Happy Birthday, Kyouya!

by huamulan03

disclaimer I don't own Ouran Koukou Host Club, much as I'd like to. Hatori Bisco-sensei does. Don't own the other anime/manga "guest stars" either.

warnings Probable OOC, un-beta'ed, heading towards an eventual Kyouya x Haruhi

How can one girl be so damn intriguing?

The third heir to an extremely lucrative health care business asked himself this question a trifle irritably as he drew another line across something written in his binder. The line, like the seven that preceded it (which denoted an equal number of months), retained the near straightness of the previous ones; he considered it proof that he could still manage the wayward thoughts one female produced in him. And this testament to his relatively intact control was something for which to be thankful, he decided.

Beside the seventh percentage figure he'd just ruled out, he wrote down a new, double-digit number. He hesitated over revising, upwards, the rest of his projections. The incremental increases in her designations simply refused to follow the reasonable progression he'd reckoned; he'd probably end up crossing out his revised estimates anyway. Case in point: he'd forecast that at this juncture in her host career, growth would level out. Yet look at what was happening--the number of her new clients continued to increase, much to his aggrieved surprise.

What was it about her that made people gravitate towards her, irrespective of gender?

Were he already the CEO of his father's flagship company and these were the quarterly earnings growth figures, he would've been ecstatic. Were he after a speedier settlement of her obligation, he would've been over the moon. But they weren't and he wasn't. These numbers in their place told an unacceptable story: a quicker repayment schedule than what he'd planned.

"Oh, Haruhi-kun! So does that mean the supermarket has a sale everyday?" He overheard one of her three clients that afternoon inquire as his hand started scribbling again. He stopped himself from looking at her and her customers directly, instead straining to hear her softly-spoken negation.

Damn, he swore under his breath and not because of whatever qualified reply she had made. In the nanoseconds he'd been... not eavesdropping, never that, a quick calculation of the interest the Club could have been earned from her "loan" principal had appeared on the notebook he held. The calculator he usually carried for show, sometimes for emphasis, had become superfluous yet again.

This time, he drew X's on the lined paper and they were heavy-handed.

There was nothing to be gained from calculating the purely hypothetical figure, he told himself. The other members of the Host Club would never agree to saddling her with--he peered down at the crossed-out amount--a usurious twelve and a half percent on top of her five million plus debt. That baka Tamaki, especially, would never green-light it, regardless of any explanations that the higher her debt, the longer it would take for her to repay it, thus, the longer her stay with the Host Club would be. Not to mention the debtor in question's more than probable, defiant rebuttal that even commercial loans in Japan only charged two percent per annum, so what the hell did he think he was doing, demanding more than six-fold?

It is excessive, he conceded and rejected the counterproductive idea. The principle of it would surely push her over the edge. Not only was there nothing to gain by taking the interest route, there was actually much--too much--to lose. He only wanted to prolong her literal indebtedness to the Host Club, not anger and frustrate her enough to walk.

The low tap, tap, tap of Waterman pen on notebook paper alerted him to an uncustomary fidgeting. He willed himself to stillness, absently noting that regaining his composure these days seemed to have grown harder. Deciding to shelve the Haruhi problem for tackling another day, he snapped his notebook shut and let his eyes wander the length and breadth of the pleasantly heated main salon of the third music room. Like her and unlike him, the rest of the popular Ouran hosts were busy entertaining clients. He observed Tamaki in a grey jacket, white T-shirt, blue jeans, and sneakers (anime being the cosplay theme that mid November day) crouching in front of the princess who'd designated him and hanging on to her words as though she were Chesa to his Kiba. The number one host was totally absorbed in the moment.

While it was true that he had envied Tamaki his position as the crown prince of the Suou zaibatsu, he had never before desired to possess Tamaki's ability to forget his problems when engrossed with what (or who) was currently in front of him, he mused as he watched Tamaki kiss the hand of his customer, effectively sending the older girl into rhapsodies. Before being the operative word, he acknowledged. Now he found himself wanting even just a smidgeon of Tamaki obliviousness, even temporarily. He knew that Tamaki also worried about the limited amount of time he could spend with Haruhi; his bestfriend privately complained about it, seemingly endlessly, to him. Though he, Kyouya, should really be the one to gripe, he thought. He was the one left with an even smaller portion of the pie than Tamaki. He would never admit it, though, either to himself or his friend. Willpower and intelligence he had in plenty, and he would use these qualities to their fullest extent to get what he wanted. Additionally, there was something only he could do (and Tamaki could not)--a luxury afforded only him as the real power behind the Host Club: slashing his client list by ninety percent. In so doing, he freed up more time for observation and plotting.

