? Huh? You got it. The inspiration was Hatori!"
Once again, Kyo shivered. Well, grimaced. He could only imagine Hatori's reaction. The silent fury, the rage, the depression and guilt. Shigure pushing others along before they're ready, practically committing murder. His own agenda being put into effect. And the shame, the feeling of inadequacy. Especially now that Kana had moved on. Kyo swallowed thickly. Akito probably laughed his head off.
Avoiding Momiji's inquiring stare, Kyo shrugged. "Yeah, well-"
"What is all this racket? My library! What have you done?! How- how could you? All the shelves!...and the books!..." the librarian gasped, face crestfallen, despair written on her features. The hair in her bun was slowly falling out as she stared dumbfounded at the mess. "The poor books, I'll have to restraighten and categorize once again. All that work!" she murmured to herself, seemingly forgetting the others.
Meanwhile, Momiji was silently and slyly slipping on his shoes. He had set the novel on the ground, being quiet. Quite used to Shigure's editor, Kyo ignored the woman's rants. Uo-chan, however, listened to the woman, finding her situation rather amusing. She must really like books, she figured.
It was a sentence that struck fear into their hearts. Such anger, such passion. Full of promises of revenge and insanity. The air was suddenly very chilly.
"Run!" Momiji cried, jumping to his feet and running the opposite way. "She has a stamp!" True enough, in her hand, was still the stamp that would mark the books for when they should be returned. Seeing the smallest one run, the librarian stalked toward them, murder in her eyes. Their eyes meeting, Uo-chan and Kyo decided at once they'd rather live. Although it seemed disgraceful to run from a fight, especially for Kyo, they wouldn't want to face an angry librarian. Seeing the other two dash after the first, she sprinted.
"Ah!" Momiji yelped, dodging a student.
So it was most odd when Mori and Hunny paused, barely missed being hit by the library doors as they were thrown open, three students tumbling out. No, not students. Guests? The three piled against the door, pressing their weight. And after four seconds, a pounding on the door resulted. Shouts. And banging as the librarian threw herself against the door.
"Yankee, your pipe," breathed Kyo. They couldn't keep this up forever. Especially if the other librarians saw the mess . . .
The blonde woman heaved. "Don't have it . . .taken away . . ."
He scowled. "Dammit. What kind of Yankee are you?"
Her fist was practically in his nose. "The kind that's gonna beat your ass. Come on shortstuff, I say we run for it. Damn. I haven't had to run like this for a long time."
A scoff from Kyo. "Maybe if you didn't skip out on the endurance run . . ." It trailed off.
"I'm going to kill you three! My library! My poor library! You bastards!"
Momiji winced at the language. "She sounds really mad. Oh hi! What a cute bunny! Isn't it cute, Kyo? I love bunnies," he gushed. He waved to the frozen host club members cheerfully. Hunny cocked his head, considering the three. Mori made no movement. Leaving his post, Momiji walked up to them, smiling in his charming, innocent way. "I'm Momiji Sohma," he introduced himself. "I'd like to talk and all, but we really can't. You see, Kyo destroyed the library," he whispered aloud.
"What?! Ya damn liar! Take that back. Tell the truth!" Kyo growled.
Uo-chan grunted. "Just shut up already. I'm runnin'," she declared, before pushing herself off the doors, running down the hall to her right. She didn't wait for the others.
Momiji sighed. "Gotta go," he announced. He poked Hunny in the arm. "Tag!" He shouted joyfully before he caught up with Kyo, easily keeping pace with the cat as they rounded the same corner as Uo-chan.
The woman with wild hair burst out of the library, breathing heavily. She panted, "where'd. . .they. . ." (wheeze) "go?" Her face was red and her fists were clenched together oddly. It was a frightening sight.
Mori and Hunny both pointed in the direction, where she followed immediately without thanking them. Standing still and now knowing what to make of the situation, Hunny peered up at Mori. "That was a challenge, right?" He took after the four, deciding this looked very fun.
Everything was all set. The trap was infallible. There was no possible way this plan could go wrong. Yes, this time success would be more than a dream. After so much planning, after all the projections, after following them . . . there was no room for failure. This was the deciding moment.
All their lives had led up to this and nothing else. They could not fail.
This time . . .
Koaru and Hikaru walked down the path leading to the basketball courts. Even in this weather, sports were better than being stuck inside. Particularly with a gothic girl who worked Tamaki into tears every five minutes. It couldn't be helped. The girl was as blunt as Haruhi, and Tamaki was emotional as ever. It seems this personality duplicate of Haruhi had struck "father" hard.
What was even more awkward was her companion, Hatsuharu Sohma. He hardly ever spoke (besides insisting his hair was natural), and refused to answer Kyoya's questions about his family. Finally, Kyoya surrendered (momentarily), feeling it polite not to badger the guest too often. He was still waiting before passing judgment. This in itself is rare.
And so, to avoid silence and odd commentary at seemingly random times, the twins left. Although they had not left quick enough. ~Hanajima peered mysteriously at the others, her eyelids closing a fraction slower than most humans'. Her hands were clasped together at her chest, only inches away from her neck. Her expression etched into utter calmness. "Royal flush," she sighed, laying down her cards for all to see. Hunny clapped in praise once again, content to applaud his opponent. Mori nodded expectedly. Hatsuharu folded his cards in his hands before tossing them on the table in a sign of defeat.
Kyoya, who had refused to play, peered over the twins' head in interest, before frowning. It appeared he was trying to deduce the possibilities of the same person winning four times in a row without cheating. Tamaki moaned loudly in protest. "How can you do it? How can she do it? It's not possible!"
Hanajima turned her head in his direction as she gathered the cards once more. "As your resolve weakens, it will become more difficult for you to achieve your goals."
Tamaki gasped. He threw himself at Kyoya, shouting, "Mother! She called me weak. How am I ever to win?!"
Hikaru let his mind wander briefly, his eyes drifting towards the skies. "Do you think she really knows?" He couldn't stop himself from asking. He had managed to hold his curiosity in this far, but it was overwhelming. This girl who claimed to read denpa waves, could she really be legitimate?
"Hanajima?" Kaoru questioned his brother, looking back as he noticed Hikaru had slowed his pace. It was disturbing. Hikaru often tried to shield himself, going so far as to mask his true intentions, to not be hurt. Of the two, he was more insecure, unable to interact with others socially. He held little regard for their emotions, ensuring alienation.
It was the perfect balance, truthfully. Kaoru managed to lessen his brother's faults with his own antics, his mere presence providing much needed reassurance. Kaoru shrugged, not really having an answer.
"I wouldn't know," he answered. "Who's to say she doesn't? It could be a party trick or a joke. But she seemed sincere. Are you that worried?" He watched his brother's reaction.
Hikaru scanned the sky before withdrawing his gaze, the white clouds seemingly mocking. It was an unusual bright blue. His head drooped noticeably as he contemplated things. Searching for his feelings proved to be easy, dissecting and explaining them, even to his twin, was much more difficult. He was never really good at being verbal.
"I shouldn't be," he decided at last. And, as his realization grew, so did his fervor. His voice reflecting inside, increasingly loud and unsteady. "Who is she? She doesn't even know us! Who is she to tell us how things will end, how or what they will become? It won't end that way." His tone reached a point where it sounded self-convincing. Bitter, yes, but it rang false. The strength, the determination, it was not as strongly as he would have liked.
Kaoru breathed in deeply. The conversation with Hanajima was bothering Hikaru. Most aggravating, though, was that there existed some other obstacle. His brother had not mentioned it, but his anger alluded to some other event. He was deeply troubled by something.
His observations were cut short as he snapped to attention, noticing Hikaru was now making his way towards him. He stopped only a foot or two away. He was looking better. Now that he had released his temper and feeling slightly improved, he had a new air to him. Glad to see the change, Kaoru smiled at his brother, conveying his worries.
Hikaru nodded. He had worried his brother unnecessarily. In that single nod was exchanged gratitude. Kaoru was willing to wait, and this trait seemed at times, the most generous thing his brother could do. He would wait, just as he had demonstrated so few moments ago, for Hikaru to catch up.
And abruptly, his arm felt strangely empty. Blinking and looking down, he realized why. In the crook of his arm, where he had trapped the ball between his limb and body, there existed nothing but air. Glancing up, he saw Hikaru grinning at him, holding up the ball with one hand. "You coming?"
"Thief," Kaoru tossed out.
Hikaru shrugged. "Dreaming fool."
Hikaru smirked. "Optimist."
A scoff. "Victim."
Kaoru sighed in defeat, lamenting on the childish behavior of his older brother. "Idiot," he muttered under his breath.
Koaru threw his arm over Hikaru, still leading him to the basketball courts. He actually wasn't bothered by the insults, they almost seemed commonplace.
"Bet you can't do this!" Hikaru shot from the inside. It easily went inside the basket.
Kaoru accepted the challenge, of course. Typically, it was no contest. Retrieving the ball from under the basket, Hikaru decided to shoot from the free throw.
Forced to make a drastic move, to hopefully give his brother a letter, he moved into the three point section. It hit the backboard at an odd angle, bouncing off rather hard. Hikaru shrugged as Kaoru caught the ball.
Kaoru used the positioning to his advantage by performing a layup. Hikaru followed suit.
Considering his options, Kaoru stepped back to the free throw. Gauging the distance, he threw the ball on the floor. It bounced before swishing into the net. Grinning, he cast his brother a 'what can you do?' glance. Correct to his assumptions, Hikaru missed.
"H!" Kaoru called out before standing at the top of the arch. Turning his back, he took a breath in. Kaoru and Hikaru were not athletically inclined. Neither were they interested by such things. But being limited by the number two, there are only so many things that twins may do without including others. They had done it all. Almost.
Eventually, though, and this was difficult to say, they occasionally liked to compete against the other. Not often. But once in a while. Basketball was even rarer than these incidences. And this particular stunt they hadn't performed since middle school. Bouncing the ball into the basket is infinitely easier. You can look at the target, can judge distances, and can adjust where to bounce the ball, how much force to use. In this situation, close your eyes and hope for the best.
That is just what Kaoru did.
Until the shrieks interrupted his frozen body. Pivoting around, he noticed the ball had flown far beyond the basket. In fact, it had stopped flying and decided to roll on the ground. Its rolling, however, had not been noticed by a girl talking to her friend beside her, and tripped over it.
The friend, so shocked, had been unable to catch her as she flew onto her back.
Hikaru patted Kaoru on the back in an attempt to console the younger brother as they made their way to the couple, prepared to apologize. The girl who had tripped and collapsed lay on the floor, blinking. It seemed she was out of sorts.
The male companion was kindly kneeling, waving one hand before the girl. He had an odd combination of gray hair and violet eyes. His thin frame and soft voice easily confused the brothers. He completely disregarded the two, his concern for her outweighed pleasantries.
"Honda-san, are you alright?" Without waiting for an answer, he propped her up against his knees. The brown haired girl blinked heavily, large brown eyes taking a while to clear. Her blue and white suit was oddly cute on her, though a bit fading.
"Yuki-kun...two?" Were the first words Hikaru and Kaoru could hear from her mouth. The boy noticeably jolted, either from the informal address or suddenly aware of the twins, they didn't know. But his answer was a quiet, "Hai." Faintly reminiscent of Mori.
She nodded and Hikaru was struck with the thought that she was an idiot. But a cute idiot.
Kaoru watched with amusement. "I'm Hikaru and this is Kaoru," he introduced them. The girl nodded before accepting the boy's hand in standing up. She swayed slightly before stabilizing herself.
Hikaru nodded. "The ball was ours. We're very sorry."
"I'm Tohru Honda and this is Yuki Sohma." She waved to the gray haired boy beside her. "We're on a school sponsored trip but have been separated. I don't suppose this is a school?"
