Kid did not just get along with the Hitachiin twins—he adored them. They were perfectly symmetrical, perfectly synchronized. If they could transform into identical weapons, Kid would consider wielding more than one set. He could never part with Liz and Patty—having them with him at all times was as ingrained into his obsessive mind and heart as the number eight—but wielding more than one pair of weapons, especially a perfectly symmetrical pair, was an excellent idea.
However, Kid could never condone what the twins were doing now.
"You are not wearing that!" Kid screeched. "I've said it six times, and I'll say it twice more. You are not wearing that!"
"Chill out Kid," Liz said. "It's just a skirt."
The Hitachiin twins, it turned out, were the children of fashion designers. When Kid and the girls arrived at the Hitachiin manor to act as their bodyguards, it seemed like the night was a promising one. The interior design was perfection, and the designer clothes they had lying around were also beautiful to see and touch. Though a kishin-egg may drop in at any moment, Kid had no qualms with allowing a small game of dress-up to occur. But no sooner had the game started that the twins dressed Liz in that abomination.
The skirt was asymmetrical. Rather than having a uniform hemline like most rationally-designed garments, this skirt was longer in the back and shorter in the front. An absolute abomination of the crudest kind.
"You are not wearing that!" Kid screeched for the eighth time. "I'll take it off if you won't!"
"I'll sock you in one eye if you try anything like that!" Liz spat back. Kid gasped in horror.
"Asymmetrical hemlines are in," Hikaru and Karou said with a shrug.
A peal of maniacal laughter filled the room, and Patty jumped out the closet. Her dress was short and tight, accentuating her rounder curves. Kid's mouth went dry when he noticed the dress had only one strap.
"Patty, not you too!" Kid cried. He grabbed fistfuls of his own hair in agony and fell to his knees. All four of those traitors laughed, and Patty sauntered towards the twins. The neckline slung gaudily from a thick strap on her right shoulder before diving underneath her left armpit. It, too, was defying him with its putrid existence.
"I like this house and I like this dress," Patty chirped. She looked at the twins and cocked her head to one side. "Can I marry one of you boys?"
"Hey! If Patty gets to be a trophy wife, I want to be one too," Liz said with crossed arms.
If this startled the twins, they did not show it. "We're actually only fifteen," Hikaru said. "We're not really in a position to promise anything like that."
"Totally flattered though," Karou added.
Liz bit the inside of her cheek and nodded. Patty grinned with a smile that was like a loaded pistol, dangerous and itching to shoot. "That's ok," The younger Thompson said in a hollow, metallic tone. "I'll wait."
The two girls picked Kid up and carried him into the twin's enormous closet, rousing him from his stupor with the promise of dressing him in something stunning and symmetrical. Once the others were out of sight, the twins sighed in exasperation. Karou took his phone out of his trousers and flipped it open.
"It's already 11:00," Karou said. His fatigue shone through his voice as he looked at his phone's caller ID. "And the Boss has been calling me nonstop."
"Me too, but don't call him back," Hikaru said. "We have enough crazy to keep track of in our own house. Maybe if we're lucky a kishin will show up and put us out of our misery."
Karou nodded and dropped his phone on a chair. It bounced off the cushion and landed atop a frilly pillow. The two heard a crash and an outraged yelp within the walk-in closet. Sighing once more, the twins took each other hands and left to investigate what on earth those ex-con sisters and their insane meister were doing now.
After they left and turned out the light, Karou's phone began to vibrate on the pillow. The name "Suoh, Tamaki" flashed on its screen, and the phone blinked in the darkness for several minutes before finally going still.
Soul saw Haruhi shut the blinds of his apartment window. He and Maka were stationed across the street with a pair of thin sleeping bags. Maka was using her soul perception to screen for kishin-eggs, but all Soul had was a set of binoculars. It was through these binoculars that Soul was keeping tabs on Haruhi's apartment, but with the blinds closed he couldn't even do that. As far as stakeouts went, this was pretty lame.
"See anything?" Soul asked with a bored tone.
"Great." Soul flopped on his back put his hands behind his head. If he couldn't see anything, might as well look at the stars.
In a bizarre twist, Haruhi Fujioka turned out to be the only broke kid at Ouran Academy. To make things worse, Haruhi's dad was too obnoxious and over protective to handle hosting two strangers in his home while monsters potentially hunted his child. While the others went to enormous mansions to play bodyguard, Soul and his meister were camping across the street as if they were homeless or something. If they were going to kiss up to Ouran students, Soul felt that they at least deserved a roof over their heads.
