A/N: Hello, you beautiful creature. It's another day of wondrous solitude and endless (yet still limited) possibilities. So, I'm going to be honest here. I went a little off book with this one. Some of it was 100% not outlined. It makes no difference to you. You're the one reading it. But I'm so glad I did. Because oh, it solidifies my love for a certain someone and you'll see that shortly. Now, how about you indulge yourself here and I'm going to…I don't know. Probably go do my Animal Crossing dailies and then, play Paper Mario for another nine hours like I did yesterday…I know. I'm ashamed. K, bye x
Oh, kendo…Usually, you're my sanctuary in a long, boring, mundane day, but I'm sorry. I can't give you my full attention today. My face hurts. I'm under strict orders to not fuck anything else up today. And I'm just…Generally exhausted. I needed an out. It's like Daddy always told me. Sometimes, to get what I want, I'm going to have to play dirty. And lucky for me, I knew the dirtiest trick in the book to get out of anything. Especially when I have a man for my kendo teacher.
"Mendoza," Sensei looked me over. Despite me being dressed for class, I still sat near the wall, "What are you doing? Find a partner."
"Can I sit this one out today, Sensei?" I begged, "I don't think my heart is in it."
"Please?" I hated playing this card, but he left me with no choice, "I have girl cramps and they're particularly killer today."
"Fine!" Good. I made him just the right level of uncomfortable. Besides, I don't think I could find another partner. For the most part, all the other guys in my kendo class were afraid to fight me. They've all seen me hand ass out to either Ritsu or Mori on several occasions. No one would wish me on their worst enemies. Or maybe they would. I've never had anyone from my kendo class try to hire me out. What a shame…Not that I'd take the job, but it'd be nice if I got asked…At least once in a while.
I sat off to the side, watching everyone go at each other. My heart really wasn't in it today. I could barely keep my head up. In all seriousness, I kind of wanted to lay down on the tatami and take a nap. The night job is kicking my ass. And I'm going to have to floor it when I get out of the host club. God only knows how long that shoot's going to last. Hopefully, it won't be long. If I'm lucky, I'll be able to sneak in a nap before work. God? You listening? Because I got a big favor to ask. Don't let the boys be too much for me to handle today. And don't let this shoot be too long. Because I may be able to get in a little power nap here, that doesn't mean I'll be able to deal with their bullshit for very long.
As the final bell rang, I snapped out of my power nap and quickly changed back into my uniform. Maybe if I just…walk the other way…They'll never know I left. They won't notice I'm gone. I'll be in the clear. As long as I can get to my bike lickety split. All I have to do is make a left turn instead of a right one. That's all it is. And then, I can ball up on my couch for a couple hours, wake up, change into something I can do silks in, and head to Shinjuku. Nothing more…Just one little left turn…
"You know, Reila…" Fuuuuuuuuuuuck, "The music room is the other way."
"I know," I grumbled, knowing damn well Kyoya caught me. Of all people…I mean, it could've been worse. It could've been either the twins or Tamaki and they'd just freak out. At least it's the most lesser of evils. Who may or may not be the most evil of the bunch. Lawful evil. Not that I'm complaining. Kyoya and I always got along well.
"I'm sure Hikaru and Kaoru told you we have a calendar shoot today, right?"
"Yeah…" I didn't get it. No one else could give me that guilty feeling quite like Kyoya. Why?
"You weren't thinking about missing it, were you?"
"Wonderful," Kyoya smiled that big, sadistic grin of his, "Should we walk to the music room together then?"
"Actually," I bit the inside of my cheek, hoping to get out of this yet. I've slipped many a babysitter, bodyguard, and my PA. Kyoya shouldn't be difficult, "I have something I need to go take care of real quick. I should be there in…"
"No," he shook his head, taking my hand, "It can wait."
"It can," he promised, "Unless you want a certain something getting out."
"I've already told the host club about that." Kyoya didn't have a thing on me anymore. I bet that pisses him off to no end, "People know I'm a mafia baby, Kyoya."
"I know." Of course he does. Kyoya knows everything about everyone.
