Chapter 1.

Looking back, you can't remember exactly when (or how) it came to this. Sneezing at all that dirt that's just gotten up your nose, you push another random banana peel out of your hair (where do they all come from, anyway?) and climb out of the rubbish bin. Good, they didn't see you. You're getting some very odd stares, but who cares about that, Haruhi and onii-chan are just turning the corner, and if you run (whilst hiding behind lamp posts and the like, of course) you'll catch them.

The rest of the Host Club isn't following this time, it's only you, this is your private project for your brother and you'd be damned if you were going to let that Tono mess things up again. It had taken an intricate plan involving a couple of misplaced messages, Hunny's bunny doll, Kyouya's laptop, Renge's High-Powered Motor ™ and an annoyed Hikaru asking where you'd been all day, in order for you to set up this second date. All because you didn't want to worry Hikaru by doing something like pretending you were sick again. You sigh, the memory giving you a warm feeling deep inside, and pick up the pace a little.

Gack! You almost run into someone because you're not really looking where you're going, and you windmill your arms a little before looking around frantically again. Looks like they're heading towards a nearby Italian place. You're only following them to make sure the date goes smoothly, you tell yourself sternly. That's it. Really. And, so far, everything's been going OK. Hikaru hasn't done anything stupid like stomp off in a huff, sulk, or do anything to insult Haruhi. In fact the two of them are walking along companionably; Haruhi laughing at something Hikaru's just said.

They go into the restaurant and you twiddle around outside for a bit, wondering if you should go inside or just look in the window, but you decide that going in is the less creepy option and you do so, sitting at a table for two behind a conveniently placed shrub.

You've taken care this time. You (painfully) got yourself up before Hikaru this morning, even though it's a Saturday, and hung around the meeting-place until the two of them showed up. You're even wearing sunglasses and one of your dad's random hats. (He has a lot of them. Even the hats you use for the 'Which one is Hikaru?' game are his. Clearly, the twins would never actually own such out-of-date monstrosities.)

Hikaru is letting Haruhi listen to his iPod, and presumably it's Laruku, because he's going on about how you'd flown up at the last minute to see them in concert; front row seats. Good times. You smile and sit back, waving a waiter over and ordering a coffee.

You start to daydream because, really, the date is kind of boring. You'd wish for a bit of fighting right about now, if only it wouldn't make Hikaru upset. It'd make you upset, too, not just because of Hikaru, but because you liked Haruhi. And Hikaru did, too. You never really believed Tono when he barged into your little, carefully closed-off world and claimed that there would be someone out there who could tell you apart. But only after a few months of being in the Host Club, boom, along came Haruhi, and everything was turned upside down. Your world, irresistibly, had started to expand. And you... you want that. As much as you love your brother (too much), one day you won't be able to be together anymore. You swallow a gulp of coffee, slowly, bitterness spreading over your tongue. There'll be new experiences, new friends (and not all of them are idiots, like you'd initially thought) and how would Hikaru be able to enjoy any of that if he depended on you so damn much? There might even be more people out there who could tell you apart. Everyone thought that, back in middle school, you'd shut everyone out because you were the same, because you didn't want to be distinguished. Well, those people were wrong. The truth was, what set you apart from everyone else was that you knew you were different beings. (And nobody else did.) You didn't even look exactly the same. If one looked carefully, they'd see that Hikaru was just that little bit taller, and his shoulders were broader, stronger. You'd always been the skinnier one, the one who was carried, the one who always fell down. And Hikaru liked things like - ick - Math, and video games, and Science. And what if Hikaru wanted to run off and study to become a mad scientist or whatever? You didn't want to become a burden to your brother. You want to take care of him, look out for him, yes, but you don't want either of you to hold the other back. Never, ever.

So isn't it easier this way? To try and separate, be individuals, earlier? But if that's the case then why does it feel so...

Wait. Waitwaitwait. What was that? A sudden movement distracts you from your thoughts and you turn around. You can feel your eyes widening. What the hell was this? Haruhi was standing next to Hikaru, bending her head over him and reaching down to brush his face with her hand, and she was leaning down and... no no no!

"Ya daaa!"

Um. Kuso. This isn't good. You weren't meant to do this. Haruhi beats weakly at your chest from where you'd tackled her violently to the ground, yelling for help, and you stand, helping the girl up guiltily. You'd messed this up more than Tono ever could. (Heck, next time you'd probably be caught doing the Starlight Kick, or something stupid like that.)

"Kaoru!"

You let out a surprised yell as your face is filled with Hikaru's shirt, his arms wrapped around you. You peer at his chest for a minute, wondering how he'd seen through your wonderful disguise, but then again you should have known better. He is your twin after all.

"Anou... Kaoru, why did you push me like that?"

Er. Think fast.

"Um, I, because I, I thought you were going to... attack Hikaru." She quirks an eyebrow at you, because, yeah, it's a silly excuse, but you couldn't think of a better one on such short notice.

"Baka! He just had some risotto on his face, that's all!"

Oh. Kami-sama, you feel stupid now. Hikaru is still hugging you fiercely, apparently oblivious to the fact that you just went kamikaze on your friend. Haruhi doesn't look mad, but she's... walking off somewhere?

"Haruhi! Gomen ne, you don't have to go..."

"Don't worry. I was going to go to the bathroom anyway. I'll come back..."

"Kaoru, where did you go this morning? I woke up and you weren't there, and I couldn't find you anywhere, why didn't you tell me you were going somewhere?" You sigh, exasperated at yourself, and at Hikaru for not giving Haruhi a second thought.

"... I told Souga-kun that I'd go help him with something." You untangle yourself from his grasp and stand up.

"You could have told me. Was it something to do with Kurakano-chan? That would have been fun," an evil grin is curling over his lips and you can't help but smile at him.

"You wouldn't have wanted to get out of bed."

"Hnn, you're probably right. Well, since you're finished with that, you can come join us, ne? We were going to catch a movie after this,"

"Eto... well..." There's not really much you can say to get out of this, and you curse yourself and your silly possessiveness yet again for ruining everything. (Wasn't the seme supposed to be the possessive one? ...And why are you thinking about that now...?)

"OK."

"Yatta! Haruhi, Kaoru's going to come with us," The commoner girl has returned, fixing her hair, and you notice for the first time the cute dress she's wearing. Baka! This was even better than you'd thought, and you'd... ugh.

"Alright. Let's pay and then we can go... What do you feel like watching, Kaoru?"

Hikaru pays the bill and you listen to Haruhi's chit-chat about this new police movie that's come out. It's only when you've exited the restaurant, Hikaru holding you possessively by the arm as you walk along the road, that he frowns at you and asks,

"Kaoru, why are you wearing that?"