-1The Mannequin Garden
Miya's Note: Oh my, I'm writing something not Final Fantasy-related! For my BAU fans, this isn't replacing it by any means, so don't worry. I fell in love with Ouran High School Host Club (I'm working on reading the manga now), and I had to write my tribute. This is a one-shot, albeit a very long one, about the Hitachiin twins, Hikaru and Kaoru. It's from Kaoru's point of view, and despite how it may seem to those of you familiar with the fandom and the fanfics about it, it's less angst and more an occasionally unhappy contemplation. I'm trying to keep it original, too, despite the huge amount of material already out there on these two. For better or worse, nobody dies, it's not particularly emo, and it is by no means a pwp. Kaoru does a good deal of rambling, but that's totally intentional, to keep with his character, as inspired by Ep. 21, the Halloween episode.
Note that some of the long sections in italics, just for reference, indicate dialogue from the Lunar Anime fan sub of the show, or from Bokura No Love Style. I take no care to avoid spoilers, so if you haven't watched the whole show, or unless you just don't mind being spoiled, click the back button, and maybe come back later when you're done.
I don't own them. Any of them. Bisco Hatori does. I'm just borrowing them.
it's the longest. One-shot. EVAR.
Dear Reader, whoever you may be,
I have a story to tell, and if you'll listen, it starts like this:
The two of us were always together. The two of us were one unique entity. This notion was very important for us.
Nevertheless, we were still separate entities. The one that was not me was Hikaru; the one that was not Hikaru was me.
This notion was…
When we were little, Hikaru and I learned--at a very young age to be finding out these things--that we couldn't rely on anyone but ourselves. Mother never loved Hikaru and Kaoru. She loved the twins. She loved the singular entity of us because we were the same, and symmetry is very good for a fashion business. She liked to use us as mannequins.
But she couldn't tell us apart.
She wanted to, but she didn't have the time.
She always mixed up our names when she would speak to us. One day, it was Hikaru who was me, and Kaoru who was not. The next it would change. It was us who eventually decided for her who was who, because we snuck into her office and took our birth certificates without her knowing it. We decided that the one who was not me always seemed like the older brother--more protective, more harsh--and so we gave him the name on the paper that read 3:41 PM and me the one that said 4:13 PM. From then on, I was Kaoru, the younger brother.
I'd like to think we got it right, but who knows?
Right after this, we started correcting Mother when she would get it wrong. This confused her more, and she finally just gave up and stopped thinking of us as individuals completely. We became the heir of her business, not her heirs. We were one son, split into two parts.
I gave up, too, at that moment, and the fact that we had each other to rely on overwhelmed the urge to be a different person from Hikaru. Thinking otherwise, I reasoned, would have been clinging to a futile hope. After all, if our own mother didn't know who was who, how likely were we to ever find someone who did?
Thinking about it now, I have to ask: If I had been on the outside--if I couldn't use the "this is me and that is him" method to differentiate us--would I have been able to do it?
But Hikaru, despite this, just wanted to be Hikaru to someone else beside himself and me, even if just for a little while. He rebounded Mother's opinion of us back onto her. The mannequins, like a story you might find in a fairy tale, came to life for him. The people like her--everyone else--became the statues. Statues can break and be repaired. They can be bought. They can be thrown away.
And we always said that I was the literary one. I wonder if I could get better at math if I would try harder?
Hikaru liked to think that the other mannequins, with their faceless stares, could tell us apart. I was fine with this. After all, they couldn't get it wrong, either.
But he wanted more, and he thought up a game. On our first day of school, the other children seemed fascinated with us. They didn't understand what twins meant. They didn't get that we were two different people. Hikaru explained that we were individuals to them, and only one little girl listened. She listened because she wanted to play with us. She watched us for days from afar, trying to get up the courage to ask us to come join her in some sort of game. I think something about her was misunderstood like we were, and she wanted us to understand her.