"I will protect you! Even at the expense of my own life!" He heard Tamaki dramatically gritting out to his customer who then proceeded to faint equally dramatically. Kyouya subdued the urge to roll his eyes. Tamaki in normal mode was already ridiculous; Tamaki in cosplay character was... preposterous, to put it diplomatically.

Though if it were Haruhi, he reflected with a smirk, she wouldn't hold her punches. Which was why the Host Club king tended to mope in a corner with extravagant regularity.

"If you want peace, be prepared for war."

One of the twins, Hikaru, was also seriously in character, Kyouya noted. In dyed-black hair, a red military uniform with a badge that spelled ZAFT and trousers tucked into black-tipped white boots, Hikaru made his ace pilot character come to life. He saw Hikaru placing the protective eye gear he'd just taken off on to his patron before wrapping her hands around a pistol and encouraging her to aim at a target set up in a far corner of the room. In his peripheral vision, he saw Haruhi wincing as Hikaru flipped the safety off the firearm.

I sincerely hope that gun is not loaded, Kyouya thought before gazing away from the elder Hitachiin. Surprisingly, Hikaru's younger brother was nearer, distance-wise, to him than to his twin. Kaoru, wearing an elaborate ceremonial silver and gold robe, with a mitre atop flowing silver locks and holding a sceptre in one hand, was grandly sweeping across the salon with his princess in tow.

"You may call me Alessandro." Kyouya made out the invitation Kaoru whispered into his client's ear, as well as her, "Oh, Exaltedness, I simply couldn't!" response.

"Why not?" He saw Kaoru bring his face closer to his customer's which made her stumble and fall into Kaoru's waiting arms. A quick glance at Hikaru confirmed his suspicion; the elder Hitachiin was regarding his brother with narrowed eyes. Maybe we should have brainstormed some more for anime characters who are twins, Kyouya mused, so that Hikaru and Kaoru can role-play together. A jealous Hikaru was never a pretty sight to see... or not, he amended, seeing the twincest fans swooning and Haruhi sighing as though relieved that some sort of showdown was averted. Kyouya assumed it was because Kaoru had somehow warned off Hikaru.

He was proven correct. Kaoru had righted himself and his princess and was currently holding out a hand towards Hikaru. The act inspired another spate of tickled pink squeals from the forbidden brotherly love fans.

The loud kyaaa's of the Hikaru x Kaoru supporters, however, didn't manage to drown out the delighted cries of the customers who regularly designated Hani-senpai and Mori-senpai. As he regarded the pair, they seemed somehow... surreal to his mind. Especially as they were together. In their current costume, their characters were so mismatched, they didn't belong in the same room, never mind the same world. It wasn't because of Hani-senpai's anime character, which wasn't that much of a deviation from his conventional persona to begin with: their senior was playing a character cursed to turn into one of the Chinese zodiac animals, a rabbit, to be exact, when hugged by a member of the opposite sex. He saw Hani-senpai getting into his role, delivering his lines--in German--flawlessly and letting himself get caught in a clinch by a customer. After a few seconds, scampering away, but not before slipping his toy bunny in the senior student's embrace in his stead. He radiated "cute," amply helped by his costume: a blue and white-trimmed sailor suit, with a cap perched jauntily on his blonde head. Hani-senpai looked normal.

No, it was because of the character Mori-senpai was role-playing. The tall senior had fantasy adventurer-type bracers on his wrists and pointy ears glued to his real ones. The fact that he was wearing a tight, tight, tight black halter top probably accounted for the increased number of customers congregating around him. But the entire get-up just didn't match his cousin's which made them being together... bizarre.

Sometimes, even the Host Club could weird themselves out, he acknowledged. He was about to push his glasses further up the bridge of his nose, only to stop with hand in mid-air. He wasn't wearing his wire-rimmed specs; he was wearing blue contacts because of his cosplay character. He directed a glare at Tamaki, the twins, and even Mori-senpai and Hani-senpai who had, to a man, decided that Kyouya had to play this particular role.

