Hey guys! For anyone who's already read previous chapters and might want a brief review because I took so long to update (Sorry!): Kyouya visits Haruhi in NYC where she's studying abroad with the intent of recruiting her for a business operation, but is challenged to a "battle for her heart" by Tamaki. The two young men take turns dating her (without any real consent or interest from her) and Kyouya, because he is crafty, comes out the "winner." Thus, Haruhi is whisked away to the island of Cyprus, where she must pose as a male again for the sake of meeting another old friend from Ouran--who happens to have great financial potential for Kyouya. Little did he expect to start having feelings for Haruhi during his time spent with her. One night, he kisses her abruptly and Tamaki walks in on the scene.

A few words of warning: This is the longest chapter in the story...and also the last. No worries, it's a "real" ending this time. So, lots of love to you all for sticking around to read my work. It enjoyed writing this fic and really felt great when I saw all the positive comments I got. Thanks for being supportive and I'm really glad that I got to spread some more of the joy of Ouran!

Also, much love to Marie and CrimsonSnow for their beta reading! You guys helped me a lot!

So...please enjoy this last chapter!

"Hmm, their wine cellar is supposed to be one of a kind but I must say, this bottle is a little disappointing." Takahashi daintily bemoaned as she brought her glass from her lips. "What do you think, Haruhi-kun?"

"I don't know enough about it to say. But I'm enjoying it, though." She really had been. The other young woman did not notice the awkward, tense atmosphere between Tamaki, Kyouya, and Haruhi as they sat together in the restaurant. Haruhi had been seated between the two men so that Takahashi could "see all her handsome Ouran sempais in a row." Kyouya had remained polite but quiet while Tamaki had been more garrulous than usual. Takahashi overlooked the fact that her guests talked to her but never to each other as she enjoyed the attention.

While Tamaki put in his opinion about the wine Haruhi thought about the previous night. After he had walked in on the scene in Kyouya's room the three had stood still in their places for a very long, tense moment. It seemed they each needed time to figure out their reactions. Haruhi saw Tamaki get angry. His face turned accusatory and betrayed. Kyouya began recomposing himself and was breathing a little hard from the kiss (as was Haruhi). When he brought the back of his hand to wipe his moist lips Tamaki became ready to act. He went for the other man and Haruhi quickly decided to stop him. She forgot about her own confusion for the moment.

She had her thin arm curled around the blonde's before he knew it and was walking away with him dragging and almost tripping behind.

"What—wait! What are you doing Haruhi!? What was he doing to you!?"

"I don't know exactly, but I think we should go."

She walked him right out the door with Kyouya watching them from the balcony. Then, she proceeded to lead him towards his own room. After they arrived at the doorway he held onto her arm as she unhooked herself.

"Haruhi…you can't just let him do that to you!"

"I actually don't really understand what he did, but please don't go back into Kyouya-sempai's room tonight. I think we can talk about this later. Good-night." She felt oddly calm as she spoke those words, as if the disturbance that just occurred to their mutual friendship was a situation to be smoothed over.

"Wait, where are you going—" He looked after her as she walked away. He half feared that she would be returning to Kyouya's room but saw her going back into her own.

They stayed where they were for the rest of the night. In the following morning they stayed out of each other's way and the villa was eerily silent. When Takahashi called to push the dinner date up to lunch, they were all relieved.

"…But we must order another, better bottle! We'll have to toast!" Takahashi's gushing exclamation pulled Haruhi out of her reverie and she peered up at the present Kyouya. She wondered if he was thinking about last night as well.

He wouldn't meet her eyes and she turned forward again. "To our Ouran days?" She asked the other woman.

"Well, ahem—that, sure…" Her kouhei abruptly took on a very coy, self pleased look. "Actually, I have a bit of an announcement to make..."

"An announcement?" Kyouya asked and was genuinely interested in something for the first time since arriving.

"You see...the reason that I asked you all to lunch here today besides having a mini reunion is that…well, I'm getting married!"

"Married?" The "men" of Ouran asked in unison.

