Caffeinated Beginnings: A Not-So-Obvious-Romance
A/N: Oy, I finished! Aren't you guys just so proud of me? Endings are tough, simply because you have all that anticipation building up from the readers. An ending can make or break a story, really.
Thank you all who have reviewed this last chapter: sakuraichigo, patback409, cutiececile, -'Kumori-Koi-Chan'-, DSchan, myrrdinowl, Angelgreen65, o0xXxGaMe SeT aNd MaTcHxXx0o, Lady Cecilia Rose, thank you so much for your lovely comments! They spur me on, really they do.
I hope you all like this last installment of Caffeinated Beginnings. I know I had fun writing it. There are some sugary sweet moments, some moments of anger, some moments of frustration, and even some moments of bewilderment. All in all, I hope it meets your needs for some good Kaoru and Haruhi lovin'.
My only request is that for those of you who have the time or energy, if you could please send a review, that would truly make my day. I love those reviews that give specifics on what worked and what didn't, it only helps my writing in the long run. I've had enough constructive criticism in the past that anything apart from unnecessary flaming will not offend me.
That said, please enjoy the finale of Caffeinated Beginnings!
Part V: In Which There Are Jealous Boyfriends
Second trimester was well underway, much to many Ouran students' displeasure. The summer sun began setting earlier and earlier, the fall settling in and leaves drying up all around campus. The host club took this opportunity to use the gloom of the upcoming winter months and turn it into something anticipatory, starting off with a few tropical paradise events as per tradition, and moving on to autumn events such as carving pumpkins with favorite hosts. Kyoya made a bit of a profit on the side for the club, by selling their respective carved creations to girls who didn't mind the fact that the pumpkins would be rotten within a few weeks. Haruhi's were especially popular, most of the girls thought her disastrous attempts at art to be endearing and earnest.
Tamaki spent a lot of his time being the perfect host king to his customers, this being his second to last trimester before graduation. He was determined to go down in history as the most renowned leader of the club, no matter the fact that he was so far the only leader. The host club let him do his thing, as many of the ideas he got in his head made little sense anyways. Their only objection was for Tamaki to quit insisting on ridiculous cosplay events such as dressing up as scarecrows. Even Renge pulled the plug on that idea, and she normally went along with Tamaki's outrageousness. But then again, Renge's idea of fishermen battling out the tropical typhoons that came in autumn (complete with fans blowing water in every direction) was also vetoed.
Kyoya had the idea of moon viewings, a typical event that took place in September. It placated Tamaki in that it was a traditional Japanese activity, and excited Renge with all the romantic possibilities. Kyoya always did have the best ideas. Of course, his inspiration was pure profit, which was a powerful motivator. Many of the girls signed up for their viewings which took place at least once a week throughout the month, set in one of the more secluded gardens on campus. Tamaki insisted on carriages that picked up their customers from their individual homes to take them back to the school when evening fell.
Surprisingly, Tamaki named Chika as his successor in leading the host club once he and Kyoya were gone. No one had been expecting this, least of all, Chika. It made sense to the rest of them; however, once they sat down to think. It wouldn't do to have both of the twins on the throne, and it made less sense to have one over the other as the king. Haruhi had little to no motivation to keep the host club alive with excitement, her very apathetic personality testified to that. Out of the two first years, Chika was the one who had the brains like Kyoya and intensity that rivaled Tamaki's to fulfill both of their roles as host club head. Satoshi was a more willing host, for sure; however he was more content in being Chika's motivator. He had come from a long line of followers to the Hanninozuka clan.
Chika absolutely refused the offer, of course. At least, until Satoshi "persuaded" him to agree.
Besides, after several months, Chika was starting to get used to the showy atmosphere surrounding the host club. It was a nice change from his Karate club anyways. Sometimes he could almost see why Hunni had spent so much time with this whimsical cast of men (and women). But that was on rare occasions. He still thought his elder brother was an alien.
