I'm so rusty at this. It's been a while. I don't usually go for Tamaki/Oc stories, but this character really seems to fit him.
Like I said, I haven't written anything in a while, so please review and let me know how it's going.
"I'm getting so old," Daphne stared at her reflection as she massaged the dark circles under her eyes. "Either that or I'm gravely ill."
She heard her aunt Blair chuckle behind her, "It'll be ok. If you're too sick, I'll just take you to work with me and I'll stick you in a room. The food at the hospital is pretty good, so you won't suffer too much."
Daphne looked at her aunt's reflection and stuck her tongue out before continuing to get ready for work. This was the fifth night in a row that she'd had a shift at Kurosawa's. She could feel her mind dragging during school and into soccer practice where her coach was beginning to complain about her performance.
"I wish you would take a night off every once and while, Daphne. That's why you have those bags under your eyes." Blair sighed as she straightened her scrub top and added her stethoscope around her neck. "You work too hard for a girl your age. Seventeen is so young. I mean, soccer club captain, good student, and part time waitress. Your parents are already proud of you. Now you're just torturing yourself."
"Gotta pay for college somehow, Aunt Blair." Daphne added a light layer of lipstick and pulled her long, deep brown hair into a high ponytail before turning to wink at her aunt. "Besides, what would I do if I couldn't martyr myself with business."
Blair walked over to her niece and tugged at the bottom of her uniform crop top, trying in vain to pull it to her belly button.
"Oh, I don't know, get a boyfriend and have some fun?" Her hand went to Daphne's cheeks turning her head from side to side playfully, "And I wish you wouldn't work at that... place anymore. If your father knew, he'd have a cow."
Daphne pulled at the hem of her tight, black shorts. She loved when her Aunt fussed over her. It reminded her of her mother. This made her smile. "This is the best paying restaurant in the city."
Blair rolled her eyes, "You know why he pays so well, so you'll keep your mouth shut and come back night after night. They're disgusting. And you'll never find a nice boy while you're in there." She mumbled the last of her thought, causing Daphne to throw out an absentminded 'Hmm?' While tying the short apron that held her pen and pad for customer orders.
"Oh nothing." Blair sighed as her eyes followed Daphne to the door to slip her sneakers and jacket on, "I'll see you in the morning before school, Daphne . Text me when you get home so I know you're ok and one of those perverts didn't follow you home and hold you against your will."
Daphne smiled back to her aunt and blew her a kiss, "Don't worry. I'll call you if I get kidnapped."
Kurosawa's Bar and Grill was not the place that Daphne had always dreamed of working. It was where dreams went to die. The wait staff was composed entirely of women (most of whom were underaged like Daphne herself) who met a measurement requirement. "If you don't fit the uniform I buy for you," Kurosawa-san would say in their orientation, taking his cigar out of his mouth briefly for effect and pointing it at the girls' chest, thighs, or stomach, "Get yourself a manager that cares."
Despite this, he had girls begging for a spot on the floor. The money was so good, who could pass it up? When she went in to turn in her application, Daphne saw dozens of girls ahead of her in a line that terminated in Kurosawa-san's office. Her stomach knotted. All of the women were gorgeous. All of the women were Japanese. She stood out like a sore thumb with her starkly Caucasian facial features, curvy figure, sun kissed skin, and loosely curled dark brown hair. Hell, she was even a good head taller than most of them.
When she made it to his doorway, she didn't even make it a step inside the cluttered office before the rotund man wiggled his way out from behind his desk, clapping his hands and laughing at her, his cigar bouncing up and down in his lips. "I've waited a long time for a white girl and I've finally got one!" He snatched her application packet and resume from her, tossing it at the filled garbage bin beside his desk and letting it fall to the floor with other various paperwork, "Yuurisaki can eat shit!"
She never did find out who Yuurisaki was.
During her time working there, she had seen the dark side of men. They offered her money for her body. She touched and squeezed her when she passed them with trays of food, laughing when she stumbled with them after being caught by surprise by their hands. She saw her wait staff friends pull customers from their tables, taking them behind long velvet curtains in the back of the restaurant. That place felt so dark to her. She tried her best to never even approach the doorway.
Her Aunt Blair constantly encouraged her to find a boyfriend, but Daphne couldn't help seeing the red jeering faces of the men from the bar in all of her classmates. She wouldn't even let one of the open a door for her, not wanting them to walk behind her for fear of being groped. She knew this wasn't healthy.