Maka shifted forward suddenly, causing Soul to scramble onto his haunches.
"What is it? A kishin-egg?"
"Not at all," Maka said with a smile.
That damned Haruhi was crossing the street towards them with a bag in his hands. He was dressed in some stupid short-sleeved hoodie and a pair of shorts. Soul couldn't trust a man in a short-sleeved hoodie. Hell, Soul lived in blazing hot Nevada and he still wore long-sleeved jackets and sweaters all the time. That was how cool guys dressed, even if it made him feel less cool in the literal sense. He had a reputation to maintain after all. Soul noted with gritted teeth that Maka actually seemed excited to see him.
"Hey," Haruhi said. "I figured you guys might be hungry or bored, so I brought you some snacks."
He unloaded some homemade rice cakes and sandwiches. They weren't gourmet or anything, but Soul was hungry enough to feel a twinge grateful. Haruhi then pulled out a hardback book.
"Is that for me?" Maka asked.
"Yeah. You love to read, right?" Haruhi said. Maka nodded quietly and took the book from his hands. "Thanks for doing all this. I know the arrangements kind of stink, so you guys can go back to your hotel rooms if you want."
"It's no problem!" Make gave Haruhi a thumbs up. "We'll be out here all night. No kishin are making it past us!"
Soul gritted his teeth and lay back on his sleeping bag again. Haruhi and Maka exchanged good nights and the boy crossed the street to return to his apartment complex. It was infuriatingly friendly. Maka began flipping through the pages of her book, humming as she went.
"How are you going to spot anything evil if your eyes are glued to a book?" Soul said.
"Soul perception isn't the same as sight," was Maka's curt reply. After a couple beats of silence, Soul groaned loudly. He wanted her attention, but he also didn't want to give those Host Club kids the satisfaction.
"It's no problem," Soul said with a high-pitched voice. His Maka imitation could use some work, but he continued anyway with his eyes closed. "No kishin are making it past us! Ha, you're real pathetic."
"That's funny, coming from you," Maka spat back.
Soul opened one eye to glare at Maka. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"It means you've been rude and horrible for no reason ever since we got here." Maka looked up from her book thoughtfully. "I know why, you know. Why you've been acting like this."
Soul shot up from his sleeping bag. "You do?" Did nothing escape Maka's notice? Soul had only just figured out himself that his protectiveness of his meister wasn't exactly platonic. No way did she deduce his repressed feelings-
"You don't like Ouran Academy because it reminds you of your family," she said. Soul halted his train of thought and cocked his head to the side in confusion. "All the ballrooms, the fancy food, the parties, you hate that stuff. When Lord Death made you a representative of the DWMA, he basically forced you to return to the world you left behind."
"How did you figure all that out?"
Maka smiled cheekily at him. "I'm better at reading people than you think I am." Her eyes returned to her book, and Soul laid back down on his sleeping bag.
Well, his meister was free to believe whatever floated her boat. When they first started this mission, Maka would have been completely right. Ouran Academy was the pinnacle of high society, and his parents definitely had ambitions of sending him their either as a student or a guest performer. But now, Soul was concerned about something else entirely. The way he saw it, his relationship with Maka was based on a very fragile equilibrium. Maka would hold his hand one day, and scream at him until her throat was sore the next. Soul would comfort Maka after she had a nightmare at midnight, and then pour ice down her shirt in the morning. Equilibrium. The Host Club was threatening to tip the scale, but they wouldn't get what they wanted. Not if Soul had anything to say about it.
When Kid and Maka mentioned that some character named Black Star was going to be Tamaki's guardian, they did not prepare him for this loud-mouthed, blue-haired beast. It was fortunate that Tamaki's father was away on his business and his grandmother lived in her own mansion several miles away. The house staff was told to take the night off because Tamaki would not allow anyone to get hurt on his account if kishin arrived on his doorstep. If only he could control the rampaging monster that was supposed to be protecting him.
"That's an antique!" Tamaki cried. Black Star was examining a genuine Chinese vase from the Ming Dynasty. The boy huffed and tossed it between his hands. Tamaki's blue eyes were fixed upon the vase as Black Star carelessly passed it from one hand to the other.
"What's the hell is the point having cool stuff if you can't even touch it?" Black Star complained. "I thought this was a house, not a goddamn museum." He lightly discarded it over his shoulder, the vase wobbled as it landed on its pedestal. Tamaki scrambled to prevent it from falling over, and exhaled a long, shaky breath when it finally stilled.