"Uh-huh! It's been kept a secret, so I'm really happy that you're here! I hadn't been expecting so many other old friends to be at the ceremony but…would you be there? I want you guys to meet the man I love. I thought he was just another Greek shipping heir but he's become mine and my family's savior! I know that this is going to sound a little last minute, and it is, but my wedding is tomorrow! "

Tamaki and Haruhi gaped in shock and Kyouya looked fixed at Tahahashi as she gushed this twist of events. They quickly regained their ground, however, and started to congratulate her. They smiled widely told her they would, of course, be there. Haruhi felt genuinely happy for her friend but thought the same thing as the men. The little "operation" that had been the purpose of going to Cyprus had been canceled for them. Kyouya realized that the only business he might be finishing up on this trip would be with Haruhi.

"There's our waiter, we have to call him over for our new bottle!" Takahashi said, gleefully oblivious to the aura of mixed emotions surrounding the table.


Later that night Haruhi and Kyouya could not manage to avoid each other any longer. They met in the common area and, for the first time since the previous night, made eye contact. They stood by the sofa but neither one of them moved to sit.

Kyouya had planned to start off with some small talk but his mind drew a blank. He stood five feet away from her and was hypnotized by her clear, warm pupils. He knew that she had forgiven him already for his reckless act and felt vaguely annoyed that she could so easily. He felt like he meant so little to her. When he opened his mouth, blunt words poured out of him.

"I didn't mean to startle you like that last night."

That was an understatement but Haruhi didn't say so. "I still really like you as a friend," Her saying that would have made any other man wince. "But it was surprising for me. I didn't think you would ever do that with me. We've talked about something like this before—no merits, right?"

Kyouya stared at her. Her response was like a small, blunt knife, but from the look of her guileless face he could tell she had no idea. The sensible part of him agreed with her, though. "Maybe insensitivity is a good thing." He muttered without meaning to be heard.


"I'm relieved that you don't feel upset. Well then, since that's settled, I think you realized earlier today," He began changing topics. "That the purpose of this excursion is over. After tomorrow's wedding you'll be free to go to on to your studies."

"I would like that. But it's been fun here too."

"I enjoyed it as well."

"So, you're not going to stay?" She must have picked up the wistful tone of finality in his voice.

"I'll be leaving after the wedding. I have business back home."

"Oh, all right." They smiled awkwardly at each other and would have both fidgeted uncomfortably in their places if they had been the types that fidget.

"Good night."

"Night." They smiled again before getting out of each other's way.

Neither of them realized Tamaki had been standing in earshot yet out of sight on the stairway. His first instinct had been to charge down and exclaim he had not been asked what he wanted to do. But he chose to be wiser than that and tiptoed quietly back up when he heard Kyouya approaching.


The next morning, they left their rented villa for the surprise wedding. They found the ceremony to be unexpectedly low key and not flashy at all given the wealthy backgrounds of the bride and groom. The chapel they occupied was barely large enough to fit more than twenty people in and had a tidy, naturalistic charm. Their feet rested on raw stone bricks as they gazed forward. Haruhi felt privileged as she watched the couple exchange their vows; only close friends and family members had been invited initially.

Though the wedding had been a quiet, sweet affair, the after party on a beach was more rowdy. A rather famous band showed up and soon the crowd was living it up. After the newly weds did their first dance the guests poured onto the designated dancing area and began grooving on their bare feet. Tamaki immediately pulled Haruhi with him into the swaying, gyrating crowd and swung her around. People who thought they were two male friends horsing around chuckled. Haruhi also giggled happily as he practiced some exaggerated swing moves but paused briefly when she saw Kyouya in the near distance. He stood alone along on the sand while watching the other guests.

"He looks like he should be carrying a clipboard and writing in it now." She remarked with nostalgia.

"Would you like to dance with him next?" Tamaki asked quietly.

"…I don't think I will. He's talking with the groom now."

He followed her eyes and saw the groom had walked up to Kyouya, who was wearing the congenial, sociable smile he always used for business. Tamaki felt a sense of comfort in that and went back to focusing on Haruhi. He wouldn't let her go as one song played after the other, not caring about what the less informed crowd thought.