And she hadn't helped any. All she had offered had been what he hoped was a non-malicious, "Who's that?" when informed of the character reserved for him.

He eyed her and her next batch of customers sourly. There's a set-up that beats Hani-senpai as Souma Momiji and Mori-senpai as Oboro hands down in sheer weirdness. Granted, her clients didn't know that the host they were staring at with besotted, sparkling eyes was not the bishounen they thought she was, but couldn't they, with all their riches, buy a clue? It was obvious as hell to him, had been so from the time she'd accidentally blundered into their domain, looking like the pathetic nerd Tamaki took her for. She was a girl who passed herself off as a boy. And now she was currently cosplaying a girl. He shook his head as though to right his world, conveniently forgetting that hiding her gender made possible her stint as an Ouran host.

He found himself wishing that the twins hadn't dyed her short hair brown; he actually liked the midnight blue highlights of her black hair when the ambient light hit it just right. She was serving the five girls from Class 1B tea, and gracefully at that, despite the overly casual, white, green and blue-trimmed jogging suit she had on as the track and field athlete her anime character was supposed to be. She was pouring for one of them: seeing for whom it was meant, his mind supplied the kind (Earl Grey) and the client's preference (only to be served in Wedgwood).

It's too bad that she's a natural host, he grumbled, watching her easily conversing with her customers. If she had remained a go-fer, her loan amortization would have gone at a slower pace. At the rate she was going now, her debt was going to be cleared even before he and Tamaki graduated. If only she was bit more klutzy, he sighed. He could've used her clumsiness to the Host Club's advantage.

It would be more advisable to think of better ways to ensure her continued stay with the Host Club, he reiterated, shifting in the tight leather pants he had on. Ways that did not include charging rent on the costumes she used (Tamaki had shot down that suggestion, too) or offering her the auction proceeds off whatever personal possession she had that the mischievous twins had gotten their hands on or tempting her with platters upon platters of ootoro.

Because at the end of the day, if he didn't think of a way that would keep her beholden to the Host Club, who would?

His cell phone rang. Seeing the caller ID, he immediately picked up, welcoming the respite from the unproductive circle upon which his thoughts seemed bent.

"Yes, Fuyumi-neesan?"

"Kyouya-san? My apologies for calling you at school, are you very busy?"

"Never too busy for you," he lied, ceasing his observation of the problematic host, in the middle of a tug of war between the Hitachiin twins. When did those two dump their clients? "What is this phone call in aid of?"

His sister paused before launching hurriedly, "You remember the Balinese statue Otoo-san gave me last year?"

He remembered it. Ayu, it was called simply. It had been bought during a family holiday to Europe. "What about it?"

"Well, I was redecorating..." Oh, no, he thought, imagining the worst kind of havoc she'd most likely created. Neatness was not her forte. "I finally decided to decorate all the rooms in a Japanese style..." she continued and he hmm'd his approval. Not only because her plan might actually work, considering her house had been designed by a well-known minimalist architect with a bent for Zen, but also because Tamaki had come to extricate Haruhi from Hikaru and Kaoru's clutches.

"And since you've always liked it--I know you have a soft spot for Bali--" That he did, to the extent that he'd schemed to have it become a Host Club cosplay theme last spring. "I thought--maybe you'd like to have it?"

Be still, my heart, he admonished the life-giving organ in his chest which had leapt, cliché-like, at the thought. The artwork that had caused the unusual heart-throb depicted a young Balinese dancer. Unlike the other figurines, it was not even a limited edition--it was the only one of its kind. Kyouya and his family had been told by the gallery owner that Ayu had been modeled after the young girl the artist fell in love with while vacationing in Bali with his wife. As the cause of that marriage's near break-up, the artist had decided to put the figurine up for sale. Kyouya had been captivated by the gracefulness of the figure's fluid lines and the understated beauty the artist had captured with such love-addled genius. He had been so taken with it , in fact, that he had found himself actively coveting the figurine; he actually had to clench his fists in order to stop himself from caressing the porcelain Ayu's face, to assure himself of its reality. But upon seeing his father regarding him keenly (he had been schooled to never show emotion), Kyouya had suggested instead that they buy it for Fuyumi-neesan as a memento of the trip. His father had looked at him for several long seconds--he had slapped down any untoward signs that would betray him--before ordering the artwork shipped to Tokyo. His father had had to pay a hefty premium for the privilege. As he watched the piece of art being packaged, Kyouya had felt a sense of loss unlike any he had ever felt and resigned himself to a sorry fate of drooling over Ayu whenever he visited his sister.

