First Impressions

by karinarios

Chapter One: Renge Deals Hard

[4 April 2011] Hallo! A warning, because this used to come up in reviews for my other chaptered stories: I like to treat each chapter as a one-shot. So rarely is there actual continuity between chapters – they're all meant to be stand-alones. Transition always has been, and probably always will be, one of my weak points. Along with, of course, mad writing. ::P


I do not own Ouran High School Host Club; the whole concept belongs to Hatori Bisuko-sensei.

This fanfic is based on the anime.


Suou Tamaki is rich, handsome and brilliant, but he has the misfortune of always dating women he can't handle. When his resolves to set his standards lower, he aims his target on a seemingly simple-minded waitress at Ouran Corner. But Fujioka Haruhi is not who he thinks she is.

Chapter One: Renge Deals Hard

17 July


Fujioka Haruhi chuckled tentatively as Houshakuji Renge handed over yet another glossy magazine for her to check. On top of the ornate mahogany table between them, amidst dolls and trinkets that Renge apparently enjoyed collecting, tottered a considerable pile of Tokyo Tatler back issues, all of which featured a certain group of gentlemen which – it was becoming more apparent with each magazine unearthed from within the desk – the Ouran Corner manager and proprietor was partial to. Resisting the insane urge to grimace at the bent figure muttering random nonsense to the sound of moving drawers, Haruhi looked down at the glossy she was holding in her raised hands…

Las October's cover page featured six handsome young men in tuxedos of varying shades standing in the middle of what appeared to be an abandoned parking lot. Squinting at the two in the foreground of the picture, she recognized the problematic guests from the previous afternoon.

Haruhi frowned. The dark haired one with glasses had seemed civil enough, calmly dragging his companion away when she had courteously requested him to, but the blond was out of this world. He had pestered her to no end, lounging – perching on the edge of the counter just as Haruhi was making progress on the balance sheets. And even after she had politely declined his ill-concealed advances – not that she believed he was making any effort to pretend at all – he still stayed! Playing with the tissue box and chatting her up as though she were an airhead with a propensity to fall for men with good looks!

Utter subjugation, Haruhi's frown deepened as she glanced up from the magazine, eyes following the madwoman who was now sifting through the mess that was her table. That's why I didn't want this job in the first place-

"Here's the commentary they did on the Australian Open," Renge abruptly announced, distracted, stuffing another magazine into Haruhi's unwilling hands. "It's a bit dated, but I love how it centers on Kyouya-sama! I mean, I've always believed Mori-san was the closest in the sports department, but since he never talks – shame – Kyouya-sama just had to step in and save him the trouble of having to comment!"

Without warning, she buried her face in the pile of glossy magazines, clutching the edges of her desk, and muttering, "Kyouya-sama… Ootori Kyouya-sama!"

Ignoring the woman semi-prostrated before her, Haruhi flipped the issue open. There were indeed pictures of tennis matches, of Venus and Serena and good old Rafael, but there appeared to be more pictures of the same group of guys, lounging around in various versions of tennis whites, sipping on what looked like wine. Good God.

"Um. Renge-san." The Manager lazily raised her head. "Exactly why are you showing me all these?"

Renge frowned thoughtfully. Inching forward in her awkwardly bent position, dragging her swiveling seat as she moved, she finally settled with propping her chin on a nearby music box. Raising a perfectly chiseled eyebrow at Haruhi, Renge accused, "You said you didn't know of Suou Tamaki."

"I didn't know I was supposed to-"

Renge did not seem pleased. "Exactly what did Tamaki-san talk to you about yesterday?"

Haruhi raised her arms in frustration. "I don't… know – I wasn't paying attention." She scratched her head, staring at the table before her as she tried to recall a memory she would rather bury in the forbidden archives of her brain. "He invited me to have coffee with him, and I said I found the offer ironic, given we were in a coffee shop." She sighed. "Then I think he… laughed and said he'd take me to dinner instead, but I refused-"

"Did you tell him where you study?"

A pair of eyebrows twitched. "No… Why would I do that?"

"And you didn't tell him what you do?" Renge pressed. "No personal details whatsoever?"

Haruhi shook her head, looking bemused. "Nothing except my first name."

"Nothing except your first name," The Manager repeated, straightening up. "That's good. I don't think Tamaki-san is the type who does a background check on the women he dates anyway-"

"I beg your pardon?"

"Haruhi." There was something familiar flickering in The Manager's eyes – the same passion that invaded her normally tolerant features whenever she demanded to have the blackberry pudding served with mango slices. "I have a proposition."

Resting her face over her fragile, joined hands, she began, "The truth is, Tamaki-san believes he's offended you-"

Haruhi cleared her throat. "That would be the logical conclusion, considering I did request him to leave-"

"He's very interested in you-"

"He did seem quite interested in toying with me-"

"Not quite." Renge bit her lip, shifting her pose and falling unceremoniously on the cushions behind her. "Tamaki-san… actually seems quite serious about pursuing you."

A blink, followed by a furrowing of eyebrows. "We've never even met before."

"He…" Renge tapped her cheek, glancing worriedly away as she wondered how best to phrase exactly what Suou Tamaki was. "Tamaki-san has a problem. He always ends up dating dragon ladies…"

She looked up to check Haruhi's reaction. Expectedly, it was nonexistent.

"He always finds out too late that his girlfriends are control freaks."

Again, a statement met with disinterested silence.

"Not to mention, overachieving perfectionists."