The twins didn't mind their non-promotion in the least. Kaoru was happy going along with everyone else's antics, and Hikaru didn't have the attention span to micromanage every event like Kyoya did. They promised to still keep the website up and running; however Hikaru decided to also take on the role of "costume designer". He partnered with Daidouji a lot, inventing new and even more outlandish ways of dressing the rest of the club members up. He began training with associates of his mother on the side, learning the high-fashion trade and incorporating it into his outfits. With all that Daidouji was doing to help, Tamaki declared her to be an official member of the club. She even got a few customers herself, both male and female alike.
Kaoru didn't mind letting Hikaru take the lead in the host club cosplay. He preferred to go the more traditional route in his career plans, and was already looking into colleges of fashion design to apply to next year. It was strange to him, but the females who came into the host club every afternoon began looking less and less for their "brotherly love" act and more for the general banter Hikaru and Kaoru managed to keep up. Several weeks into the second trimester and Kaoru was shocked to find that he got his own individual designations one afternoon, without Hikaru. The younger Hiitachin wasn't sure whether he was prepared for that, but he had always assumed that it would happen eventually. The little family Tamaki had made of them was long gone, this year being a year of change for all of them as individuals, not as a group. That phase had already passed.
Instead of spending ninety percent of his time with his twin, Kaoru let Hikaru bond with Daidouji in peace. He sought out Haruhi most of the time, using her as his doll when he wanted to practice his own fashion design. Haruhi didn't mind as much as she used to, Kaoru was the more subdued twin after all. He didn't make her head spin with noisy chatter when he stuck pins this way and that into her. Because Hikaru liked to go with Daidouji to her choir practice once host club activities were done with, Kaoru walked Haruhi home every afternoon. They played the Would You Rather game and tried to guess at what host club theme Kyoya would surprise them with next. Haruhi was always a little more conservative in her guesses than Kaoru. She tended to be wrong more often than him, simply because the host club was anything but conservative.
Haruhi was sometimes surprised at how much her host club friends had grown. But then again, this was high school. And she was always told that high school was a time for transformations. Haruhi tended to listen to the wisdom of her elders.
It was a relatively warm afternoon for November; Haruhi looked out the window to see that leaves were slowly turning into rich reds, oranges, and yellows. Pretty soon they'd all fall off leaving their trunks barren for the winter. Even in the middle of host club activities, Haruhi sometimes ended up wandering off into a place far away from reality. She cocked her head and stood there with a tray of used tea cups in her hand, watching leaves float down to the ground. The last of the girls were leaving, and yet Haruhi wasn't alert enough to send them off with a proper farewell.
"Stare any harder and you'll burn a hole through the glass." There was a smile in the mellow voice as a figure moved up behind her.
"Ara?" Haruhi broke out of her stupor, and turned around. Kaoru stood there, hands casually stuffed in his pockets and head leaning forward so he could look at her eye to eye. His smile was easy, lips curving upwards lethargically.
"You want to be careful, Haruhi dear, Kyoya-senpai'll increase your debt if you destroy school property."
Haruhi snorted. "Don't be absurd, I was only looking out the window."
"Ah, sweet Haruhi, you don't have a dramatic bone in your body, do you?" Kaoru straightened and broke into a full-out grin, apparently expecting Haruhi's dry reply.
"I prefer practicality to dramatics." Haruhi shifted and headed off in the direction she had originally planned on going to, crossing the music room and carefully placing the dirty dishes inside a bin in one of their storage closets. The maids came to pick up their used tableware later.
Kaoru had followed her. He leaned against the doorway of the closet and watched as Haruhi gently arranged her dishes inside their wash-bin. No doubt a broken cup would also add to her seemingly-eternal debt. Haruhi could feel Kaoru's eyes on her as if he were merely a few inches away. The feeling intensified and soon Haruhi found Kaoru's arms wrapped around her neck as he hugged her to his chest. He was tall enough that he could prop his chin on her head, laying his cheek against her hair.
"Haruhiii...why are you so popular among those girls?"
"Huh?" Haruhi turned around, and Kaoru adjusted his arms so that they dangled over her shoulders. "What do you mean?"
"I mean," Kaoru leaned forward and let his forehead rest against hers, causing Haruhi's eyes to cross while trying to look at Kaoru properly. "You're a girl too!"