I think she wanted to understand us, too, but when she came to play with us and we began the first unofficial match of the "Which one is Hikaru-kun?" game, she lost, and she became one of the statues we'd thrown away.
There never was a "Which one is Kaoru-kun?" game. I wasn't ever the one who really wanted to be found.
By middle school, we had been fully transformed. We were cold, heartless, and cruel. Don't try and talk to mannequins. It'll do you no good.
And, as much as you may want to listen, they won't talk back to you.
The voices you hear coming from the shop window are in your imagination.
The mannequins are safe behind their glass border.
Safe, and you can't touch them.
Hikaru had his mannequins. I had a sanctuary. It was a garden locked behind an iron gate, and I put a lock on it. There was no key that fit it, I thought. We were locked in. They were locked out.
Mannequins and gardens have something in common. They're both made to be admired. But while Hikaru thought of us as being right there for all the world to see and scrutinize, I hid us away. Gardens are made to be seen.
All except for our garden.
We had a mannequin garden.
So that we can stay unhurt in our own world, we put a very strong lock on our gates. As the years went by, lots of people tried out keys. There were very simple keys. There were very ornate ones. There were copper keys, steel keys; keys of silver and gold. But I had been right, because none of them ever fit.
Once, there was a large, expensive, golden key that fit into the lock but couldn't turn. The key was adorned with a large amethyst, and both Hikaru and I stood at our gate and watched as its owner tried it in the lock.
We saw it fit.
It was so close.
The person who owned that key was an older transfer student named Suoh Tamaki. We had heard about this boy. We had heard that he was arrogant, pompous, and vain. We had also heard that the girls seemed to find this very attractive.
What we didn't expect to find when we actually met Suoh Tamaki was that he was all of these things, but that he was blissfully and innocently unaware of them in a way that made him seem kind of endearing, but, more than anything, exceedingly stupid.
When we had met Suoh Tamaki, he had said he found us "interesting". With a nod, Hikaru and I agreed that we found him interesting, too. He had a kind of…bounce that we hadn't found in other people we'd met. We gave him a month to play our game. He would fail, he would bounce back, he would try again.
It was frustrating on one hand, amusing on the other, and somewhere in between there, it looked like hope. In an odd kind of way, I think we both kind of learned to respect Suoh Tamaki for that. It reminded us of ourselves. How many games had we, ourselves lost? How many times did we keep asking?
But, soon, our hands clasped together, and that little bit of hope between them was crushed. But just for a moment.
Because Suoh Tamaki said something remarkably insightful. "It's too hard for me right now," he said with a laugh. Right now, he said, like that could change. "You two are much too alike each other. But think about it this way, to be that much alike is a talent." He suggested a new game. "So from now on, be the 'two-are-one' Hitachiin brothers you've always been. But, obviously, don't forget you two are separate entities. So I'll try my best, and become able to tell you two apart."
We thought it was bizarre. Be two, but be one. Be one, but be two. How can you be two and one at the same time? We, ourselves, had been trying to figure this out for years.
And then, he answered it for us.
"Being contradictory is what you two are."
And he was right.
But we wouldn't admit it.
So he had played our game, and, in an odd kind of way, he had won. He couldn't tell us apart, no. He didn't know the two of us. But he had begun to know the one better than anyone before him.
And our hands fell to our sides, and that little light of hope floated there, proudly, and promised to make mannequins real. And the light, with the voice of Suoh Tamaki, reminded us that, if we ever wanted to find someone who could tell us apart, we would have to let people try.
It suddenly wasn't so dark anymore.
He had played our game, and he had won. So we played his, and we opened the doors to the High School section's third music room. And we became hosts.
And our little light, with us still trying to put it out with all of our might--with us still stubbornly telling ourselves that nobody would ever be able to tell us apart--lit up and showed us the face of Fujioka Haruhi.
And she proved us wrong. Fujioka Haruhi, holding a tiny, rusted key made of lead, turned the lock and set us free.
