Author: DreamCager

Rating: PG

Disclaimer: I believe in miracles but this one ain't ever gonna happen.

Problems: I don't know what Kasanoda's underlings call him. Isn't it 'waka'? I feel like I should know, but all I do know for sure is it isn't 'obocchama,' but basically means the same thing. Sad. Also, OOCness. I know, most of you say I'm not straying from the characterization that's already been laid out for them, but I must always make the pitch. Also, my writing class has taught me so much this semester I feel like my style may change. Not for this chapter, but for later ones I can assure you. I had a lot of bad mistakes that no one (I'm sure you were trying to be polite) pointed out, and I'm too lazy to fix them right now, but I'll address them in later chapters. No fear.

Notes: This is late. Late. Late-late. For real, it's LATE. Sorry, my excuse is in the ending notes, so please consider that after reading. So, anyway, leave a review. A small one, or a big one, but I like good reviews. You know what I mean.

The Broken Path

Chapter 16

House of Cards

~ " I sense there's something in the wind ~

~ "That feels like tragedy is at hand..." ~

~ The Nightmare Before Christmas Soundtrack, Sally's Song

Together. They wanted to be together. At first, they wanted to be together just the two of them. Then they wanted to be together with just the five of them. Then, they weren't sure who they wanted to be together with--but they never wanted to lose that feeling. No matter who, they still wanted to be together. Together meant never separating. Together meant never apart. Together was oxygen and water--the only sentiment that the twins totally and wholeheartedly agreed with.

Anything less was unbearable.

Waves--it began like waves and rippled along the crowded hall. The girls were still chatting up a storm when Haruhi and Kaoru returned to the ballroom, announcing that they were now officially a couple. Haruhi wasn't blushing anymore, but she stood quietly, almost aloof to everyone else's excitement. However, deep down, she felt embarrassed by it. Embarrassed, but also secretly elated along with other feelings that were so foreign to her she could not recognize them... not that she would ever own up to such a thing. Kaoru was quite calm as well, but his agreeableness towards the situation was obvious in the way his eyes shone when he regarded Haruhi. Indeed, his gladness shone in a way that it made all eyes center on him, though Haruhi was on display just next to him.

"I would just like to make plain," Kaoru began, once he had at least a small portion of their clients' attention, "that mine and Haruhi's relationship will not in any way alter the current situation of hosts. Haruhi will continue to serve alone and I will remain with Hikaru. I believe we are all too set in our ways now, with less than two semesters before graduation, and we do not wish to cut any of your dear dreams short."

"Yes," Haruhi piped up suddenly, her serious voice commanding more attention than even the current president's. "We both believe it to be for the best to leave all as is. So please, let us finish tonight together as the same hosts you've always known."

She smiled at everyone and melted a few hearts.

"Every moment spent with you is precious to us, your hosts of Ouran High School."

The girls, touched by the sincerity and gentleness they saw in Haruhi's eyes, all let out sighs of relief and awe, though a few seemed a little saddened this new development wouldn't be added to the hosts' regular repertoire. Still, the overall acceptance won out in the end.

Kaoru's heart felt light even as he parted ways with his beloved and made back towards Hikaru, who grinned at his twin's obvious rapture, and oddly there was not the slightest bit of jealousy or chagrin in the older twin's face. Everything seemed so much more pleasant. Life was good. So why shouldn't Kaoru be happy? Haruhi had agreed, Hikaru approved, and the clients had been appeased and delighted by the events--what could be better? Kaoru should have been asking, what was still going wrong?

In the corner of the room, Shiro struck a sour note.


This week's fifth untouched bowl of miso soup nearly went flying as Tetsuya jumped while clearing his young master's breakfast tray and a sudden scream filled the air. After more than two years of service one would think Tetsuya would be used to the other young man's strange habit of crying out when he was troubled, but recently he had been so good about controlling himself that Tetsuya once again found it alarming, even though all the signs were commonplace. Kasanoda Ritsu hadn't been going to school for days now, he had barely touched his breakfast, or any other food for that matter, since he had stopped going to class, and now he was crying out in anguish. Something was bothering the Kasanoda heir.

