"DADDY BROUGHT THE LUNCHIES!"
Tamaki Suoh, President of the Ouran Academy Host Club and the son of the Chairman of Ouran Academy, was wearing loose, fashionably ripped trousers and a construction worker's hat—a modest attempt at mimicking a blue collar worker.
"This peasant picnic is one of your best ideas ever boss!" Hikaru and Karou said in unison. Tamaki got into character patted the twins on the head.
"The best." Haruhi said dryly.
This wasn't the first time Tamaki's misguided attempts to empathize with Haruhi's less privileged lifestyle left her unamused. His latest scheme was to dress like peasants and to eat peasant food outside—like the peasants do. After lunch, a game of kick-the-can would be initiated. Of course the food was of a higher grade than the local supermarket, and the picnic was taking place on the grounds of Kyoyo's estate rather than the actual wilderness. As long as Haruhi was present, the experience felt genuine. Tamaki and the Hitachiin twins were completely involved in this fantasy, while the other four remained more distant. They could have costume parties and picnics as much as they liked, but it didn't hide the fact that the host club was uneasy.
Haruhi thought she heard a twig snap somewhere in the forest beyond the Ootori grounds. Unsure whether it was real or imagined, she gasped at the sound, prompting Mori to immediately jump to his feet. Honey, still clutching his rabbit, tensed. Kyoyo calmly sipped his tea.
"Relax," Kyoyo said. "I've already taken precautions."
"Your family's personal police force?" asked Mori. He narrowed his eyes. "They weren't very helpful last time."
"If anything they'll warn us if something is coming." Kyoyo said. He sipped his tea once more. "If this persists and the force is still ineffective, I'll look into hiring professionals. My father advised that we exhaust all other options before publicizing our current predicament."
During this exchange, Tamaki and the twins laid out the picnic food on the blanket. Tamaki bit into a peanut butter sandwich, consisting of gourmet peanut butter and freshly baked bread. He looked over at Haruhi, who was still staring into the void of the far away woods.
"Haruhi, you haven't touched any food." Tamaki said, concerned. Haruhi just shook her head.
She didn't scare easily. Haruhi was willing to get in fights, to confront people who are bigger than her, to face the darkness when she needed to. Thunderstorms were a bit different, but apart from that Haruhi never was afraid of anything. She at least felt comforted in the fact that she wasn't the only one shaken by these recent attacks. They all moved a little quicker, overreacted to sudden noises, though they always laughed it off in front of guests. Even Kyoyo's air of calm was a façade. Truthfully he was just as unnerved as the rest of them.
Haruhi exhaled, finally dismissing her anxious thoughts. She grabbed some food—fancy tuna at a peasant picnic?—and began to eat. She realized that Tamaki had been frowning at her for some time. Once she began eating he seemed to relax. The group began to share a very quiet picnic lunch. Tamaki and the Hitachiins weren't quite so absorbed in their own fantasies after all.
Gun shots rang out in the woods. Birds abruptly took flight, and a fluttering stream of black and grey that rose from the forest like a smoke stack. As the birds scattered and voices began to yell, the host club sprang up and sprinted towards the house, leaving all of their food and belongings behind. Mori and Honey, after making eye contact and nodding, doubled back to head into the forest and help the police force. The twins held hands as they sprinted, terrified both of losing a brother and of falling behind themselves. Haruhi, who was never a very fast runner, was suddenly picked up by Tamaki. She yelled at Tamaki to put her down, for fear of slowing him down, but he shook his head. Kyoyo, who had already called his house, led them inside through the garage door. The door closed, and a symphony of bolts and locks sealing the house shut sounded through the house.
"But," Tamaki said breathlessly, putting down Haruhi. "What about Mori and Honey-senpai?"
"They can handle themselves." Kyoyo said. He looked at his cellphone ruefully. "My own house isn't safe," He said. Exhaling hard, Kyoyo began to dial a number and put the phone to his ear.
"Father," he said. "I'm sorry to bother you at work, but there's been another attack, this time at the mansion. Yes, we are in the house. The remains of the force should chase away the kishin egg shortly. But that isn't enough. We need a professional meister and weapon to eliminate these kishin once and for all."
"A what club?"