Kaoru cocked his head to the side, wondering if she had considered the basketball courts as part of a park. "It is a school," he countered. He quickly exchanged a confused look with Hikaru.
She clapped both hands together in joy. "See Sohma-kun? You were right after all!" The pure happiness in her smile caused the twins to regard her as a simple girl, very common. Just as quickly, it vanished. "Oh dear. I've probably ruined by uniform, Sohma-kun."
He stepped around her, the twins following. With distaste the twins viewed the grass stained uniform. It would have to be replaced.
So it was with shock that the two brothers, about to deliver the horrible news with hidden glee, watched the boy tug off his school jacket. He handed it out to the girl, who at first refused profusely. He shook his head calmly.
He firmly handed the jacket back to her, content to stay in the white shirt. "I'm fine Honda-san. But it would be best to hide the marks for now. We can't have anyone seeing you like that, now can we?"
His gentle voice left no argument. With another apology and more reluctance, she put the jacket on. It was a tad too large. The sleeves were baggy. It was obviously made for a boy. Kaoru and Hikaru watched with interest as the girl stared up endearingly at the taller boy. "How do I look, Sohma-kun?"
His smile was meant for the girl alone. "As cute as ever, Honda-san."
A large sigh caused Hikaru and Kaoru to pause. It was loud and exaggerated, resembling Tamaki's. Seeing nobody in sight, they looked at each other.
"Was that strange?" Kaoru asked.
Hikaru shrugged. "Definitely weird." He turned back to the two guests. "Come on."
Hana surveyed the room around her. It was similar to a parlor, with the consideration of space and entertaining guests. The furniture was large yet accommodating for the many that must frequent the room. Little circular tables were scattered on one side of the room, able to seat at least four at once, not including the host. Each table held its own teaset or sweets, which was most convenient.
Large windows lined the wall looking out into the estate, each framed by long navy blue curtains. Some lay still by their side, others drawn back by sashes.
Following the wall, Hana walked to a curtain by the same color but not as tall, off to the side. Curiosity drawing her forward, Hana laid a hand on the makeshift doorway. She admired the cloth for but a moment, immediately considering it to be expensive. Pulling it aside wide enough to enter, she observed the room as a stranger before crossing the threshold.
A beautiful black piano lay hidden behind the curtain, secluded into a corner of the room, shamelessly ignored. A last window lay directly behind the bench where the pianist would sit. If the sun were to shine in the window, it would be a halo around the person. Combine that scene with masterful pieces of music, soft as an angel's voice and lyrical as poetry, it would be a divine event. Unfortunately, it would never occur as this part of the school was faced away from the dawn.
Spare chairs were placed around the particularly small space (which was most likely a storage room) as if it were in anticipation of an audience.
Hana stepped away from the doorway, the curtain falling back into its place. She couldn't identify the type of piano but held no doubt it was the greatest the school could afford. Reaching under the piano and pulling out the bench, she brushed a hand over the wood. It held no dust despite its lack of use and only then did Hana figure caretakers of some sort must dust it everyday. Pushing up the board, she viewed the ivory and ebony keys before replacing the covering.
She looked up.
As if suddenly making a decision, for the movement was rather abrupt, she strode over to the curtain and yanked it aside in a furious motion. It startled the people on the other side of the curtain. Tamaki had jumped, a few customers shrieked or flinched. Hatsuharu merely turned his head toward her, giving her his full attention, knowing she was not prone to such behavior. He kindly regarded her before motioning with his head to the interlopers. Hana must have spent more time admiring the piano than she thought.
There, sitting there, as if they had done nothing wrong, as if they belonged there, were two very unwanted people.
"Members one and two," Hana welcomed softly.
Both members stood up so quickly they disturbed the table setting, and one of the saucers spun in circles before tipping over. Member two's hair whipped her face as she spun around to face her foe. Body frozen as she contemplated whether to run or answer back, she kept her eyes on Hanajima (which was rather hard, for her bangs and now wild hair hung in her face).
The crash of the porcelain was nothing to the stillness in the room.
Number one was the first to move. Standing too erectly to be comfortable, she offered a brief smile. "Saki Hanajima. It is a . . . shock to see you here. Resting?" Apparently she had recovered quickly, for her tone went from awkward to conveying scorn and mockery.
Hana smiled politely. "Hatsuharu and I are merely lost. Scavenger hunts were not meant for people like us. You?" Her voice was light, whimsical.
Number one seemed to understand what Hana was asking, for she narrowed her eyes and answered briefly. "Coincidence."
"Of course," Hana seemingly agreed.
A pause. Hana walked over to the table, standing directly above the mess. "Such beautiful porcelain," she sighed. Snapping out of her grievance, she daintily sat herself in a chair. "Please, sit." She offered no smile, merely began pouring herself a cup.
She ignored the shocked responses in the room to her easy dismissal of the broken cup. She had not broken it, therefore it did not rest on her to clean. She had the strong urge to ask for the broom and dustpan before passing it off to the emotional blonde but decided not to. Hana figured she had been cruel enough to him.
Number one and two seemed to be having a debate, for they were arguing under their breaths. Whatever decision was made became clear as one was forcibly pushing two to the table. One's grip on two's shirt increased as she pressed two into the chair. Two swallowed loudly. The students of the school with the addition of Haru were still standing and watching the events unfold.
One cautiously placed herself directly across from Hana, which happened to also be the closest chair to the door. Both members silently watched as Hana added another sugar cube to her tea. About to take a drink, Hana noticed how stiff they still stubbornly insisted upon being.
"Have a cup of tea. I made it myself," she added on an afterthought, secretly overjoyed to see their eyes widen with fear. "Not a brand I prefer, but we must make do with what we have." Hana somberly said, taking a sip. "Hmmm, scones. In this case, lemon would be best to offset the bland properties of the tea. But I make no complaints," she added once again before nibbling on the scone.
She nodded in agreement with herself while making note of their postures. Number two kept stealing glances at number one, lost. Number one intently debated with herself as whether or not to accept the offer of tea. Hana silently congratulated herself.
"Number two, when will you make the next visit to my house?" Hana directed the conversation to the more uncertain of the two. She turned her body so that she could gauge the emotions crossing two's face. Number two referred to one for direction but as one was mentally debating whether to be brave or not, she could not help.
"Uh, well I-I hadn't considered," number two stumbled along before Hana graciously intervened.
"Megumi- my brother, you remember?" Hana did not wait for a response before she continued. "Megumi has taken a liking to you and wondered aloud when you would next visit. Oh, you needn't worry about curses. Megumi hardly ever curses people he is fond of." She smiled patiently, correctly interpreting number two's silence as shock.
"If I wanted to kill you, I'd hardly use poison, number one." She slowly swiveled her head to consider the girl she had been watching out of the corner of her eye. She discreetly poured herself a cup and one sugar while Hana questioned her friend. As she was taking a sip, Hana regarded her.
The result: Number one scalding her tongue as she gulped the tea that her hand involuntarily poured into her mouth as she jolted to the comment that had been swirling inside of her head for the last two minutes. Using one hand to cover her mouth, number one placed the cup on the saucer with a soft tink.
Hana nibbled on the scone. "Oh, I didn't need to read her mind, number two."
A loud screech and thump reverberated across the table as number one stood and slammed her hands down. Apparently, she had enough, Hana thought. Without their full membership, it seemed they were harder to frighten. "Stop with your mind games, witch!"
The exclamation, much less accusation, was followed by a period of furious silence. Number one, inflamed, was now breathing hard and glaring at Hana. Number two had stood up also, but more so out of confusion than actual anger. The room was mostly observers than participants. The next words seemingly stopped the world from turning.
"He doesn't love you."
Both members froze, number two mostly from an inability to respond. What should she say? To whom? Why did she feel so helpless; they knew it would never happen, could never come true but still hoped beyond reason that someday it wouldn't be a dream. Believing in and loving Yuki Sohma was harmless, a school girls' crush. Every girl must have a first love, right?
Hana shook her head, no longer wanting to imagine the thoughts running through their minds.
Disbelief shown on number one's face as she scoffed. "What does it matter to you?"
"She is right." Number one sharply turned her head to Hatsuharu.
Hana bowed her head. Haru rarely interfered, so this must mean he felt strongly about this. It must have been on his mind lately. Still, Hana felt guilty. To hear it from her might not have been taken seriously, but at least it was said. Number two already doubted her affection for Yuki, Hana could tell from the confused waves. Number one remained as fervent as ever in her pursuit. Which would make this all the more difficult.
Hatsuharu Sohma was not known for his patience or his coating of the truth. He was blunt and at times, harsh. If he, as the other sohmas termed it "went black", there would be no mercy. Hatsuharu's mood changes were famous and occurred often, which as Yuki explained, was the reason for the nickname.
All in all, this did not explain why the Sohma's waves were different from other people, but Hana willingly accepted it anyway.
Number one opened her mouth to argue. "But he-"
"Complimented you? Smiled? Laughed? Escorted you to class? That's just Yuki." Haru shook his head, white spikes waving. "I know it hurts to hear the truth."
She refused to accept it. Hana sighed. "No you don't! Yuki loves me!"
Haru breathed deeply. "Don't you mean he'll learn to love you? Yuki could never love someone so two faced as you." He paused, looking at his feet before his head suddenly rocketed up. "Did you know Yuki gardens? He has asthma too," Haru added. "But he's the fastest in the class, right? You'd never know just by looking at him," it seemed he spoke to himself. "What you know about Yuki isn't from observations by spending time with him. It's from spying."
Deciding to take over from here before Haru turned "black", Hana nodded. "He could never love you."
Even before the outburst, Hana could tell it was coming. Simply from the feeling of being ganged up on, and number two not coming to her aid. The ugly face of reality looming in front of her, and the hope for a "high school sweetheart" diminished. Maybe she was wishing their senpai was here. Or that this was all a nightmare.
"It's because of her, isn't it?"
A whisper of dejection, dashed hopes and dreams. Wasted time and effort. Maybe she could face reality, Hana thought momentarily. If she stopped being so forceful or jealous. The pain did not have to last.
Hana contemplated on the remark. Yes, it was Tohru. No, not because of her. Lately, Hana had noticed a change in the prince's waves. He was different, but it was an improvement. He had finally accepted something, and was now seeking to better himself. He had matured but for his own reasons. " . . . No," came the verdict.
"Liar!" Her voice echoed inside the room.
Apparently this was not the answer she sought. If she thought it was Tohru, perhaps she could accept it. Her prince was in love with somebody else- she could not interfere with love.
"It's always Tohru Honda! Always!" Tears sprang in her eyes. "You're always protecting her." A whisper of realization as she became frantic. "That girl who is polluting him. Well, I'll let him know. He'll know what a fake she is and ...that'll be the end of it." Her eyes met Hana's and the goth slowly and silently accepted this girl was frighteningly insane. Number one nodded to herself. "Come, number two."
Hana hid her smile well as number two's brows furrowed. "I- I can't!" It was wrought with confusion and panic. "I can't move!"
Number one swerved to regard Hana, who stared blankly at her. "Fine, witch. I'll tell Yuki. You can't stop me!" she shouted, hands balled into fists. She ran out of the room.
There was silence in the room, nobody quite knowing how to react. The door she had disappeared through vibrated.
The emotional blonde was the first to speak, "Well, that was-"
"Shhh," Hana hushed him.
"Ahhhhhhh! Yankeee!" Number one's scream echoed through the entire school. Hana smiled, pleased, as she poured herself another cup of tea.
Mori followed his cousin, the librarian and the three mysterious strangers throughout the school. If he had never attended Ouran, he would certainly know his way around now. The chase that so far was proving neither enjoyable or a disaster, at least provided an exercise. Truth be said, he rather admired the librarian for sustaining such a lengthy pursuit. Even though the two could have easily passed the librarian, it was much more amusing to be behind and watch as she shouted colorful obscenities and shake her fist angrily.