After the fifth song, however, Haruhi looked away again and asked alarmingly, "Where's Kyouya? I don't see him at all."

Tamaka scanned the beach but he was nowhere to be found. Takahashi informed them that he had quietly excused himself from the party to go board his flight. Tamaki thought he detected a wistful undertone in the blithe good-byes Haruhi gave before they left as well.

They departed from Cyprus the following day. After a quick pack up they were driven to the airport where one of private jets owned by the Suoh family waited. Tamaki had insisted on personally dropping her off in Venice before returning to Japan. Onboard, they chatted about what they thought were the most charming parts of Cyprus and the wedding. They casually and cheerfully mentioned Kyouya in passing but never talked about the kiss.

Later, they arrived at Aeroporto di Venezia, where Tamakai tucked Haruhi into her cab and gave her an audible smooch on the forehead.

"Daddy's going to miss you! Call as soon as you feel you need me."

She wiped where he landed his kiss with the back of her hand. "When have I ever felt such a need?"

"Oh, what a cold child…" He said but stopped pouting when he saw her smiling.

"Thank you, sempai."

He was taken aback. "What for?" He asked as he looked down upon the sweet, veracious face that peeked out from the cool darkness of the vehicle. Her hands gripped the top of the rolled now window as she leaned towards him.

"For always wanting to help."

He felt a poignant lump at the back of his throat and simpered happily for a moment. But then he thought about walking in on her and Kyouya and being told to do nothing. Without warning, he wanted to tell her he was mad at Kyouya.

"What would you have done if I hadn't been there that night?" His tone was unexpectedly serious.

She didn't need to be told what he was talking about.

"Ah—I hadn't really thought about that." She was the one caught off guard now.

"You didn't think about it! What did you feel when he—when he kissed you?"

She didn't say immediately and he could tell that she was searching for the answer.


"Scusilo, signore." The driver called out.

"Attesa un minuto, per favore!" Tamaki called back.

"…I've never been kissed by a man like that before." His attention whipped back. "So I don't have anything to compare it to but…" He watched her gaze drift into her memory and felt another lump. "Now that I think about it, it had felt physically nice in a way."

"Physically…nice?" He repeated quietly in an injured voice. There was a wretched feeling in the pit of his stomach and he didn't want her to say anymore.

She continued, however. "He came on strong—it was even a little painful and startled me. But I finally understand a little part of what some other girls talk about."

"Other girls—you finally…but you can't just let yourself get kissed by a random person!"

Haruhi blinked. "But he's not a random person, he's Kyouya."

"Ah—" He didn't know what to retaliate that with. His shoulders drooped and his voice, which had suddenly become heated earlier, went back to being one of affliction. "So…you didn't mind when he did it?" He asked with a certain amount of fear.

"I'm not sure what I felt then but I don't mind it now."

Tamaki gasped.

"Scusilo, mancanza…" The driver said this time and she turned towards the front briefly to meet the man's peevish eyes through the rearview mirror.

"I need to get going." She told Tamaki and smiled again cheerily. "I'm supposed to meet my new dorm head in an hour. We can talk about this later. Good-bye, sempai."

"Wait! But—."

His had placed his hand next to hers and she gave it a firm squeeze before the driver gunned the engine.

"Good-bye, sempai!" She said again and he could only helpless wave back before her faced disappeared into the gloom of the cab. He couldn't chase after her this time. He stood and watched the car become smaller till it disappeared behind a corner, his skin still feeling her warm touch.


At his neat, art deco home in Japan, Kyouya was feeling lethargic. He had spent the first few days back from his trip gladly plunging himself into work that accumulated in his absence. He poured over spreadsheets, read freshly drawn up documents, and eyed the market. But he had plowed through it all too quickly and was soon left with no real business to deal with till the next school term arrives.

Now he spent his time sitting around in his tastefully but simply furnished room reading and checking stocks via his handheld. He had initially been satisfied with the peace but become bored under the lack of stimulation quickly.

