Disclaimer: Not mine, the BBC's. I'm just playing. OHSHC belongs to Bisco Hatori
"I can't get this bloody dress on properly!" Rose complained, struggling with the layers of underskirt and the puffed-up sleeves.
"You could let someone help," was the Doctor's retort. The idea had got into his head to let Rose take a look around the school during the day, and he wouldn't let himself be dissuaded. When the rest of the Host Club had agreed or at least not protested, that was it for Rose's objections.
Since the grounds were normally off-limits to people who weren't teachers, servants or students, this was slightly more problematic than it would seem at first glance. According to Kyoya, it would be easiest for Rose to dress as a third-year. That would at least allow her to accompany Honey to lunch without too much comment, even if she couldn't actually attend classes. The Doctor had agreed. So now, the following day, she had to dress up in the Ouran Academy girl's uniform. The outfit had been conveniently provided by the twins and was proving difficult to get into, hence Rose's complaints to the Doctor.
"Yes, let us help," the twins seized on the Doctor's comment, offering their assistance simultaneously. For some reason, the whole Host Club had shown up to help her get ready rather than just the few who were necessary.
"Not a chance." The two of them were far too mischievous for Rose to allow them to dress her. Maybe the Doctor himself… no, she wasn't going there. He'd always kept away when she was picking out clothes anyway. He probably wouldn't even be able to help. Ah, this was nonsense. She'd been able to get into much more complex dresses by herself; she should be able to manage this one.
After a further short struggle, she managed to get the sleeves on her arms and the skirts falling as they should. She stepped out from behind the curtain tying the ribbon around her neck into a neat bow.
"Rosie-chan, you look cute!" That was the reaction of Honey, whose full name, as Rose had learned last night, was the lengthy moniker of Haninozuka Mitsukuni. She could understand why it had been shortened. Mitsukuni was a mouthful; Honey seemed to fit the boy much better. Still, that didn't give him any excuse to call her by cutesy nicknames. She glared at him, but only got a sunny smile back.
"More beautiful than the rose you take your name from." Placing himself between Rose and Honey, Tamaki offered her the rose he was referring to. She waved it away.
"Not the words I'd use, but they're right." The Doctor put one arm around her waist and gently stroked a stray strand of blond hair back over her shoulder with his other hand. "You're supposed to be rich and influential, so remember your manners, Dame Rose," he murmured.
Rose giggled, but then Kyoya interrupted. "It's time to go."
The Doctor let her go and she followed Honey out into the corridor. They were joined by the tall young man, finally introduced last night as Morinozuka Takashi, or Mori for short. Over the course of the previous evening and this morning, Mori hadn't yet spoken more than three words to Rose and less than ten words altogether that she had heard. He seemed more concerned with following Honey around like an obedient puppy – a puppy that was nearly twice the size of his master, but still.
When they were about halfway to the school restaurant, in an otherwise deserted stretch of corridor, a trio of youths joined them. All of them wore black velvet cloaks over their uniforms, though they fell open and the hoods were down to reveal their faces. The one girl among them was bedecked with questionable jewellery, and the boys both carried some sort of pointy-eared hand puppet.
"Haninozuka!" the tallest of them started. "What have you done to our president?"
Mori placed himself between Honey and the three kids. "Nothing," he replied in Honey's stead. The spokesman of the trio started to sweat and raised his puppet threateningly, obviously afraid of Mori.
"The Black Magic Club, I presume?" Rose asked Honey, who nodded. Then she turned to the three others again. "He's that different?"
"He won't know us. He's completely obsessed with him." All three pointed at Honey. "And he has neglected the rituals! He's never done that."
The girl came forward and pulled another hand puppet from a satchel. It was more detailed, but also far more used, than the ones the two boys were holding. She held up the puppet reverentially. "He's even abandoned Belzenef" She sounded close to tears.
"When did this happen?" Rose asked.
"He was like this when we came back to school after the holiday," the spokesman answered. Then he pointed and glowered at Honey again. "What did you do?"
"Nothing! He's scaring me too!" Honey hugged his fluffy bunny, which had appeared seemingly out of nowhere. Then he looked at the hand puppet the girl was still holding up. "Belzenef must be lonely. Does he want a hug, too?"
"Mitsukuni," rumbled Mori. When Honey turned his attention to him, Mori pointed at his watch.
"Oh, we're going to be late for lunch! I'm hungry!" All other cares apparently forgotten, Honey sped off down the corridor, softly singing, "cake, cake, strawberry cake".
Rose jogged alongside Mori in order to catch up. "Is his attention span usually this short?" The grunt she got in reply could have been either a yes or a no.
The lunch started out without too much fuss. Honey got his strawberry cakes, while Rose couldn't determine what exactly Mori was eating. She herself had stood baffled by the enormous selection before simply choosing the default menu. She didn't recognise half of it, but it was delicious.
But then the relative tranquillity of was interrupted. "Honey-kun!" a voice exclaimed, and a tray was set down next to Rose. When she looked up to see who was speaking, she thought for an instant that Tamaki had joined them. But the boy's voice was different, and then she could see his hair was longer, slightly less blond, and his eyes were far bluer. They did have similar facial structure, though. "I've been trying to attract your attention all morning." He smiled widely and brightly at Honey while he took his seat. "You've been ignoring me."
