Holy crap! This chapter has taken so much longer than I thought it would. It's not so much 'Host Club' oriented as it is Tamaki/Daphne oriented.Hopefully you'll enjoy and review!
Thanks to everyone who has reviewed and followed! It means so much!
Haruhi sat in silence, a collage of books and papers spread out in front of her. Her best friend tapped slowly with her pen on her own thick textbook, her mind busy with numbers and equations. The pair had been there for a while now in her apartment, Haruhi noted, and Daphne had been tapping her pen almost the entire time.
Tap tap tap
With every soft percussion, Haruhi's nerves frayed a little bit more. She knew Daphne meant well, wanting to study together, but the American's pent up potential energy was coming out in the most annoying way possible.
Tap tap tap
She couldn't think any more. Her whole mind was taken over by the gentle rhythm. Haruhi bit her lip, her eyes fixated on the instrument.
Tap tap tap
"That's it." She concluded, closing her book forcefully and standing up from her seat on the floor. Daphne frowned up at her.
"I can't study with you. You're too... Too- Energetic. God, it's just like trying to do something with Tamaki-senpai."
Daphne stuck her tongue out at Haruhi before standing.
"It's fine," she yawned, her arms high above her head in a stretch, "I have to get ready for work anyway. I'll bring you back something nice. It's the night they throw out the old shrimp."
Haruhi frowned at her, "I thought you were off tonight."
"Oh no," Daphne shook her head, "It's only a few hours, but I need the paycheck. Hanging out with the Host Club seems to have put a stop to my bank account's growth."
It was true. Daphne had spent a few days each week with the boys and Haruhi instead of working and it was showing in her pay. On top of that, Kurosawa was getting angry with her every time he picked up the phone and she said she wouldn't be there. It wasn't like he didn't have plenty of other girls who could and would gladly take her place, it was that customers came in requesting her and Kurosawa was tired of telling them she wasn't there. That night, she only had a two hour shift, which was a weird way of punishing her that Kurosawa loved to invoke when girls missed too many shifts, no matter how popular they were.
Her bruised eye and arm had healed completely after a week and a half. It took a lot of pain and constant vigilance to keep the giant, dark spots covered, as well as a lot of help from Tamaki.
Daphne bit her lip at the thought of the tall blonde. She couldn't explain how she felt for him these days. He was a goof ball that was totally inappropriate on most occasions, but his tender touch and vow to keep her secret sent butterflies flying in her stomach whenever she thought about it. She enjoyed true sensitive nature, not the tripe he showed to the ladies of the Host Club, but the care he gave to her because he was her friend and knew she had a need. There was something about it that gave her the ability to overlook the rest of his wacky mannerisms.
Tying her hair back, she straightened her outfit before zipping on a windbreaker and heading out the door to her fate. The entire walk, she steeled herself as to what she would face. Hands darting out from nowhere to grab at her body. Cold and warm alcohol being tossed out of shot glasses onto her clothes. Closing her eyes, she wished to be with her friends. She smiled, imagining Tamaki saying something wildly childish like,
"Hello, fairest Daphne."
Her eyes snapped open to see his face a few yard away from her. Oh God, she'd wished too hard.
"Tamaki?" Her voice filled with confusion and anxiety at the thought of him seeing where she was walking to; where she worked. "What are you doing here?"
The boy had his hand shoved into his jacket pockets, hiding them from the chill in the air as he continued his smile.
"I know where you work."
Her grip on her bag tightened as her eyes widened slightly in surprise. Shifting from one foot to the other, she dropped her gaze to the concrete and decided to play dumb.
"I don't know what—"
A chuckle came from her friend as he walked closer to her, out of the way of straggling men that wanted to enter their den of iniquity.
"You're a fool if you think I can't do a simply inquiry with the Ootori family and find out anything about anybody."
A bright red blush mixed with her tanned skin, the boy was good. Embarrassment tumbled with the anger of being made fun of in her belly. She cut her eyes at Tamaki, trying to intimidate him into leaving.
"You're stalking me to my job, you creep. Go home before someone recognizes you."
The blonde gave her another chuckle, his hands resting on either of her shoulders as she looked up to him. He titled his head, letting his fair hair frame his deceptively childish smile.
"Oh, I'm not going anywhere. I'll be right here until your two hour shift if over so that I may walk you home. Your face is healed, but I don't want anything else to happen to you."
Daphne shot a look at Yakoshi, trying to see if he'd come to her rescue. However, the large man only stood with an amused smirk on his face. He hadn't sensed any trouble from Tamaki, so he figured he'd let him hang around.
"Let the boy walk you home, kid. Life's safer in pairs."
Letting out a growl of frustration, Daphne stormed past the two men into the bar. She knew they'd be waiting for her when she finally trudged her way out of the place, which gave her a warm feeling in her chest, not that she'd ever let them know that.
Haruhi sat in her living room, her chemistry book sprawled in front of her with small note cards lining the outer edges of it. Letting out a heavy sigh, she leaned back and gave her eyes a break from staring at the white pages littered with black letters and numbers. Her head ached at the thought of spending even one more minute on the confusing subject, but her grade was threatening to slip so she soldiered on for another hour until she could no longer stand the sight of an equation that needed balancing.
Daphne would be coming home from her shift soon, anyway.
Haruhi's belly grumbled at the thought of her promised dinner. As far as she was concerned, that was the only good thing about her friend working in that place.