Occasionally, he would look beyond a passage in his book and entertain a memory from New York or Cyrus. He would be annoyed at these reminisces as if they were distractions. He had already reached his conclusions about Haruhi at the end of his time with her.

"Merits." He said out loud to himself.

She had put it nicely and concisely. He thought.

Kyouya was an unapologetic perfectionist and applied both his high standards and sense of organization to every controllable aspect of his life. Romance was no exception and Haruhi had been a momentary deviation from the rule.

He had felt an attraction towards her but it was a flitting fascination only brought on by seeing the new womanly side of her. He had also placed her and himself in a context—along on an island getaway—that sparked his imagination. He was a young man with natural urges and she had been around. Desires, however strong, did not always have deeper emotions behind them. He was not wholly himself when he kissed her…

The trip should not have taken place anyway. Had he known about the wedding he would not have coveted Takahashi's property. Therefore, he never should have kissed her. He would wait for some time before speaking to Haruhi again but he thought that they should remain friends…

It was in one of these reveres that his sister found him while visiting. She had stepped lightly into his space without notice as he sat on a sofa with crossed legs. He was scrolling down a block of text on his P.D.A but looked to be uncharacteristically absent-minded while doing it.


He looked up. "Good morning, Fuyumi-neesan."

"I heard that you came home earlier than planned, was everything all right?"

"Yes, fine. Cyrus was a beautiful place." He gave her details about beaches and tour sites.

"Sounds like you had a good time, but you don't sound overly happy talking about them now." Fuymui furrowed her brows in slight concern as she sat down next to him.

"I'm not unhappy. How are you, neesan?"

"I'm well, thank you." She became buoyant abruptly. "Actually, I have a small favor to ask. Are you free tonight?"

"I think so."

"A good friend of mine has a cousin in town and needs someone to show her around. She's your age! She's nice and very pretty…how about taking her out to dinner tonight?"

He paused from playing with the screen on his handheld, which he had gone back to doing as he talked. He took a moment before replying, "Sure."

"Great!" Fuyumi clasped her hands happily as she told him about the restaurant she already picked.

He had thought, Why not?


Six thousand miles away from Kyouya and his sister, Haruhi was walking through the backstreets of Venice. It was a weekend and she was happily using the free time to explore her host city. Other students participating in her program had already seen all the major tour attractions and visited the larger museums. However, she didn't mind traveling around on her own and quickly familiarized herself with the public transport system and learned key phrases to get by with.

Though she did enjoy the masterful architecture of the grand palazzos that she either visited or passed by way of gondola across the Grand Canal, she found the quiet charm of the pedestrian backstreets equally appealing to her tastes. While navigating through narrow brick paths she gazed up at old, blocked shaped houses. They were painted in a collective palette of faded, weathered pastel dotted by shots of brilliant marines and rouges. Haruhi occasionally saw a clothing line strung overhead and hung with night gowns and starched sheets. She would smile and that think it was like a look behind the scenes of her glossy tour booklet purchased at the airport.

In fact, the entirety of her stay was, to an extent, a look behind the scenes. Winter was the off season for tourism in Venice and the crowds that would have choked the bridges and fed the pigeons at Piazza San Marco during summer were gone. Museums were delightfully empty and patrons were treated to intimate meetings with master works. Restaurants and cafes were filled with natives—not tourists looking for a taste of Italy.

Haruhi strolled into one of these cafes to take a break from her stroll. She was seated next to the window, which was an unbroken panel of glass spanning the entire width of the wall facing a canal. She looked out of it as she sipped her drink. It was comfortable being alone but she wouldn't have minded having someone across the table to share this moment with.

Her eyes wondered over to a couple moseying together on the street across from her. They were holding hands and sheathed umbrellas as their heels clicked in sync, despite the man being much taller than the woman. The man must have said something amusing or endearing because the woman stopped in front of him and got on tiptoes to kiss him. He chuckled but leaned down to meet her and wrapped his arms around her waist. Haruhi turned away as they became more serious.