"...I believe we established that long ago, Kaoru. What's your point?" Haruhi gave up on trying to focus her eyes and instead let them slide over Kaoru's nose like water.
"...I don't like it." Kaoru's voice was low in his chest, a soft rumble that made it hard for Haruhi to hear what he was saying. She pulled back and stared straight into his eyes.
Kaoru let her go and smiled brightly. He ran a hand through his already messy hair and reached out to ruffle Haruhi's. She gave a small protest but then simply took it, still staring at him. The twins were always touching her in one way or the other, so there really was no point in trying to resist.
Kaoru's large hands were like a typical guy's: rough from playing around too long outside as children. But they were also surprisingly tender as he moved from mussing her hair to wander down towards her cheek, stroking the smooth skin with the tips of his fingers. Haruhi found herself leaning into his touch, it felt good. And with Kaoru, she was comfortable. He had done it often enough this past year that it was as natural as waking up in the morning.
When Haruhi looked up at him, Kaoru's amber eyes flashed gold. They always did when he was thinking too hard about something. "Even the class D girls are starting to come in, like that one you had today. They normally stay with their own gangs."
"Ah, yeah." Haruhi didn't nod, but she let her cheek rest in Kaoru's palm in assent.
There was one class D girl that had come in that afternoon, Haruhi's first designation of the day. It was rare that any of the D class came near those of the A, B, or even C classes. They chose to stick with their own, being mostly kids of yakuza. The fact that this girl had come in and had chosen Haruhi so quickly as if she had already known what she was coming in for, was curious. But Haruhi hadn't paid it any attention. She had been nice enough, as nice as those yakuza children were without resorting to dirty tricks and mean looks. But that's to be expected, with their upbringing. At least, that's what the rest of the school thought. Personally Haruhi didn't see any difference between that girl and the rest of the school. She supposed that their lack of "proper" upbringing simply meant that these class D students weren't taught "normal" lessons of the rich such as which fork to use for the main course and how to chat with a business associate's wife.
There was a commotion going on outside the closet, breaking Haruhi from her musings. She and Kaoru broke apart to peek outside. It sounded like a moose bellowing, the hurried protests of the other hosts increasing the din.
"What's going on?" Kaoru leaned against Haruhi as she poked her head out the doorway.
There was an unfamiliar face barging into the room, some time after host activities had ceased for the day. It was a boy; he was wearing the school uniform so Haruhi assumed he was a student of Ouran. His long bleached yellow hair was wild around his face and his eyes were furious. Tamaki was pushed backwards when he tried to stop the stranger in his footsteps.
"My fight's not with you! Where's Fujioka??"
"Eh? Haruhi? I'm truly sorry Sir but the host club is currently closed for the day, perhaps if you come back tomorrow our Haruhi will be available for you to designate...?" Tamaki, though taller than this boy before him and not a weakling himself, was pushed back by the sheer power of the stranger's look. The host club king held up both hands in surrender, not understanding what was going on.
"Fujioka Haruhi, come out right now and face me like a man!"
Haruhi wasn't sure what was going on. She stepped out from the closet right in the path of the rampaging stranger.
"Here I am, who are you?"
The boy turned to look at her. His fists were clenched. "You're Fujioka?" He stopped a few feet in front of her, and examined her up and down. "You're the one Haruko's got a picture of?"
"Haruko?" Haruhi cocked her head, still not fazed, even with this young man who beat her in height by at least a foot. "I don't know anyone by that name."
"Yes you do, you know exactly who that is! Kanzaki Haruko is my girlfriend who you dared to seduce!!" The stranger's rough voice was like an ocean roar as it filled the room up with deafening sound. One of his feet shot forward and he remained in that lunging position, fist out and ready for a fight.
Kyoya interfered with a cold "Do have the courtesy to keep your voice down, I would find it highly unpleasant should you cause a scene."
Kyoya's glasses flashed in threat, causing everyone in the room to pause. Collectively, they gulped nervously, even the stranger. No one would have escaped the Ohtori's wrath should Kyoya give the word. Sometimes, Haruhi thought that Kyoya used his power a little too liberally. She gave a little shiver at the menace in Kyoya's smile, before giving her full attention back to the stranger.