"W-waka...?" Tetsuya questioned as he opened the sliding door silently, half-hoping his master wouldn't notice him... even if he knew Ritsu's true nature to be nothing more than a gentle if scary teddy bear. He needn't have worried--when in a panic, Kasanoda Ritsu never noticed anything.

Tetsuya could barely make out his young master's form huddled in a dark corner of his room. He was unable to see, but he could easily imagine what it would look like--the young Kasanoda with his head clutched in his hands, his face slightly flushed and scarier-looking than normal as he muttered something completely incomprehensible to no one in particular. If he strained his ears, the young servant could make out the troubled mutterings.

"But I was so sure... it's affection from another guy...." The breaks in his speech could have been moments of thought but the words still didn't seem to fit. "So what if they're going out... I still can't... It's wrong... But... how... Maybe, the rosemary was... or too hot, but still... "

Tetsuya was about to give up on his master's ranting when something everyone knew to be a great emotion strain on Ritsu reached his ear. The word Fujioka.

Fujioka Haruhi? thought the concerned servant, moving away from the door and closing it slowly, sadness also apparent on his face. Why doesn't waka come to us about his problems concerning Fujioka? He knows we all would like to help but...

Tetsuya forced his thoughts to stop there. He knew it was his master's prerogative to come to his underlings about his feelings, and he often did now, but all things concerning Haruhi were always kept inside despite all their willingness to help.

It's not that Kasanoda Ritsu did not trust his underlings, though maybe his real problem was he remained in the dark as to how to confide in them. Nonetheless, Tetsuya was not wrong in thinking Ritsu would never have gone to them concerning Haruhi. There was only one person he would go to, but it wasn't either one of the two people he should be going to.

When the red-haired senior opened the door to the third music room and peeked in it wasn't a surprise that all present club members made a beeline for the door; all except for the cold Shiro. He remained at his piano straightening his music. Never very good with the mismatched crowd of hosts hovering so near to him, the yakuza heir was at a loss for words through much of the interrogation.

"Where have you been, Kasanoda-sempai! The customers have missed you!"

"Bossa Nova-kun, what were you thinking?"

"W...well...," word failed the shy senior and his resolve, whatever may have been there to begin with, now cracked and faltered all the more.

"You all bully Casanova-kun too much. Daijoubu, Casanova-kun?"

"Don't go easy on him, Haruhi! Do you know what trouble you caused us?"

"Ma ma, Hikaru. Let's at least let him have some air."


"Ano..." He tried at least once more for their attention.

"Don't be so stubborn, Hikaru."

"But I sort of agree with him."


"Not to be cruel, but Onii-chan has strictly specified that any member who fails to report in for hosting must be made to pay the penalty."

"Ma... mina..." It seemed like his voice was shrinking.

"Well... I guess I can allow that."


"Don't be mad, Haruhi! I like penalty games."

"I-I-I... I just..."

A sudden, breaking sound shocked them all into attention, their heads turning as one to look behind them to the lone boy who stood near his piano, his hands pressed haphazardly upon the range of keys. Shiro still didn't look their way, but his voice rang out clear in the abrupt silence following his disturbance.

"Just let him have his say, all right?" The boy, his face turned, but his profile signaling him to be rather annoyed, sighed. "You don't even give the guy a chance to breathe. Quit smothering him!"

Almost guiltily, the hosts all turned to their red-haired friend and regarded him intently, allowing him the chance to say his piece. Even Hikaru had the decency to look tolerant while still pissed. Glad for their attention, but also still very shy, Kasanoda's cheeks clung to the pinkish hue they seemed to inevitably wear whenever he spoke. Calming himself, he tried to gather his thoughts.

"Um, well, that is... Fuji--I mean, Kaoru, I...." and words failed him completely, his mouth remaining open while a lot of nothing filled the air.

"Oooh... I see," both Hitachiins sang out when realization hit. Honestly, they were a bit stricken to figure it out so late.

"Hmm, what is it?" asked Haruhi, innocent as ever.

"Oh, boy," muttered Reiji in a soft tone, removing his glasses and covering his face with his free hand. "This is not going to be pretty."

"What's not?"

"Haruhi!" Kasanoda seemed to have recovered a bit and now, with what little strength he had, was doing his best not to get his heart ripped into shreds again. "Haruhi, I know this is a horrible thing for a friend to do..."