She felt Kyouya's feral kiss on her own lips again like a phantom touch. She remembered that it had not been amiable like the couple's. He had left her mouth tender and painful to the touch for an hour after his advance but she had still found parts of it to her liking. It was a little like dark chocolate—not saccharine, but bittersweet. Though, it had ended as quickly as it begun…

When she looked back across the canal the couple was gone and she wondered when she would see Kyouya again.


"It's a pleasure to meet you, Sato-san." Kyouya smiled at the woman in front of him. His first thought upon sitting down was that she was not as attractive as his sister advertised. That didn't mean she wasn't pretty, however. She had a heart shaped face with even, well formed features and a conservatively cut saffron dress draped over her slender frame nicely. The perfume she wore was an expensive import.

He deduced from their conversation that she was intelligent, albeit a little naïve about some things. Her family headed a famous publishing house with several branches throughout Asia. She had been weaned on books.

He spent the date saying all the right things to her. He played cool because she seemed to be the type that would find it winsome and saw her being won over. A small voice at the back of his mind said she wasn't a deviation. She came from the same world he did.

He heard himself asking her to another date at the end of their meal. He was ambivalent but he felt it was the natural thing to do.

After dropping her off at a hotel Kyouya went home and walked in on his father loosening his tie. Nearby the front entrance, the older man looked like he had just arrived back from the office.

"Good evening, Father."

"What have you been up to?"

"I had dinner with a young lady named Sato Riko tonight. Fuyumi-neesan introduced us."

"Sato—the publisher Sato?"


"Hmm, not bad." His father finished taking off the tie. "Good night, then." He turned away to go but spun back on his heels when a thought entered his mind.

"By the way, what ever happened to that girl I met at your high school two years ago?"

Kyouya was startled. "May you be a little more specific?"

"The scholarship student."

"Do you mean…Fuijka Haruhi?" He hesitated in confusion over where this conversation was going.

"Yes. Have you seen her lately?"

"Actually, I did. She is still—" He paused to find a word. "My associate."

"If you saw her recently why didn't you ask her to a date?"

The younger Ootori became more startled. In fact, he was stupefied.

"I like that girl—she has gumption." Yoshio continued before turning again. "She would make a worthy daughter-in-law. Think about that."

Kyouya watched his father from behind as he walked away. He was too shocked to move.

Hadn't Yoshio only met Haruhi briefly? Hadn't she said some fairly unpleasant (thought justified) words to him at that time? How did the idea ever enter the older man's mind? And what could he see in such a plain rose with no enviable background? He had even used the word "worthy."

His head felt strange and light in its utterly flabbergasted condition. Notions he had once conceived for the benefit of realism were totally blown away. Who was this girl named Haruhi, really? Did she work some enchantment on his father?

Looking up at a clock, he realized he had been standing stupidly still for an amusingly long duration. He started making his way upstairs but was weighed down by his thoughts as he lifted his leaden feet.

When he opened the door to his bedroom he was met by another surprise.

"Is it true?"

"Huh—is what true?" Kyouya stared across his room at the blonde man, who was sitting on a sofa.

"Is it true that YOU WENT ON A DATE TONIGHT?!" Tamaki rushed up to him and clutched onto the chest of his shirt. "I passed by your sister when I was let in and she told me this! How could you do this to Haruhi!"

Kyouya freed himself and stepped back. "Haruhi made it clear that she isn't interested. I have nothing to do with her, now."

Tamaki stood still for a moment; his eyes twinkled with emotion. Without warning, his hand raised and dealt a clean, loud slap against the other's face. Kyouya's glasses flew to the ground and a livid patch of red smarted on his cheek.

"That was probably highly unnecessary." He said very crossly as he touched the attacked area gingerly with his fingertips.

"What sort of a gentleman are you? She had never been kissed like that by a man but you just did it like—some animal! You've corrupted her!"

The younger Ootori calmly bent down to pick up his glasses. He got up and examined them for damage before slipping them onto the ridge of his nose.

"Is that what you came here to say?"

"No, it isn't just that. She will never be the same again because of what you did!"

"She seemed fine when I left."