Haruhi actually reached up to scratch her arm.

Renge, frustrated, laid both her hands palms-up on the table. "Right now, he just wants to date someone normal-"

"I'm sorry, Renge-san, but did he actually tell you all this?"

"He told me earlier today," Renge answered suspiciously, stacking her magazines for the sake of having something to channel her anxiety to. "You were still in the office. And I have to remind you I'll have to dock part of your pay for that-"

Haruhi was not listening.

"Hmmm." She stood with arms akimbo, hands still clutching the magazines, bright gaze distant. "Subjugation, huh?" Suddenly, a smile. "I'm not sure I completely sympathize with him though-"

"The truth is-" Renge's hands moved slower as she placed the last issue on top of the stack, "he thinks you're a bit slow."

A pause. Then Haruhi blinked, hands falling to her sides in surprise. "He thinks I'm dumb?"

"Yes, well…" Renge nervously faked a cough. "That's what he thinks."

Haruhi frowned thoughtfully. "The more I fail to see the reason you're so enamored with him and his friends-"

"He's really keen on pursuing you," Renge emphasized one more time, squinting in vain at the girl before her and half-hoping she would change her passive reaction somehow. "And what a Suou wants, a Suou always gets. Immediately-"

"I'm sorry, Renge-san, but are you telling me this to warn me?" Haruhi turned blank eyes on her boss, ignoring Renge's building frustration. "Because earlier I had the feeling you were trying to get me to appreciate his good side, as I'm sure even a man like him possesses that proverbial aspect-"

"I'm trying to prepare you for his future advances," Renge muttered dully, not willing to admit she had lost track of Haruhi's pseudo-monologue. "Because I assure you there will be more-"

"I'm sorry, but just to clarify – did you say he wants to date me because he thinks I'm not the sharpest pin in the sewing kit?"

"He wants to know more about you," Renge reached over and pulled her magazines from Haruhi's grasp, "because he thinks you'll be able to provide him with what he's never had."

"I doubt there's anything he's neverhad-"

"Attention. Care. Respect." Haruhi had never seen The Manager look so angry before, not even when she openly insulted Renge's recipe for strawberry shortcake. "I may not share your educational background, but I'm sure it would be to your advantage to give the man the benefit of the doubt." Her frown deepened as Haruhi looked slightly chagrined. "I may not know him personally, but I know enough to be sure he's a decent person." She scoffed and closed her eyes, flustering. "After all, he is Kyouya-sama's best friend-"

"I apologize Renge-san, but if sparing him some compassion entails having to mollycoddle his bruised ego, I'm not sure I'm up to the task of 'dating' him-"

"I know." Renge admitted in a long-suffering voice, pulling a tissue from a crystal-lined box. "That's what I wanted to talk to you about."

As she silently watched Renge blow her nose on a purple tissue, Haruhi felt an ominous twinge she couldn't quite place. It was a cross between how she felt on the morning of an important examination, and how she felt when she saw people jump off cliffs on TV. "I'm afraid I don't understand your meaning fully, Renge-san-"

"I want you to flatter his ego," Renge said from behind another piece of tissue, her voice odd and muffled, like a little girl about to cry. "I want you to lavish care upon him. Treat him well."

"And why would I want to do that?"

Waving the question aside as she scratched her nose distractedly, Renge mumbled, "You don't need to know." Sighing, she bent to reach for her waste bin and explained, "Let's put it this way. If you treat him nicely for two weeks, I'll call off your debt. I won't charge you for the rest of the vase-" she added, seeing Haruhi opening her mouth to protest, "and we'll pretend you never broke it."

Haruhi did not appear convinced. "But why two weeks-?"

"You won't even have to work here anymore," Renge suggested, thinking desperately of privileges that would lure Haruhi in. "You'll be free."

Even as Renge watched, Haruhi's expression did not change, not even gradually. She simply stood in front of the table, blinking at Renge mechanically, the gray matter hamsters running silently in her surprisingly tiny skull. The Manager bit her lip. She was of half a mind to call off the deal now, as she wasn't particularly keen on using underhanded methods for befriending people. Before she could change her decision properly, however, Haruhi exhaled and by force of habit, tugged at her fringe childishly.

"All right, fine," she agreed begrudgingly. "I'll entertain him. But not so I can be free of the debt – I mean, not only so I can be free of the debt…" Meeting Renge's gaze head on, Haruhi clarified one last time, "You did say he thought I was an airhead, right?"

Almost afraid to move, Renge nodded.

"Well then," Haruhi started, blinking serenely. "I suppose it's part of my duty to make sure he becomes enlightened regarding the faux promises of first impressions."

She smiled reassuringly, causing The Manager's blood to chill even deeper. "Don't worry, Renge-san. I'll only be experimenting…"


[4 April 2011] I'm honestly having trouble writing Haruhi, given I hardly recall anything about her personality in the show. Same goes for the other characters. ::P I just checked the Wikipedia descriptions for each of them, and I've realized I've envisioned them slightly off-canon. Still, since I've already drafted a plot structure with these versions of them in mind, can we pretend they've just changed? ::X Please?


Chapter Two: Honey Feigns Innocence

A determined Suou Tamaki mercilessly drags his unwitting senpai into the battleground that is his love life. He is caught off-guard, however, by the enemy's strategy: Haruhi has suddenly warmed up to him, though he is not too sure he appreciates this abrupt development. An afternoon of pudding, pretension, and lies awaits.