Honey was starting to look scared. Was this maybe Nekozawa? If so, then he certainly didn't look like he'd been described. Still, he was definitely invading the group. "If he's been ignoring you, then he probably doesn't want to talk to you." Rose said. "Why don't you take the hint?"
Nekozawa turned to face her, smile still fixed on his face. "And who is this beauty?" He seized her hand and planted a kiss on it. Rose felt the tip of a tongue. All the while, he kept his eyes fixed on hers. "From Europe, am I correct? But much wider travelled than that, I think."
There was a weird twinkle in those blue eyes, and that grin was just a little too wide. In behaviour, as well as looks, Nekozawa seemed to be imitating Tamaki, but where Tamaki had tended towards the annoyingly flowery, he hadn't crossed over into creepy. Then Nekozawa blinked and turned back to Honey. "I would love to talk to you in private soon. It won't take long. Maybe after school?"
"Go away." Honey had frozen, all the cheer from his expression gone. But he wasn't showing any fear, either. He was glaring at Nekozawa threateningly. In someone who looked older, it might have been frightening, but to Rose the effect was almost comical.
"Yes. Go now." Mori reinforced his command by taking Nekozawa's tray and placing it on another table. Even though nothing about Mori, certainly not his expression, had changed, that came across as much more threatening.
Still Nekozawa didn't seem all that impressed by Mori's veiled menace. He smiled again at Honey and simply walked away. "See you later."
As soon as Nekozawa's back was turned, Honey pulled out his bunny again and pressed his face into it. It did little to muffle the sobbing, though. Mori wrapped an arm around Honey's shoulder protectively.
"You're right, Honey, he is scary." Rose tried to comfort the boy as well, although that was hard without getting too familiar. "Maybe we had better go tell the Doctor about this." She looked at Mori. "Do we still have time for that?"
Mori nodded and the three of them headed for the Host Club headquarters. The Doctor was there, and it had been arranged that whatever hosts had free periods after lunch would be there as well. Because it was still lunchtime, the corridors leading to the Third Music Room were deserted. Or at least they should be, but when they were almost home safe Rose heard the sound of running footsteps.
All three of them halted. After a few seconds Nekozawa appeared, quickly slowing down when he saw they had stopped.
"Oh, good, I had hoped to find you almost alone," he said, and started to approach Honey, who had resumed his glare from at the lunch table. Nekozawa's grin now was different, though, colder, almost hungry. His tongue slit along his lips, snakelike. He stalked ever closer to Honey.
Rose drew aside. She should be doing something, but the strange – alien, no doubt about it – way that Nekozawa was acting was more frightening than if it really had been some snake-creature. For this moment at least, she was frozen. Just like Honey, whose glare was dropping and his resemblance to a rabbit in headlights increasing with every step Nekozawa came closer. Mori, however, threw himself in Nekozawa's path, arm stretched out to deliver what looked like it would be a painful blow.
It never arrived.
Nekozawa hissed, and a pinkish mist came out of his mouth, straight into Mori's face. The taller young man dropped like a rock. His momentum still carried him into Nekozawa's path, but the youth easily stepped around him.
"Takashi!" The shock of seeing his protector fall had spurred Honey back into action. He sprinted toward his attacker, ducking under another cloud of pink mist. Then he grabbed Nekozawa's wrist and pulled the young man –more than a head taller than Honey – over his shoulder in a throw that ended with Nekozawa on his back, on the floor. There was a little blood trickling onto the hardwood floor where he must have hit his head. As soon as Nekozawa was out of commission, Honey dropped to his knees next to Mori and frantically started checking him over. When there seemed to be nothing physically wrong, he started shaking the young man's shoulders and pounding his chest, saying, "Takashi, Takashi, wake up," over and over again.
The commotion had alerted the Doctor, Kyoya and Tamaki that something was going on. They came out to check what was happening. When they saw Mori and Nekozawa on the ground, they came sprinting to join the group. Tamaki gently drew Honey back to give the Doctor and Kyoya room to check both unconscious forms.
"They're both still breathing," the Doctor said. He looked up at the sound of a bell. "We'd best get them out of the corridor."
Tamaki and Kyoya lifted Mori while Rose helped the Doctor carry Nekozawa. Once inside the Third Music Room, the two were deposited on couches. The Doctor gave Mori a quick check, determined there was nothing he could do, and then turned to Nekozawa.
Despite the head injury, the boy seemed to be regaining consciousness already. His lips and eyelids were twitching.
"He shouldn't be able to do that yet," Kyoya judged. "From that hard a blow to the head, one should remain unconscious a lot longer."
"How did that happen anyway?" Rose asked. "I mean, one minute Nekozawa here's attacking a little scared boy, the next he's on the floor." She looked at Honey. "What did you do?"
"He hurt Takashi. He was attacking me. I defended myself." Honey bowed, hands pressed together under his chin. "My family runs the most renowned martial arts schools in Japan."