Now as they raced down the narrow flight of stairs, he could see the party in front. The girl with flying blonde hair- her movements were sharp, desperate, and dangerous. The orange haired boy seemed fine to let the girl lead but constantly yelled at her. He held more anger and uncertainty than the girl who trusted her instincts. The third, a blonde boy with blue shorts, had the most fun.
He skipped around, laughing uncontrollably, almost not aware of the situation. His buoyancy either rivaled or outmatched Hunny's, Mori wasn't about to judge. Right now, he slid down the banister, jumping off at the right second to land in front of the other boy, who scoffed in disgust.
The librarian almost collapsed under her heels, being far too difficult to travel down the stairs at such a pace and not trip. Muttering angrily, she slipped her shoe off and targeted the taller boy. It rocketed through the air two feet higher than she meant to, and even from this distance, Mori could see the blonde girl skid sideways to a stop, noticing the shoe ricocheting off the wall. She swung her head backward.
"Down Orangey!" she barked.
Mori thought it mildly interesting how the two didn't question her at all but fell flat to the floor. The black high heel sailed right through where his head had been. It clattered to the floor with finality. Taking a quick look at each other that clearly meant 'whew', the two boys jumped up and followed the girl through the door.
It was a classroom.
The librarian clambered to her feet and continued after the delinquents. Hunny, who had wisely stopped half a flight above to observe, started once more. Mori followed.
She didn't stop to retrieve her shoes but pressed forward. The effect made her slide but she prevented it by placing her hands on the outlining of the door. He saw her disappear through the door.
Hunn and Mori peered cautiously into the room, not hearing an outburst of any kind. The silence was frightening, considering how vocal the librarian had been. The room was mostly empty except the librarian hanging out of the window, positioning her feet into place, hands prepared to push her off.
Hunny turned his wide, disbelieving eyes unto Mori. Then he rushed to grab her arm and pulled her back to safety, to prevent her from making such a foolish mistake but too late- she launched forward before falling to earth. Mori and Hunny were able to get to the window to watch her land. It was oddly but perhaps it was good she had chose to throw her shoes at the strangers, for she surely would've twisted or broke her ankle.
Crawling to her feet, she resumed the chase.
As Hunny placed his hands on the windowsill to pull himself up, Mori burdened his cousin's shoulder with his hand. Startled, Hunny turned to view him. Mori shook his head. Understanding, Hunny nodded sadly as Mori closed the window. They slowly exited the classroom, Hunny being sure to drag his feet to match his mood. It was enough to break Mori's heart.
Sighing, Hunny deliberated on the shoes before leaving them in the hallway, in case she returned. Hunny cast a glance at his cousin, disappointed. Movement caught his eyes.
A girl shot up the staircase. A blonde haired girl. Soon after, an orange headed boy and blonde boy joined. A monstrous looking woman huffed and wheezed before she too joined.
Hunn, realization swimming in his eyes, turned to regard his cousin. Mori shrugged, not communicating at all that the direction the three had taken would lead them to a door that conveniently led them back to this area. His cousin bounced up and down in excitement. The game continued!
Trampling back up the stairs, it dawned on Mori that this would be exhausting and only end in bloodshed.
Up the flight of stairs, through the hallway, duck around this corner, continue running. Stop, backtrack, how'd they get over there?, disappeared at that corner. Not in the classroom...bathroom? We almost had them this time! Down the flight of stairs, outside, around the premises, back inside, up the stairs, they went that way!
Back into the wrecked library, behind the book shelves, at the computers, in the study group, behind the book shelves once more, and outside. That corner, left, straight, left, straight, right, right, straight, right. And next to the library once more.
A young girl emerged from the door leading to the Host club. She was dressed in a similar uniform to the strangers. Obviously she was not watching where she was heading and more intent on glaring at the door, for when she did turn her head around, she stopped suddenly.
Eyes grew wide and fearful, body frozen in place, mouth slightly open. She did not seem to see the trail of people, but focused on one person. A person that seemingly charged at her. "Ahhhhhhh! Yankeee!" Fear motivated her into action and she bolted.
The "Yankee" didn't care about the other girl but did run into the same direction. Away from the crazy librarian. The two boys, the librarian, Hunny, and Mori followed.
The newcomer did not seem as able at running as did the others. It did, however, give her motivation and she kept up with the group quite nicely. She did send furtive glances at the blonde though, and paid little attention as to what they were all running from. The taller of the boys grew tense while the shorter one straightened in recognition.
Down to the lower level, inside that classroom, out that window. Back inside, into the classroom again, haha! (fooled you into going out the window while we piled behind the door). Oh no! The boys' bathroom!
Mori watched in amusement as the three- no, four- emerged from the janitor's closet, dressed in uniform, holding either a broom or mop. The librarian wasn't fooled for a second, causing the four to ditch their costumes. Mori couldn't help but think, watching them for such a short period of time, that their antics were similar to the Host Club. He was sure Hunny thought the same, which would explain why he insisted on doing this.
He had to wonder though...how much longer could the librarian last? Her hair had come undone completely, tangled. Sweat trickled down her forehead, clothes stuck to her body in this heat. Her feet were no doubt hurting (even without the heels). Her breath now came in shallow rasps and she appeared to become discouraged with every step. Her spirit waving, Mori thought it fitting that something happened at that moment to stop the chase completely.
A soft cough turned into a fit at the end of the hall. A worried girl's voice carried over all the noise the group had been making. "Yuki! Yuki! Do you need medicine? I don't have any . . . should I pat you on your back?" She panicked, not knowing what to do.
The girl almost collided into the wall, her eyes on one object alone. Mori could see her determination. "Yuki!" she cried, darting forward to the boy now kneeling, trying to catch his breath. By their side, Mori saw Kaoru and Hikaru. Both of which shrugged and let the scene unfold.
The "Yankee", seeing the girl make a sudden movement, tried to counteract. "Oh no you don't!" she shouted angrily. Mori could see why the girl feared the blonde as she stalked forward.
The coughing fit grew worse.
"Yuki!" the shorter boy echoed, flying to the boy's side immediately and rubbing his back in circular patterns, hoping it would help. The older boy looked uncertain as how to comfort the other boy and settled for laying a hand on the shoulder.
"When was the last time you had a check up?" he asked, in what Mori thought to be a small attempt at conversation. He wasn't exactly an open person, Mori observed.
The stranger pushed the other girl. "What did you do to Yuki? You're terrible! Hurting poor Yuki so you can get to comfort him. Well, I won't let you! I know all about your plan to make Yuki yours. And I won't stand for it!" she screamed, becoming unstable and moving for the girl.
The stranger was slammed into the wall.
Above her, the blonde "Yankee" stood, staring down. The stranger opened her eyes, having closed them on impact. She made to escape but got slammed into the wall again. This time, shoulder blade first. The blonde girl was not yielding, even as the stranger whimpered. She was held tightly against the wall by her arms.
"Just what do you think you're doing?" the "Yankee" hissed.
By this time, the librarian had halted the chase and stood still, enraptured by the scene. Hunny looked up at Mori, asking whether they should interfere. Hikaru and Kaoru had become a bit tenser, ready to act if need be. The others though, gathered around the boy. He had just stopped coughing and was taking the time to recover his breathing patterns. The shorter blonde continued to rub his back in comfort.
"What did I tell you last time? Hmmm? 'Cause I seem to remember I owe you a few bruises. Cuts. Must be a shame to get that pretty face all tore up." She let the thought sink in before continuing. "You never do that again. Don't even come near us. Yuki's fine. He's a big boy. Use him as an excuse to hurt one of my friends and I will ensure nobody ever hears your voice again. You don't really need a tongue," she whispered menacingly.
Her blonde hair fell down around her face. "I learned a few things, you know. On the streets. And there's a lot of worse things I could do to you. You wanna know?" A slight pause as a dark smile crept across her face. "Oh, I think you do."
The girl who had been pushed just now realized what was happening. She abandoned the boy who gasped every three seconds and ran to the Yankee. She tugged on the uniform. "Uo!"
"That's what secrets are for, right?"
She looked back at the others, at a loss of what to do. "Uo!" She tugged harder on the uniform, trying to get her friend to calm down.
The "Yankee" ignored her. "Come on. Find out what happens when you cross the line again. Hmmm? Find out what happens when you hurt my friends. My family. I'll just-" she cut off.
The girl who had been pushed, who had tried to catch her friend's attention and seemed at a loss of what to do, now engulfed her friend in a hug. It was an awkward hug, back to middle, with the girl clinging on for all hope. The blonde's face became a mask as she lowered her head. "What are you doing?"
"I'm saving you! I'm saving you Uo-chan because I know you'll do it. And later you'll regret it and this will mar your soul. And I don't want it to mar your soul because you have a beautiful soul. Cracked and small, yet shining with friendship and inspiration. Too afraid to trust and -" she hiccupped, obviously crying by now as she tried to persuade her friend to stop. "-Hurt by others who weren't there but should have. You're beautiful Uo-chan. I'm sorry. I'm sorry but what will mom think? What will she think when she sees you, returning back to what you once were? The path you chose to turn away from? You had-" hiccup "-so much strength it made me love you. I love you, Uo-chan. I love you. That's why I'm saving you!"
She broke down in tears, sobbing into her friends back, holding even more tightly than before.
Mori could see the speech had an effect on everybody. The blonde boy had stopped his motions and with head upright, Mori could see the bright eyes indicating love and warmth, pride. The taller boy watched, clearly this needed to be said. Mori could feel he had his own speech a while ago.
The librarian had completely forgotten why she was there. Her breathing had calmed as she watched with the intensity as one would watch a soap opera. The twins, though knowing very little about what was going on (as did everybody), were waiting to see what would happen. It was an inspiring speech, full of concern, love, and forgiveness. Would it be enough? The boy kneeling on the floor was having silent convulsions from the coughing he tried to hide.
"She'd say 'Damn right Uo-chan. Protect your friends'." The blonde spoke, pushing her hair back as she connected eyes with the girl against the wall. Clearly it was a reminder and a threat, even while the words were said with pride and confidence; the words held amusement and were meant to tease. With an inner strength that must have been hard to summon, she stepped away.
The other girl released her and hurriedly began to wipe her eyes, ashamed at crying. She stopped upon realizing the jacket she wore was not her own. "I'm so sorry Yuki! You lend me your jacket and I ruin it with all my tears!"
The "Yankee" laughed aloud, ruffling the girls hair affectionately. The taller boy rolled his eyes before patting her shoulder in an attempt to 1) comfort 2) put space between them. The shorter boy clapped excitedly and grinned wide.
"I want to comfort Tohru!" He shouted, starting in her direction before being held back by the taller boy. His head rested in the palm of the taller boy's hand. "Let me go, Kyo! I just want to comfort Tohru!"
"Kyo" grunted. "You mean hug."
The shorter boy wrestled to get away. "A little hug never hurt anybody! I just wanna- hey, where'd Tohru go?"
Indeed, the girl was gone. Not even Mori had noticed her absence, for everybody had turned to watch the two boys. They were comical together, in a way similar to Tamaki and Haruhi. But the girl's disappearance was astonishing and important. Hunny turned to Mori, clutching Bun Bun with a fearsome force.
Maya could tell when not a single Sohma or company checked in for the scavenger hunt, it would be a disaster. She had hoped that by pairing them off sensibly, nobody would get lost. Unfortunately, this was not the case. Not only had a group of boys wandered into the red light district, but Maya had been forced to hunt them down and bring them back.
Technically she dragged them but it's not like they could complain. As far as she was concerned, it was necessary and a good punishment. Plus, it was really amusing.
Now she just had to worry about Honda, the Sohmas, and the Yuki fanclub girls- they never even made it to the first checkpoint. Two hours left before the school ended the scavenger hunt. Honestly, it couldn't have been that difficult.
