1Disclaimer: Ouran High Host Club is the property of Bisco Hatori, etc. Borrowing for purposes of procrastination, escapism, and self-entertainment.

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1043 090406

Suoh Tamaki awoke that morning, slowly floating up to a serene consciousness, slowly becoming blithely aware of the utter wrongness of the situation at hand.

The sheets about him were not that rough, having been softened by numerous machine washings—as evidenced by the strong basic stench of mass-produced detergent—but they were clearly under two-hundred fifty in thread count. He was oddly comfortable in them; he snuggled deeper into their folds with childlike enthusiasm.

Eventually, he was forced to relent to the coaxing of the early morning: Awaken and arise, the sun's rays seemed to prompt, mischievously tickling his scrunched up eyelids. Throw open the drapes and meet me full force—we shall bask in each other's glory, child of the rising sun, child of the river Seine. What choice did he have in the face of such persuasion?

When he opened his eyes, he was met by a swirl of dust motes, swimming about the stray shaft of sunlight whose easy touch had roused him from slumber. He sought its source and discovered the absence of aforesaid drapes, saw in place of the heavy ornate fabric a light lacy curtain of daisy-yellow that could hardly be flung aside. Again, the utter wrongness of it all.

He stilled, for the first time noting his scanty state of dress, the marked absence of Beary, and the decidedly frugal conditions of the tiny room. Were these the result of the previous night's indiscretion, a moral lapse necessitated by the constant, boring pressure borne by the circumstances of his birth . . . ah, but he couldn't even remember if there was such a thing as a previous night's indiscretion! If he had indeed committed a sin against the family Suoh, against his word and honor, against his heart, shouldn't his conscience feel its foul brunt?

(And he couldn't find it in his soul to believe he would risk heralding a repeat of his fate. There would be no wild oats springing from him—it was compassion, not bitterness or anger, that made him resolve to do so.)

In fact, he mused, the quaint little room was far too familiar to him just to be some incidental setting of a one-night tryst. He pillowed his arms behind his head and surveyed the room, staring at the bare ceiling, the faded flowery wallpaper, the neat stack of folded clothes, lined yellow pad paper littered with scribbling poised to slide off a couple of books. On one corner, he sighted a shrine-like collection of photographs—Haruhi, Haruhi in every pose and mood and activity, Haruhi with her colorful father, the beautiful men of the Host club, various friends and people he didn't recognize.

Her room?

A jolt of profound disbelief speared through him: he couldn't have. He wouldn't have, even with Haruhi. (Especially not with Haruhi.) But all that was instantly eclipsed by another observation: He was there, too, among the stilled faces, as often as she was! (And mother! Mother was there!) The purple of his eyes deepened, became impossibly more vivid, brimmed with soul-deep wonder. Amazement pooled at the base of his throat and he swallowed deliberately to digest it all.

This was his room.

"Tamaki!"

The voice effused from the very walls, rushed to engulf him like the sticky embrace of the humid air in the kitchen after deep-frying squid balls. His heart burst into song.

"Haruhi!" was his answering cry, mellifluous and throbbing with emotion. "Haruhi, Haruhi, Haruhi!"

And she was in the room, fully dressed in a smart, decidedly un-cute (but still cute anyway) suit, glowering over him in irritation. "What?"

He beheld her slim form, still heady with wonder. "You're here. . ."

Haruhi sighed and began shuffling away. "I don't know why I come rushing every single time," she muttered. "It's not like you're just going to roll over and die. You're too obnoxious for that. You'll probably have one of those nine-minute arias in your death scene with—"

"Was my father here again?" he demanded suspiciously.

"He came here at the crack of dawn yesterday. He said he was afraid your flu might turn into meningitis and that the antibiotics would fry your kidneys and you'd go stark raving mad. Or something like that. I told him, you didn't need antibiotics and you are stark raving mad."

"That rotten old man... stark raving mad, indeed."

" Case in point."

"But I do need you so very desperately, Haruhi! Indeed, treat my cries as my death knells, for surely such disappointment borne by your neglect shall rob me of my breath."

"Well, I'm here already, so talk," she replied blandly.

"Haruhi, I need your utmost attention," he persisted. "Only then shall I be able to give you the sacred offering I have prepared so slavishly."

Haruhi sighed again and squatted beside the futon. "Happy?"

Tamaki sat up and artfully allowed his blankets to fall from about his neck. The cloth came to straddle his lower body, allowed the showcase of his bare torso, allowed a hint of his pelvis to peep just so. He fancied it a rather tasteful invitation.

"My offering to you, this glistening morn-after-the storm," he proclaimed. "My boundless love and my fervent greetings of good day."

"Thanks," she replied dryly.

"Thanks?" Tamaki repeated in a tiny voice. "Just thanks?"

"And a boundless and fervent goodbye," Haruhi continued callously. "I have an eight o' clock case, for which I'll get late if I don't leave soon."