"A true warrior; powerful yet inconspicuous, worthy to serve as my host." Nekozawa had spoken, but his voice sounded different. High and clear like a bell, an octave even above Honey.
"Host?" Tamaki asked, reinterpreting the remark completely the wrong way. "You were perfectly welcome to come to our Club and request him." Honey didn't seem to agree, wildly shaking his head and holding on tight to both Mori and his bunny.
"Not that kind of host." the Doctor corrected. "What are you?" he asked Nekozawa. "Some sort of symbiote?"
"I was on my way to the hunting fields of the afterlife. I got lost. But this is a much better afterlife than the one I was promised."
"Afterlife?" Rose, Tamaki and Honey asked simultaneously.
The Doctor however, seemed to understand something of what Nekozawa, or at least the entity occupying his body, was saying. He was mumbling to himself. "Sentience after a meteor shower."
He turned to the Host club members. "Was there a falling star, a meteor recently? Do any of you know?"
Tamaki started waving his arm around. "Yes, yes! Eight, no, nine days ago, after the big party!" He turned to Kyoya, seeking support for his assertion. "Remember, Kyoya, I called Haruhi out to see it."
"You did, and by doing that threw my schedule into complete disarray." Kyoya spoke up from his position, standing behind the couch Nekozawa was lying on. His tone of voice was that of a long-suffering parent. "But I suppose we at least gained some information from it."
"I'm so sorry." The Doctor was addressing Nekozawa again. "We knocked you off your course." He looked at Rose. "Remember what I said about the animals developing sentience after the meteor shower? Those meteors had to be little spaceships, each bringing in a symbiote. We knocked one of them off its course. And it landed here on Earth."
"Always Earth." Rose had trouble keeping a hint of laughter from her voice. It always ended up back on Earth, no matter how you turned it.
"Well, it probably followed the trail from our course instead of its companions'." The Doctor turned back to Nekozawa, eyebrows now dropping into a frown. "But even if it is an accident, this is wrong. You can't go around using humans for hosts! Leave these kids alone."
"We could take you back." Rose offered. "We were on our way there."
"This body is weak and its mind unsubtle. I shall gladly leave it. But I like this kind of body much better than that of an animal. I shall stay." After these words, Nekozawa's mouth opened and a hazy black shadow poured out.
"Stop that!" The Doctor pulled out his sonic screwdriver and pointed it at the shadow. However, he had only just managed to switch it on before the shadow dispersed again, revealing Kyoya, eyes once again invisible behind the reflection of his spectacles. His hand was stretched out over Nekozawa, as if to stop the shadow that had been there moments before.
"What happened?" Honey asked, only just beating Tamaki to the question.
Rose tried to be a bit more original. "Where did it go?" Okay, so not much more original.
The Doctor was next to Nekozawa again, examining him. The boy now truly seemed to be unconscious, eyes closed but mouth still open, breathing evenly. Then he looked up a Kyoya, who was looking on with interest.
"It must have dispersed," Kyoya said. "Too weakened to keep switching bodies."
The Doctor studied Kyoya intently. "I suppose so."
Rose took another good look at him as well. The young man's face was still as unreadable as it had always been, however; nothing to indicate that something had changed.
- - -
The events had been confusing, Haruhi thought. Moreover because they still had no real idea of who the Doctor and Rose actually were. Coming in five minutes after everything was over hadn't helped either, of course. Now that the whole thing was over, Kyoya-senpai seemed eager to let the strangers leave. To take pressure off the Doctor, he had given another explanation, citing numerous legends about time-travel and aliens and evil spirits, but this was all extremely beyond Haruhi's experience. The Doctor had let Kyoya do the talking and kept studying him surreptitiously. Miss Tyler had contributed some snippets of explanation, but they had just served to make the story even more outlandish.
Tamaki-senpai had accepted everything and started off embellishing on the story with all kinds of ideas he had to have caught off some manga or TV show, which left the twins shaking their heads before they started cooperating with his fancy in order to amuse themselves. But that didn't bring anyone any closer to a full explanation.
Mori-senpai had woken up after ten minutes, and that made Honey-senpai happy enough to not mind only a partial explanation. Nekozawa-senpai had taken longer to wake up, and as soon as he did he had fled back under his black robe, claiming an enormous headache. He hadn't even stuck around to find out what happened. Then again, maybe he remembered.
Some of Kyoya-senpai's story must have been true, though, because the whole Host Club was now looking at a small blue wooden box. The Doctor and Miss Tyler had claimed it was their ship, to the general disbelief of the club members, except of course Kyoya. The two strangers said their goodbyes and then entered it. Soon a ghastly wheezing filled the corridor, and the box faded in and out of view a few times until it finally disappeared completely, leaving just an empty stretch of floor behind.
"Well, that was interesting," Kyoya-senpai said after looking at the cleared space for a few moments.
"It seems a shame we have nothing to prove it, though," said Tamaki-senpai. "Imagine, a real alien, and it came to our club! And then it died before we could ask it anything."
Kyoya-senpai lifted his head to look at Tamaki-senpai. His lip curled into the slightest smile. "Yes, a true pity, my Lord."