But he doesn't know I have something on him, too, "Tread lightly, Kyoya. Because I think I have more on you than what you think."
"Really?" he perked up, "It's not often someone gets something on me. What do you know?"
"Like I'd tell you."
"Really?" I decided to play dirty, "I know what's in the black book. It's missing a page, isn't it?"
Kyoya froze in his tracks, "How do you know it's missing a page?"
"Because," I like having the upper hand. Especially on someone like Kyoya. It's like I told Daddy. Once we take out the brains, the brawn has nothing to follow. And that's when I take over the host club. This may or may not be that time, "It's hanging on the side of my fridge. I need to get a frame for it. It's kind of sweet. And the concept is nice, too. Although, the story on the page before it was a bit…unsettling."
"So," he growled, "You know about my black book…"
"Of course I know," I rolled my eyes, "Who do you think took your black book in the first place? You really thought I just happened to find it in the hall somewhere? That's the thing about being me and growing up the way I did. I learned to pickpocket from some of the best. Taking your black book was nothing. Read it from cover to cover that weekend. That was a weird weekend…"
"I…" Kyoya couldn't even look at me. Got him, "I guess you really do have the upper hand here."
"So," I kept my fingers crossed, ready to bring this one home, "Does that mean I get to skip out on the calendar shoot today? And you photoshop me into any group shots?"
"I suppose that'd be our only option…" he let out a heavy sigh, "That is…Unless…There is the other thing."
"What other thing?"
Kyoya dug the Ouran handbook out of his bag (because of course, that nerd carries around the Ouran handbook) and opened to the student rules, pointing to the highlighted one, "You may need to read this one, Reila. It could interest you."
Students having employment outside of Ouran Academy is strictly prohibited, unless a work permit is on file.
"And?" I brushed it off, doing my best to settle my racing heart.
"I don't think we've gotten to know each other very well," Kyoya put his handbook back and took my hand, "Did you know I have three older siblings?"
"Can't say I did." What the fuck does this have to do with anything?
"Well," he went on, "My oldest brother and my oldest sister are married, but my second oldest brother likes to hang around Shinjuku late at night. Sometimes, he doesn't exactly frequent the most…Upscale of establishments."
"So?" Oh, shit. Oh, shit. Oh, shit. Oh, shit. Oh, shit, "Why are you telling me this?"
Kyoya moved in a little closer, making sure to keep his voice down, "I know about your job at the Viper Pit. You show great promise, Reila, but never ever think you have something on me. Because chances are, I have something a whole lot worse on you. By the way, my black book? Tamaki edits for me. He's surprisingly good with sentence structure. He is under an NDA, though, so no one knows he's been in my black book. And I sell them to the host club clientele under the table. For me, it'd be a couple minutes of embarrassment. But for you? Oh, it'd be so much worse. You get kicked out of Ouran. You end up leaving the country. You have to leave Kasanoda behind…You're going to have to do better than that."
Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit. I overlook the most obvious rule in the book. Don't ever let them know you think you have the upper hand. Shame on you, Reila…I thought Daddy taught you better. He did. I just wish it would've stuck better. I swallowed my pride and took the L on this one, "So, calendar shoot?"
"That's the spirit!" Kyoya beamed, taking in the spoils of his victory. His hand went to my shoulder, "No hard feelings, Rei. Really and truly. In a battle of wits, you are an incredibly formidable opponent. But maybe blackmail isn't your strong suit."
"Is your brother how you found out about the Viper Pit?" I assumed.
"He saw the promo posters we did for the host club when you first started," he explained, making a quick stop at the coffee cart, "Can I get a flat white with three shots of espresso, please?"
"And then, he noticed a striking resemblance between you and his new favorite dancer at the Viper Pit."
"Can I be honest with you?" I asked.
"Sure," Kyoya nodded, handing me the cup. God bless him, "I insist."
"And swear to me you won't use it against me," I demanded, "Because this is some real life and death shit."