"A 'host' club," clarified Lord Death. "The Ouran Host Club is student organization specialized in extracurricular flirting. I don't know why kishin-eggs are targeting a host club, but it's your responsibility to protect the hosts and destroy the kishin. But there are some technicalities."
Lord Death walked over to his mirror. His reflection blurred and the image shifted to that of a bird's-eye view of school campus. Maka, Death the Kid, Black Star, and their weapons crowded around the mirror, catching glimpses of pink buildings, tranquil fountains, and endless gardens. Soul wrinkled his nose. He knew about Ouran Academy. He hadn't actually been there, but he knew all about the prissy uniforms, the stupid pink buildings, and the insufferable rich people. It made the DWMA seem like a paradise, which was an odd thought considering how often Soul skipped class. He wondered who would even want to go to a school like that.
"That's a school?" Maka said in awe. Soul rolled his eyes, unsurprised that Maka would like it.
"Such refined architecture and balanced landscaping! It's art, pure art." Kid exclaimed.
"It's pink as shit." Black Star stated. A large, cartoonish hand immediately descended as Black Star fell victim to the dreaded Reaper Chop.
"It is quite pretty," said Lord Death sternly. Black Star lay crumpled on the ground while Tsubaki tended to his fresh head wound. "Ouran Academy is one of the premier schools in the world. Only the wealthiest, more powerful families can send their children to school there. But, being so rich and privileged, they are rather picky."
Lord Death ushered his students away from the mirror. Spirit, who used his own experience with the Reaper Chop to help revive Black Star, stepped forward to further brief the students. He straightened his tie, ready to brief his dear Maka on the mission.
"The families involved with the host club want to hire professionals to deal with the kishin problem, but that doesn't mean they'll hired us." said Spirit. "We need to send two representatives to convince the host club to choose the DWMA." Spirit grinned cheesily and offered thumbs up. He directed his smile specifically at his princess, happy to look so professional in front of her.
"But the DWMA isn't paid for its services. If the lives of these kids are in danger, isn't it unethical to charge them money for their safety?" Maka said. Spirit voice dried up in his throat. A large hand lightly pushed Spirit to the side as Lord Death took over for his embarrassed weapon.
"No and yes!" Lord Death said in a sing-song voice. "We aren't paid for our services, and it is unethical to demand money in return for the safety of their lives, but I'm certain they'll generously donate to the school or city after a successful mission!"
Maka huffed indignantly, but to Soul it made sense. The battle with Asura literally uprooted Death City, and its restoration was slow and costly. Focusing on the recent plight of Ouran Academy and pandering to the wealthy families established there was a shrewd move on Lord Death's part. Never underestimate the cunning hidden beneath that goofy mask.
"I'm sending all of you to Japan on standby, but I can only send the two most distinguished students as representatives." continued Lord Death. He extended one large white finger. "The first representative I'm sending is my own son, Kid." Kid shrieked and threw his hands into the air.
"Father you can't send me with only one weapon!" Kid cried. "I'll be too imbalanced to fight! Please, you must choose someone else!"
"Well Kid, neither of your weapons will represent the DWMA." Lord Death said, interrupting his son's panic attack. With his other hand he extended another large finger. "The second person is actually Soul Eater."
Soul's eyebrows shot up as his friends all stepped to the side, leaving him alone in the middle. He glanced back at the mirror, still portraying the serene gardens of Ouran Academy, and groaned. If he didn't find a way out of this, it wasn't gonna be cool. Death the Kid crossed his arms, very pleased.
"You're right Father. I should take no weapons instead of just one. This is a much better arrangement," Kid said. Kid's weapons rolled their eyes. It was too typical of their meister to give symmetry precedence over practicality, or even safety. Meanwhile, Soul stuck his hands in his jacket pockets and scowled at Lord Death.
"I hate school, and I'm definitely too cool to be seen around that acadamy, even for a mission." said a sulking Soul Eater. He suddenly grinned, flashing his sharp teeth. "Send a nerd like Maka, she'll fit in fine."
A book materialized in Maka's hand, and Soul felt the skull-crushing force of her Maka Chop. He staggered to the ground, sporting a similar yet smaller bump than Black Star. Soul cursed himself. It was hard to reconcile his urge to ridicule and bicker with Maka with his desire to preserve his brain cells. Maka straightened her sweater and happily turned back to Lord Death.