"Oh, I see," he demurred, falling back on the mattress and gazing at her longingly from beneath his lashes. "Then, I am sorely defeated. I will be unable to dissuade you from your well-loved passion and the excruciating toil it entails. In face of such a rival, even the delectable promise of blissful dalliance that can start now and last till the next sunrise will not tempt you, stalwart warrior of justice." He sighed theatrically. "I know that much."

"Excellent," came the dry commendation. "So you do learn. Aren't you getting up soon?"

"Ah, but don't you find me harder to resist in this particular attitude?"

"No."

"You have to admit, I look quite divine."

"Bovine, actually." Haruhi stood up and began to walk out the room. "Get up, Tamaki. If you're well enough to flirt, I think you you're well enough to go to work."

"Work? What can possibly harry me from such luxurious recumbence?"

"You haven't forgotten your students, have you?"

"Oh, non, non! But that is not work, Haruhi. Not work at all!

Of course, Tamaki hadn't forgotten his students. His brood of fifteen six-year olds this year were particularly feisty and he's been having the time of his life this school year. The teacher who filled in for him while he was sick even stopped by yesterday to deliver all their little get-well-soon artworks. "Ah, Haruhi! You can't imagine how much I miss my cherubim," he lamented. "I didn't want to miss school, but I don't want the little ones to catch their death from me. Actually, I was trying to hold it off until tomorrow afternoon since it'll be a Saturday."

"You're the only one crazy enough to think influenza can be held off."

"But I was hoping I could get sick over the weekend, so I wouldn't have to miss school too much. Ah, but Haruhi! Did I tell you about Madoka-sensei's stories? He used the book I picked out during story time last Tuesday. The children adored it. They adored it, Haruhi! I can only imagine their little faces all aglow, swept by the drama of the lost little kitten. It makes me so happy!"

Tamaki was by now moving about the room in a frenzy, wriggling out of his pajama pants as he went.

"And Momo-chan, my little genius read two whole pages of it herself. Two! That's even better than last week. And Hiro-kun, blooming Da Vinci, a portrait of his mother! But you know, I've met his mother and she doesn't have eyebrows, all right. They're tattooed on her forehead. Commoners do the darnedest things, don't they? Speaking of parents, I need to talk to Ito-kun's dad."

He paused, a leg-and-a-half already in his trousers.

"Ito-kun. . . Ito-kun isn't doing well at all," he said sadly. "His mother doesn't seem to be getting better . His father has to work all the time to pay off their debts. The yakuza will get him, if not—and there's nothing I can do." His hands fisted. "You commoners. You have to deal with the darnedest things, don't you? I just wish I could. . ."

"Don't you mean we commoners?" Haruhi smiled at him gently and came to button his pants, straighten his shirt, and draw his hair out of his eyes. "Just do your best, like you always do, Fujioka-sensei."

Tamaki beamed at her in automatic response. "And you just win your case, like you always do."

Tamaki had now figured out what that utterly wrong thing had been when he woke up that morning: he had called himself Suoh.

It was the name they had refused to give her two years ago. "Okaasan," however, had an ingenious solution to suggest, never mind that he gave it while he was in his demon form and was only awake enough to threaten severe bodily injury to the soon-to-be moribund scum who dared disturb his slumber, so the problem didn't last long.

He took her name instead.

---------------------------------------

The next day, Tamaki awoke abruptly, shaken from sleep by an odd, smothering feeling. It was his sheets; he was drowning in them. He kicked them off rather fiercely, and when that failed, he clawed them off his face, flailing till he could gasp in enough air.

He sat up and they slid off to pool at his waist. His rumpled pajama shirt was partially undone and had somehow slid off his shoulders during the struggle. Today was Saturday, so school would end at noon. And then, there would be the clothes and linen to laundry and the futon to air out. Haruhi would be home early tonight, so there should be no excuse for commoner's instant ramen today. He'd whip up a feast fit for a qu—

Tamaki paused, stunned by the wrongness of the picture he was seeing through his grainy, sleep-swollen eyes.

The room size. . . palatial. The windows. . . floor-to-ceiling with heavily brocaded drapes of gold and burgundy. The furniture. . . gilded antiques. The ceiling. . . a somber-hued fresco painted by a recently deceased national artist. The massive portraits. . . his and his alone.

Unmistakable!

He was in Mansion #2, the master's bedroom, with his 600-count satin sheets and his king-sized bed of down. There was no laundry to do and sleeping on futon was very much optional and mostly for educational purposes only. He certainly didn't cook, because there were too many people in the house doing just that as it was. He was seventeen years old, newly recovered from illness, and he was going to be late for school. (And it was a Tuesday, not a Saturday.)

Suoh Tamaki sighed.

It seemed like his dreams only got weirder while he was sick. What strange machinations his mind could conjure under the influence of medication! As if he would actually marry his wonderful darling daughter, Haruhi, the epitome of innocence and grace and nubile youth. . . Such dreams should always be kept private, for he himself would have him locked up for profound psychological disturbances.

(Which wasn't to say he didn't enjoy them, anyway.

They were only dreams, after all.

Perfectly harmless.

. . . Right?)

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Written for the LJ community 31days, on September 4, 2006's theme, "objects reflected from the impassioned imagination."