"There was someone by the name of Kanzaki who visited us today, and yes, I did spend some time with her. But I never had the intention of seducing her..." Haruhi stopped, not sure of what to call this boy.
He looked to be in pain, his face contorted as he kept his anger under control. "Yamaguchi. Yamaguchi Kenji."
"...Yamaguchi-san, then. Kanzaki-san was a customer; she was not forced into coming to the host club this afternoon."
Haruhi felt body heat against her back, and looked up to see Kaoru standing behind her, with his mouth set in a grim line. She put a cool hand on one of his balled fists, stalling him from doing anything drastic. Looking around, it appeared as if Satoshi and Chika had already left before any of this happened. Tamaki stood in front of Kimiko, who was watching with curious eyes. Kyoya sat there at one of the tables, and looked for all appearances to be ignoring the argument as long as it didn't disturb his work on his laptop. Hikaru seemed eager to barge in from the other end of the room; however Daidouji had stopped him with a hand on his arm, and smiled at Haruhi. Haruhi would have to thank her later. She may have her fanatic moments, but Daidouji-san seemed to have a good head on her shoulders.
Yamaguchi seemed to just stand there, conflicted in how he should proceed. It was clear to Haruhi that he wanted things to be straightforward, to simply brawl with this tinier scholarship student and be done with it. His victory would have been assured; he was obviously stronger and taller than Haruhi. With a gruff voice, Yamaguchi-san gave a surly reply.
"Then why did Haruko have a picture of you in her bag?? You must have done something to brainwash her, the Haruko I know is loyal to me."
"I have not even met her before today, Yamaguchi-san. How can you be so sure that it was me she had that picture of? Did you get a good look at it?"
"...No." His response was like a rebellious child, words torn from his throat unwillingly. "But a friend of mine saw it. And when I asked Haruko, she mentioned you. You are a coward, taking another man's girl by underhanded means!"
Haruhi felt Kaoru remove his fist from her hand. His voice was cold, icier than Haruhi had ever heard it before. "Haruhi would never do something like that."
"Oh yeah?" Yamaguchi took a few steps forward so that his chest bumped against Haruhi's. He looked down at her ominously, his fist rising in fury. "We'll see about tha-"
"Stop it! Stop it, Kenji, right now!!"
A girl ran into the room, Haruhi recognized her as the Kanzaki-san that had designated her earlier today. Her caramel brown eyes sparked in determination as she shoved herself in-between Haruhi and Yamaguchi, pushing her boyfriend away with a ferocity that most of the class A girls didn't have. Haruhi admired her spirit, and could see why someone as strong as Yamaguchi-san would go for a fiery girl like this. They were two peas in a pod. Kanzaki's short cropped hair stood out as if she were charged with electricity. She went on in a shrill voice, as she poked a finger viciously into Yamaguchi's chest repeatedly.
"Don't you dare lay a finger on Haruhi-kun! It's my crush that's at fault, he didn't do a thing!"
"Don't Haruko-chan me!! I know what you were about to do!"
"I wasn't...I swear..."
"Not another word Kenji! I don't even want to look at you right now!" Kanzaki gave Yamaguchi a look that seemed to shoot a dozen arrows into his chest, causing him to protest like a child who had his candy stolen from him. Kanzaki pushed roughly past his pleas and stormed out of the room, not even bothering to greet any of the other hosts who were watching on in bewilderment.
Like lightening, she was gone. The rest of the hosts wondered whether she was brought on to the scene just to interfere with Yamaguchi's fight. More bizarre things had happened at the host club before.
Yamaguchi looked a little lost. He almost rushed out to chase after his girlfriend, but he stopped before taking a step and turned around swiftly to face down Haruhi. Haruhi wrinkled her nose; Yamaguchi was so close that she could smell his last meal on his breath. She tried to take a step back, and pushed Kaoru back with a warning hand so that he wouldn't cause any trouble. Yamaguchi raised a fist again, murder in his eyes.
Haruhi held up a hand, her eyes not betraying any fear. "Both Kanzaki-san and I have just told you that I had nothing to do with this, and you're still looking for a fight? Try looking inside yourself first to see why her eyes would stray, rather then pushing the blame on others."