She'd noticed the dark bruise around Daphne's eye, but didn't say anything as Daphne tried to cover it with make up in vain. It hurt her to think that her friend thought she couldn't tell her what happened, but she didn't want to press this issue and cause Daphne to retreat any further. However, it did make her angry when she saw Tamaki sneak around with Daphne, trying to help her avoid Haruhi while it did fade. She noticed how much he was doing to try and help her. Even when he came to Haruhi and asked her where Daphne worked, he seemed so sincere in his concern. But, that was Tamaki. He was a sincere person.
Sighing, she closed her book forcefully and stood from her cross-legged seat in front of her table. She made her way to the fridge and poured herself a glass of juice. Her eyes wandered to the street below, catching on a familiar pair standing on the far sidewalk.
"What is Tamaki-senpai doing here?"
"You didn't have to walk me home, too." Daphne huffed as she glanced up toward her apartment door. Haruhi's light was still on, meaning that she was waiting for the warm food Daphne held in the dangling plastic bag Tamaki held in his hand. He'd followed her like an obedient puppy for blocks in total silence until they'd reached her building. The boy simply smiled.
"What kind of gentleman would I be if I let a young lady walk home alone?"
Daphne bit her lip, trying to hide a smile that threatened to crawl across her face. That damn idiot was so charming. Sighing, she tugged on the hem of her jacket before nodding her head toward the apartment.
"Since you did all of this work, do you want to come in and have dinner with Haruhi and I? It doesn't seem right to have you carry the food all the way home without being able to eat any of it."
Tamaki's face lit up, sending Daphne into a full blown smile. This was the side of Tamaki she had grown accustomed to and had, admittedly, missed during this serious evening. Grabbing her hand, he pulled her across the street and up the stairs. She laughed at his excitement as he bounded toward Haruhi's door and knocked quickly in rapid succession.
The door opened almost immediately, a curious Haruhi standing in the doorway. She eyed her schoolmate, unsure of whether or not to let him inside. She hadn't exactly been the picture of domesticity lately during their examination period. A dark cloud entered her mind as she thought of his judge mental stare and subsequent reporting to the rest of the Host Club.
"I didn't expect to see you tonight, Senpai."
Tamaki fisted his hand, bringing it to his chest in a valiant pose.
"How was I suppose to stand by and let this bright, young maiden walk home alone in the dead of night?"
Daphne rolled her eyes, snatching the plastic bag of Haruhi's food from him and handing it to her friend.
"Please, it's only 9 p.m. Are you going to let us in or not?"
Haruhi's eyes shifted from Daphne to Tamaki and then back to Daphne. Her senpai had taken offense to Daphne's curt rebuff and began pouting behind the tall American. The petite girl simply shook her head.
"Go inspect Daphne's home, Tamaki-senpai. Goodnight."
With that, she slammed the door, leaving a stunned Daphne and Tamaki on her doorstep. Daphne's angry fist pounded on her door.
"Oh no you don't Fujioka! You brought these people into my life and you're gonna help me manage them!"
The door remained closed, but the light inside of the small home flickered out along with the small lamp that lit the doorway, leaving the two upper class men in the dark. Daphne gritted her teeth in irritation, her banging continuing.
A distant neighbor shouted the girl, causing her to stop immediately. Grumbling, she took Tamaki's hand and led him to her door. The boy faltered at her contact. She'd never initiated physicality with him and it had taken him by surprise. Her hand was smaller than his, but rougher. Callouses from years of weight training and intense exercise sat on her palms and fingers, but the feeling was nice in his smooth hand. A warm feeling spread through his body as she held onto him, but fled as soon as she dropped his hand to open her apartment door. A faint blush sprang up in his cheeks as he watched her flick on a light and take off her jacket, revealing her skimpy uniform. She looked back at him, motioning for him to enter her home.
"Are you coming in or are you just gonna stand outside? I'm hungry, Tamaki."
He nodded, stepping over the threshold into the common unit. He fought to keep his eyes on her face as she moved around the kitchen, collecting plates and cups for them. The outfit flaunted her body, her soft curves on display for him as she worked. That must have been how the men at the bar felt. A wave of jealousy flooded him as he thought of their lust for her. Her tanned skin peeked out from under her tight shorts, letting him see the product of her hard work in her toned legs. The white crop top hugged her sides, her ample breasts outlined by the material.
Quickly, she turned, his eyes flicking back up her body to connect with hers. He saw a shift in her gaze as she came to the realization that he'd been staring at her. Ducking her head, she crossed the room.
"I'm, um, I'm going to change. Please sit."
The heir cursed himself to giving in to his baser desires. He was acting no better than the men that frequented that establishment. Tamaki Suou was behaving like a common leerer. As soon as Daphne reinterred the room, he felt refreshed by her choice of pajama pants and a sweatshirt. Although he still found her very attractive, the change made him feel at ease.
The two sat in silence at the dining table, Tamaki noticed Daphne's gaze met the wall beside them instead of being focused on her meal. Her insides felt jumbled. She thought Tamaki was supposed to be a gentleman, but maybe it was just what men did. Maybe they were programmed to stare. Should she tell him to leave? If all men were the same, fundamentally, would he try to touch her?
His calm voice called her out of her thoughts. She looked up to see him fixed on her face, a deep frown set across his handsome features.
"I'm sorry I've made you feel uncomfortable."
Her eyebrow cocked in surprise as she stared at him with a look of confusion.
Sitting his chopsticks on the table, Tamaki stood.
"I should leave," He started, walking to the coat rack beside the door to take his jacket. Daphne watched him in stunned silence. He was actually going to leave. As soon as he lay his hand on the doorknob, Daphne scrambled to her feet, crossing the room to grab his arm.