Hatsuharu Sohma was most surprised when the doors burst open and in piled a large congregation of people. Twin brothers leading the way and holding the doors open with a mocking bow. The Yuki fanclub girl hurried over to her friend, scurrying out of the way of Uotani, who strolled in casually, hands in pockets. Some crazy looking lady, a tall boy holding the hand of a child.
Kyo and Momiji standing on both sides of Yuki, in case he fell over. Yuki looked pale but was fine by the looks of it. He didn't have his jacket on but wasn't shivering, so he couldn't have been cold. His tie was crooked, in the way it used to be before Tohru came. So in all, he was . . . tired?
For the first time since entering the not-courthouse, he moved from Hanajima's side. With strong strides and determination, he passed the others, who all turned in curiosity. Momiji and Kyo immediately stepped away from Yuki's side.
And that is how Yuki collapsed onto Haru's shoulder. Or at least, that's how Haru explains it.
Yuki sighed in resignation. "Put me down, Haru." No answer. "Haru." A bit more stern, Yuki was insistent. As was Haru and only moments later after crossing the expanse of the room, Yuki was placed on the sofa. Haru peered down in masked amusement at his cross cousin.
"Haruhi," the tall spectacled one (Haru didn't bother learning their names) called. Yuki pushed himself up to a sitting position but still rested on the sofa. Mostly because he knew Haru would push him back onto it, or so Haru liked to think. A person in the corner snapped to attention after having closed the doors.
Instead of ordering "Haruhi" around, the annoying blonde went into dramatics of blabbering nonsense. Similar to Aya, came the vague realization. "Haruhi- get a wet rag. Hikaru and Kaoru- make a fresh batch of commoner's tea. Hunny- eat your cake. Mori - make the rest of our guests welcome. Kyoya- call your physician. We-"
Haru cut him off rudely. "No."
The blonde wavered, hurt emotionally. Haru could care less. "Yuki's fine."
Kyo's head popped up, startled. "What? He's fakin' it?! That dirty little-!" He looked around as if searching for something, before realizing there was no need to watch his language. "Pissoff. I'm gonna kick his little as-"
"I'd like to see you try."
Haru and the rest of the room turned their heads toward the sofa. Yuki wasn't even standing and he seemed intense. In his eyes a deep, open loathing lay. Cold and daring, his voice couldn't be anything other than frightening. It fired up his spirit, willing to extend to his body. A fight might be good, Haru considered.
Momiji clapped from nearby Kyo. "Yay! I get to see Kyo fly!" Haru, like the rest of the group, turned to see the short boy. His eyes bright with mischief, Momiji smiled innocently. Haru was not fooled. Momiji, though people never thought of him this way, was a peacekeeper. Sometimes. Despite his love for teasing Kyo, it served as a good purpose to change the subject.
Kyo swung his hand to smack Momiji. Momiji, in all his glory, ducked away before running behind Uotani. "You see that, Uo-chan? Kyo tried to hit me! Protect me, Uo-chan!"
Kyo stopped in his tracks to view the blonde Yankee who appeard amused. She smirked up at Kyo, arms crossed. Her posture clearly screamed 'challenge me'. Kyo gritted his teeth as Momiji peeked from behind Uotani and stuck out his tongue at Kyo.
Haru shook his head, no expression on his face.
"Cheater," Kyo muttered, dejected.
The group stilled at a familiar ting ting ting tada ting of a cellphone. Yuki pulled his out, not expecting a phone call. "YUN-" Yuki snapped it shut, prefering not to answer that particular call. Haru's jaw twitched as he witnessed Yuki's reaction. Desperation.
There was silence as Kyo, who had been standing far off, raised his head slowly, recognition dawning on his face. Eyeing Yuki carefully, he began to move to the cousin staring at the phone in doubt. When it came to the school's student body, Kyo learned it was best to keep away. Each member had their own . . . unique personality, which no amount of therapy could correct. So, of course it's understandable to say that he fully intended to have fun with this. "So who was that?"
Before Yuki could answer, the cell rang again. Looking down with trepidation, he summoned his courage before flipping it open.
"KIMI-" once again, Yuki closed it instantly. Haru could barely contain his mirth. Yuki had the look as if he just digested something unpleasant. Deciding it to be better for his mental health rather than his physical, Yuki calmly turned off the cell phone. He definitely didn't want anymore calls.
Uo was the first to speak. "Seems like you're a popular man with the cell phone," she commented in amusement. Apparently she was taking the absence of her friend rather well.
"School," Yuki muttered.
Haru knew the work itself must be taxing. After all, the members were as trying as the Sohmas. Emotionally, it must be even more difficult for Yuki, who had to deal with Kakeru. Kakeru- the younger embodiment of Ayame. In this, Yuki must be coming to terms with his own demons.
Hana blinked, finally noticing the lack of waves. "Where is Tohru?" she inquired, slightly confused. Mostly in expectation of an immediate answer.
There was a pregnant pause. Who to answer? How?
Momiji sniffled. "She's gone. I don't know who or why but she's gone, just gone! Kyo was being mean again-" here he wiped his nose in a distraught manner- "and they were trying to stop him. He has a really bad temper. And Tohru was gone! I know she couldn't have meant it because Tohru didn't want to be a magician! Somebody's kidnapped Tohru," he wailed.
Both Haru and Hana blinked at the explanation. Kyo hung his head as if to say 'this couldn't get any worse'. Yuki made no comment, instead choosing to think that perhaps this was merely a practical joke. If Tohru had any type of humor, he would have believed it.
The Prince Yuki fanclub girls wisely said nothing. This room was full of idiots already. The less time spent with them, the less contamination. But if Yuki could endure it, so could they.
Kyoya lowered his clipboard, thinking this was not worthy of notes. With great hope, this would all be over soon. Should he call his bodyguards to hunt the young girl down? Then add it onto Haruhi's debt somehow? He straightened his glasses in contemplation.
Kaoru and Hikaru could care less. If the ditz was dumb enough to get lost or kidnapped, that was her fault, right? Why should they search for her? It's not like she was their friend. The guests really didn't expect them to help, did they? How typical of the commoners to expect others to rush to their rescue.
Hunny clutched his bun-bun fiercely. It was so tragic, to watch the boy nearly fall to pieces. He must be very fond of her. Suddenly, he was instilled with the need to come to their aid. It would be just as if Haruhi was kidnapped. He couldn't stand the thought. He tugged lightly on Mori's shirt.
Mori looked down to his younger cousin, before nodding. Yes, he will follow Hunny.
Haruhi simply could not see the reason for such distress. Surely the girl had gotten lost. Who would want to kidnap somebody so young? It held no sense. She turned away.
Tamaki chewed on his nails in distress. The pain! Oh how horrible it must've been to be so powerless. To turn around on Christimas Eve to find no presents under the tree- this is what it must have felt like. Disappointment, inability to comprehend 'why'. The crestfallen face, tears swelling in eyes, no words capable of voicing the emotion. Friendship, love- suddenly it meant nothing with their friend's absence. The gap could never be filled, never be expressed fully. No, they must push onward, alone in the biting winds. Hearts as cold as stone, afraid to repeat history- to feel alive and the warmth of companionship, only to have it ripped away without an explanation. So instead they toil in isolation, bitter and dead to the world.
Without realizing it, Tamaki was standing. "I cannot allow it!" He burst out, turning to 'mother' for support. "We must do our best to return the princess!"
Haru's lip twitched. This idiot was a riot. He could feel dark Haru chuckle in agreement. At this rate, nothing would ever get done.
"Tono!" the twins chorused in complaint. "The girl isn't even from Ouran."
The other nodded eagerly. "It would be a waste you see. She would not recognize you. Your good deed would go unrewarded."
"She's never even heard of you," the twin echoed.
The french blonde paused. This was unexpected and affected his plans greatly. When he finally did speak, he somehow managed to sound like a lost child, tinged with disbelief and uncertainty. "Never?"
"Never," the two stressed again. Haru caught a trace of sensei in their tone- playful joy at somebody else's misery. But Haru knew at least these two were harmless and did not seem the type to be as covert as sensei. Or at least, as capable as manipulating others.
The blonde returned to the corner.
Kyo sighed in frustration. These people were wasting time and who knows what that space cadet was doing now? Honestly, they were more dramatic and annoying than the Prince Yuki fanclub. Which was just sickening on so many levels, how a damn rat like that got a fanclub was beyond his understanding. It's not like he deserved it. It's just how girly he looks. How dumb.
"Something wrong, orangey?"
The million dollar question and typical of Kyo who held no self-restraint, took it, hook, line and sinker. Really, it was just too easy to rub the kitty cat the wrong way.
Kyo's eyes narrowed in disgust. "Damn right somethin's wrong! That idiot is just out there and we're sittin' here, drinking tea!"
"I hardly see anybody drinking tea," Yuki countered sensibly. Haru hid his smirk, of course Yuki would go out of his way to make the cat appear like a fool. The sun would rise, the seasons would change, and Yuki would be opposite Kyo.
The redhead clenched his fists tightly before releasing them, hoping to control his anger. His breathing became ragged, his jaw tightened. A series of curse words were stringed through his head.
"You know what I meant, ya damn rat!" he spat.
And the next moment was just too good to pass up. It was as if this was deja vu. The cat had once again set himself up for a fall. Everything was falling into place. The desire was irresistable. It deeply reminded everybody of Alice in Wonderland. The scene when Alice dines with the Mad Hatter and the um, well, it didn't really matter, Haru thought.
Yuki shrugged listlessly, having better things to do and unable to care less for his 'rival'. "Then perhaps you should say what you mean."
Kyo sputtered unintelligibly. "Think you're so smart- just 'cause you're the favorite-" he brokenly commented.
Yuki ducked his head, willing himself not to reply. Some favorite.
The one with the glasses sat casually in the chair, knee propped up on the other. Hands folded neatly on the clipboard (its contents still hidden from view). "Perhaps we should all introduce ourselves? As hosts, we have no choice but to begin. I am Kyoya Ootori. These are my companions," he gestured, the signal.
The blonde bowed deeply before straightening and gifting the guests with a smile to melt the heart. Many girls have swooned before him, squealed in delight. "I am Tamaki Suoh." Nothing happened. Even the fanclub girls edged away.
He was pushed aside by the twins. "We are the Hitachin twins," they announced.
The other leaned on the brother "-And Hikaru".
"How cruel! Mother- do something at once! Those ruffians!" Tamaki shouted, straightening his jacket. Before Kyoya could comment, the two aided him. One began to brush off invisible particles, the other led him to the comfortable sofa where Yuki sat. Far away from Haruhi.
The boy with the rabbit bopped forward. "I'm Mitsukuni. But you can call me Hunny! And this is my cousin, Mori."
He pointed to the tall, silent boy who stood almost directly behind him. "Oh! And this is Usa-chan. She likes cake," he explained, taking a napkin and wiping the rabbit's mouth where crumbs lay.
A sigh directed the others to look at the last boy. He had short hair and seemed reluctant to do any sort of talking. Not even smiling, he looked at each member. "Haruhi Fujioka." He then sat back in his chair, pulling out a book and inserting himself.
Uo hesitated before thrusting her hands in her pocket. Well dammit, if they were too afraid to do it, she would. She didn't bow, didn't incline her head, didn't smile, didn't step forward. "Uo."
Her friend followed. "Hanajima Saki. We have already met." Her voice floated through the room, reminding them of the encounter.
"Kyo Sohma," Kyo muttered, still grumpy. This was so stupid.
Momiji cheekily grinned as he stepped forward and bowed. "I'm Momiji Sohma. And you can just ignore Kyo, he's always like this. This one time, Kagura- hey! Maybe you should have Hatori check that Kyo. It wouldn't be good if your arm started swinging out at people who are talking. Hey! It happened again!" He ducked both blows, running behind Uo, a fortess of safety.