Yamaguchi stuttered. A vein popped out on his forehead. He took one more step forward, and stopped once more. In another second, he turned around rapidly and stalked out of the room, calling out Kanzaki's name in a rage.
For a moment, there was an uncertain silence among the host club.
Tamaki broke it, by giving a loud wail and rushing towards Haruhi, pulling her into a suffocating hug that caused her to loudly object.
"My poor, poor Haruhi! Oh you wretched thing, how frightened you must have been! Not to worry, I'm here to chase all of your fears away!"
"Tamaki-senp-no-stop it...no-put me down!"
Kimiko somehow pulled Tamaki away, and Haruhi slapped his hands when he tried to reach out again, scowling in irritation. Hikaru and Daidouji also came up to see how she had fared. Hikaru looked positively livid.
"Haruhi, you want me to beat that guy up? I can do it, you just watch-"
"No, Hikaru, I don't want you to beat Yamaguchi-san up."
"You were wonderful Haruhi-senpai! Just like in the movies, where the female heroine beats the bad guy with flair! Oh why, oh why couldn't I have dressed you up in costume first??"
"No really, Daidouji-san, it wasn't necessary..."
Haruhi fought off Hikaru's death threats, Tamaki's dramatic concern, and Daidouji's excitement. She was already tired from the exertion that it took just to make Yamaguchi-san go away, she didn't want to have to deal with the aftermath. As always, when things began to get too chaotic, Haruhi turned to Kaoru for help.
Except he wasn't there to back her up.
Standing a little ways off, Kaoru was still where Yamaguchi had confronted Haruhi. His mouth was still in that thin line, now to the point where Haruhi couldn't even see it. She left the rest of the hosts to their passionate conversations and approached the normally gentle Hiitachin.
"Kaoru? Is something wrong?"
He was looking straight ahead, fists clenched against his side. Haruhi stood in front of him and took one of his hands in her own. She tried again.
"Why did you stop me?"
He was quiet, and he slid his hand out of hers.
"What do you mean?" Haruhi cocked an eyebrow. She thought Kaoru was being ignorant. "I couldn't have just let you beat him up. He wasn't going to do anything."
"...You didn't know that."
Haruhi paused, and looked hard into Kaoru's eyes. They had turned into liquid gold, hot enough to look like molten lava. "Are you...mad?"
He finally looked at her, his face shaped into one of disbelief. "You could've been hurt, Haruhi!"
"But I wasn't." Haruhi looked up at Kaoru and rested a hand on his cheek. She wondered if he would calm down soon. It didn't make sense, why he was so unnecessarily angry. "I'm fine, Kaoru."
Kaoru gritted his teeth. "Oh that's right," he spat out, "you're Haruhi. You don't need anyone. You can take care of yourself."
He walked away and didn't even turn around to say goodbye to the others before leaving the music room.
Haruhi felt a little lonely that afternoon, walking home by herself.
Part IV: In Which There Is A Failure Of Subtle Tactics
"I don't understand..."
Haruhi sighed, muttering to herself several minutes after the host club had closed for the day. She picked up her area, and held her tray of dirty dishes in her hands while scanning the room for Kaoru.
He hadn't talked to her since that afternoon, and it had been three days. Haruhi was getting a little fed up with his childish behavior. She just couldn't understand why he was so ticked off. It hadn't been a life or death situation, nothing truly bad had come out of Yamaguchi-san's visit. He even came by the next day to apologize, though Kanzaki-san had been twisting his arm at the time.
Turning to put her tea cups away, Haruhi spotted Kaoru being beckoned over by Kyoya. The look on the vice president's face was not a good one, and Haruhi hoped it wasn't terribly unpleasant for Kaoru. She had been trying to talk to him since that afternoon, to figure everything out, but he would avoid her in class, escape from her in the hallways, and busy himself with everything else other than her during host club time. Haruhi was frustrated with the situation in general.
"Haruhi-senpai? Are you alright? You look a little distant there."
Haruhi turned around from her position inside the storage closet to see Daidouji and Hikaru walking up to her. Daidouji's expression was inquisitive, her hands clasped behind her back and a calm smile on her face.