Mannequins are toys. They're dress-up dolls. At first, we didn't leave our garden, afraid of what the world had in store for us. We pulled Haruhi in. We made her one of us. She became our toy.
And then Hikaru started to get curious. I liked Haruhi, yes. I liked her, but she scared me. She came from a world so different from ours. A world with people, real people. A world with work that we had never had to do. A hard, cruel world that didn't look like our mannequin garden. We had been the ever after. We had been the fairytale.
Perhaps, reading between the lines would have given us a taste. Or looking between the bars.
And maybe then, the world outside the story would have been less scary. Or maybe not. Maybe it just would have made the pain come more quickly.
Haruhi was too alive to be a mannequin. Hikaru saw this first, and he let her leave.
And he followed her out the open gates.
I held the bars and tried to close them back up before he could leave.
And, suddenly, that lock had shut itself again, with Hikaru outside of it.
Hikaru polished up the rusty key, plated it with silver.
I started looking to different fairytales.
Carriages. Carriages weren't like gardens. They could move. They could follow.
I made the Host Club our carriage, with Tamaki as the driver. Our family had grown, and we were all in this world together. There was Tamaki, there was Honey-Senpai, Mori-Senpai, Kyouya…Haruhi and Hikaru. And there was me. We were all riding together, now. I had let other people in. The garden became a little pot with two identical leaves growing out of it that I carried with me. Just a remnant.
But carriages made me think of Cinderella, and hers didn't last, did it?
Locks could open, because no locksmith makes a lock without a key. No carriage lasts forever, because they're only really yucky pumpkins, after all. There's no such thing as a happily ever after.
But, before it seems like everything's turning out wrong, let's go back a little bit.
Before there was a Fujioka Haruhi, there was still a Host Club. This new game, we found, was more fun than we'd thought. It was our love of contradictions, said Tamaki-Senpai (our little story's prince charming) that made us so convincing and so appealing to the girls in our little act.
Because our new game wasn't just different from anything we'd ever played. In fact, it wasn't all that different at all, but the fun thing about it was that it was completely and utterly taboo.
To our princesses, we became known as lovers. This was the start of our "forbidden brotherly love", something that the rest of the world, outside of our little carriage, outside of the little pot in my lap, outside of Ouran High School, and even a little within it, would have found positively disgusting. We called it fun. The girls called it beautiful. The rest of the world still calls it incest and shakes laws and bibles at us.
The problem with games is that other people's rules and thoughts occasionally start to creep in. And that's what happened. Okay, so we were acting. It was harmless, right? We just did it to cause a stir. We just did it because we were good at it. You get that way after being someone else's other half for so long. Acting, right? Just acting.
My other half. I really had always thought of Hikaru as my other half, but I had never realized that that's the way married people talk. Soul mates. Two parts, one whole. That's what we were, but we were brothers.
But we acted like lovers.
And it all started to get really confusing.
Being in the Host Club was a good thing for us in a lot of ways. Day after day, we were forced into talking to people, or at least into indirectly interacting with them. But, in another way, maybe it wasn't so good. Being in the Host Club raised some questions; questions that we'd only ever answer with other questions.
"Isn't what we do considered wrong? I mean, yeah, we're acting, but most of the world would look down upon it, even knowing we were just doing it for the girls." I stared at Hikaru, watching him pondering my question. He didn't seem like he knew what to say to that yet, so I asked another. "And, if it's so wrong, why do they like it so much?"
I remember Hikaru shrugging the way he does when he wants people to think he doesn't care about something. His answer was this: "Wanna try it?"
"What?" I looked at him like he was daft.
He looked at me like I was dense. "It's taboo, right?"
"Hikaru, what are you thinking?" This question kind of scared me, because he had actually done something that I couldn't have predicted.
"We like that, don't we? Haven't we always wanted to go against the rest of the world?"
"Are you serious? You're serious, aren't you?"
My reflection smiled. How had it done that? I wasn't smiling. "Wouldn't you like to know what the girls see in it?"