"No, she is changed! She told me she thought your kiss had felt…nice." The word rolled painfully off Tamaki's tongue. "Yet, you left just as suddenly. You initiated something, but didn't pursue it. No young lady deserves such a cruel fancy!"

Kyouya's expression remained cool as the other man screeched like a banshee but he was stunned for the second time that evening. His father had provided the first half of a bombshell and now his old school mate was supplying the second.

"She said it had been nice for her?" He asked as if making sure. He knew he had not exactly been gentle and was feeling some disbelief.

Tamaki gave him a squirming look like he did not want to repeat himself. "Yes…It means that there is a bizarre possibility of ro-romance—" He had trouble making himself the word because of what followed. "—between you and her."

"A possibility?" Kyouya asked in a tone that was more cynical than he felt. "Haruhi isn't the romantic type. My association with her is amicable and she isn't interested in more."

"No, you're wrong. You awoke something in her. The time that you've spent with her and what you did made her realize what being a girl means! She finally understands a little of what romantic feelings are because of you. Her heart shouldn't be left to pine the first time it starts to feel!"

Kyouya eyed the other man, who had become flushed with excitement, for a moment before saying quietly, "I highly doubt that she's pining away for me at six thousand miles abroad."

"That's not the poin—"

He cut the other man off by walking to the sofa and sat down with his legs crossed and arms thrown over the cushions.

"Don't walk away while I'm talking!" The blonde followed him to the sofa and positioned himself in front of it, as if to block escape. He placed his hands on his hips and spoke, "It's your duty to pursue the rest of the maiden's heart! You, as a gentleman, have to take responsibility for your actions."

The man he tried to lecture said nothing for several minutes but merely looked ahead, as if in flippant ignorance. But he eventually looked up and met the lecturer's eyes straight on. "Heh." A wry smile appeared on his bespectacled face.


Have you not fully realized your own feelings or just can't resist meddling? He replied inwardly. Or both?

He chose to sit in order to collect his thoughts. His father's words and Tamaki's reasoning were stirred into a potent mixture. Suddenly, the conclusions he had drawn about Haruhi became hollow like superficial restraints on his desire. He felt as if he had been shaken out of a self induced stupor. If even his father could see Haruhi's merits, why couldn't he have sooner? A soothing sense of freedom spread from his mind to the rest of his being. He became energized by the memory of kissing her, which he had carefully avoided for the past couple of weeks.

Either way, you don't know how to act in your own interest and you're not really helping Haruhi by being here. You can be so dense sometimes and this time I'm grateful for it. You've actually helped me.

If I had really made an impression on Haruhi with my rash act—if a bit of her heart can really be "awakened" by me then…

"Get out of my way, Baka. I have to pack."

Tamaki blinked dumbly as Kyouya pushed himself past. "Does that mean you'll—"

"Yes, I'm going to Venice. And I have another thing to thank you for—here's Miss Sato Riko's number."


Haruhi felt a slight shiver and pulled her jacket closer around herself. As she looked out towards the Guidecca canal, she wondered if she should have dressed herself more warmly before leaving the dorm. She was taking a stroll on the Zattere, a wide walkway along said canal. She walked with two grocery bags hanging off her arm—one carried fresh fish and the other vegetables from markets south of Campo Sant Margherita. Taking the long way back to her temporary residence, she passed other students who managed to get up early on a weekend. Dorsoduro, the "fin" district of the fish shaped city, was home to several art colleges and a university.

Just as she entered the dormitory she bumped into a female classmate who cheerily invited her to dinner with other students. Haruhi politely declined and held up her groceries to indicate her own plans for the night. Eating out had been cutting into her less than generous budget, lately.

"Suit yourself! But oh hey, before I go, let me tell you that there is a guy I've never seen before standing outside your door. I don't know how he got the housemother to let him in the building, but he seems to be waiting for you."

Haruhi stopped exhaling as the other girl talked and had to take a deep breath before thanking her for the information. The old building didn't have a working elevator for its residents so she marched up the six flights of stairs to her floor. Her legs were already mellow from the morning trip, but she pushed herself forward urgently because she knew who was waiting this time. She climbed the first four flights two steps at a time and dragged herself up the rest.