Tamaki turned and smiled at her, causing a light blush to dust her cheeks. He didn't look like his usual goofy self. He wasn't going to turn this into a joke about her being rude to him or anything. He simply took her hand in his, but efore he could curb his affectionate tendencies, his free one reached up and brushed her cheek with his fingers. Daphne stared up at him, her breath caught in her throat as she tried to make herself say that he could stay. After a moment, Tamaki chuckled lightly before dropping his hands into his jacket pockets.
"Now that I know you're safe and fed, I'll bid you adiue. Goodnight, Daphne."
Without another word, the blonde turned on his heel and exited the apartment leaving Daphne standing like a statue staring at the blank door. A light smile fell on her lips.
Daphne nodded at Haruhi as she slipped on her blazer and pulling her long hair out from underneath the garment. The two walked toward Ouran Academy, the bright morning light warming them as they journeyed together across the city. Daphne was especially exited. Her sports bag bumped against her leg rhythmically as she skipped backward, grinning at her friend.
"Yeah, it's a sort of sports expo for different schools. Ouran just happens to be hosting it. We go to these things every year, but I think this is the first year Ouran has included themselves."
Haruhi rubbed her chin in thought. She hadn't heard of any inter-school exhibitions, but then again, she wasn't in sports, so she probably wouldn't have heard of it naturally, anyway. The only thing she knew was that Daphne was meeting a few of her soccer teammates at Ouran as ambassadors from her school.
The American was practically giddy with anticipation, which made Haruhi smile. It wasn't that often that she got to see Daphne that way. She was also going to get to see her play a scrimmage with another team, so that was another thing to look forward to. She was sure that the Host Club would be able to rally a lot of support for her, even though it would be mostly female.
When the pair arrived at the school, Daphne left Haruhi to her own devices in order to meet her teammates. Two other girls stood in uniforms matching hers, looking around at the immaculately groomed courtyard and the idling occupants from the other various schools. One of the girls, the forward on the team, a tall, red haired girl named Lona caught sight of Daphne, waving her hand and smiling at her friend. The other girl, the goalie and shortest on the team, Mitsuki stood next to her, her arms crossed over her large stomach. She hated these things, but being another third year, was required to attend.
Daphne jogged over to them, her hair swinging behind her as it matched her own energetic mood. Mitsuki glared around them, sizing up their competition as she pushed a strand of chin-length black hair behind her ear. Daphne chuckled at her friend's competitive nature.
"What do you think, Mitsuki? Can we take them?"
Mitsuki let out a huff, her brow furrowing even more as she thumbed her nose.
"Get a look at these poor, unfortunate souls. They don't even know what's about to happen to them."
Lona rolled her eyes, bumping her short friend with her hip.
"You're going to win it for us singlehandedly, then? Collier and I can just sit on the sidelines if you need us to."
Mitsuki waved her off, "Nah, I think the headmaster would have a heart attack if he knew such a rare gem had been under his nose the entire time and coach hadn't taken advantage of it in four years. I need you two to keep up the charade."
Daphne laughed, giving her friend a mock salute.
"Don't you worry, Madame Mitsuki. Leave it to us. We'll have them on their knees."
"Funny, I was just about to say the same thing."
A male voice caused the girls' laughter to cease instantly. A boy around their age stood a few yards away from them, his blue Ouran uniform letting them know they were dealing with someone on their home turf. The boy's dark hair shaded his eyes, but Daphne could tell he was staring directly at them. Daphne shook off his comment, sending him a friendly smile.
"Hi, we're from—"
The boy raised his hand, cutting the girl off mid-sentence.
"I know exactly who you are."
He stepped closer to the small group, looking directly at Daphne. She took in his features. Something about him looked unsettlingly familiar, but she couldn't place where she knew him from. Cocking her eyebrow she continued to examine him. Mitsuki scoffed.
"Of course you know who we are. We're one of, nay, the best soccer teams in the city. Male or female."
The boy laughed, but it was anything but joyful. There was something hateful in his smile, sending a shiver down Daphne's spine.
"Oh no, I wasn't talking about you corporately. I was talking about you." He took another step closer to Daphne. As he approached her, she could see a small scar. Her eyes widened in realization. She did know him. Her cheek ached at the painful memory of his alcohol laced breath on her neck as he held her against the brick wall in the alley of Kurosawa's. Her hand absentmindedly clutched the arm he'd so badly bruised with his drunken iron grip. The boy leaned in, his lips close to her ear as he spoke, "How could I possibly forget you?"
Daphne stood stock still as the boy retreated. Sending a wave over his shoulder, he smiled the same sadistic smile at the three girls.
Mitsuki scowled, her fists balled beside her. Wedging herself between Daphne and the boy she was about to say something Daphne was sure that would be extremely rude, but she never got the chance. Before she could get the words out, a petite blonde girl came bouncing up to the group, another Ouran student.
"Ladies! Thank you for your attendance today. The opening ceremony will begin shortly if you would kindly make your way to the auditorium."
Daphne's stomach dropped. She knew that there was no possible way for her to get out of this day.
The auditorium was absolutely packed as the girls made their to a set of seats reserved for them. Peering around, Daphne tried to get a good look at who exactly was in attendance, but couldn't recognize any of the people until finally, her eyes landed on a familiar host club giant. Of course the captain of Ouran's Kendo club would attend a sports expo. Waving her hand slightly, she tried to grab Mori's attention. After a few awkward failed connections, his grey eyes found her eager ones. A small smile rose across his face as he lifted his hand, returning the short wave.