The next words came out of my mouth very slowly. "Hikaru, how long?"
"Have you really been acting all this time? I mean, I've been thinking, and isn't it kind of funny that we went home after our first Host Club meeting and pushed our beds together and slept in each other's arms, just like when we were kids?"
"We're brothers, Hikaru, so we can't be serious, right? We pushed our beds together because it's winter, and the Host Club made us remember how much warmer it is, right?" I stared at him, hearing how utterly stupid I was sounding at that moment. My reflection became more my opposite and smiled further. "Right, Hikaru?"
"When it's summer, do you really think things will go back to how they were in between then and now? Isn't the reason we went from one bed to two in the first place because when we were ten, that stupid brat son of mom's competitor who came over for dinner made fun of us? Isn't the reason it went back to one because we'd been doing it all along, and now someone was accepting us?"
Hikaru, as much as I hate to admit it, can be damn perceptive sometimes. I looked at my reflection. Hair mussed up and free, with bright eyes that I hadn't really seen in a while. And it started to match me again, because the smile became less cocky and a blush stated to tinge its cheeks. I asked again, falling into Hikaru's normal role and holding his chin in my fingers, "How long, Hikaru?"
"Too long, isn't it? For you, too?"
"Has it all been acting for you?"
"You know the answer to that, don't you? I asked you first: You?"
If it hadn't been for Tamaki's Host Club, we never would have asked those questions.
And if it hadn't been for those questions, Tamaki would have never found us kissing behind a curtain after Host Club activities had ended.
I remember it, and I'm blushing now to think about it. It was exciting because it was wrong. It was fun because we got caught. It was scary because it wasn't just a game anymore.
It was kind of funny, too, because the first thing that came out of our prince's mouth was "Kaoru's the one pinned against the wall."
Then, Tamaki realized what he'd just said (and what he'd just seen to make him say it), and that was even funnier.
I remember the hot puff of air when Hikaru laughed into my mouth, and then how his curses followed when I bit his tongue by accident.
And I remember how all three of us, even though we were all a little embarrassed, starting laughing together.
After that died down, our lord became very serious. "You guys are getting a little into this, don't you think?"
"We were testing it out," we answered in unison. "Seeing what they see in it."
Tamaki just nodded and walked away, shrugging and throwing us a half-hearted smile over his shoulder. We would find out later that he left because he felt guilty, thinking it was his fault we'd gotten into the little mess that had suddenly restructured our relationship. We would also realize that we felt even more guilty for making him feel so responsible.
I guess it was going to happen either way, right? He just helped it along?
I don't know the answer to those questions, even now.
I remember that Hikaru smiled nervously at me and then proceeded to stare at the floor.
"It's alright," was all I could say, not knowing exactly what was alright or how it could be.
It was months before we nervously tried the kiss again, this time in the privacy of our own room. It was as awkward as the first, and the fear of our impending self-destruction showed itself through. But Hikaru tasted of something safe and familiar. Like home.
He tasted like a mannequin garden.
And I couldn't stop it. I didn't even have the will to try. He always started the kisses, and he was always the one who ended them. I was always too scared to do either.
They became more frequent, deeper, more fevered. We were like any other criminals, addicted to our sins, and each time, it became easier. We felt less guilt, or were just better able to repress it. We were sick, and getting sicker by the moment.
We got less and less afraid to do more risqué scripts. Our customers ate it up. Kyouya praised the money we were making, but would occasionally give us questioning glances over his glasses. We'd shrug, flash him a dual devilish grin, and then whisper naughty things that we were still tempted but not brave enough to try into each other's ears when people stopped looking.
Tamaki asked us if we were happy.
When we didn't answer, he just nodded his head. It was hard to tell if he understood our unspoken reply or not.
Tamaki always was hard to figure out, as shallow as he may seem at times.
Going back to the subject of criminals, I guess it'd probably be a good idea to explain to you, whoever you are that may get a hold of this journal, why I have such a fascination with them. And to do that, it means going back even further.