'Just a few more shifts.' She'd promise herself every time she coward away from a hug or friendly pat on the shoulder, 'This'll all go away at college. It'll be worth it.'
The climb to her apartment was only one flight, but after a long night it felt like twenty. Her stomach growled angrily as the smell of warm fried rice and chicken and broccoli wafted up to her from the bags she'd been given by the kitchen at the end of her shift. She'd never been one to turn her nose up at free dinner and she never would.
She stopped at her neighbor's door, knocking softly.
"Hey dinner buddy," she called quietly, "It was the last night for the premium tuna, so I was about to snag us a few rolls."
Almost instantly, the door flung open revealing a petite brunette, her hair cut into a fashionable short style.
"Did you say 'premium tuna'?"
Daphne had met Haruhi years prior when she was in her third year of middle school and Haruhi was in her first. Daphne had moved in with her aunt after her father and mother moved to Hawaii from their military station in Japan. The pair would walk to school from their apartment complex. Daphne never had a sister and Haruhi was the closest thing to one she'd ever find.
The two sat at the table in Haruhi's living room just as they always did when Daphne got to bring home food from the restaurant. Sometimes Ranka an Blair would join them, but this night was a special time where they could recount their day to just each other.
"And then he ran into me and made me knock over a super expensive vase. It's 8 million yen! Now I have to work as a host to make up my debt. Who even leaves something that expensive sitting around to be broken, anyway?"
Haruhi sighed, bringing another piece of broccoli to her mouth. Daphne cocked her eyebrow at her.
"So, you have to get 100 girls to request to spend time with you? And they pay for it?" Daphne scooped rice into her mouth, "Why would those girls want to talk to you with handsome men they could talk to instead?"
Haruhi shrugged, "They think I'm a boy."
A laugh threatened to expel the food from Daphne's mouth as she covered it. After a moment, she let out a shaky breath and tried not to fall into a laughing fit.
"Do they not have sex education courses for rich kids? Why didn't you correct them?"
Again, Haruhi shrugged, popping a piece of sushi into her mouth. She swallowed and gazed over at her friend.
"Enough about me, tell me how your work is going."
"I'm telling you, Haruhi." Daphne grumbled and leaned her chin on her fist, "it gets worse every night."
Haruhi looked pitifully at her friend, lowering her chopsticks thoughtfully, "Why don't you just quit? I'm sure there are plenty of jobs around here that you could do while you're still in school."
Daphne rolled her eyes, taking a drink from her class and sitting it back down on the small table in Haruhi's living room. She lay back on the bamboo mat and stared up at the ceiling.
"You sound just like my aunt."
Haruhi frowned. "We're just worried about you, Daphne. This isn't a healthy environment and you're getting more tired by the day."
Daphne sat up, leaning her elbow on the table, "I'm so close to having my tuition for college and I've only been working there for six months, Haruhi. Six months! Just think of how much I could have saved before I graduate next year!"
Daphne's arms flew into the air as she threw herself back onto the mat. "It's just so much money." She whined. "On top of that, I'm failing mathematics."
Haruhi cocked an eyebrow at her friend, "You might not need that college tuition money after all."
Sitting up on her elbows, Daphne pouted. "This is serious, Haruhi! I'm going to be working for Kurosawa-san for the rest of my life"
"How about this, I'll tutor you in maths after I'm through with the Host Club every day."
Daphne sprang up, leaning over the table and giving her friend a tight hug. "Oh thank you! Thank you, little boy! You're my savior!" She felt Haruhi shift, pushing her away.
"I'll only do it if," Haruhi continued, still pushing against the taller girl that was squeezing her, "You agree to take night off a week to hang out with me."
With a quick motion, Daphne held her friend at arm's length.
"Who do you work for?" She eyed Haruhi suspiciously, "You sound like my Aunt Blair. Did she put you up to this?"
Haruhi batted Daphne's hands away from her, "What? No! You're my best friend and I want to spend time with you. Besides, you could use some time away from that restaurant. It's doing things to your mind."
Daphne bit her lip, weighing the deal in her mind. She did want to spend time with Haruhi and the tutoring was a bonus. She could feel her bank account ache at the lack of funds, but her mind leapt with joy at the thought of taking a break from Kurosawa's.
