I'm a whisper in water
A secret for you to hear
You are the one who grows distant
When I beckon you near
Fujioka Haruhi was a rather boring subject.
Granted, she had those huge eyes that made you wonder if she was a rabbit at one point in her life, or, at least, a furry house pet that had no problem begging to be fed and petted because it was really, really hungry and starving for affection.
Tamaki thought that her eyes were beautiful, like sunlight cracking from the darkest cloud, or a golden fire in the hearth, warm and cheery like Hunny, only she had not meant to be cute. Not that you particularly cared about what Tamaki thought of her eyes – he always had this way of waxing poetic in all the unlikely moments. Especially when you least wanted him to.
Haruhi was the kind of kid that helped old ladies cross the street and liked to grocery shop. She was the kind of girl who smiled at you even if you were particularly mean to her, and asked if you want ice cream in the middle of January just after a snowstorm was broadcasted on TV. She didn't mind cleaning your room for you, and even if you knew it, you just couldn't help but feel a little too guilty for it. She could be as unobtrusive as possible, and yet you'd still notice her.
So you wanted to hate her, you really did. And you followed – dare you say stalk – her around for a week – a week! – and took down notes in your brain about every quirk and every qualm she had, no matter how insignificant or preposterous it was.
Because, in a way, you knew that anything would prove to be suited to your advantage.
Haruhi liked strawberries fresh from the refrigerator. She loved to feel the cold fruit against her tongue, bittersweet and not exactly soft, but it was getting there.
Haruhi didn't like red bean ice cream. It didn't taste very good, and she liked her ice cream particularly sweet, like chocolate or vanilla or any new flavor of the month, with a cherry on top and sprinkles, pretty please, and could you put an extra smidgen of cool whipped cream?
Haruhi liked caring for a sick friend like a mother hen. Are you sure you're okay, Hunny-kun? I --- did you just sneeze? I'll bring over chicken soup in five minutes, I promise, now don't move too much and please stay in bed or your cold will get worse!
Haruhi didn't like seeing anyone sad. And you made sure not to let her see any trace of depression, because once she did see, her eyes would darken and glaze over until you felt so sorry for her and not for yourself. She was like a scolded puppy that way, but not as obvious as Hunny was.
Haruhi preferred tea over coffee, although a cup of frappucino (tall, caramel, cream and sugar, please) helped during exams and study sessions.
Haruhi sneezed like a kid. Or a cat. You couldn't tell the difference.
Haruhi looked like a boy.
Haruhi wasn't a boy.
Pretty soon, you had five notebooks labeled Fujioka with scrawls of brown ink (isn't that a coincidence?) and a whole box of photographs given to you by her adoring father hidden in your drawer, Haruhi smiling, Haruhi laughing, Haruhi blushing, Haruhi frowning, Haruhi looking pensive, Haruhi this, Haruhi that, Haruhi, Haruhi, Haruhi.
Your favorite had been one taken when she was lost in her thoughts, her hand supporting her cheek as she smiled at whatever-the-hell-she-had-been-thinking, brown hair and golden eyes simply rich and softly dark like wine and roses.
A part of you whispered something you didn't quite catch, but, in retrospect, you didn't want to know.
You stared at it, really stared, and wondered if something inside you might burst.
You didn't open the box for a long time after that.
It was raining.
She ran outside and dragged you along – you, Tamaki, the twins – with her and they whooped under the night sky until their voices cracked and their throats became hoarse, drunk fools inebriated with life and love and friendship; Tamaki almost cried.
You stayed under a shaded tree, of course, and wished there was a slight chance that thunder would be present later on.
It was not to be granted.
Oh, if only the earth swallowed you up. It would have been better than to realize that you had not won this battle.
Hikaru looked at you and you realized that he understood, and you just knew when he smiled bitterly at Haruhi and held her under the rain, clothes damp and clinging to their bodies, water trickling down his hair and face until you couldn't tell which were tears and which were raindrops. They started a dance with no music, just rain, just him, just her, just them, just the moment, just everything, and nothing.
Whatever comfort there was to be spared, there was none for you.
Perhaps it was your selfishness that made you pull Haruhi away from him and say, very calmly, that she had was inebriated and delirious.
She laughed and clung to you, and you both fell to the ground with a tangle of limbs.
Perhaps that was the first time you had seen Tamaki move faster than a bullet train to get her away from you.
You had a photo of that one. Hunny probably took it, from the window, most likely. And it was a beautiful memory captured in film.
It must have been your imagination, but you swore you could still feel the cool, moist atmosphere of the precipitation, only made special because you chose it to be special, and it lingered in your senses for a long time after that.
It was not supposed to.
When Hikaru, the damn bastard, studied your notes and looked at the pictures, he laughed and laughed and laughed and he couldn't stop laughing. You had to smack him with a hardbound book to get him to stop.
Don't think you didn't see him filch a particular snapshot of the girl nibbling on her mechanical pencil.
Don't think you didn't notice how he let his gaze linger a little longer than necessary on the photograph of the four of them dancing on the grassy lawn, Tamaki's somewhat faded blonde hair sticking to his neck and face, Haruhi blushing a healthy, drunken pink, Kaoru tilting his head back and laughing, Hikaru watching Haruhi, watching, watching, watching like the dangerous hawk you knew he was.
It was apparent that he cared.
It was your particular mindset that you didn't, because you might have unwittingly fallen into that frightening thing that people called love.
And love was never part of your plans.
Your mother told you fairytales when you were a kid, until you stopped believing in them and started believing in yourself. The stories weren't real, they never would be, and you wanted to stop screaming at night and crying that it wasn't fair, it wasn't supposed to end that happily, what happened to ----? And what was happily ever after? Why is it always once upon a time and not some specific date like those History books you lugged around to school? Didn't those damsels in distress have brains? Oh, but if they did, they wouldn't be in that stupid situation, would they?
You tried not to think that Haruhi was like a fairy tale. Too surreal to be true.
Perhaps that was what made you turn away at first, when she waved at you from down the hall and smiled in that oblivious, unknowing way of hers.
She was just there.
You could have just terminated her debt. You could have had her expelled. There were several hundred possibilities that were opening up to you, several hundred ways to crush her dreams, to break Tamaki's heart, to dispel any hope Hikaru had, to make Honey cry, to sever the group, to stop this insanity.
Haruhi was an unwelcome intrusion to your organized life.
It would have been better to get her out of your sight.
You didn't want to.
And so you just took one look at her, with your eyes squinting just so and your lower lip jutting out in rebellion, and you told yourself that she was a boring, boring, boring little girl, because if you didn't, you were afraid you'd find her interesting enough to never stop looking.