As I said earlier, our mother knew her work better than she did us. Now, you need to realize that I wasn't all fair when I explained this before. Yes, it hurt, yes, it made us angry at her, but it wasn't her fault.
Because she had to work. She did it for us. She gave up her relationship with us so that we could afford to go to Ouran; so that we would have all that money could buy. Was it wrong? Maybe.
Dad, on the other hand, was just riding Mom's current.
So, we looked to other places for love. Parents and family were for money. Our maid, our oneesan, was our caretaker.
But our oneesan was a thief.
The vault she went after held money that was rightfully ours. It was money that Mom was putting aside for us when we got older. When we overheard our oneesan planning on stealing that money in the middle of the night, we should have felt angry. We should have felt betrayed. But we didn't.
We had the combination to the safe. She didn't. And because she didn't, we were excited. She would be scared and vulnerable. We could use her then, and force her to love us. That night, we would make her play our game.
That night, however, she lost.
We didn't care about the money. In fact, we would have given it to her, if she had won. We hated it. Money is what stole our parents from us.
But when she lost our game, the money was all we had left, and it became a kind of symbol to the connection that only we shared.
And she took it away anyway. She broke her promise to us, and she took it away. She betrayed us for real, and then she left us a message: "Perhaps there will never be someone who can tell you two apart."
That night, we snuggled up close to one another, shaking and broken and scared, and we cried each other to sleep.
But our oneesan left us a gift, because, just for a little after that, a scared mother slowed down her work to tend to her frightened sons.
The events of that night had a permanent effect on us. We grew a bit closer to our mother because of it, and we realized that she did--although she didn't show it often--love us, even just a little. But, more than that, it brought us closer to each other. Mother left us again soon for her job, and we only had each other once more.
Maybe we were almost too close, or at least that's what we heard our father saying to Mom one day.
"I'm worried about the boys," he said. Hikaru and I looked at each other and shrugged from outside the doorway.
"Why do you say that?" came our mother's voice, expressionless, over the sound of a sewing machine. It was always bizarre to hear her like that. So different from the energetic, charismatic voice she used in public.
"I worry that they're being raised too closely," said our Father.
"What do you mean?"
"They're getting older, and normal children would have begun to get friends by now. They only spend time with each other."
The whir of the sewing machine stopped. "What am I supposed to do about that? Separate them? That's like breaking a mirror. It doesn't do anything but hurt."
"They're two people. You need to treat them as such!" We had never heard our father stand up to Mom like that. For a moment we agreed with him, although he had never made an effort to do anything about the situation himself.
"Our boys are special," was all that our mother said.
"I don't deny that, but if we keep treating them like this, they'll end up…"
"What?" our mother asked coldly, daring.
"Too close. They're already showing signs. I've been researching twins, and they're at a high risk to become…"
There was an uncomfortable silence. Hikaru looked at me. I looked back.
"Think of when they're older," Father kept on. "Some of the guys at the company were telling me about this one day, and I read up on it. Twins…a lot of times, they close themselves off, and then seek comfort in each other. Comfort that's…indecent. I'm really starting to think that they may end up…"
He trailed off. Mother started off softly at first, but the anger in her voice could be clearly heard. "Don't you dare say it…don't you dare!"
We heard a slap. I saw Hikaru begin to smile, and I couldn't help but to follow suit.
"I'm sorry," said our father very quietly, falling immediately back into his usual role as subordinate. We got the feeling they had discussed this before, and, even then as children, we felt we knew what horrible thing our father was suggesting.
Even then, I think we thought that maybe he was right.
Where Mom's sin was that she couldn't tell us from one another, Dad was trying to pull us apart, and we resented him for it. That resentment turned to us doing even more to become closer brothers, especially when he was around.
Our old family photo shows Dad glaring at us as Hikaru kissed my cheek for the camera and I blushed. Mom isn't looking at any of us, and she isn't smiling.