"But really Lord Death, I'd love to represent the DWMA." Maka said eagerly.
"I'm sure you would," Lord Death said. He put his cartoonish hands together and began to proceed cautiously. "but you see, you aren't exactly Ouran material."
"What?" Maka said.
"What?" echoed Maka's father, who poked his head out from behind Lord Death.
"I'm sorry to say this," Lord Death began. "but I'm afraid you're too common. You're a very good student and meister, but if we're to impress the host club we need representatives with connections and wealth."
Maka stared blankly at Lord Death, both devastated and speechless. Her father whimpered. The two Albarns stood in a line, hunched over in mutual shame. A loud peel of laughter broke rippled through the death room. Black Star, it appeared, was completely revived.
"Looks like Maka is too poor and small for this mission." Black Star shouted. "But I, Black Star, the biggest, strongest, and most awesome student at the DWMA, humbly accepts your challenge to go to that sissy-ass school and-"
"No, not you either Black Star." Lord Death said. Black Star, interrupting mid-monologue, appeared to choke on his own spit. "You're from the Star Clan, a particularly notorious family in Japan. It would be unwise for you to represent our school."
Black Star joined Maka and her father, hunched over in shame.
"I wanna go to the pink school!" Patty said dreamily.
"Me too, Patty" Liz said. She crossed her arms. "But I think our criminal records put us out of the running for this one."
This wasn't good. One by one, each of his friends was being eliminated as possible replacements for Soul. He was certain that Maka could serve as a representative, but now he understood why it had to be him. As much as Soul hated it, the Evans family was extremely rich and influential. Famous for their musical genius, Evans' have performed in ball rooms and galas all over the world. Soul's older brother Wes was the latest prodigy to blossom on the Evans family tree. Soul, on the other hand, was either a late bloomer or a dud. Thanks to his weapon blood, Soul never had to find out which one.
Someone at Ouran Academy was bound to know the Evans name. But even if they knew who he was, who his brother was, Soul wasn't going to suck up to any damn rich people.
Soul looked at his comrades. Maka was too common. Black Star came from a clan with a murderous history. Liz and Patty can't pass a background check. Kid was already going on the mission. That left…
"Tsubaki!" Soul said triumphantly. He spun towards Lord Death. "Tsubaki comes from a very old and well-known clan in Japan. She lives in a mansion! Isn't she distinguished enough to be a representative?" Lord stroked the bottom of his mask, considering the idea.
"Ya know, she wouldn't be a bad representative at all." Suddenly Lord Death was in front of Tsubaki, leaning over her inquisitively. Tsubaki was taken aback by the grim reaper's sudden closeness.
"Whaddaya say? Do you want to replace Soul as a representative of the DWMA?" Lord Death asked.
"Well if you wanted me to of course, but if Black Star can't go than I'd rather not. I'm sorry Soul." Tsubaki smiled apologetically.
Soul hunched over in an extreme pout. This wasn't cool at all, being sent on a mission to Ouran Academy, the epitome of wealth and upperclass sensibility. What's more, Maka wasn't even coming. He never had to do a mission without her, and he didn't realize how sucky the prospect was. Soul tried one last plea to the grim reaper.
"But isn't it a bad idea to send me and Kid without our partners on a mission?" Soul asked. "Kid can't wield me, and I can't fight alone. Isn't all of this a little impractical?"
"Impractical? These are rich people we are dealing with!" Lord Death said. He brought back the image of Ouran Academy on the mirror. This time it zoomed in on students in the courtyard, all dressed in streamlined blue blazers or fluffy yellow gowns. They were reading on stone benches, playing croquet on freshly mowed lawns, and strolling about the elite campus with parasols shading them from the sun. Lord Death gestured wildly at the mirror with his large hands.
"Rich people! Isn't it impractical to have a club whose sole purpose is flirting and frivolity? Or a rose bush maze on school grounds? Of course it is! The reason people go along with it all is because when you make a fuss, the rich people take a zero off your pay check. And I'm afraid after the business with Asura, the DWMA is in dire need of funding."
"But Father, what happens after we visit the host club?" asked Kid.
"At that point, all seven of you will go in and eliminate the kishin threat." Lord Death said. "All of you will be sent to Japan. Until Kid signs a contact securing the exclusive employment of the DWMA, the rest of you will be on standby."
The students were dismissed.