Title: Ports in a storm
By: ProlificP (which will change if my friends have an author alert on…)
Disclaimer: If I owned OuranHSHC, I wouldn't have had to write this, would I??
This is set a few years after they graduate, but it isn't really relevant to the story. Also, no pairings, which is a super surprise for me. The switch from past tense to present in the third paragraph is deliberate.A warning, I started the story with one idea and it changed as I wrote. I may fix these inconsistencies later, but I think they're quite small. And if you think of another title you think might fit this story, do tell.
The angry roar of thunder rudely invaded the homes of peaceful people. Stabs and flashes of light abounding, every window a web of tears, every second the harbinger of further torrential downpour- it was the worst storm the city had seen in years. No umbrella was a match for the raging winds and bullets of rain, nor newspaper, nor raincoat, and those that could stayed in the relative safety of their homes. On that gloomy night, the world seemed poised to plunge into a horror film, so dramatic was the effect of the squall. In that shared pall that blanketed the city, six handsome boys in their homes unknowingly shared their thoughts.
Tamaki, uncharacteristically silent, was posed on his window sill, facing the night through the barrier of glass. His hand slowly moved to rest on the window pane, splayed out against the cool substance, he stared past his reflection into the heart of his world. Haruhi was, as ever, foremost in his mind during thunderstorms. A girl not afraid of anything, and she trembled at the sound of something that could never hurt her. How could he not think of her? She kept calm, smiled often, kept silent. The phone never rang when lightning strikes hit too close to home, it just waited impassively, indifferent, as if the call would come but it would never reach him. His precious daughter.
It was strange how one girl, not even a fully ledged princess, had waltzed into their lives and made a family. Before Haruhi, there was no 'oka-san' or 'otou-san', no little brother Hunny and older brother Mori, no mischief making twin sons. There was the host club, a fellowship of men, brought together by one man's whimsical fancies, and lifelong friends. Now, there is a family. And Haruhi is the caretaker of them all, albeit unwilling.
Behind him in the dimmed glow of his room, the five portraits of every other host club member still hung on the wall, blinking with the flashes of light. Haruhi's had been added in the middle long ago, a portrait of her looking up from her studies to smile gently at the camera. Of course, that was before she realized she was smiling at a camera and not really Hunny. Most important was the portrait that hung over the mantelpiece, facing his bed. Haruhi had been to his room and, typical of the girl, had casually thrown out a rare insight; wasn't it odd that the portraits had everyone separated? As a family, Tamaki-senpai, shouldn't they all be together? So the largest, best, most prominent picture was their little family, smiling at the camera. The twins hung all over Haruhi mischievously trying to grope her, avoid the lord and keep their eyes on the camera all at once. Tamaki was shoving them away, trying to hold Haruhi and attempting to glare at the twins while looking at the camera. Kyouya was, naturally, making notes in his ledger, glasses flashing. Mori was halfway through lifting Haruhi to his shoulder after her plea for help, Hunny and Usa-chan flowering at them. In the end, Haruhi was in the center of all of them, looked stressed but happy, lifted off the ground with every member looking at her.
Hikaru lay on his front, hands supporting his head as he stared at the picture. Behind him on the bed, Kaoru worriedly observed the profile of his older brother. He waited, because that was what he did for his brother, and waited in the silence of understanding. It used to be that that silence was as alive with conversation between two interlinked minds as any meeting of the host club, now it was just silence veiling little. His brother was brooding, as he normally did when this happened.
It pained them both to think of Haruhi, too used to being by herself, cowering in the face of something she couldn't control. Like Hikaru, he felt the physical ache of wanting her sandwiched between them and safe – felt the ache of wanting her as tangled in the web of their world as they were, as enmeshed in each other. But they couldn't go unless she called them, wasn't that the rule? They couldn't go, why didn't she call?
He turned towards the portrait but it was not his host family that held his eye. Instead it was the two pictures on either side of it, pictures of Haruhi and Kaoru and Haruhi and Hikaru; the only pictures in the whole world where the twins weren't together. Graduation day, graduation day, graduation day when Hikaru had hugged his brother and then stepped away to hug Haruhi and made a memory of it. Of course, the less than bright older brother didn't quite see it that way. What is not me is Hikaru, what is not Hikaru is me. He smiled at the photos, what was not them was their family. What was with them…
"Ne, Kaoru" Hikaru finally spoke
"Haruhi…do you think she's scared?" his voice had studied curiosity, transparently devoid of concern.
"Hai" was his quiet response. "She's always been afraid during thunderstorms, and this is the worst in a long time"
"Is she an idiot or something?!" Hikaru sprung up, yelling. "Why can't she just call someone? Why does she have to deal with everything herself?"
"Hikaru…" he reached towards his brother, who batted him away. Hikaru clenched his fists at his side, looking about ready to cry.
"That idiot" he seethed. Breathing heavily, he moved to the window to look searchingly into the dark.