Even though she barely spoke to him outside of their time preforming for club customers, the two had a friendly rapport. Once, she's tried to teach him a few tricks with a soccer ball, but the exercise proved that it should have been done outside when a window was broken and the expense tacked on to Haruhi's bill. Apparently, she'd exposed the club to Daphne, so she was responsible for her actions.
Lona teased Daphne, her elbow prodding her in the rib cage as she turned back to sit in her seat correctly. The American shrugged, crossing one leg over the other and settling back.
"He's just a friend."
Lona bit her bottom lip, bumping her eyebrows at Daphne.
"I wish he was my friend."
Daphne chuckled, her own elbow reciprocating Lona's teasing poke. She continued to scan the crowd in front of her, but still, no one stuck out. A chill ran through her as she locked eyes with the boy from earlier. He was staring directly at her, his steel eyes boring into her body, threatening to expose her in front of the entire assembly.
The lights dimmed, signaling the start of the program, but it was not until Chairman Suou took the stage and began his speech that the boy turned around and faced the stage.
Daphne let out a deep sigh, realizing that she'd been holding her breath the entire time the boy's gaze was on her. At least, for now, she thought, she could escape into the dry world of speeches and commiserations from a group of old, accomplished school officials.
The ceremony only lasts half an hour, but felt like an eternity. Daphne held her hands in her lap, her eyes fixed on the back of the boy's head. Who was he, other than an Ouran student? If she tried hard enough, could she avoid him long enough to get through the day?
The teams were excused to browse the various displays set out by different clubs from schools, showing off their accomplishments and accolades. Lona nudged her head to the end of the hall.
"Our board is down this way, if you want to take a look. Kiki and Yuri worked pretty hard on it last week, so I know it'll look great."
The two most creative on the team, Kiki and Yuri were twin defenders. They'd made every display they'd had to put up at various events for the past two years. Each board was more memorable than the last, making it a treat to see what they had thought up each time they put their minds to it. The three girls walked toward their designated spot quickly, expectation building in them. The closer they got to it, the more they noticed Mori standing in front of their display, his arms crossed over his chest as he looked around nonchalantly. Mitsuki made a face.
"Why is your friend standing in front of our board? No one else can see it."
Daphne approached the boy, her head tilted in confusion.
"Uh, Mori, you're blocking our board. Could you move?"
The steel eyed host glanced down at her, no emotion filtering over his face. He simply shook his head.
A huff came from Daphne's side as she saw Mitsuki step toward him out of the corner of her eye.
"Come on, lurch! Move out of the way! Our teammates worked hard on that and you're ruining their time to shine!"
A heavy hand fell on Daphne's shoulder, causing her to falter as she was pulled around to Mori's side. He leaned forward slightly, letting her peek behind him. The board did look amazing, but one thing was very wrong. A large picture of Daphne striking the ball into a goal sat in the center, right below the full team picture. However, over the action shot was scribbled in large red letters, 'WHORE'. An involuntary gasp left Daphne as she closed the trifold, quickly hiding it below the table it had once occupied. Her eyes snapped to Mori who had been watching her reaction. He blinked slowly, giving her a knowing nod before standing straight and turning to face his friend. The questioning look in his eyes met an equally confused look in hers.
"Ms. Collier! Ms. Umoto! Ms. Wantanbe! There you are!"
A loud voice broke the silent conversation Mori and Daphne held. Behind them, two men, the Headmaster and Chairman Suou strolled toward them, pleasant smiles planted on both of their faces. They certainly didn't look like rivals, Daphne thought, but maybe it was a 'Keep you friends close, but your enemies closer,' situation for the both of them. Chairman Suou held his hand out to Lona, then Mitsuki, and then Daphne shaking each one's hand before moving on the next.
"Hello, ladies." His voice was smooth like Tamaki's, "What a lovely day for such lovely women to be touring our fine school."
Daphne tried not to drop her face in her hand, fighting the urge ferociously. Tamaki definitely got his charm from his father. Glancing over to the Headmaster, she could see the corner of his eye twitch, his mustache wiggling under his pointed nose. She was sure that if he'd had a tail, it would be waving back and forth in irritation. The Chairman just smiled and continued.
"Ms. Collier, your Headmaster has just been telling me all about your athletic prowess."
The Headmaster glanced to the place their display once stood, cocking an eyebrow in confusion.
"Yes, I just brining him over to the display your teammates so expertly put together, but it seems to have disappeared."
He eyed the girls. Mitsuki stepped forward, pointing an accusatory finger toward Mori, but before she could implicate him, Daphne smiled apologetically at the men.
"Oh sir," She cooed, trying to lessen the blow of what she was about to say by saying in a girlish fashion. Men, especially older men, ate that shit up. "I'm so sorry. I accidentally knocked it over and my friend, Morinozuka-San, broke it into pieces by stepping on it. It was quite the scene for a moment."
She could see his mustache twitch in annoyance as he looked to the boy next to her. Mori bent at the waist, bowing to the older man, his face toward the ground as a sign of respect.
"I'm deeply sorry, sir."
Chairman Suou waved his hand toward the group, his other hand landing in a hard pat on his colleague's shoulder.
"Oh, don't bother these children with that, Jaru." His charming smile beamed at the teens before landing exclusively on Daphne. She felt a blush rise in her cheeks. He was so much like Tamaki that it was scary. "Ms. Collier, I do believe there is another way for us to compare your immense skill with that of Ouran rather than just a flimsy cardboard display."