"And that's Hatsuharu Sohma," Momiji introduced, once it became clear Haru would not speak. Haru blinked, his face a blank. "You can call him Haru."
As Momiji addressed the others, Yuki stood up, moving toward his cousins. He was feeling much better now, plus the blonde kept rocking in the sofa. It was disturbing on many levels. "Yuki Sohma." Here he attempted a small smile. The fanclub girls and the blonde gasped. It was so beautiful.
Kyoya clasped his hands together under his chin. "Four Sohmas? Your family must be very large," he mused thoughtfully.
Since Kyo wouldn't voluntarily offer any information, about himself or the Sohmas (and really, it was no wonder why), he simply stayed silent. Obviously he was regretting ever having woken up for school. He was in a sour mood all day. Yuki had no response, where was this leading? He too seemed unable to answer, it led to dwelling thoughts. Haru by nature would not answer.
This left one person. "I guess," Momiji said, rocking on his heels in thought. He knew how to avoid the questioning quite well. "We haven't really met them all. We're all just cousins, you see. But I wonder what our family tree would look like." He stared off into space, contemplating such a picture.
Before any more questions were directed at either party, Hana motioned for silence. "There is someone at the door," she foretold quietly. Loud footsteps were heard running away. "She meant to knock but lost her courage when I spoke. Oh dear, I've frightened away a guest." She sighed softly in lazy disappointment.
Haru was the first to move to the door. Turning the handle, he cracked it open, then wider after a second of seeing nobody. He studied the door before lowering his gaze. An envelope of white was thrown precariously onto the floor. A note?
Picking it up, he caught the scent of fresh roses. Turning it over, he noticed no names or addresses. So this was not delivered professionally. Not knowing who it was for, he simply held it out for the blonde to take. This was their school, afterall.
The others had gathered around Tamaki. He too must've noticed the fragrance, for he pushed it under everybody's nose to smell. Deciding this was important and thus brought the necessity for sitting, he moved to the sofa once more. The entire entourage shuffled too. The blonde sat, with both twins on either side. Mori carried Hunny in his arms so Hunny could read the letter too. Kyoya stood behind the sofa, at perfect distance. Haruhi waited for the news, knowing they would read it aloud.
"Dear honorable club for the false wooing of women- I think that's sarcasm, mother. We have finally decided to bring about justice for the fragile hearts you have broken with your lies and flattery. The age of men's presumptions and convincing compliments are over. This is a women's world. We will stand for this abuse no longer. If you wish to see your friend ever again, you will retire your fiendish ways and recognize the charms of women. Sincerely, the establishment devoted to flowering ladies everywhere- The White Lily Group."
Kakeru glanced at the cell phone in confusion. It had suddenly cut out. Was there something wrong? Did he not charge the batteries long enough? Was there interference-somebody could've been listening in! And in his infinite wisdom, their leader, Yuki Sohma, was forced to end the call. How horrible! Was the role of student body president really that competitive? Who could hate Yuki?!
Kakeru blinked, dejected that he would not get to talk to their leader. "I think . . . the cell phone . . ." He could not finish the sentence.
Kimi clapped her hands together in excitement. "Kimi wants to try!" Without waiting for an answer, she grabbed the cell phone and redialed the number. Her call would make it through! She waited patiently, hearing it ring once . . .twice . . and it stopped. He answered!
And there was nothing. Kimi blinked, confused as well. She lowered the cell phone, looking at Kakeru. "I think he hung up on me."
Three girls crowded around a single girl. She blinked dizzily.
Benio Amakusa, being as tall as she was, bent down to the girl's level. She cast a criticizing eye to Hinako Tsuwabaki. She gestured to the bound and gagged girl, tied to a chair. Her attempts at escape were pathetic as she only created marks on her wrists. Her eyes were enlarged in fear and confusion. "This is not Haruhi Fujioka."
The first year hesitated in uncertainty before explaining. "Well, no. But she was with them!"
Chizuru Maihara, second year, looked to her superior for guidance. "Will the plan still work?"
"Of course it will," Benio pronounced with confidence. "Even if she is not their friend, they cannot resist rescuing a "damsel" in distress. Those idiots will come. And when they do, everything will work out perfectly." She nodded her head, envisioning the picture. "Those pigs, facing failure and defeat-" here she kneeled, acting out the scene of someone showing subservance or waiting to be knighted, "-will acknowledge us at last." She stood gracefully, her skirt swirling around her lithe form.
She twirled in circles, her toes barely brushing the floor. Head bent to the side, peace written on her features. "The group will disband," she whispered in joy. "We will stand the victor." She came to a sudden stop, the skirt swaying violently. She still held perfect balance.
With realization, she snapped her eyes open, even as Hinako and Chizuru admired her. Her structured movements fell limply as she resumed her normal form. "But we are being rude, my friends. Being cultured and with impeccable manners, it is important to introduce ourselves to our captive. She should not be afraid of her own gender and instead revel in its glory."
With a particular gleam in their eye that Tohru did not like, she began to squirm.
Benio carefully removed the gag so the girl could speak. Her eyes darted around the room, where another four girls kept guard at the entrance. She felt the need to placate the distressed girl. Benio bowed. "I am Benio Amakusa." She straightened slowly as to not frighten the maiden.
"Chizuru Maihara at your service," one of the girls announced.
"Hinako Tsuwabaki at your service," echoed the other.
The girl licked her lips (no doubt dry from the gag) and cleared her throat respectfully. "My name is Tohru Honda."
Her voice was cheerful, confused but altogether, quite adorable. Thin blue ribbons tied her hair at the sides. It was simple but suited Tohru.
Benio signaled for another chair to be brought and as one girl struggled to carry it across the room, she turned back to the guest. She seemed really lost and gathering the situation at hand, couldn't really blamed. Her uniform was none Benio recognized- which was not saying much, for it was mismatched. The bottom skirt was a blue while the top . . . Benio cocked her head, glimpsing white trim under the odd top.
Aah. So it was a jacket. Whose jacket did she wear now? Or more importantly, what happened to force her to don another's clothes? A stain, rip? Did a button fall off? Perhaps she was merely cold, Benio thought. Still, it would be rude to mention the clash of uniform colors.
Naturally, Tohru tugged at the rope again. It did nothing but rub against the skin, coarse hairs like an itch. Her wrists were far too delicate. "I- um, can you let me go?" She questioned, giving her captor a pleading look. She doubtfully peered at her constricted body, not thinking it necessary.
Benio pulled the padded chair closer to the girl. It didn't even screech across the floor. With a hand on the arms, she sat herself down regally. Chizuru and Hinako sighed beautifully at the sight. Benio crossed her legs, showing the slightest bit of skin around her knees.
The act didn't even affect the girl once. She seemed impervious to her charms. Her eyes never wandered from Benio's face, glazed with wonder and lust. Her body never tensed with the knowledge that something could happen. Tohru's signals, if Benio read them correctly, were puzzlement and waiting for Benio to speak. Of all things to measure in the physical world, she wanted an answer most.
Tohru's stare fell from Benio's face. The disappointment and helplessness clear in her eyes as she avoided Benio's own. It injured her greatly to make such a firm announcement. Especially against such an innocent creature.
"I can't do that. I need your friends to believe you are in danger. They will come and we will force those men-" the word itself trembled from her lips. They were not men. Degrading, deceiving, idiot fools. "- to come for you. We will be given our apology, inherited from generations of suffering." Benio involuntarily felt her eyes droop, heavy with unshed tears. Every defining line was now a blur. Lips turned down at the corners. A pink tinge on her cheek, a sign of distress. Her voice emotional, even as she avoided a sniffle.
Her heart thumping against her chest even as determination pushed her to her goal. "So you see? I can't let you go." Her voice, tone begging for Tohru to understand.
The girl, not even knowing why this was so important, chewed her lip in a personal struggle with herself. Feeling very horrible for having deceived the girl, Benio watched as her face cleared in a decision. It was a mask of pure will. This wasn't the way it was supposed to happen . . . could have all of this really been for nothing? How? Benio lifted her head, hair swinging back as she considered Tohru.
"What did you say?"
Tohru smiled softly, accepting the request. "Okay. But can we talk? Like this?"
Thinking she referred to her unique situation, Benio blinked. "What other way is there?" She observed the girl give her a small smile, barely scented with humor. It never occured to her that Tohru meant something else.
"You mentioned a . . . debt?" the girl questioned, grasping at straws. It wasn't that long ago, Benio thought. Perhaps she simply has a bad memory.
Benio nodded her head, even as she debated the argument in her mind. "Yes."
Tohru chewed on her lip again, forced to make a decision. "I guess I can't do anything. Debts should always be paid." Her gaze passed Benio's right shoulder as she submerged into a pool of thought. Benio didn't expect the girl to comply so quickly. However, her next comment bewildered even the dancer.
"I wouldn't think Sohma-kun or Kyo-kun to have a debt. They're usually very punctual on their payments. And very polite. But if they owe you an apology, I'm sure it was just a misunderstanding. Sohma-kun or Kyo-kun would never purposely insult a person." Her eyes grew wide. "It was just a misunderstanding, I'm sure!"
Relaxed against the comfortable chair, Benio stared at the girl. Then raised her eyebrows. For once, she was speechless. Her lips made the movement to speak but then stopped. Payments? And in no uncertain terms was this merely a misunderstanding! The Host Club was determined to make simpering idiots out of the stronger gender.
Very calmly, she spoke deliberately clearly. So Tohru would hear her and this matter would be settled. "Sohma-kun? And Kyo-kun?"
The girl tilted her head to the ground before jolting back up. "Oh! You must be very familiar to know them as well. Forgive me for the confusion, it is my fault. I still call Yuki-kun by his family name." Eager now, she spoke rapidly, as if to confess her wrongdoings.
Benio hid her true expression.
"If I may ask, Tohru-chan-" she saw the girl made no objection to the endearment. Instead, her eyes popped, sparkling with joy and Benio could see she had made the correct move. "-What school do you attend? I do not recognize your uniform."
Tohru's eyes trailed from Benio's face to her uniform. It was very beautiful. Then to her own, which was not so expensive. The colors were common and the design simple. Additionally, she still had Yuki's jacket on . . . Tohru wilted. What if Sohma-kun was cold? He'd think she had stolen his jacket!
She barely remembered to answer the question. "Uh- Kaibara. It's very small and not so grand," she explained, viewing the large room lavished with tall mirrors. The floor was a pristine white. "Our school has nothing so great."
Somehow, Benio did not doubt this. Though she did not attend Ouran either, her school was still prestigious in its own right.
"Do you often visit the Host club?"
Benio felt like an interrogator. Gathering information, leading the "witness" to her direction. She couldn't be overly blunt.
Tohru blinked. Once. Twice. Hesitation? "Well, no. This is our very first visit here. An accident, really. Sohma-kun and myself were trying to solve a scavenger's hunt. We can't be really good at riddles, since this is not where we intended to go. Come." She furrowed her brow, thinking. Which form was correct?
As the girl contemplated her problem, Benio very calmly turned in her seat. Hinako, who stood within listening distance, back up in fear. The message was obvious: you've failed me. Or maybe it was: you're dead. It could have gone like this: I'll no longer smile in your direction.
Either way, Hinako crumbled under the pressure. If anything, she could not stand such torture. To have Benio be disgusted, angry at her was worse than any punishment. She sought to improve her predictament. "But she knows them! She was with the small one! And the twins!"
Knowing that Hinako wouldn't lie to her, Benio resumed her position. She started to see Tohru's unblinking gaze. Though her head was tilted to the right, eyes unfocused. Lips mouthing the word to herself. She was remembering, Benio supplied.