The inky curtain winked in the windows of the Haninozuka residence, alighting on the two boys playing shogi. A mound of sweet snacks and cakes took up most of the table, empty plates dusted with remains of high quality confections dallied about the table, waiting for the washing up after the cousins' quiet interlude.
"Ne, Takashi" Mori had directed his intense gaze towards the board.
"Ha" Mori looked at Hunny
"Are you thinking about Haru-chan?" Mori was silent "Because, that's the second time you've made a silly mistake" so saying, Hunny moved to checkmate "And you've cut your hand three times already" The small man glanced significantly at his taller counterpart's left hand with its three bandaged fingers, all mysteriously sliced by a kendo master when cutting cake when his left hand shouldn't have even been near it.
Mori was still silent, but he made no effort to reset the board.
"Mitskuni, your ice cream"
"Ah!" the melting glob vanished into Hunny's cavernous stomach, but he made no move to get more. In silent accord, the two turned to look at their younger brothers, collapsed together on the sofa and fast asleep after a grueling video game marathon. Satoshi, much to Chika's chagrin, had won and was hit repeatedly for his graceless refusal to accept defeat. Then he'd been beat up again for rudely refusing his older brother's offer of Usa-chan for comfort. He'd quickly hid his tears and re-challenged his Morinozuka counterpart until they'd fallen into an exhausted rest. The two older siblings felt the warmth of seeing their younger brothers so young and happy.
"Haru-chan must be trying not to be scared, right?" Hunny asked sadly
"Ah" Mori glanced towards the picture of the club that hung above the fireplace.
"I want to give her Usa-chan, then she'll feel better!" he wiggled in his chair, dying to jump out.
"Ah" they both looked at the phone. Hunny pouted and proceeded to attack the cakes.
"Eh?! Taka-niisan?" Mori looked at Satoshi who was slowly making his way over, bleary eyed, likely woken up by the particularly large clap of thunder.
"Go back to sleep, Satoshi" his younger brother continued to move towards him.
"Ne, onii-san, why aren't you and Hunny-senpai with Haruhi-senpai?" he asked innocently, then shrunk back at the dark aura emanating from his older brother and cousin. He twitched and touched his brother's arm "I'm sure she'll be fine, she has you, right, onii-san?" he smiled brightly, confident in his brother's capabilities, sparkling.
Mori ruffled his younger brother's head and Hunny rubbed his head against Satoshi's stomach with cries of 'so cute!'.
"I mean, you're such a good older brother!" Satoshi beamed. Chika squeaked from his comfortable ball of covers on the sofa as a clap of thunder woke him up. Hunny headed towards his brother to see if he was okay.
"Haruhi" Mori said her name and was silent.
Kyouya liked his silence. He didn't like annoying bangs and starts of sound, irregular flashes of light and his sister rearranging his clothes. He didn't like distractions. He hated even more not being able to put his finger on them. Looking up from his ledger and his notes from his last class he shot his best death glare at the window. Returning to his work, his conscious prickled with an ambiguous need and this time he growled at the rain.
"Aya, Kyouya-san" his sister, distracted from her latest bout of strewing his clothes around, was looking at him in concern "Is something bothering you?"
"Nothing at all" he forced himself to glare at his work instead and didn't so much as peek at his sister. The only person who didn't have to scheme to win her place in the Ootori household, Fuyumi had had the time to observe her brothers and her father. She knew her brother, even if he didn't want to be known. She'd comforted him when he bawled, changed his diapers once under the guidance of his nanny, and various other things that she didn't hesitate to bring up to take him down a peg or two. She cared and she noticed. She noticed that he seemed much too distracted to be her inhumanly focused younger brother.
"Ne, Fuyumi-neesan" Kyouya sweat dropped "Must you stare at me?"
"Ah!" Fuyumi banged a fist into her palm "Is it Tamaki?"
"I don't know what you mean"
"The person you're worried about" she inched closer
"I'm not worried about anyone" Kyouya pushed his glasses further up his nose and looked her in the eye
"Then why are you distracted?" she asked reasonably
"I'm not" he said calmly
"Oh?" she drew out the sound "Well then…" Kyouya's stomach dipped "what does this say?" His sister covered the book and waited expectantly.
"I just turned the page" he said smoothly
"Liar" Kyouya just blinked at her.
His eyes flicked towards the picture on his desk just as the next crack of thunder hit and his sister began to turn away. She put the book back and gave a small smile. Stepping over his clothes, she picked a path to the door.
"Ne, Kyouya-san" he looked at his sister "You shouldn't hold the phone so tight. It's better to just call" her words dripped with attempt at hidden meaning.
He dropped the cell phone he didn't know he'd been holding and flexed his fingers. There were indentations in his skin, clearly marking the essential little gadget.
The skies thundered and shook, the air swirled around the houses clothed in depression.
Haruhi was alone. Alone. Scared. Hiding. Whimpering. A meter away from a phone. Unable to dial. Proud. Crying. Haruhi. Cold. Shivering. Haruhi.