Daphne bit her lip, "Yes, sir?"
Chairman Suou's eyes cut to his rival, his charming smile turning into one of expectant mischief.
"I propose a little showdown between Ms. Collier here and my best soccer player. That should be definitive enough."
The Headmaster's eye gleamed. He knew he could get that Ouran idiot to do something so stupid. He had complete faith in his player's ability; Chairman Suou was going to be crushed.
"That sounds wonderful, Yuzuru! What a grand suggestion. Call over your player so that my student may size her up."
Daphne watched Chairman Suou shake his head. A feeling of dread began to build in her belly. There was something malicious in this, but she didn't know what it was. Of course, she would do her best and, frankly, she was a terrific player, but something in the Chairman's demeanor made her second guess herself.
"Oh, Jaru. It's not 'her', it's 'him'."
The men turned to an alarmed Daphne, surprised by her sudden outburst. She looked to her Headmaster, her expression pleading for him to be just as shocked as she was. The man, however, ignored this unspoken request.
"Ms. Collier! I have full confidence that you are up to this task."
"Sir, I don't think—"
Her concern was cut short by the Headmaster's rebuking expression.
"Are you saying that women are not as capable as men in terms of sporting events?"
"What? Sir, I just—"
The Headmaster cut the girl off again with a raise of his hand, "The future is female, Ms. Collier, as you kids like to say."
His attention turned back to Chairman Suou.
"So, where is the star, male player?"
As though he had been planning for this exact moment, Chairman Suou turned and beckoned someone toward him. Through the slowly shifting crowd, the boy appeared a dark scar hanging over his eyebrow. Daphne's heart stopped. She cast a quickly glance at Mori, her eyes wide with panic. Mori cut his eyes to the Ouran student. He'd met him only a few times before, but the two did not really associate outside of class. The boy had a reputation for being wild and reckless, and yet, he was the captain of one of the school's most illustrious sports teams.
"My young Mr. Techi Akamori." Chairman Suou beamed as he rested his hand on the boy's shoulder. "He is by far the best soccer player we have here at our Ouran Academy. Akamori, this is Ms. Daphne Collier. She has built quite the reputation for herself in her own school for being a magnificent soccer play, as well."
Techi extended his hand to Daphne, giving her a quick wink.
"Hello, it's a pleasure to meet you, Ms. Collier."
Daphne ceased her brow, gritting her teeth as she took his hand and giving it a shake.
"You as well, Mr. Akamori."
A loud clap from the Headmaster made her jump, dropping the boy's hand and returning to her place beside Mori. Crossing the group, he stood beside Daphne, his hand on her shoulder, mirroring Chairman Suou's behavior with his own student.
"It's settled, then! A showdown between Ms. Collier and Mr. Akamori. This would be a fantastic beginning to an afternoon of scrimmages."
Daphne paced outside of the locker room, her hand ringing the hem of her jersey as she walked. Mori had found the twins as they left class to watch the events, before leaving to change into his own uniform to participate in the Kendo club's sparring match. He ordered them to stay with Daphne while she got ready. The pair responded with a quick affirmative, taken off guard by Mori's forceful behavior.
"So we were brought here to watch you make a rut in the floor?" Hikaru sat between his brother and the arm of a couch, leaning his chin against his palm as he watched Daphne pace. Kaoru huffed, crossing one leg over the other and leaning back against the couch. Lona sat in the remaining spot while Mitsuki took up residence on the floor.
"We could be watching Mori-senpai beat the shit out of someone and we're here looking at you."
Daphne glared at them as she passed before turning her gaze back into the void.
"Just go. I didn't ask him to bring you here."
The twins straighten, cocking their eyebrows at her annoyance.
"Geez, Daphne-senpai. We were just joking." Kaoru said. His brother nodded in agreement.
"Yeah, no need to be so hostile. Why are you so nervous, anyway? Think you'll lose?"
Daphne shook her head.
"It's not that." She stopped in her tracks, her hands reaching up to her face to help soothe her troubled mind. "I just... never mind."
"Hey, Daphne. Isn't that the guy who abducted you from practice that one time?" Lona pointed down the hallway. Following her finger, Daphne spotted a blonde streak flying toward her, followed closely by a mousy brown smudge. A smile cracked through her worry as Tamaki skidded to a halt, Haruhi's arm in his grasp.
"We came as soon as we heard, Daphne!" Tamaki dropped his hands to his knees, catching his breath. Haruhi looked disheveled from her flight down the corridor. Pulling away from Tamaki's grip, she stood, adjusting her blazer and straightening her hair. She glared at the upperclassman.
"I told you we'd have time to see her before the match, Senpai! You didn't have to drag me through the school!"
Letting out a sigh, Daphne crossed her arms over her chest. She fidgeted with her clothing, straightening her shorts and pulling her socks up more. Haruhi watched her fuss, moving closer to stand directly beside her.
"Are you ok?" her voice was low so Daphne was the only one who could hear her. The American bit her lip, shaking her head slightly.
"That guy I'm going against," Daphne matched her friend's volume before dropping her voice to a whisper, "He's not good."
Haruhi sent her a look of confusion. She opened her mouth to ask her friend what she meant, but was cut off by the arrival of another Ouran student. A girl she recognized from her class made her way toward Daphne, blonde hair tied back in a ponytail and a pleasant smile on her fair face. Daphne recognized her as the same girl from before who had told her that it was time for the ceremony to begin. She must have been Ouran Academy's verse of the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland.