"I think I know of what you mean," she slowly replied in turn to Hinako's accusation. "But we are not friends. They were just helping us." For some unknown reason, she sounded downcast. "Oh!" Her tone grew worried as she struggled against the ropes once more. "Kyo-kun, Momiji-kun, and Uo-chan were there too! I hope they're not hurt."
Benio truly felt this girl was more concerned for others than herself. It was a little amusing, to see someone so selfless be worried in such a manner. It was merely the more tragic side in her revealing itself.
Quickly switching the subject, Benio hoped to cheer Tohru. "Your name is very unusual. Pardon me if I'm not correct but isn't Tohru usually a boy's name?"
The girl brightened immediately. Benio suspected that if her hands were free, she would have clapped with joy. Her smile shined with an emotion Benio hadn't seen on her face before. She couldn't identify it.
"Uh huh. My mother gave it to me. Uo-chan says it's because she thinks my mom wanted me to be strong. So she gave me a masculine name. But I'm not very strong. Not like Kyo-kun. He's a martial artist and trained in the mountains. Shigure-san says he fought bears and even meditated under waterfalls! He tried to teach me once -Kyo-kun," she clarified in case Benio had forgotten. "But I wasn't very good. He just laughed at me." She laughed in rememberance.
Benio's expression darkened. "He laughed at you?"
Tohru, seeing something was wrong, corrected Benio. "Oh don't worry. I laughed too."
Hunny watched the two argue. Physically speaking, he was only about three feet away. Due to his height, he craned his neck and darted his neck back and forth as the two shot answers at one another.
"Mother! This is a rescue mission! We must be dressed in stealth and with the cover of night," Tamaki expressed his desire.
Kaoru and Hikaru mocked Tamaki by producing face paint from nowhere. Dipping two fingers into the oily black and forest green, the twins smeared the substance on each other. Dark streaks littered their faces. Around the eyes, on the nose, don't lick your lips, close your eyes, what about the ears?
Hunny turned back to see Kyoya flip his lips, amused. "My watch says three. The sun is still up; wearing black is senseless." Shot down again!
Tamaki withered in dismay, left shoulder twitching. A moment later, his shoulders no longer hunched. The back straightened. Visible signs that he was to propose another solution. No doubt Kyoya noticed this as well, for he seemed to lean back. Distance himself from Tamaki's cheer.
"No camouflage, then. However, we will never be noticed- sly and clever in our disguise as we mingle amongst our fellow brethren of the noble work force! In this, our plan will succeed as we ambush these-" He struggled for a word, sputtering in anger. His face grew slightly pink from the exertion. He waved his arms madly, emphasizing chaos.
Hikaru, with a hankerchief tied around his head in substitute of a bandana, came to his aid. "Violators of justice," he quipped.
Tamaki nodded, glad for a word. Or sentence. "These violators of justice." He pushed his chest out as he struck a pose.
Kaoru glanced up. "Commonly called criminals," he added.
The blonde nodded again, not really paying attention. Hunny had the notion that as long as Tamaki felt he had won, it wouldn't really matter how (help from the devil twins proved this). "Commonly called criminals," Tamaki repeated gleefully.
The twins snickered. Kyoya paused, deigning not to respond to that particular statement. Tamaki cringed as he turned to them. "Devil twins! Mother! Tell them to stop!" Before Kyoya could say anything, the brothers bolted, the corner of the white embroidered hankerchief flapping behind. Tamaki pursued them around the room, even as they clambered over furniture, stumbled into guests, crashed into Haruhi and slid across the floor.
Undoubtedly, Kyoya won the argument.
Hunny joined his cousin Mori, who stood with the guests as they squeezed around a table. Unable to see, Hunny darted under one girl's arm before tugging on Mori's uniform. With one hand, Mori lifted Hunny up on his shoulders. He was careful not to fall over as Mori leaned so he could see as well. On the table lay very large papers in white, blue and gray.
"Building plans?" Hunny questioned, one hand on Mori's shoulder for balance.
Nobody answered him. Strangely, he was not bothered by it. The boy continued to speak, ignoring the rambunctious trio and others. "Since this isn't our school, it'll be harder to find Tohru, if she's here anyway. And obviously with only one set of prints- thanks Haru," he corrected as Haru ripped the map into six sections. He attempted to piece together the puzzle.
He gestured to largely distorted lines and ragged edges. ". . . It'd be easier if we just went in pairs."
The blonde girl plucked a piece from the table. She studied it in amusement before shaking her head. "Nice goin', orangey."
"Hey! It wasn't me, okay?" The boy shouted again, taking the stance of defence, his fists balled up at his side. He scoffed.
The girl wasn't affected. She made a noise that sounded similar to "mmm hmmm." The way she hummed it made it clear she did nto believe him. Though she had just witnessed Haru tear it up, she seemed intent on blaming Kyo. For fun, at least.
Apparently, he either seemed to have no sense of humor or had forgotten that. "What's that supposed to mean?" he rudely demanded rather than asked.
She smirked, still holding the jagged paper. "Nothing." Deliberate pause of nearly four seconds. Curling of the lips. "Just sayin' you're a little rough on the edges, is all." She fingered the sides of the paper before carelessly tossing it on the table. Another crack in his armor.
"Yeah? Well we can't all be perfect," he sneered, leaning over the table with palms flat on the surface. "If only you would-" he halted, eyebrows twitching with thought. His body relaxed, arms becoming loose as his shoulders dropped. He unknowingly righted himself, still quiet.
Hunny noticed the others at the table shot each other looks. Confusion, amusement, annoyance. He couldn't read the expression on the one that reminded him of Mori, Haru. It began to dawn on Hunny that maybe he didn't think at all. The gothic fortuneteller remained uninterested.
A frightening smile crept its way onto his face as with sudden comprehension, he pointed. "This is about that guy." If he tried, he could not sound more smug.
Uo's sunny disposition disappeared at once. Her eyes glistened with dark promises, mouth resisting the urge to shout obscenities, her expression of cold anger. Although her breathing pattern did not alter, Hunny felt a change. Where most people would probably hear an internal drum, a thumping in their veins, Uo did not seem to. Hunny could swear she would be the type of fighter that would enjoy the fight, her heart slowing as if to savor the experience. Within would rest a quiet, pleased victory.
Before Uo could retort, threaten, or dismember Kyo, Yuki (Hunny thought that was his name) pulled on Kyo's collar, thrusting him backward. He nearly toppled over before swatting at his cousin's hand. Hunny was happy he did not scuff the floor with his heels. "Stupid cat," Yuki muttered, before dropping Kyo as they neared the others at the door. They were ready, apparently.
His hands spread out to stop his body from hitting the floor. Pushing himself up into a crouch, he turned his head to glare at his cousin, who looked on with indifference. Clapping caught Hunny's attention.
Momiji grinned. "Kyo really is a cat!"
He subsequently dodged the flying shoe.
Kyoya opened the two doors, not caring for the scene behind him. He stopped the others in their tracks before he could be ran over. He adjusted his glasses, a glint reflecting off the lens. "I believe it would be more time efficient if we were all to remain together. Additionally, the White Lily Group has a grudge against the Host Club. Even if you were able to find her, I doubt she would be released." Strangely, he appealed to Hana and Yuki.
Hunny figured he probably found Kyo too brash, Uo too forward, and Momiji too mature. With Haru, there was probably no point. He'd stare with no expression, waiting for a move or decision to be made. He'd be of no help. So left with the choices of a gothic fortuneteller and a feminine boy, he really had no objections.
So Hikaru, Kaoru and Tamaki led the group down the hallway. The twins opened doors on the right, Tamaki on the left. Softly open the door, peek in, close it. In Hikaru and Kaoru's case, one twin's head appeared to float above another's. A creek, sigh of disappointment, shuffle. Groan of a knob turning, slither along the wall.
Kyoya, content to let the imbeciles lead, checked off the rooms they had already checked. He had his own set of blueprints. Hunny didn't bother to learn where from.
The guests- Yuki, Uo, Kyo, Hana, Momiji, and Haru- followed along, bored of the antics of the Host Club members. Momiji bounced on the balls of his feet beside Uo, glancing up every few seconds. Every time she'd look down, he'd flash an innocent smile. Hana walked alongside Uo as well, her pace having picked up considerably now that it was an emergency. She said nothing, troubled with her thoughts. Haru seemed to stick to Yuki's side, inserting himself between the arguing cousins. He walked leisurely, hands stuffed in pockets. Kyo sulked, cursing his luck.
Mori readjusted Hunny on his shoulders. For a moment, Hunny considered he was getting heavy or this could be uncomfortable for Mori before dismissing it. Even if he was, Mori would never say anything. So there was no point in asking.
"Hey, what happened to that librarian?" Kyo asked, unable to remember where she had gone. But he didn't seem to be at a loss for empathy. As long as she was no longer bent on killing them, Kyo could care less where she was.
Uo, who walked behind the three boys, snorted. "Way to pay attention. While you were trying to kill the prince, shortstuff got rid of her." She stressed the word that inevitably insinuated failure. "It was a sight, too. Started bawlin' an' everything. I swear, she wanted to hug him and take him home with her." She blew a strand of hair out of her eyes. "What a sucker."
Momiji waved to Kyo.
Down the third corridor, Kaoru and Hikaru poked their heads in succession. Popping out and snapping the door shut, the two jumped forward. "Tono! We found something!" They saluted their king as he darted across the hallway.
Tamaki straightened his jacket, smoothed his hair back. "Is it the princess?" He hurriedly inquired.
The twins glanced hesitantly at each other. "Well, I'm not sure," answered one.
"It was really dark." Assured the other devil twin.
The first one nodded once more. "I think it's a surprise."
Hunny nearly toppled over Mori's shoulder. Luckily, Mori rebalanced the energetic ball. Squeezing his bun-bun with desire, he couldn't help but speak in admiration. "Like a birthday party? And cake?" He nearly wept from the possibilities.
The twins didn't agree. "I guess," Hikaru and Kaoru chorused. "We thought we should get Tono."
If Haruhi had said this, no doubt the king would have collapsed into a theatre moment. As it was, though, Tamaki had a mission. Not even Kyoya could dissuade him from entering now. Granted, Kyoya didn't try but if he did, he wouldn't have succeeded. With determination, he coated the knob with his right hand, twisting it with gusto and making his grand entrance.
The group piled in the doorway, leaning in. Tamaki had vanished in the shadows. "Tono?" Kaoru called. No answer. Too frightened to risk their own lives, and too frightened to even touch Kyoya, they were really left with one choice. Haruhi stumbled in the darkness, having suddenly been pushed with four hands.
"Rich bastards," she mumbled, trying to find her way around.
A single lamp in each corner of the room flickered. Cue evil laughter.
Hunny tried to comfort Usa-chan by holding her against his chest. The first thing they saw was Tamaki being swarmed by two girls. They were amazed and kept uttering in hushed voices, "A creature of the light!" He squirmed as they stroked his jacket and adored his bright, gleaming hair. Noticing he was no longer alone but also able to see, he pouted.
"Mother! Tell them to stop," he whimpered.
When Kyoya made no attempt to save Tamaki, he turned a pouting face to Haruhi. "Daughter," he pleaded.
With a single stroke, she cut him down again. "You're not my father."
It was then that Hunny noticed Hana edging her way through the crowd. Nearly blending in with the environment, she admired the dark curtains from a distance. The nearly maroon chairs were a nice touch as well. Situated at tables only fit for seating two, were other members. They watched from hooded cloaks, behind dark bangs, in the comfort of shadows.
None of them spoke. Hana could see tarot cards, bones, tea cups, apples at each station. Each member had a specific talent, she supposed.
Yuki and Uo exchanged a look of surprise. The third member of the Prince Yuki fanclub was hidden away in a darkened room? How odd.