"Eek!" frightened out of her wits, a nightgown-swathed Haruhi leapt into Tamaki's arms and clung. Trusting, little Haruhi.
A dull roar shivered in the cold.
"Thank you, Hikaru" tired, exhausted from fear, held. She was happy to lean into him, her world was in her earphones and touch.
Less than a second of blinding overwhelming brightness.
"Don't worry, Kaoru, I'm sure Hikaru is fine" she touched his arm and then clutched it with a squeal of fear. She held tight, kept warm. "Hikaru…" she mumbled "…okay…" Still comforting, in fear.
A barrage of water continued its assault on the world.
"That's enough cake, Hunny-senpai" even as she ate a bit more and held Usa-chan. No, more, more. She didn't hear the storm over throwing up and Hunny patting her back with a smile.
The phones refused to ring in the face of the growing deluge.
"Thank you, Mori-senpai" his tall frame blocked out the storm and his hand held a plate of ootoro. He ruffled her hair as she dashed to the table and they stayed like that.
The picture flickered with memories in the firelight of the obsidian night.
"Kyouya-senpai, I didn't think you were this nice" she smiled in the dark silence, glad for the technology that could block out the world. "You really are pretending, right?" she chuckled "Don't worry, I won't tell anyone"
Haruhi was alone. Alone. Scared. Hiding. Whimpering. A meter away from a phone. Unable to dial. Proud. Crying. Haruhi. Cold. Shivering. Haruhi.
"Ah, everyone!" Haruhi greeted them with a smile "Hello"
The host club, damp and cold, stood outside her door, blinking at what had to be the wrong girl.
"AAH! WHERE'S MY DAUGHTER, WHO ARE YOU??" Tamaki shook the slender girl and the twins looked her over for signs that there had been a switch.
"Relax, Tamaki-senpai" she disengaged herself with annoyance, and he felt her hand tremble slightly with the crackle of thunder.
"Haruhi" he suddenly sounded lost "You didn't call any of us, so…"
"Ah, that." She looked away "Sorry, the phone lines were cut. Please, come in" she stepped back.
They dumbly trooped into her home. Where was the scared out of her wits Haruhi? The little girl afraid of the storm? They all jarred to a stop, bumping into one another, then peering around to find the cause. There on the table were seven mugs of hot chocolate.
"Sorry! They must be a little cold now" she scurried forward to warm them up again and stopped when Hikaru grabbed her wrist.
"Haruhi, you were expecting us?" everyone looked at her.
"Well, yes" she answered naturally "I didn't call any of you, so I knew you'd come. I thought I'd be ready"
"But how?!" Hikaru held her hand a little tighter.
"Well…" she thought for a bit "You two wouldn't call anyone so you'd come without knowing anyone else would, Hunny-senpai would want to give me Usa-chan, Mori-senpai goes with Hunny-senpai, Tamaki-senpai would have a drama fit and Kyouya-senpai…" his glasses flashed dangerously "…would have gotten a call from Tamaki-senpai" He smirked.
"Haru-chan, you weren't scared?" Hunny tugged on the hem of her shirt with tearful eyes at the thought of a suffering Haruhi.
"Like I said, I knew you were coming, right?" she contained a small squeak at the next sudden sound and suddenly all the members surrounded her. "Hey, wait, I have to warm the hot chocolate"
"Forget about that, Haruhi" Tamaki smiled gently and led her to the small table. She rested against her huddle of friends, tired from holding in her fear.
"Just rest" She had been so brave, all alone, her father at work and she couldn't call them. Perhaps, perhaps she really didn't need them at all. In the sad echoes of the unvoiced thought, Haruhi spoke
"Thank you" she mumbled "Drink…¥320…" They smiled at her sticking to her commoner sensibilities even through her haze.
She fell back against Mori, out cold. As he lifted her to put her in bed, the boys heard the muffled thunk of something metallic hitting the tatami mat. Kaoru bent to pick up the little rectangular frame that had fallen from her sweatshirt. The club had given it to Haruhi when she'd asked for the cheapest thing they could bear to get. Studded with little stones, heavy, silver and in the center smiling at the world in their joy was them. There was Haruhi, looking stressed but happy, lifted off the ground with every member looking at her. The frame was still warm from her body heat.
On that gloomy night, the world seemed poised to plunge into a horror film, so dramatic was the effect of the squall, and six boys had never felt so warm and peaceful. They all looked at the lean bundle, unconscious in Mori's arms, in awe - looked at the hands that held them as surely as she had in the picture frame. For the first time, Tamaki had no words, Hikaru no confusion, Kaoru looked only at Haruhi, Hunny dropped Usa-chan and Mori kissed her forehead. And for once, Kyouya had no ledger to make a note of it.
A/N- It's 7 PM and I'm going to be up until the sun rises doing the coursework that may determine whether or not I get into college but I couldn't stop myself from writing after almost two years of doing no fanfiction writing. God clearly hates me and I have no will power. TT
Please review, and try and give me constructive criticism? I didn't have the time to beta it and it was written without any planning in one shot.