"Excuse me, Ms. Collier," The girl's smile was so persistent that it unsettled Daphne, "It's time for your match to begin. Please follow me to the grounds."
The ground was a large, multi use stadium that stood behind the school. All of the students from the different area school filled the seats, along with any interested Ouran students. Daphne walked to the side of the field, Mitsuki and Lona in tow. The hosts had taken to sitting in the stands with the rest of the crowd. This was not without protest from Tamaki who insisted that he be allowed to stand on the sidelines and coach her. Instead, he agreed to cheer from the stands; the one person Daphne could see jumping up and down and waving his arms while screaming her name. The twins held up matching flags with her face on them, passing them out to the students surrounding them.
'Where did they get those?'
"Come join us, Ms. Collier." She didn't have long to ponder the existence of the trinkets before the Headmaster called her name, motioning for her to the Chairman, Techi, and himself in the center of the field. Jogging up to the group, she tried to keep her gaze on the Headmaster and avoid Techi's stare.
"The rules are simple." The Chairman said, the referee placing the ball on the center group, "All the rules of a normal game except you two are the only players. First person to score ten goals wins."
With that, the men exited the field leaving the two teens and the referee to begin the match. Daphne took a deep breath. Glancing over at the sidelines, Mitsuki and Lona shared a look of determination. She stared long enough to read Mitsuki's lips as she mouthed, 'Kick his ass'. A small smile fell on her lips as she nodded briefly to her friends before reflecting their determined look toward her opponent. Holding out her hand she set her jaw.
"Have a good game."
Techi looked down at her hand, smirking. Ignoring her gesture, he looked to the referee and nodded, signaling that he was ready. Dropping her sign of goodwill, she copied him. With a blow of his whistle, the referee told them to prepare. They both took a stance on either side of the ball, both charging toward it as the referee bowl his whistle again, starting the game.
"She's so fast!" Honey exclaimed, startling his friends on the stands. Hikaru and Kaoru sent him a confused look.
"When did you get here, Honey-senpai?" Kaoru asked, eyeing the small third year. The boy simply beamed at him.
"Takashi's match is over and he told me that we needed to come see Daphne. He's worried about her."
Tamaki's ear twitched, causing him to turn at the upperclassman's statement. Mori was worried about Daphne. Glancing down at the sidelines, he saw the older teen, his hands in his pockets as he watched the players battle on the field. His stomach churned.
"Why is Mori-Senpai so worried?" Hikaru asked, "She's holding her own out there, even against Akamori."
Honey shrugged, "He didn't say, he just wanted to be here for her, I guess."
"That's so sweet!" A girl sitting beside Honey commented giddily as she listened to the boys' conversation. Her friend nodded furiously in agreement.
"Yes! They act as a family in the Host Club and now it's like a true husband and wife! He's protecting her even though she's obviously strong enough to take care of herself. He's still concerned for her well-being!"
They stared at the seniors dreamily. Hikaru and Kaoru nodded.
"I guess they're just playing it up for the club. True dedication."
"I agree. Though, I'm not sure it is strictly for the benefit of the club. It will have some positive effects on attendance." Kyoya commented, adjusting his glasses to hide his secret satisfaction. Hikaru and Kaoru jumped, staring at the boy.
"When did you get here, Kyoya-senpai?!" Hikaru yelled. Kyoya simply stared straight ahead, continuing to watch the match.
"I've always been here."
Haruhi followed Daphne as she sprinted down the field, chasing Techi as he expertly handled the ball. She was very fast and, without a doubt, a good player. With her long, brown hair flowing behind her as she ran, her limbs working gracefully to carry her at top speeds, she looked almost majestic as she traveled.
The sound of Tamaki's voice stole her attention away as she turned to see him watching Daphne intently. Haruhi smiled, turning her gaze back to the American.
"This is the first time you've seen her play, right, Tamaki-senpai?"
The older boy simply nodded.
"She's been playing since she was little girl," Haruhi continued, "I wouldn't be surprised if she played forever."
The two sat in silence for a moment before Haruhi looked down at Mori, his gaze fixed on Techi and Daphne.
"I wonder why Mori-Senpai is so on guard." The girl thought out loud only to be met with silence from Tamaki. This gave her a chance to continue her train of thought, "Maybe it has to do with what Daphne said before the match."
This caught Tamaki's attention. He turned to the girl, his face clouded in seriousness.
"What did she say?"
Haruhi tapped her chin, thinking about their conversation, "She said that Techi was 'not good'. I wonder what she meant by that. Maybe she told Mori-senpai that too and that's why he left his match quickly."
Techi fought dirty. Every time Daphne got close to him, she'd be met with an elbow to the ribs or hand to the chest. After a few hard gropes, she'd finally managed to wrangle the ball away from him and send her momentum toward the goal she needed. About twenty minutes into the match, the players were tied at 8-8 and both were exhausted.
Seeing this, the referee allowed them five minutes to rest before continuing. Daphne trotted over to her teammates and Mori, taking a water that he had waiting for her which she drank greedily. Shaking her head, she tried to catch her breath.
"He's such a dick," She cursed, running her sweat covered forearm over her sweat covered forehead, "Sorry, Mori."
The boy waved her off, an amused smirk crossing his lips. "It's ok. Stay safe. He's not a good sportsman."
Daphne rolled her eyes, "You're telling me."
The whistle blew once more, calling Daphne back to the center of the field. She quickly waved goodbye and returned to her spot. She noticed Techi coming from his side, jogging away from a small group of teens, one of which caught her eye. That blonde girl. She stood on one side of his friends circle, staring at Daphne intently. She shook off the thought as returned her mind to her objective. Two more goals.