Suddenly gathering her courage, the girl called out, hoping to be rescued. "Hanajima?" She shook with fear, unable to move from fright. The people kept offering weird mementos and to do readings. They said the strangest things, even compared to Hanajima. She would have left ages ago but could not make it to the door without bumping into desks. The people went so far to refuse to escort her or turn on the lights.
Now the lamps were on!
It was enough to make her furious. Unfortunately, her fear still outweighed her anger.
Hunny definitely heard a sigh of relief. "Could you please help me?" From the look on her face, it was ultimately the last thing she would have ever wanted to say in her life. She did not appear too happy to be in this place, or with these people.
Dutifully, Hana risked the danger by fading into the darkness. Hunny and the others could only see her outline as she headed for the center of the room.
Footsteps echoed softly. "We have visitors, my friends," remarked a low voice. Its owner could not be seen but they all knew who it belonged to. "We disturbingly welcome the Host Club. Tamaki. Kyoya. Kaoru. Hikaru. Hunny. Mori. Haruhi . . ." he named each member, trailing off at the last name. Had he wanted to add more?
The figure, barely coming into view, acknowledged Tamaki with the barest of glances. Instead, he turned to the guests. Studied them greatly, one by one.
It faintly reminded Hunny of that one movie he had seen with Mori. There was a crouching man hidden in a cloak, only his hands seen for most of the movie. It had something to do with kingdoms. Or empires. He couldn't remember which.
"Free souls," he whispered. His hands twitched as if he fought the desire to touch. "Come. Join my club. Bind yourselves to darkness." He enticed, extending a hand to beckon them. "Would you like a reading? Knowledge of the near future. What does fate store for each of you? We know," he crooned.
He placed a rosy apple in Haru's hand, who just stared at it. "The apple is the fruit of knowledge and wisdom. Split the apple to gain one of these. The seeds never lie!"
Instead, Haru handed the apple to Momiji. The blonde boy shrugged before biting into it. The juice was sweet, the
peeling crisp. Hunny could see Momiji clearly enjoyed it when he reopened his eyes. He smiled brightly, turning to Haru. "It's not poisoned!" he announced.
Nekozawa nearly fell over. "Poison? To insult and injure the fruit of knowledge in such a way? Cannot . . . bear the thought," he shuddered. "Great misfortune will befall you!" Nekozawa predicted.
Hunny felt for Momiji as the small boy ran behind Haru.
"I release you."
As one, everyone shifted their eyes to Hana, who now walked slowly, hand wrapped around the girl's wrist. She led her along; the girl's legs were weak. Hana had excellent eyesight, for she did not allow the girl to crash into the desks.
Nekozawa swallowed, enraptured by this angel of darkness. Her skin- the color of cream! Her eyes- bewitching! Her clothes- appropriate! Her voice- belonging to a siren! Finally, her soul- branded by darkness!
"What is your name?" he questioned, nearly breathless.
She ignored him, which may have caused him the greatest pain he's ever known (aside from his sister's fear, at first).
Hunny tilted his head. "You can do that?"
Hana bowed her head to him. "Yes. It is possible to reverse all curses, as it is to cast them."
One of the twins, probably Kaoru, was blessed with an idea. "So if we-"
"No." Her tone and volume were firm. "It takes one of extreme resilience to counter the dark. Often the path back is the most difficult. It should not be attempted by untrained fools." Now near the door, she released the girl. "Number three" rubbed her wrist, for Hanajima had become furious at their idiocy. "To break a curse, it requires focus and will. Self-restraint. You have none of these."
The other twin grinned in mischief. "What if we-"
"You would succeed, given the proper circumstances. To be a caster requires no skill, only talent. The ability must be fostered through life, lest it be lost. Still, some power will exist. However, you will not be a true master."
It was decided, Nekozawa thought wildly. He would marry her.
Hana cast an eye in his direction, addressing him. "Your adorations are forgivable. It is appreciated but unwanted. I have my own husband."
Hunny's eyes widened. Nekozawa liked a girl? The fortuneteller was married?!
So it was with most confusion that he watched as Kyo stalked forward. He clutched his hands into balls. "You are not marrying Shishou!" He spat, knowing of what Hana spoke about.
The girl seemed unaffected. "What a troublesome child I have," she grieved aloud. Then bypassed Kyo.
Nekozawa melted in his chair. His soul mate was already married! How cruel could the heavens be!
"You're too young for him!" Kyo continued to shout wildly, hoping to stall or convince her it was not possible. "You can't even cook! You'll both starve!" He wailed, at his last resort.
Luckily, the goth stopped in her tracks. Hunny could see she had not considered this. Neither could cook? This would not turn out well. Coming to a decision, she nodded to herself. "Tohru will cook."
Even Uo was amused. "You going to live with her or what?"
" . . . If I must."
Kyo threw up his arms in defeat. "Why do I try anymore?"
Before Hana could exit the door, she remembered something and half-turned, hand in air. Everybody was silenced. On her lips was a frown and Nekozawa swore to himself that at all costs, he would ease her troubles. No frown would mar her face again.
"There is a girl . . . a friend is missing." The invitation for help was not spoken.
Nekozawa leaned in to listen to another cloaked person, the closest to him. This person had information. He could not hide the slight twitching of his lids. Before speaking, he stared at Hana. "Will I see you again?"
Though she had no intention of bargaining with him or negotiating, Hana had no choice. Yet, she could not promise what even she did not know. "Perhaps."
Nekozawa thought her eyes gleamed. Yes, he decided. Even if he had to make it occur, he would see her again. But for now, it was best not to test her, not if a friend was in danger. "She was seen with two others. In the dance room."
Hunny could swear he heard Nekozawa sigh.
Haruhi held her head in her hands as the idiots rushed off. Instead of running, she walked to the destination. It was fortunate, since she was not the only one. Since the guests had no clue of where to go, they simply remained with Haruhi and Kyoya.
Haruhi held the suspicion that Kyoya would never run for any reason. He corrected his pacing to match Haruhi's. This was polite enough but could not erase the fear that he expected something in return.
No conversation was made. Though if truth be told, Haruhi's curiosity was not satisfied surrounding Hana's knowledge on dark magic. She planned to ask, if ever the opportunity arose.
Just the same, it was fortunate they had not ran. Outside the dance room, arguing in loud whispers, were Tamaki, Kaoru and Hikaru. Hunny and Mori were silent, waiting for a decision to be made.
"We should just go in and demand them to release her," Hikaru reasoned.
Tamaki shook his head violently. "These are delicate girls. Fairies, nymphs and sirens. We should not anger them."
Kaoru leaned against the wall.
Hikaru sighed. "Fine. What should we do?"
"I have the St. Lobelia uniforms nearby. We should disguise ourselves as fangirls, thereby infiltrating their defenses. We will wear wigs to complete the ensemble." Tamaki waited for the chorus of voices stating how great the idea was. Cheers for his intelligence. A hip-hip-hurray, at the very least. Nothing ever came.
Improvising, the king sulked on the floor, rolled up into a ball.
Haruhi rolled her eyes. The idiot was a drama queen.
Kaoru shrugged listlessly. "We should-"
"Knock?" Kyoya suggested as they arrived on the scene. Immediately, the twins regarded him. Tamaki, though still on the floor, had ceased his mumblings. He motioned to the door. "They are expecting us. It would be rude to refuse the invitation," the manipulator reminded them.
The twins shared an evil smirk. "Let us not disappoint, then."
Haruhi nearly strangled Kyoya. This would not turn out so well. Nothing ever did. Why couldn't she ever be left alone in peace? In fact, that's how she got into this mess. Looking for a quiet place to study, left alone in solitude. Then she was ambushed and suddenly owed so much money that only Kyoya knew.
"Mother," Tamaki stirred.
Not looking down at his friend, Kyoya brushed invisible dust from his clothing. One by one, the Host Club straightened themselves. "Get off the floor, Tamaki," Kyoya ordered.
Haruhi wanted to die. Nothing was worth this torture.
As one, the twins pulled the twin doors open.
No fangirl squeals met their ears. No pretty decorations, falling flowers, backdrops came into view. In fact, the room was mostly bare. To allow the guests to come in, they wandered further into the proverbial pit. Since no gasps of wonderment came forth, Haruhi gathered that though curious, these "commoners" could care less about the upper-class life or its advantages.
Since she was not often surrounded by these reactions, Haruhi allowed herself to hope for a short while that there were sane people still in the world.
"Hey, what are these for?" Momiji questioned.
The doors closed. Unnoticed and exceptionally still, were two girls. One on each side of the door. The image they bore was close to a nutcracker. Or at least, the London guard. Large black fur hats rested on their heads, covering the dusty colored hair that ended at the nape of the neck. Their jackets were bright red, decorated with gold lining and cuffs. Black thread circled the collar. The buttons were black as well. Their pants were black, tucked into tall black boots.
Unblinking, they stared forward.
Strangely enough, at least four people spoke. "Guards."
Taking this in stride, Momiji nodded thoughtfully. Before he could ask another question, two short claps boomed in the room. Apparently, it was sound proof. The guards sprang into action.
The two girls sprinted for about five steps before launching themselves into a roll over Haruhi and Kyo's heads. Landing safely on the floor, they bounced back up and proceeded to go into a series of flips. From some point of view, it was rather interesting. On all the mirrors, the same image could be seen, but from different angles. They ended near a set of chairs side by side.
One girl landed on her feet, with her arms crossing her chest. The other sank into a split, her arms held before her as if to defend them off.
And in the center, Benio. "Welcome."
"Tohru!" Momiji cried out, relieved to see his friend. This time, both Kyo and Haru held him back from leaping to the girl.
It was then that Haruhi, Tamaki, and Kyoya took the time to view the girl. Who could believe all this was for her? She certainly didn't look so special. Her plain brown hair held up at the sides by ribbons. Large, innocent eyes expressing every emotion. The friendliest smile they had ever witnessed on a stranger. "Momiji-kun!" She replied, acknowledging his presence. "Sohma-kun! Uo, Hana! Hatsuharu-san! Kyo-kun too!" Suddenly remembering herself, she turned to Benio. "You remember Kyo-kun? That's him!"
Haruhi felt if she could lift her arms, she would. But as it were, her entire body was bound to the chair she sat in. Unusually, she was not stressed at all. In fact, she couldn't stop smiling.
Despite this, her predicament did not look good. The two guards, Benio and two other girls protected Tohru.
She vaguely wondered how Kyo knew Benio, and what was for dinner.
"You are holding my friend against her will." Oddly, Hana was the first to really speak, though it was just an observation.
Benio thought it was too hot to be wearing black. "Yes. It was the only way we could ensure for them to come." She gestured to the Host Club.
Yuki stepped forward. "Miss Honda has nothing to do with this. If you have a grudge, settle it." Haruhi watched as Benio faltered, staring dazedly at the boy. When he cleared his throat, she started. From this, Haruhi observed that this might not have been the first time people were so entranced with his looks. Despite his strong words, Benio could only be distracted. So, his warning held no power.
"Exactly! Be ashamed, Benio!" Tamaki crowed with conviction. "To involve an innocent in our matters is a violation of honor! You will not truly seek revenge or justice if you resort to taking a hostage."
Benio bounced her head from side to side, as if listening to music, or a beat that she liked. "Yada yada ya," she mocked. "Truth be told, kidnapping Tohru Honda was an accident," here she glared at Chizuru briefly. "A mistake occurred. Otherwise, it would be Haruhi Fujioka gracing our presence."
Haruhi could only blink.
"Why?" Hunny questioned, tearful.
Coincidentally, it was Haruhi's question as well.
Benio's eyes blazed with fire. "It's unsanitary! One woman with so many men! Disgraceful!" She stepped out of the chair. "They hold you in their power. Convincing you you're weaker, less intelligent. That you should be blessed to hold their devotion. The Host Club thinks themselves gifts from God!" A bitter taste rose in Haruhi's mouth. The sad part was, it was somewhat true.