He looked up at the hovering twins, and in their eyes he found some anger and some pity, as well as a good dose of fear from Kaoru.

"Kaoru, I need to apologize to you, too, because I wish to ask you both... please..." his wild eyes darted to Haruhi and back to the Hitachiins before back down to Haruhi again, then he bowed swiftly, bending low at the waist.

"Please, reconsider!"

And the world stood still for about 15 seconds...

"Eh?" Haruhi was the first to make a sound.

She cocked her head to the side, her large eyes even bigger as she failed to comprehend the situation. Before them all, the bowed form of Kasanoda began to shake slightly.

"You know, Fujioka-sempai," sighed Reiji, replacing his glasses and frowning, "you sure are dense... for someone so intelligent."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Haruhi asked just as perplexed as ever.

"It means that you've never been able to tell when someone has had a crush on you," was her kouhai's blunt answer.


Reiji, Hikaru, and Kaoru all nearly fell over in shock. Trembling, the Hitachiin twins had to look away, whether out of pity or something else was still uncertain. Kasanoda's still-bent frame seemed to stiffen even more. Reiji sighed.

"Fujioka-sempai, what Kasanoda-sempai has been trying to get across to you for a long time is that he cares. To make it very plain and simple for you--he likes you."

"Ah--" A hand came up to Haruhi's mouth and her attention snapped back to her bowing friend quicker than a flash.

Offering her own bow, Haruhi flushed and apologized. "I-I'm sorry!"

Kasanoda looked up after a long moment, but was greeted with only the sight of Haruhi's bowed head. Eyes darkening, he stood up rigidly and shuffled towards the dressing room. When Reiji began to call out to him, the older boy, his voice deeper than normal, cut him off mid-sentence.

"I need a moment alone."

The sound of the door closing seemed to last an eternity. Finally, Haruhi lifted her head up, straightening slowly. She remained facing the music room's entrance so Hikaru and Reiji took this as a sign that she needed some alone time as well. Kaoru remained where he was at her side.

"I had no idea," Haruhi said at length, her voice shallow.

"I feel like I've watched this scene play out before," Kaoru chuckled hesitantly, feeling cold all over.

To his surprise, Haruhi turned to him and clutched the front of his vest. She didn't hug him, cling to him, or sob. She merely crushed the fabric in his hands, allowing her knuckles to go white. It was the most emotion she could show at a time like this. Even when she looked up into his eyes, Kaoru could not detect a single tear or any wetness in her large, chocolate irises. Only an overwhelming pity and pain.

"It's not the same as before, though. It's not the same."

"No," Kaoru agreed, placing his hands over Haruhi's, coveting some comfort from them. "It's not the same at all."

To be continued...

Author's Notes: Deepest and most profound apologies to you all for the long wait. I'm not apologizing because it took me so long to write--this chapter was not very long to write at all--but for the extended period of time where I continued to think I needed to add MORE to this chapter, scrapping and raking over my brain to find a way to keep it going. I swear, this whole chapter was done to this point over three months ago, but I was so sure it was missing something. Sorry for not seeing the light. This chapter ends sadly, but please don't be too sad or depressed. I plan on making lots of smiles!

It's been so long... I don't know where to begin with notes..... Blargh, well, maybe I'll skip them. You can ask me questions in reviews if you have any, but I may be a little bit getting back to you. I'm not in good, emotional shape to work with this.

I did get volume 11, by the way, so this story is pretty much obsolete, but I'll keep writing it. Just... very slowly.... no, hopefully not slowly. I will say this: I always knew Kaoru had the most balls of all the hosts. Tee-hee, that sounds funny coming from me, but it's pretty much true. I don't think I've been wrong with my portrayal of Kaoru as far as the circumstances surrounding him in my story, but Hatori's was definitely authentic. It's just... if Hikaru hadn't made that 'adoption' joke.... but yeah, that's not important.

Anyway, please r 'n r, as they say. I'm pretty tired, I think my writer's brain is rusted and dull from not writing in this story for so long. It's becoming hard to write period. But I don't want to give up--that's just not me. Signing off for now, D.C.