Almost immediately, the players were back as it. Daphne had an early lead, guarding her ball as she dribbled it down the field. A few times, she felt the back of her jersey being yanked but she charged on, gaining a goal for herself. Techi cursed loudly as the referee threw the ball back into the playing field.
The two pounced toward it, Techi swiftly bringing it in to guard and carrying it a good ways before Daphne swooped in front of him, tearing the ball away from him and changing its direction.
She could feel him behind her, his feet knocking against hers every now and then as they sprinted. Victory was in her grasp. She was feet away from the goal, swinging her leg behind her to drill the ball into the net. Suddenly, her foot was taken out from under her. Her mind didn't register what had happened until her shoulder hit the ground, her arm crunched underneath her body as she made contact. A sharp pain shot through her leg, causing her to yell in agony. Looking down, she saw her ankle under the cleat of Techi, his full weight on the collection of bones before leaping off of it and gathering the ball up to carry it back down the field and score his goal.
The referee ran to Daphne's side as she pulled her knee up to her nose, holding the afflicted ankle. Her teeth grit together as she pushed her forehead into the turf of the field, trying to stifle her cries. There was a commotion above her as Mori rushed to her side, scooping her in his arms and carrying her off of the field to the sidelines. He sat her on the bench, taking off her shoe, sock, and shin guard to examine the injury.
"It doesn't look broken." He stated, his fingers prodding the swelling spot. "I would say it was sprained, but I'm not a doctor."
Mori glanced up at the girl. Her eyes held an intensity that he'd never seen from her or any other person for that matter. Whatever she had against Techi Akamori, she felt it deep within her. He almost felt sorry for the guy, being on the receiving end of her wrath. She stared hard at her friend for a moment before leaning into him.
"Wrap it." She growled, "I have to win."
He thought about arguing with her, but her mind would not rest if she wasn't allowed to avenge herself. Lona stooped beside her, concern covering her as she helped Mori.
"Are you sure?" The redhead asked, pulling the bandage from the first aid kit in her sports bag. Daphne nodded once.
"Wrap. My. Ankle."
After confirming that she would continue, the girl limped back into her starting position. Techi laughed humorlessly, shaking his head.
"You don't know what to quit, do you?"
Daphne stayed silent, her eyes fixed on the ball in front of her. Pain shot up her leg with every second she was standing, building and causing her eyes to water.
With another blow of the whistle, the two ran at each other again, both fighting for dominance. Techi had managed to take control of the ball, but his lead was quickly snuffed out by Daphne sweeping it out from his grasp. He tore at her as he chased her down the field, but the girl couldn't feel anything except for the pain in her leg. Her head pounded as she fought against herself to run faster and faster. Finally, she reached the goal. This time, she would strike. Her foot connected with the ball, sending it sailing into the net and threatening to burst the back of the meshed rope.
The crowd jumped up, screaming in excitement as they watched Daphne throw her hands in the air and fall to her knees. Mitsuki, Lona, and Mori rushed the field, the girls cheering the praises of their friend and the boy wrapping his arm around her waist to pull her to her feet. Slowly, he helped her limp away, her fingers clutching the back of his shirt and her eyes squeezed shut as they made their way to the bench.
The Hosts circled their friend, the twins shouting victory chants and swinging Honey by his arms. Kyoya nodded at Daphne, placing an encouraging hand on her sweaty shoulder.
"Very well done, Daphne-Senpai. Your and Mori-senpia's actions today are most definitely going to skyrocket your guest attendance."
Daphne let out a strained laugh before her face contorted in pain, "That's why I do everything I do, Kyoya."
Tamaki took a knee beside her, taking in the pained expression on her face. He couldn't help her, not like Mori could. He'd never wrapped an ankle or applied first aid to someone. He was next to useless. His hand reached up, out of his pit of uselessness, and grazed the back of hers. Her eyes popped open at the affectionate touch, taking his hand in hers.
The group turned, seeing the blonde girl approach them. Daphne looked toward her, taking in her change in demeanor from earlier. The girl now held a serious look about her, her smile faded away.
"I've been instructed to take you to the showers and then the nurse. Please come with me."
The American hesitated, shooting a look to Haruhi before slowing nodding toward the blonde.
"Ok, I guess that's fine."
Tamaki's arm snaked around her, helping her steady herself before freestanding. Without another word, the girl turned and walked away quickly, not allowing for Daphne's injury. Letting out a deep sigh, she followed the girl, her arm around Lona's shoulders as they made their way toward the showers.
Haruhi watched the girls leave, her eyes falling on the blonde. She'd seen her before, but never spoken to her. It seemed like every time Haruhi bumped into the girl, she was with someone else, but she couldn't think of who it was. Several moments passed as she racked her brain trying to remember who the girl hung around with. She continued to watch them, seeing the girl look toward a group of boys, Techi standing in the center. She nodded curtly to him and Haruhi watched as he reciprocated before turning back to the group.
That was it. She was Techi's girlfriend.
"Mori-senpai," Haruhi said, urgency lacing her voice, "I think something bad is about to happen."
Daphne had never been in a shower area that was as opulent as the one in Ouran Academy. A long couch sat in the center of the locker area, allowing Lona to lounge while her friend bathed. Leaning back on the plush sofa, Lona let out a contented sigh.
"I'm telling you, Daphne. Rich people don't know how good they have it. They even have robes in here!"