"I'm not working for the club," I came clean. This may be a dangerous thing to be telling Kyoya, but I had a feeling he had the same secret keeping power as Mori. Although Mori's is established through more of a sense of loyalty. Kyoya needs to be getting something out of it in order to keep his mouth shut. In this case, it's me doing this damn calendar, "On paper, yes. I'm totally working for the Viper Pit. But I was sent there by someone we're going to keep anonymous. I know who runs the club and I'm tailing someone from the syndicate."
"It's yakuza owned?"
"It's yakuza owned," I confirmed, "Like…To its roots. It's definitely yakuza owned."
"Interesting," Kyoya smirked, "Do you know which syndicate?"
"But you're not going to tell me, are you?"
"Now, you're getting it," I grabbed the door to the music room and sure enough, this place was set up. Lights, backdrops, costumes, they were everywhere. My god…This was ridiculous, even for the host club. But I suppose Kyoya spares no expense when he sets these things up.
"REI!" Dammit, Tamaki…Why do you have to be the first one to find me? Why couldn't it have been anyone else? As long as he doesn't spill my flat white, I'll be happy. But to no surprise, he threw his arms around me like I was his own. Because at this point, I might as well be, "I'm so happy to see you!"
"Tamaki…" I kept as calm as possible, "You need to let me go. Or it is not going to be pretty for you."
"Yes, ma'am." Good…I still have a little bit of power. Kyoya couldn't take it all from me. Although, I don't know how to feel about Tamaki editing smut about himself…That feels like…Beyond textbook narcissism.
"Rei-chan!" There he is. There's my little bundle of sunshine. I put my coffee down before Honey could jump into my arms.
"Hi, Honey," I snuggled him. That precious little face got to me. I hate that it got to me, but dammit, this kid made me human. Honey was like a housecat. Right down to the part where he liked to rub his face on things he liked. Unfortunately, that meant mine. Suddenly, his cheek had a dark smudge on it where it shouldn't be…And so did I…
"Rei-chan," he looked up at the bruising around my eye, "What happened?"
"Shh…" I got the rest of Hikaru and Kaoru's work off Honey's face, "I know it's going to need touching up, but don't tell anyone. I kind of got into a fight."
"Rei…" Shit…Out of everyone that could've found out…It had to be him. Mori took Honey out of my arms and pulled me into his own, "Who did this?"
"Some bitches in Shinjuku last night," I settled him, "Don't worry, Mori. I got a few swings in, too. Not the first time my nose has been fixed. Probably won't be the last. I'm ok."
"Rei!" the twins sang out, "Come here! We have someone we need you to meet!"
"Rei…" Mori wasn't letting go of my hand. I could see it in his eyes. He was worried about me.
"Mori…" I swore, "I'm ok. Really. You don't need to worry."
"Ok." He didn't like it. I know he didn't like it. But he also knew I could handle myself if need be.
Then, for some ungodly reason, I walked over willingly to the twins, "What do you guys want?"
"Mom!" Hikaru and Kaoru grabbed me by both arms and dragged me over to this absolutely stunning creature. Holy shit. I mean, I've definitely gone to Fashion Week a time or two before, but this bitch looked like she ran it. She looked a lot like Hikaru and Kaoru, only curvier, "We have a friend for you to meet!"
"Oh?" her velvety voice matched the rest of her. Ok. I think I may already love her, "And who's that, boys?"
"This is our friend, Rei," Hikaru introduced me.
"She's the scary one we told you about," Kaoru added.
"I can see that," she looked me over, studying everything there was to study about me. And suddenly, her eyes lit up like a Christmas tree, "Oh, sweetheart…You are absolutely adorable!"
"Really?" I looked at her strange.
"Really!" she gave me a spin, "Even under the uniform and the smudged concealer job. You give off that…Scrappy, girl gang vibe. And I love it!"
"Well," I shrugged, "I am scrappy."
"And you can call me Yuzuha," she gushed over me, pushing my hair out of my face a little, "So, I'm assuming you come by that bruising honestly."
"Because of a scrappy girl gang," I admitted, "Yeah. But I was scrappier."
"I love her," Yuzuha pulled me into her arms, shooting a glare at her sons, "Why didn't you tell me about her sooner?"