The petite girl stuck her hand out, willing her friend to shake it.
"Do we have a deal, Collier?"
Slowly, she took Haruhi's hand in hers, giving it a small squeeze.
Daphne stood outside the Ouran school grounds, staring up at the collection of large, salmon colored buildings. Her body still ached from the rigorous practice their coach had put the club through. A game against a team that could knock them out of position to go into the finals for the city tournament was coming quickly and they had to be ready. Coach was becoming especially nervous, setting up new drills and pushing the girls to go faster and harder than they had before. It seemed that every practice he had something new to yell at Daphne, his captain, about. Since she was in charge of arriving before practice began and putting out cones and filling up water pitchers, making sure the balls were aired up and going over the play drills for the afternoon, he'd had extra time to fill her with anxiety than usual.
"This is important, Collier," he'd say, tapping the play book against his hand repeatedly, "You've got to be at your best for these games."
Shaking her head, she tried to clear her mind of anything not mathematically relevant. A few students in their finely tailored school uniforms made their way out of the school, giving her no mind. They seemed so shiny, Daphne thought. She squinted to get a better look at them. Perfectly manicured in every way. Suddenly, her own school uniform of a white button up blouse, grey blazer, and green and red plaid knee-length skirt seemed so grungy. She pushed up her knee sock with her Mary Jane, shrinking back against the stone entry way as the long limousines carrying the beautiful students made their way out of the courtyard. Normally, she wasn't so intimidated by others, but this place was not where she belonged. She knew it, the people standing outside the stone gateway knew it, the students that didn't even see her as they passed by knew it.
Her heart pounded as she made her way toward the third music room where Haruhi had told they'd meet after her club obligation was over. Her grip tightened on the backpack straps on her shoulders as she slowly walked down the empty hallways, gazing at the names on top of the doors.
"Hi, I'm looking for Haruhi Fujioka. Hi, I'm looking for Haruhi Fujioka." She repeated the phrase in her mind as she prepared herself if she came upon someone other than her friend.
After a few minutes of sluggishly walking, the door to the music room was right in front of her. She sighed deeply, cursing herself for being so bashful and nervous.
"Get a grip, Daphne. You're gonna go in, see Haruhi, wait for her to be finished, go home, and study like there's no tomorrow. Piece of cake. What's the worst that could happen?"
The room she stepped into didn't seem like a music room at all. It was bright, filled with couches and tables occupied by equally bright students. Scanning the room, she noticed so many girls chatting, sipping tea, taking small bites of cakes or other pastries. There were only a few boys, giving Daphne the impression that the Host Club was only a small group that attracted a lot of attention. She didn't know what she'd expected to see because, frankly, she wasn't sure what a Host Club did. The only thing she'd expected to see, but didn't, was Haruhi.
"Excuse me," a calm voice called out from beside her. She quickly turned to see a boy with glasses standing close to her, his arms across his chest and a black notebook in one hand.
"Um-" Daphne stumbled back a bit before clearing her throat and straightening herself, "Haruhi?"
The boy smiled and nodded, "Oh yes, you must be Ms. Collier. Haruhi informed me that you'd be here at the end of our club hour. Unfortunately, he has stepped out for a moment. Our club president wanted more instant coffee and Haruhi is the only one who knows where to get it, I'm afraid."
"There's a store a few blocks from here. Could no one else go get it?" Daphne thought, but simply went with, "Is there somewhere I can wait for he-him?"
The boy's eye twitched slightly, but his smile remained frozen on his face.
"Of course. As I do not have anyone to entertain at the moment, you may sit with me."
Daphne bit her lip nervously before nodding slightly and following the boy to a table lined on each side by red velvet couches. She sat down lightly, tucking one foot behind the other like she'd seen in a movie about a girl becoming a princess. The boy seemed to not be phased by her presence, he simply held his hands in his lap and regarded her as she pulled a book out of her backpack and placed the bag on the floor beside her feet. She might as well pinpoint her problems areas before her session with Haruhi. She'd hate to waste her friend's time when she was maintaining a scholarship to such an important institution.
"My name is Kyoya, by the way, Kyoya Ootori."
Daphne looked up at the raven haired boy. Kyoya. Ootori. The name processed in her brain for a moment.
"Ootori. As in the family that owns the hospitals?"