But when she would later give us money so that we could go shopping with our new maids, I caught a glimpse once of a rumpled copy of that picture in her wallet, blotted with tears.
Those new maids of ours were ones that Mom had picked out. They were twins like us, and their names were Megumi and Harumi.
And before you ask, no, I don't know which one's which, and they don't know with us, either.
They always have just been a bit like robots. No emotion, no expression, except for on very rare occasion. After all, they'd heard the stories of our previous oneesan, and they chose to try and avoid any trouble by keeping our relationship purely business.
If we were mannequins, they were puppets.
But I'm getting way off track.
Back to the Host Club, our second year came with the introduction of Fujioka Haruhi, and with her came the first real change in my relationship with my brother.
He was Hikaru. I was Kaoru. We knew this, and so did she.
She opened the gates. She set Hikaru free.
I didn't want to be free.
I thought, maybe, that this was a good thing. I saw the way he looked at her. I did, too, a bit, but mostly out of the habit of mirroring Hikaru.
She wasn't us, but he was paying attention to her. He had a crush on her. It was so very…normal. Not "us" normal, but, you know…really normal.
I didn't like it at all.
But perhaps, I thought, normal was what Hikaru wanted. Doesn't everyone want to fit in as much as they can? Hikaru had his chance.
I wished I was normal enough to not feel betrayed.
But, I wanted him to be happy. And if Hikaru was happy, I was happy, right?
He is Hikaru. I am Kaoru.
We are the same, so if one is happy, both are.
But that wasn't how it was.
I wished there was a way to make Hikaru happy without having to lose him. Selfish, right?
But…damn it…it hurt.
I remember having to dump out some of my eye drops one day to make sure it looked like I was actually using them. I remember staying awake at night, trying to get myself to climb out of bed and go sleep on the couch or something. I remember wanting but not being able to push our beds back apart after nights like that.
I remember setting him up on a date with her, and then talking to Kyouya afterward. He knew exactly what was wrong; read right through me.
"By the way, about yesterday's date battle plan…Did you not consider the possibility feelings of love could develop from this?"
That's what he said. Yeah, Kyouya, I did. But I was trying to cover it up. I was just trying, for once, not to think about it. My reply was…empty, at best.
"It's still too early for that. Hikaru's an idiot."
Every little thing I tried to use to defend myself against this invasion was broken, undone, smashed. And I felt I had no choice but to push him farther and farther away.
There were moments of hope, despite this, where that little light would shine, however briefly. Halloween that year, Hikaru and I would have a great laugh later of how he was freaking out about getting separated from me, and how he go to thinking so much that he barely noticed that Haruhi had basically ended up on top of him with her boobs, however small they were, in his face. He'd gotten free, and he'd gone on a mad dash to find me.
"Well, if you're still running towards me in that situation, I guess things are still fine."
But how long could they stay that way? Broken, undone, smashed. Push, push, push. Farther and farther.
"But, when Hikaru notices that he wants to take another step forward…when that happens…what will I do?"
My little carriage fantasy was crushed, revived, and shot back down.
First, Tamaki proved that this wasn't his plan. He didn't make us a family to keep us together. In fact, Tamaki never quite knew what he was doing.
I later realized that this didn't matter.
It was coming up on time for the 43rd annual Ouran Festival when I saw it. The festival itself was nothing special, but what happened there was. I'm not sure if Hikaru knew about my fantasies, but I think I saw him smile at me that day, the way we smile at each other when we're hatching out a plan.
He drove in that day, on a carriage. I looked at Tamaki. He was riding in the carriage with Honey. Mori was helping Hikaru at the reigns. Kyouya and Haruhi were off by themselves, acting particularly unsociable. But, somehow, we all ended up in that carriage, together, just like in my dreams.
The events of the next few days were a very different story, and I'm not going to go into detail about them. But, what matters is that we almost lost Tamaki, and because of that, everything turned to pumpkins again. In fact, it was kind of ironic, because pumpkins are exactly what saved Hikaru from breaking more than his arm that day when he was thrown from the carriage trying to save our Tono-chan.