She reached the top.

"Kyouya-sempai!" She didn't know why she shouted his name. She barely had the breath for it.


She clutched the shopping bags till her knuckles were white because she feared she would drop them. She didn't understand why she felt so excited, either. Might it just have been the rush of exercise?

She saw him close the book he waited with. "It's nice to see you again so soon. I'm glad you've dropped by!"

"Yes, me too. I should have earlier."

She went to the door and stood by his side; she peered up at him with a beaming smile. "Would you like to come in?" She didn't wait for him to answer before pulling out her keys. In a few seconds, he walked in after her.

"Would you like some tea?" She offered as she settled her groceries in the small kitchen area of the suite.

"Yes, please." He looked around the sparsely furnished living room. It was square shaped and lead to two bedrooms, a bathroom and the partitioned off kitchen area. An aged dampness wafted weakly from the patterned wallpaper and the furniture—a sagged couch, armchair and worn table fared no better in decay. The thrown open shutters of the two tall Palladian windows were what saved the small living space from sure gloom. He saw a gay gathering of red rooftops through them.

"Here." She handed him his tea and he thanked her for it. She motioned for him to sit wherever he would like and he picked the armchair after giving the couch another glance.

"So, how have you been here?" He asked quickly before taking a sip so she wouldn't have a chance to ask why he was visiting so abruptly. She told him she was enjoying her classes and making new friends. She spent as much free time as she could in exploring the city but found especial delight in the food. One of her professors was a self declared connoisseur of all things gastronomic and had made plenty of recommendations.

He listened to her with interest but didn't hear anything she said. He thought that if he could stop staring into her eyes he would be able to pay attention. But he couldn't pull himself out of her steady, ochre gaze. Absence had made his heart fonder. He wanted to touch her physically again. He hadn't even felt this strongly in Cyprus so why was he like this now?

A thought occurred to him: he had always been attracted to her. Even in his Ouran days he had been. This moment was what it had culminated into. He was, by nature, an instrument of his own inhibition. Touching her had been a release.

"Have you ever been here before?"

The need to answer a question startled him out of his revelation. "Yes. Several times, actually."

"Oh, then you must know the city very well."

"Not very well. I've never navigated through the backstreets like you."

"Hmm." She smiled and he knew she was thinking of doing that with him sometime. The image of him and her together again—looking like a couple to passer-bys—moved him to action.

"Actually, Haruhi, I've come here to ask you out to dinner."

She blinked in surprise. "Well, sure. But would you mind if we eat here tonight since I had just brought groceries?"

How insensitive as ever.

"Let me clarify myself. I mean that I've traveled all the way here from Japan in order to ask you out on a date."



"I'm going to ask you something, Haruhi. Did you enjoy my kiss?" He inquired with an undertone of impatience and needy anticipation. The pause she took was maddening.

"Not all of it, but I did. It was like a new taste I began to appreciate." She answered with a straight face. She was totally unabashed.

You likened me to food.

But at least she had acquired an appreciation.

"Then go out with me. You can keep on tasting me if you want."

Any other girl might have blushed at those words, but she didn't, of course. He couldn't tell whether she was pleased or not till an amused smile appeared on her lips.

"All right, I'll go out with you."

The impact of his joy didn't immediately hit him and he spent a minute being not sure of what to do. He wanted to kiss her but didn't know if it would be too soon. He had set his tea aside and was on the edge of the seat; he was so ready. But he wanted her to come to him.

"Then kiss me, Haruhi."

He leaned in and was surprised by her quick assent. Had she been ready, too? She kissed him and her little mouth was laced with innocent desire and new sensuality. He got onto his knees on the floor so he could cock his head to one side and meet her at an angle. He wrapped his arms around her and she bought her hands up to his face. They were acting on instinct and would go from there.

Later, they would have dinner together. The next day, passer-bys would guess that they were a couple. For now, their lips fitted perfectly together as he encouraged her to learn and explore.