Kyoya seemed pleased with her response. He relaxed a bit, adjusting his glasses on his face with his forefinger.
"Oh, so you've heard of my family?"
Daphne nodded slightly, bringing her pen to her mouth in thought.
"Yea, your family owns the hospital my aunt works for. She's an emergency room nurse."
Kyoya took his notebook from his lap, seeming to jot something down before returning his eyes to the girl in front of him.
"Tell me, Ms. Collier, how does your aunt find the facility?"
Daphne shifted in her seat. This suddenly felt like an answer that could save her aunt's position. Aunt Blair had nothing but good things to say about the hospital, but could this boy really be so cruel as to use Daphne's answer against her?
"Oh, um," Daphne smiled, trying not to seem untruthful, "She loves it. Just yesterday, she was telling me how good the food was. I know that can be a difficult thing to get right in a hospital, so kudos to your administrative staff."
She saw Kyoya's pen bob a few more times before he snapped his book shut and returned it to his lap. The same smile reappeared on his lips.
"I'll make a note of that."
Daphne's smile became a little more forced as she held Kyoya's eye contact. "I'm pretty sure you just did."
"Well!" A loud voice rang out across the room, causing the club and its guests to go silent. Daphne turned her head toward the sound only to come face to face with a tall blonde boy. He looked to be about the same age as Kyoya, those his features were less of the Japanese persuasion. "Who is this little wild flower?"
He grabbed Daphne's hand firmly, bringing it to his lips and giving it a light kiss. Daphne's heart raced. Her mind combed through all of the times a man grabbed her hand during a shift at Kurosawa's. He'd grip it forcefully, causing her to spill the drinks on her tray. His other hand would go to her waist, pushing her into his lap while his group of equally intoxicated friends howled with laughter.
She felt her palms begin to sweat as she smiled weakly and quickly ripped her hand from his.
"I'm Daphne," she said, trying to swallow her anxiety, "I'm Haruhi's friend."
The blonde boy seemed unaffected by the rebuff of his affection. He smiled brightly at her, throwing his hands into the air and twirling around.
"Oh joyous day!" He cried, his eyes closed in bliss, "Another commoner is gracing our hallowed halls and has come to enrich our lives with their commoner wisdom and skill."
Daphne's hand flew up in front of her, "Oh no, I just-"
"She's too pretty to be a commoner." Another voice sounded behind her.
"I don't know, Kaoru, look at her clothes."
Daphne turned to see a pair of identical ginger twins staring at her with an bored expression.
"You're right, Hikaru," the first one spoke again, "What a cheaply made outfit."
Daphne's face reddened as she felt anger rising out of her belly.
"This is my school uniform." She gritted her teeth, trying to keep a polite tone but failing.
The twins simultaneously leaned their opposite hands on their chins.
"Well that explains it." Hikaru said in a matter of fact tone, "You can't expect a school where poor people attend to require quality materials for their uniforms like ours."
Kaoru nodded, "Makes sense."
Daphne opened her mouth to rebut but never got the chance. Before she could get the words out, a plate with a large piece of vanilla cake with three plump strawberries decorating it was pushed in front of her face.
"Here! Have some cake with me and Taka-chan! This kind is my favorite, but I'll let you have it."
Another boy with blonde hair stood in front of her, only this one was the size of a child.
"I'm Honey and this is Takashi!" Honey motioned to the tall boy towering above him. The two boys were a complete contrast of one another. Takashi was extremely tall with darker skin and black hair while Honey was fair and short.
"Hello." Daphne breathed, her mind racing with all of the new information.
"Come on! Sit with us and eat cake!"
"Better not, Honey-senpai." Hikaru called out, "This one looks American. They tend to get fat."
With that, Daphne slammed the book in her lap shut, trembling with anger. She snatched her backpack off of the ground and jammed her book inside in one motion.
"This one is leaving! I didn't come here to be insulted. I came here to meet my friend." She huffed. Standing, she slung her backpack over her shoulders and made her way toward the door. "Have a nice day."
"What should I tell Haruhi?" She heard Kyoya ask. She didn't bother to turn around as she grabbed the door handle and flung it open.
"Tell him I'll meet him at home."
Slamming the door, she broke out in a quick walk. She wanted to be as far away from this place as possible. More importantly, she never wanted to see any of those young men again.
Let me know what you think!