I was unsure what to think. Carriages, locks, and gates. Mannequins and statues and plants. They were all just fragile. All of them.
Just as fragile as the relationships between two people.
"What will I do?" I asked again.
I've been a bit misleading until now, I have to admit. I think it's my fascination with drama that I got from growing up with Hikaru all these years. It's more, now, the question of "What did I do?"
Or, perhaps, "What did Hikaru do?"
This is what.
"Haruhi," I heard my brother's voice say later that school year after Host Club activities had ended. We had been doing a Roman theme that day, and had just changed back into our uniforms. "Are you free tonight?"
I slid down the back of the column I was leaning against, and I could feel my cheeks flush.
"I…I guess so. I have some homework, but it's not too hard, so…"
I could imagine perfectly how Hikaru was beaming at that moment. It felt like I sank even further.
I saw Tamaki peek out from behind a column farther back, his cheeks just as flushed as mine, tears brimming at the corners of his eyes. I took a small look at the couple, too, and was surprised to find that my imagination had been a bit off. Hikaru had a hand behind his neck, and the toe of his boot was scuffing into the floor. Haruhi was giving him an expectant look, most likely knowing as well as I did what was coming.
I felt a presence looming over me, and I looked up to see that Tamaki had moved to my pillar for a closer look.
When Hikaru didn't say anything, Haruhi urged him along. "It's alright. You're trying to ask me out again, right?"
What a time she'd picked to be observant.
Tamaki and I both groaned.
"Well, sort of," said Hikaru.
I peeked around the pillar again. Sort of? What was that supposed to mean?
"Sort of?" Haruhi asked for me.
I was about to strangle him at this point. Couldn't he just get it over with?
"I wanted to ask you if you would go out on a date with…"
The silence was far too long.
"…Tamaki-senpai," Hikaru finally finished.
"What?" Haruhi asked, again voicing my thoughts.
"Listen, Tamaki really likes you, but he's too stupid to even notice it himself."
This was true. I looked up. Tamaki, above me, was standing there, dumbstruck, looking a bit like someone had shot him in the butt with an arrow.
"Tono was the one who let us meet you. He helped Kaoru and me when everybody else was too scared to talk to us, even if that's just because he's too stubborn to give up."
Haruhi giggled. Tamaki almost started to glow of his own accord, despite the fact that he'd just been insulted, too.
"Listen, we almost lost him and he's been going through a lot lately, and he deserves a chance at happiness," Hikaru continued, "and I'd like to see you be the one to give it to him."
Kyouya stepped out from behind another pillar, taking notes.
"What about you?" asked Haruhi to my twin.
Honey came from what seemed like nowhere and hid behind the column next to mine and Tamaki's, Mori not far behind.
"I'm dropping out. Haruhi, I like you. You could almost say I'm starting to learn to love you. But, dating you like that would mean giving up something that I don't know if I'll ever be able to give up."
"You and Kaoru are…"
Hikaru laughed, and at that moment, that laugh was the most wonderful sound in the world. "I don't know exactly what we are, but I'd rather even just have him as a brother than give him up to be with someone else."
The grin that I'd been letting creep onto my face was suddenly turned to a look of fear when Haruhi spoke next. "You know, we can see you," she said, looking towards our columns.
I stood and stepped out, giving my brother a questioning look. He gave me an echo of the grin I'd just had and simply said, "I'm not as stupid as you think," winking at the person behind me. I turned back to see Kyouya standing there with his clipboard.
I looked back and forth between the two, my jaw dropping.
Kyouya cracked a bit of a smirk.
Mori stepped out next, Honey on his shoulders. "Haru-chan! Are you and Tama-chan gonna go out?"
We all turned when we heard a squeak. Tamaki was the only one of us who hadn't come out from behind the columns. His eyes were wide, his cheeks tinged bright pink.