"Yes. I want it," he declared simply, soberly, in sharp contrast to a very strong need to rub his hands in glee. "Thank you, we can use it at the Host Club," he continued. "I'll send someone over right now to collect it from you."

"Oh." His sister sounded slightly downcast. "I thought you would want to get it yourself."

"I would like to except I'm busy," he explained as gears continued to turn in his mind. "We'll see each other on November 22nd."

She uttered a lady-like squeak. "That's right! Umm, do you want anything special? For your birthday?"

He smiled. "You already gave me something, Fuyumi-neesan." A very useful something, he qualified inwardly. "See you soon." With that, he excused himself. After hanging up, he dialed the cell phone number of his driver and instructed him to pick up the figurine and bring it back to Ouran.

"Someone will accompany you, Matsui-san. Please wait for her." So what if it smacked of obvious Machiavellian manipulation, Kyouya dismissed. It was a way out of the problem besetting him and he had been fast running out of options.

"Haruhi."

"Yes, Kyouya-senpai?" He saw that she just barely suppressed the impulse to goggle (again) at the black leather jacket and pants that his anime character had to wear. He forced down the uncharacteristic twinge of embarrassment posing as a rock star god of an improbably named band (Aucifer? What's that?) brought.

"Kyouya-senpai?" She repeated, looking quizzical. He shrugged off the jacket, revealing a tight black T-shirt that threw even Mori-senpai's black halter into shame. And if this plan works out, I'll have more than enough time to persuade her to drop the "senpai."

"I need you to run an errand for me."

After much protest from Tamaki--that Haruhi was not Kyouya's personal minion being one, Haruhi went to meet the Ootori chauffeur at the academy's front entrance. He watched her leave, careful not to reveal any signs of un-Kyouya-like excitement.

It's just a sculpture. An inanimate object, he told himself.

It can be replaced.

That artwork is worth millions, Haruhi, and personally priceless to me. Knowing my sister, she probably wouldn't have packed it properly. Please take good care of it.

When you arrive back at the school, please make sure the figurine gets dropped, Matsui-san.

Haruhi had promised to treat the sculpture like the valuable piece of art it was; his driver hadn't questioned his surprising directive.

And while he would mourn the loss of such a beautiful thing that had touched him at gut level, he had something to replace it. Something infinitely more precious.

Now that's an early birthday present to myself that beats all birthday presents, he thought and allowed himself a small smile of satisfaction.

--OWARI--

Please review? I know it's not great, but it wouldn't leave me alone so I had to write it (please be gentle?) Arigatou gozaimuchness

November 22 is Kyouya's birthday according to the profile made by Hatori Bisco-sensei (manga volume 4).

Oh, the anime characters the Host Club plays here are characters that their seiyuus (voice actors) also played

- Alessandro XVIII in Trinity Blood was played by Fujita Yoshinori-san (Kaoru's voice actor).

- Kanzaki Hitomi from The Vision of Escaflowne (as you prolly know) was the debut role of Sakamoto Maaya-san (Haruhi's seiyuu)

- Kiba from Wolf's Rain was voiced by Miyano Mamoru-san (Tamaki's voice actor). Additionally, Wolf's Rain was also animated by Bones, the same studio that produced Ouran Koukou Host Club.

- Oboro from Utawarerumono was played by Kirii Daisuke-san (Mori's voice actor)

- Ookochi Sakuya from the Kaikan Phrase anime was played by Matsukaze Masaya-san (Kyouya's voice actor)

- Shinn Asuka from Mobile Suit Gundam SEED DESTINY was played by Suzumura Ken'ichi-san (Hikaru's voice actor)

- Souma Momiji in the Fruits Basket anime was played by Saito Ayaka-san (Hani's seiyuu)

Thank you to the people who posted pictures of the above characters which served as my reference.

I don't follow Utawarerumono, haven't finished Trinity Blood, and didn't see Kaikan Phrase (only read the manga) so please excuse any mistakes I may have inadvertently made with their characters. Thank you again.