"We didn't know you'd hit it off so easily!" the twins whined.
"I adore you," Yuzuha melted, "Go get your cover job taken care of, Rei. If you need help, go see my photographer. She can set you up. Where is she?"
"She was bringing in another soft box when I saw her last," Kaoru told her.
"Hold on," she took in a deep breath, "Veronica!"
"Yes, Yuzuha?" My heart stopped. That voice…I knew that voice. And sure enough, turning the corner was a tall, leggy blonde that had already stolen my heart like I stole Yuzuha's. Once we made eye contact, she froze, "Oh my God…"
"Oh my God…" my eyes started welling up. Of all the world renowned photographers in the world Yuzuha could've brought with her today…I couldn't be happier she brought this one. Without another thought, I ran straight into her arms and bawled. I didn't give a shit if we still had to shoot a calendar today. I didn't give a shit who saw this. Because it wasn't about them right now.
"What is this…?" Tamaki wondered, incredibly lost. Big shocker there.
"I'm so sorry, Reila," Veronica held me tight. And I didn't want her to let me go, "I'm so sorry…It was too hard to go home."
"I know," I let it slide. I didn't care anymore. I had her. And that's all that mattered, "I don't blame you. If I had to deal with that bitch, I wouldn't want to come home either."
"Uh…" Hikaru tapped on my shoulder, "Rei?"
"Can you fill us in here?" Kaoru asked.
"It was nice of you guys to introduce me to your mom," I wiped the tears from under my eyes, "And Yuzuha, it is so wonderful to meet you. But I wasn't expecting to be able to introduce you guys to my Aunt Veronica today."
"WE KNEW IT!" the twins squealed, "WE KNEW YOU WOULD KNOW HER!"
"I didn't think you'd be bringing her here," I pulled myself together, "Veronica, how in the hell?"
"Yuzuha found me in London," Veronica explained, "She knew my work and asked me if I'd be her photographer. I've been here ever since. But enough about work. We got a lot of catching up to do, kid."
"Yeah," I agreed, "Absolutely."
"How's Frankie doing?" she asked, "Still running shit like a well-oiled machine?"
"You know how Daddy is," I brushed her off, "Always hard at work. We recently had a run-in with Victoria, so…His hands were full for a while."
"Ugh," Veronica gagged. Because aside from Daddy and me, nobody could understand our hatred for that woman more than Veronica. Before she left for college, Veronica made the mistake of introducing her girlfriend to Victoria. And her coming out was an absolute shit show. She stayed with us for a while when I was little. Her girlfriend wasn't ready for them to move in together yet, but the relationship was still relatively new. If Victoria knew Mama was still making sure Veronica was being taken care of, she probably would've excommunicated Mama from the family, too. But that would've meant losing her grips on me. And Mama understood what it was like to get out from under that bitch's thumb. She had Daddy, didn't she? And subsequently me. It's probably been ten years since Victoria and Veronica last spoke, "She's still a thing?"
"Yeah," I grumbled, "You're telling me. You remember that nasty ass court hearing, right?"
"Oh, yeah," Veronica nodded, "I remember."
"Well," I groaned, "She figured taking me now would've been a better idea. Long story short, it wasn't. She tried stirring shit up on the family business end of things, failed miserably, and I've been helping Daddy clean the mess up all summer. With the exception of a couple weeks to actually have a vacation."
"That's good to hear," she pulled me back into her shoulder, "I missed you, Reila."
"I missed you, too," I couldn't be upset with her. Even when I was little, I knew what was going on. What can I say? I'm a perceptive little shit.
"I'm all for a family reunion," Yuzuha chimed in, "But I'm only paying you for the hour, Veronica."
"Sorry, boss," Veronica pulled herself together, "After. Got it. What are you doing later tonight, Rei?"
"I have plans," I bit the inside of my cheek. Veronica would understand. It's just…Some things don't need to be said in mixed company, "But after this, I'm free. Why?"
"Coffee." This woman knew the way to my heart. Always. And now, I couldn't wait to get this damn photoshoot done.