I remember Haruhi's smile. "So, Senpai, where do you want to go?" she asked, walking up to him and kneeling before him like a knight, taking his hand in hers. Tamaki blushed more, if that were possible, the pink darkening to red and radiating out until it covered his entire face and neck.
Hikaru nudged me in the ribs. I turned to look at him, and he motioned his head to the corner. We walked together away from the happy crowd, Kyouya watching us for a second before he turned back to the others.
"I think that was one of the most noble things you've ever done," I said, placing a hand on Hikaru's shoulder. When he snaked his arms around my waist, I tried to suppress the shiver that ran up my spine.
Hikaru's lips were next to my ear, and I must've looked a lot like Tamaki.
"I'm sorry," he whispered.
I rested my forehead on his shoulder. We stood like that for a long time, my hands around his back, my fingers running along the lines of his shoulder blades. "I thought I'd lost you."
"And now you've found me."
The rest of that didn't take words. All it took was my hands on his back, his fingers in my hair, and the slight brush of his lips on my ear.
Those three things, and we knew each other again, even better than before.
That day didn't only succeed in bringing me even closer to my brother, but the experience with Haruhi had an unexpected result.
It made us realize what we'd been overlooking our whole lives. When we had wanted to be told apart, it wasn't so that we could be seen as different people to the world like I had feared. We had been losing ourselves for years. Before Haruhi, something so small as a kiss was wracked with guilt. It was narcissism. It was nothing but kissing a mirror. After Haruhi finally saw past the reflections, a kiss became just that: a kiss between two people. Yes, we were brothers, but that was the world's problem, not ours.
After all, it was taboo, and isn't that what we always liked about it?
And then, even when the whole world was against us and the taboo wasn't so fun any more, we realized we had friends who supported us anyway.
We went back to our mannequin garden one day, years later, on our last day at Ouran High School. Hikaru and I sowed a seed each in our old garden, walked out, and locked the gates for good. If you were to go back there today, you would find nothing but a rusty gate overgrown with vines.
Everyone besides Haruhi, us, and Renge had graduated and moved on to start a Host Club division at the local university, and now we, too, were ready to pass on the torch of the Ouran High School Host club to the next year.
We had a lot ahead of us. We still do. Honey graduated first in his class and moved on with Mori at his side. Mori's studying history, but he's really hoping to one day open his own dojo, and Honey is studying culinary arts so that he can invent the "world's most tasty cake." He's minoring in math, too, and that's caused him to come up with some pretty interesting creations that none of us would have ever thought physically possible.
Kyouya and Tamaki graduated next, and Kyouya started out majoring in business. Nobody was particularly surprised at this. When we heard that he was planning on changing majors this year to art, however, we all couldn't help but to laugh at the irony. Tamaki is studying education, and wants to teach kindergarten.
When we moved, Haruhi got into our university's college of law, and Hikaru and I decided to study fashion design. We're hoping to take over Mom's business one day.
We all chipped in to get Haruhi to come with us. The amount? Eight million yen, exactly. We also paid for her dad to move to a better place. It's a good thing we got her to come, because we all decided to try and live on our own and move into the dorms.
Laundry and cleaning were interesting experiences. I think we all have more of a respect for commoner lifestyle now.
Tamaki, especially. He proposed to Haruhi last week, in fact, and I don't ever think I've seen her look more embarrassed.
Our Host Club here has a female division, too, that Renge started and now manages. We ran into Benibara-sama from the Zuka club one day. She was really angry because all of the rest of her group had gotten into a prestigious women's college, but she ended up here with men like us. She was especially mad to find out that we were here, and she joined our girl's division purely out of spite and is now competing with Tamaki to steal as many of his female princesses as she can.
Haruhi stayed in the male division with us, much to Tamaki's dismay. After all, that's why he'd encouraged Renge to start our sister club in the first place.
But I've gone on too long, and I guess that's all that's really important.
Thank you for listening.
Oh, and Hikaru, if you ever read this journal, I just want you to know that you are mine and I'm yours.
Forever, only you.