Tohru and the "guests" wisely kept their mouths shut about Tohru living with Shigure, Kyo and Yuki. Haruhi was merely in a club. If they were to find out Tohru actually lived with non-relative males . . .
"Their arrogance is a natural flaw existing in all womanizers. We are not toys! We cannot be bought with cheap gifts that mean nothing. Stop trying to be the hero! We can save ourselves!" Benio cried out.
Haruhi thought that Benio's parade for women's dignity stemmed from a very personal matter. Not all men were . . . like the Host Club.
Tamaki was the one to speak as Benio breathed, attempting to calm herself. His voice betrayed his confusion, thus making his argument weak. "I thought women liked to be saved. Or be wooed. To come home, flowers on the table after a tiring day at work and smile. Don't women prefer to be handled with care and the gentle touch? To know that they don't always have to be strong. That even though this world is harsh and cruel, there is an escape. A place and a person to love."
Benio shook her head, closing her eyes during his speech. They just didn't get it!
"No, no, no! We're not going to break, you idiot. We don't always have to be strong but how will we ever get there if somebody always supports us? We're trying to be independent and all you keep doing is dragging us back to a lifestyle nobody wants! Tell a wife to stay at home day after day; cooking, cleaning, sewing, and they'll go crazy. There's nothing to do. No room for improvement!"
Hikaru and Kaoru glanced at each other. "Improvement?"
Benio sighed, hating to describe every little detail for a group of clueless men. "Yes, improvement! Change! Do you think we want to stay the same after three years? Things happen! You can't expect us to be the same person through our entire lives. It's not possible! And you chain us to a lifestyle of expectations and stereotypes." She pleaded for them to understand. "You're making us suffer."
"I never- it wasn't considered-" he sputtered. Kaoru and Hikaru caught him as he fell to the floor, weak. "I've been torturing women," he mumbled.
Haruhi still wondered why it had to be her. Their reasoning just wasn't enough. The arguments were pathetic. It sounded more like a group of girls rebelling against marriage.
Tamaki looked up, regret written on his face. "I'm sorry," he apologized.
Though this was waiting for, what Benio had wanted after so long, it was not enough. The apology, in comparison, could never be enough. She shook her head. "It's too late," she explained with an expression of disappointment. "Girls- attack!"
Haruhi jumped back in surprise when the two guards went on the offense. They unsheathed weapons before attacking. Smoke clouded the air as several smoke bombs hit the floor, hissing out the vile substance. It quickly affected their vision and Haruhi felt her eyes burn as she tried so hard to see through the lingering haze. Blue and black swords ripped through the cloud.
Haruhi blinked. No, they weren't swords. Ribbons?
As she witnessed one of the girls slap Kaoru around the wrist with a blue ribbon, she was convinced. Crack crack crick ccch ccchh fwooom. Light flashes blinded her. Yellow, red, orange.
Black edged in her peripheral vision. Before she could react, a decidedly male hand gripped her arm with enough force to make her wince. He pulled her down, out of the way. She never even saw who it was.
From a nearby corner (where Haru had placed him) Yuki coughed, even with a cloth over his face. The smoke bombs would not improve his condition at all. It would not surprise her if he would have to see a physician after this.
"Orangey, that you?" Uo growled, bumping into somebody and grunting. "Dammit! I can't see a thing!" Just as these words were out of her mouth, Uo lost her balance as she stepped on the remains of a smoke bomb. That was how she ended up on her buttocks, rubbing her thigh in pain. These people were not fighting fair, she decided. Feeling around, she found it.
Uo fired the ball into the air in anger. Feeling ridiculous, she started to rise to her feet before some lamebrain fell on top of her. Another cloud of smoke.
Mori rubbed his head, feeling the welt he had gotten from a stray smoke bomb. Good thing it wasn't a light flash.
Hana sat comfortably in the far left corner, waiting for the madness to end.
Haru averted his head from the ribbon's whip. This was getting annoying. But if they wanted to play . . . He shuffled out into the center of the room. The blue wave came again. This time Haru was ready. Seizing one end of the ribbon, he jerked it in his favor. It tightened, the girl thinking she had caught someone. He pulled the ribbon with each hand, as if playing tug of war.
The girl stood not two feet away. Before she could bolt, Haru had taken the ribbon, held her in place and wrapped it around her. He tied up her hands together and sat her on the floor. He didn't even get to see his work.
He ignored the brilliant flash of yellow next to his foot. Instead, he sought out the black ribbon. If they had more time, maybe he could find out what else ribbons were good for. He settled for just ending this. After a minute of pacing, pushing unknown people out of his way, the prize came. The result was the same.
Tohru gasped, unable to move. The rolling ribbons made her flinch every time she caught sight of them. The flashes and smoke bombs weren't much worse. She couldn't cover her face or escape injury if someone were to come by. Just as she was praying that none of the others would get hurt, she felt a tug on the ropes. Hope!
Tohru coughed again. "Benio? Where is everybody?" The girl didn't answer but in no time Tohru had both her hands free and was currently trying to loosen her left leg. Benio was working on the right. Tohru lifted her legs out, not wishing to trip.
She grabbed Benio's shoulders. "This must stop! We're all going to get hurt! Nobody can see and -" her eyes widened with the thought of one of the zodiac bumping into somebody and transforming. "-I can't breathe! Yuki-kun has asthma! Please, stop this! Please!"
It was only the panic in the girl's voice and the distress in her actions that caused Benio to call out, "STOP!" The lights still flashed and smoke bombs continued to hiss but everybody halted. She ordered someone to open the door.
Waving her arms, Tohru was caught off guard as her wrist was squeezed and she was dragged away. "Aw, but why stop? I was having so much fun." A familiar voice commented, echoing throughout the entire room although it was pretty low.
"B-Black Haru?" Tohru stuttered, shivering.
A dark chuckle vibrated in his chest. A puff of hot air on her neck, almost panting. "You know me so well." His left hand remained on her hip, making circles with his fingers. Slowly, they crept downward. "In fact, I enjoyed it so much; I think we should keep playing. A game," he proposed.
Yuki clenched his fists. That cow!
Haruhi furrowed her brows. The voice sounded like Hatsuharu's but it couldn't be. Hatsuharu hardly ever spoke and when he did, it was always hushed. This voice belonged to a confident man. It was husky, dangerous.
"A game?" Tohru repeated, uncertain. Why would Black Haru want to play a game? "I guess . . ."
A smirk crept its way onto his face. Another dark chuckle. "We don't even have to use the ribbons. If you don't want to, that is . . ."
Before Tohru could reply to this statement, both Yuki and Kyo struck Haru on his head. Kyo steadied Haru when he swayed. By then, the smoke had fairly cleared and everybody could be seen just fine. Haru rubbed his black and white spikes. "My head hurts," he complained, oblivious to the stares.
The St. Lobelia girls had apologized to Tohru and the others for involving them. Yuki apologized for Haru, explaining the other personality his cousin had. It was met with surprise but accepted. He was glad nobody questioned it further.
Now fully able to celebrate, all three Prince Yuki fanclub members hugged and began to blurt out their own experiences at once.
It was leaving the dance room when Hana stopped. "Oh dear." This simple phrase snatched the attention of all Kaibara, and Ouran students. One by one they stopped, waiting for Hana to elaborate. "What?" Uo asked finally, unable to bear the silence.
The goth glanced up. "It seems I've forgotten my parasol." Without waiting for a reply, she left them behind. Shrugging, for that was just the way she is, everybody followed. Amazingly, she was able to traverse the hallways, flights of stairs nicely. She pushed the door open.
"Yuki dear!" rang out a cheerful voice. The reaction Yuki had to this specific voice was similar to Kyo's fear of Kagura. He froze. Why him?
Looking up, he viewed the room. His brother rested on the sofa, lounging about. Pale silver hair spilled over his shoulders. It easily jingled when the head was moved. A cup of hot tea lay on the table, simmering. The others could plainly see where Yuki inherited his appearance.
He fluttered his eyelashes. "I knew you would come back. I knew it in my heart. I thought to myself, Aaya, your little brother could not help but return to your side. After all the adoration, and he still can't seem to keep away," Ayame softly mused.
The stranger in the one seat chair turned around as well, having been placed next to the sofa. However, it was moved to the side. So its occupant could not be seen. "Oh. Looks like they've all returned. What good luck we have, Aaya."
"Shigure?" Kyo swallowed unpleasantly. This was getting too weird.
The long haired man lifted his hand to his face. One finger placed on his cheek. The other folded against the palm. "Extraordinary, I'd say. If it weren't for you, Gure-san, I'd be all alone." His insinuation was felt by all.
The writer, clothed in his usual attire, edged closer. "Surely not all alone? There's still the gift I gave you last year."
Aaya sniffled. "It's just not the same. Not without you."
They stared into each other's eyes, smiling coyly. Suddenly the scene ended when Aaya stood up. "Kyonkichi! What a nice surprise. I probably should remember by now that you both go to the same school. Ah, but my heart is eclipsed with overwhelming emotions for my little brother." At this, he turned to Yuki. "I know you've missed me, Yuki. It's been so long since we've last seen each other. Come, I will not degrade you if you wish to hug your idol." He threw his arms open.
Shigure also stood up. "Give him some time, Aaya." He laid a hand on Aaya's shoulder to comfort his cousin. "How did all of you enjoy your senior trip?"
The Kaibara students exchanged looks. "It sucked," Uo stated.
Kyo nodded, throwing himself into a random chair. "What a stupid scavenger hunt."
Shigure eyed Tohru, who was still wearing Yuki's jacket. "And how is my little housewife? Did you enjoy the scavenger hunt?"
"Oh yes, it was amazing!" Tohru gushed. "We've made so many friends today, I can hardly remember all their names! We got lost and didn't finish it at all but I think, in this case, the journey was what mattered. Maybe we've met these people for a reason. If so, I would never wish to forget this." She smiled fondly. "Oh! But what was your senior trip like, Shigure-san?"
Shigure and Aaya traded sly looks. "That's for another time, my little housekeeper. Right now, we are under strict orders to return you all home. Since you have missed the bus," he reminded them.
"Nii-san," Yuki said slowly, thinking. Aaya clapped with pride. Yuki looked up, eyes glinting dangerously. "Just how did you know we were here?"
Pause. "I was weak!" Aaya cried out. "I could not resist the thought of watching my younger brother from a distance, growing into a man. I admit, it took my restraint than I had. But Gure-san helped me along the way." He sighed.
Haruhi could only watch the scene with shock. Is this what the Host Club would be like, ten years from now? Still immature idiots?
Kyo scoffed. "Which means you had the pervert join you. You've been watching us the entire time. We could have just gone home! You have a story to write!" He scolded Shigure, who shivered. "And you, you have a store to run!" Aaya flipped his hair back.
"Not so, Kyonkichi. I left Mine in charge of the store for today. Just so I could spend all my time with Yuki!"
"Don't call me Kyonkichi!"
Uo coughed loudly. "Sorry to break up the touching moment and all, but I have a few questions. Just to clear this all up. You're giving us a ride home?"
Shigure hesitated. "Not me, exactly. Hari's here!" He brightened, encouraging each face to smile. Then it dropped just as quickly. "He still won't let me drive."
"For good reason," Kyo and Yuki muttered at the same time. Realizing what happened, they glared at each other.
Uo nodded. "Yeah. Okay. Whatever. Next one up is, I think I remember Tohru sayin' you owned a clothing store?"
It was as if it was electricity. The thought jumped from Uo's mind into Aaya's. With understanding, he grinned. "My doors are always open to those who wish to experience fantasies firsthand. Feel free to drop by sometime," he invited.
Uo smiled unexpectedly. "I think I will."