Tsubaki, Black Star's weapon, was constantly bowing to Tamaki and uttering apologies. Tamaki felt rude for not exchanging pleasantries with the sweet and beautiful girl, but the moment he looked away to thank Tsubaki, Black Star was hanging from the chandelier.
"Yahoo!" Black Star yelled. He dropped to the ground and landed on his feet. "Tsubaki, we gotta get one of those. Then I could do crunches on the ceiling."
"Uh, sure Black Star," Tsubaki said. "Maybe right now we should do something else instead, like eat a snack."
Tamaki could see why Tsubaki was Black Star's partner—she seemed to know exactly how to assuage Black Star's crazy impulses and steer him towards something less destructive. Like eating. After he ushered the two into his mansion's kitchen, Tamaki watched as Black Star helped himself to the fridge and the pantry. He didn't really care if Black Star ate everything, as long as the priceless items in his father's home did not end up shattered on the floor.
The blond leaned against his kitchen counter as Black Star piled food between two slices of bread. Tsubaki stood beside him, with her hands clasped in front of her hips.
"You sure have your hands full," Tamaki thought aloud.
"Yeah," Tsubaki said. "But everyone is like this though, in their own way. Black Star is just more upfront about it." Black Star started shouting to no one in particular about the divine sandwich he just created. As the ninja attempted to fit the enormous sandwich in his mouth, Tamaki considered Tsubaki's words. She was right—everyone could be a little overwhelming and exhausting sometimes. Did his friends think of him like that? Tamaki wasn't exactly chaos incarnate, but he knew he wasn't low maintenance either.
Tamaki started to consider this thought in silence, but was chilled by the realization that Black Star had actually stopped talking.
The ninja was suddenly standing on the kitchen counter, brow furrowed, legs spread apart in a fighting stance, a finger to his lips. Tsubaki also adopted a different stance.
"Why are we so quiet?" Tamaki squeaked. "What's happening?" A beat of silence passed. "Should I call the po—HRMMF."
Tsubaki clapped her hand on Tamaki's mouth, muffling his whimpers and questions. The only sound Tamaki could hear was the steady ticking of a clock somewhere in his house. In his nervousness, he licked Tsubaki's hand. This only made her grip his face tighter.
"Tsubaki," Black Star whispered. "Ninja sword mode."
Without a word, Tsubaki dissolved into a flash of light. The sensation of Tsubaki's hand on Tamaki's face disappeared instantly, and the light leapt across the room and into Black Star's hand. Tamaki had never witnessed a demon weapon transformation, and he was transfixed. The blaze of light reformed into a sword. For someone whose fear of the supernatural was borderline irrational (it was upgraded from simply irrational to "borderline irrational" since the start of the kishin attacks), Tamaki found Tsubaki's transformation to be quite dazzling and beautiful.
Black Star twirled the sword in his hand. "Blondie, go hide or whatever," Black Star said. He then leaped off the counter and bounded out of the kitchen, leaving Tamaki alone. Black Star's laughter echoed in the room for a few moments longer, then silence.
When he realized that Black Star had actually left and wasn't coming back soon, a strangled cry emerged from Tamaki's throat. He sunk to the ground, and crawled underneath his kitchen table. It was made of mahogany—that meant it was sturdy right? Hugging his knees to his chest, Tamaki fished his phone out of his pocket. Who should he call? He didn't need the police, not even Kyoya's personal police. He needed more weapons and meisters, and the only ones around were stationed at his friends' houses. He dialed Karou's cellphone number and put his phone to his ear. The Hitachiins lived nearby, maybe Death the Kid could come over. The phone rang four times before going to voicemail. His fingers hovered over the keypad. He could phone Haruhi, but the thought of Maka's enraged olive eyes and the spine of her hardcover textbook made him dial Hikaru's number instead. Four rings, voicemail.
Tamaki had heard nothing out of the ordinary before Black Star left, and he could hear nothing now. Maybe this was a false alarm, or even a cruel joke.
"Black Star! Tsubaki!" Tamaki whispered. "Are you guys still here?" There was no answer, not even an echo of Black Star's booming voice. Tamaki dialed Haruhi—no Karou—once more and clamped it to his ear. He muttered under his breath "please pick up" so many times that the words blurred into one whimpering sound, but his mantra was to no effect. He dialed Hikaru and began chanting again, and the hairs on his arms and the back of his neck suddenly stood on end.