She heard her friend chuckle from the shower room. Daphne pulled her shirt up, trying to balance on one foot and bumping into the wall again and again as she tried to maintain control.
"People with two feet don't know how good they have it."
After a few minutes, Daphne had successfully disrobed and stood under the warm cascading water. Her muscles sang at the caress. One of the best feelings in the world was the feeling a hot shower after an intense game. The instant relaxation after serious exertion provided a conflict of physical feelings that made her body want to stay there forever. However, at that moment, her ankle was pulsating and making her want to vomit.
Soap suds slid down her breasts as she massaged her shoulders, rolling her head and letting her neck release its tension.
Even though she'd almost certainly seriously injured her ankle, it was worth it to see the look of sheer disappointment on his stupid face. She felt a tight coil in her stomach release as she thought about the boy that had slammed her into a brick wall and threatened to rape her, embarrassed in front of his entire school. A sweet sense of vindication flooded her.
Turning the knob on, she cut the flow of water before grabbing her towel and rubbed it over her face.
"It's over, man."
A harsh whisper came from the wall. Daphne's head snapped up, turning to the origin of the sound as she stopped moving to listen for it again.
"Shut up, you idiot. Just stop recording."
Quickly, she wrapped her towel around her body before leaning down and examining the tiled wall. A small hole in the connecting corner of grout. Putting her eye to the hole, she saw shadows moving around on the other side. Anger filled her brain.
Hobbling out of the shower, Daphne stumbled toward her friend.
"Give me a robe, Lona!"
Techi and his friends entered the locker room located beside the women's locker room. While this may not have seemed suspicious, Mori and Tamaki still followed the boys while the twins, Honey, and Kyoya stood outside the door with Haruhi and Mitsuki. When Tamaki said that he wanted to follow the group, Mori immediately agreed. He'd seen and heard enough of what Techi enjoyed doing to know that he was not going to take a defeat lying down.
As soon as they entered the shower area, they heard focused whispering from a group huddled around a far wall.
"I think she's done."
"Yeah, it's over, man."
"Shut up, you idiot. Just stop recording."
The boys stood from their crouching positions, turning their attention to a small rectangle in Techi's hands. A cellphone.
Tamaki wasn't sure what he had done, but after seeing the phone in Techi's hands, his vision faded. When he came to, he had the teen pinned against the wall.
"What the hell, Suou?" Techi yelled, pushing against Tamaki's shoulders to throw him off of him. "If you wanna see, you'll have to wait until I post it just like everyone else."
Tamaki gritted his teeth, the sight of the boy's smirk causing his anger to grow by the second.
"You're not posting anything, Akamori."
His hands gripped the boy by his stained jersey, pulling him through the locker room and out into the hallway where he threw him onto the ground.
"Hikaru, Kaoru, grab that phone."
The boys pounced, ripping the phone from Techi's hands and delivering it to Tamaki.
"Here ya go, boss." They saluted in unison. Each standing on either side of Techi so that he couldn't run away from his coming retribution.
Tamaki opened the phone, his face burning bright red as he was instantly greeted by a nude photo of the female soccer player that was taking a shower in the next room. Daphne's arms were up as she washed her hair, not shielding any part of her toned body from the camera. Soap cascaded down her neck onto her—oh God. Her face was frozen in sheer bliss, her neck arched in pleasure. Tearing his eyes away from the picture, Tamaki closed them before holding the offending device out toward Haruhi.
"Delete this photo and any photo or video you see fit, Haruhi."
Haruhi grabbed the phone, her face blushing at the initial shock but her fingers working diligently to erase whatever she saw of her friend.
Tamaki turned his gaze back to the boy on the ground, Techi's face curled into a snarl. Mori stood behind Tamaki, his arms crossed over his chest, making the sight of the blonde even more intimidating.
"If I ever see you so much as look at her again, you'll regret the day you were born." Tamaki's voice was sharp, filled with an anger he didn't know he could tap into. Leaning down, he stared straight into Techi's eyes. "Do I make myself clear, Akamori?"
The boy frowned deeply at Tamaki. He gazed around at the boys that stood over him, each one just as menacing than the one before. Even if he wanted to fight back, he knew this was not the time to do it.
"Yeah, I guess you do, Suou."
Tamaki's hand reached up, snapping his fingers. Instantly, the twins sprang into action. Each taking an arm, the boys scooped Techi up and pushed him past Tamaki into the empty hallway, giving him a chance to run. Without looking back, Techi took the opportunity, following his friends that had been ejected by Mori minutes before.
"Don't let him get away!"
The group turned back to see a wet, barefooted Daphne standing there, one arm around Lona's shoulders while the other hand clinched at the opening of her robe. Doing their best not to ogle her, the boys cast their gazes down to the ground with only Haruhi meeting her furrowed look.
"Don't worry, Daphne." The cross dresser held up the phone, sending a wave of relief through her American friend, "I erased all of those photos. You don't have to worry about it anymore."
With that, Haruhi dropped the phone onto the ground. A slick crunch could be heard as she crushed the thing with her heel.
Daphne smiled at her friend, "Thank you."
Making her way toward Tamaki and Mori, she hopped, awkwardly holding her robe closed while Lona held most of her wieght. The boys blushed as they looked to her, taking in her pleasant yet disheveled appearance. Letting go of Lona, she leaned into Tamaki, slightly lifting herself onto the ball of her foot. Her lips brushed his cheek before planting a light kiss on it. Looking to Mori, she repeated the action and then moved back to Lona, still facing the boys. Their faces lit up, burning in shock and fresh excitement.
"Thank you so much."
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