He had his phone up to his left ear, but something was tickling the right.
Tamaki started to heave. Something wet and slimey was touching, no, slithering all over his left ear. His eyes slowly drew left, but it took a lot of willpower to make his neck follow suite. As his head turned incrementally, the slimey thing traveled all over the left side of his face and mussed his blond hair.
A man with a cracked hockey mask was licking him with its terrible, sand papery tongue. Its eyes bulged out of the mask's eye-holes, and Tamaki could spot sharp teeth protruding from the bottom. Its figure was amorphous and covered in tattered clothing, with large disproportionate arms that had one hand on the table, and another on lying on the ground. This arm was in the shape of some type of blunt instrument.
Tamaki dropped his phone. His face was entirely wet, a mixture of monster saliva and his own tears. So this was how it was all going to end—underneath the kitchen table.
The creature rumbled in anticipation and shifted its weight on the balls of its feet. Tamaki reflected on his life quickly, braced himself for the inevitable strike, and squeezed his eyes shut.
"YAHOO!" Tamaki opened his eyes in time to watch Black Star descend and use his sword—Tsubaki—to cut off the monster's tongue. The creature screamed in pain, and the disembodied tongue dropped to the ground, wriggling like a tortured earth worm. Tamaki screamed and scrambled out from under the table. He staggered out of the kitchen and headed down the hallway. There must be a table he could hide beneath somewhere in this house.
Tamaki passed a small mirror mounted on the wall, and stopped dead at the sight of his reflection. He looked awful. Simply awful.
He heard a crash and a wail from the other room. Tamaki dove behind the first piece of furniture he found, but the monster was already in the room. Luckily, so was Black Star. The ninja moved with lightning speed, slashing the kishin-egg from all sides. With every blow he landed, Black Star congratulated himself and berated his opponent in a booming voice.
"AH HA! That hurt? Yeah it did! LOOK AT MY FACE! You can't, I'm too fast! A star like me can't be defeated by small guys like you! Tsubaki, let's crush it!"
From behind an armchair, Tamaki wondered which creature was going to destroy his house—the kishin-egg or Black Star. He peeked towards the battle, and Tamaki's heart jumped to his throat.
That kishin-egg's weird, curved arm was getting dangerously close to the Ming dynasty vase. The one his grandmother valued more than her own grandson.
"YO THAT'S AN ANTIQUE!" Black Star charged the kishin-egg. He planted his right foot forward, turned his heel, and impacted the monster with the palm of his hand. The kishin-egg's body shook as if electrocuted before collapsing to the ground. Black Star leapt into the air once more dove blade-first towards the creature. With a sharp snick that sliced through the air, the kishin-egg was severed in half.
Something they don't ever say in the newspapers is that when a kishin-egg or some monster is killed, its body just warps in on itself until there is nothing left. No corpse, no blood. Only a dark, glowing soul.
The sword in Black Star's hand—Tsubaki, Tamaki reminded himself—became ink black and slithered to the ground. This sword/snake/shadow struck the soul like a cobra, and consumed it whole. As if this wasn't already strange, the shadow thing burst into smoke. The newspapers never described anything like this, either.
"Tsubaki, how many souls we got now?" Black Star asked.
Tsubaki emerged from the cloud of smoke, once again in human form. "Two!" She responded excitedly.
Black Star beamed. "You're going to be one bitchin' Deathscythe, Tsubaki." The ninja turned to his charge, who was still cowering behind the antique furniture. "We just saved your ass. You better bow to your god if you want to stay in my good graces."
Tamaki numbly crawled to the blue-haired meister and began to kow tow at his feet. A monster was just killed in his house, in front of his eyes, and at this point, the thoroughly frazzles Tamaki would bow to anybody that protected him.
"I like this guy," Black Star said to his weapon. "He's a good listener."
Tamaki was hugging Black Star's legs and rubbing his face into his pant legs when Black Star shook him off. "Shuddup," the ninja said. "I hear something." Without a word, Tsubaki transformed back into a sword, which materialized in Black Star's hands.
"Another something?" Tamaki squeaked. Black Star leaped away and dashed into the darkness, leaving Tamaki's question unanswered.
The blond crawled back behind the furniture and hugged his knees. Even if that something didn't end up being another monster, Tamaki wasn't going to sleep a wink. This was going to be a very long night.