"Ah, yeah, I'm fine. Aren't you supposed to be at choir practice soon, Daidouji-san?"
"Oh! Yes, thanks Haruhi-senpai, I almost lost track of time. You sure you're alright though?"
"Yes, yes, nothing to worry about." Haruhi smiled in reassurance, but held out a hand to stop Hikaru from following Daidouji. "Hikaru, could I talk with you for a second?"
Hikaru raised an eyebrow. "Yeah...sure. Go ahead Tomoyo, I'll catch up later."
Haruhi pulled Hikaru in with her into the storage closet, and poked a head out to make sure Kaoru was still talking with Kyoya. It looked like Kyoya was lecturing the younger Hiitachin, possibly about the surly attitude Kaoru had had these past few days.
Hikaru leaned against one of the shelves that stored the many sets of dishes they had, Kyoya had insisted on keeping with the latest in tea finery. He tilted his head and stared at Haruhi. "So, what's this about?"
"Are you two still fighting?" Hikaru gave an annoyed grunt. "He's been utterly impossible to live with!"
"Well, I don't even know why he's not talking to me. Do you, Hikaru?"
"Why would I know?"
Haruhi blinked. She would have thought that that'd been obvious. "You're his brother."
"Yeah, well, you're his girlfriend."
"...What?" Haruhi stopped her reply when Hikaru said that. Her mouth fell open in surprise. Where did Hikaru even get that idea? It was absolutely absurd. "No I'm not."
It was Hikaru's turn to blink. He straightened. "You broke up? When'd that happen?"
Haruhi threw up her hands. "How could two people break up if they've never been together?"
"Oh get serious Haruhi, you can't honestly be telling me you didn't know you two were dating!"
At this point the world began to spin around Haruhi. She stepped backwards and hit the shelves behind her, facing Hikaru with a bewildered frown on her face. Her fingers clutched at one of the lower shelves and she shook her head slowly.
"You're joking with me, aren't you, Hikaru. Can't you be serious, for once?"
Hikaru's jaw dropped. "I am serious! You mean you didn't know? The walks home, the hugs, the dates?"
"He took you out only a million times!"
"He bought you food!"
"Wait a second..."
"You two are always together!"
"I don't..." Haruhi's eyebrows furrowed in thought, her mind on fire. Was she that dense? Those hadn't been dates, had they? But what Hikaru said made sense, the more Haruhi thought about it. She was the most comfortable with Kaoru, more than she had been with anyone else. He was always within a few feet of her, always there waiting to joke around and smile. Always there to hug her, kiss her cheek, whisper in her ear. It had been both Hikaru and Kaoru who started out that way, with the physical intimacy. Why hadn't Haruhi realized that after awhile it turned from the two twins to simply...Kaoru?
Hikaru started to guffaw, loudly. "Oh god, Haruhi, don't tell me you're that thick!"
"He never said..."
"You need a neon sign to tell you when you're in a relationship?"
"But..." Haruhi's mind refused to believe that she had simply slipped into a romantic relationship with someone without her even noticing. She paused in thought, before walking hurriedly out of the closet and letting her eyes scan the room. Kaoru was just finishing his chat with Kyoya.
Haruhi marched straight up to him, Hikaru's laugh following her all the way out from the closet and urging her on. She could see him trail behind her to watch the drama unfolding. Haruhi shook her head and focused on Kaoru, tugging at his wrist so he couldn't escape. Kyoya left the pair to finish his paperwork. Kaoru gave her an irritated glance.
She burst out. "Why didn't you tell me we were dating??"
Out of all the things Haruhi could have stopped Kaoru for, that was not one of the ones he had been expecting. He halted, and stared at her, making Haruhi suddenly worry that Hikaru had gotten it wrong. Why had she let him lead her down that path of thought? She shouldn't have believed him so easily, of course she and Kaoru weren't dating! It was preposterous! Now he was not only going to be annoyed, he was going to be freaked out by her as well!
But then, he did an astonishing thing to Haruhi. Kaoru tapped his chin with a finger, and looked straight into her eyes, examining her distraught expression.
"I thought it had been obvious enough without an official declaration," Kaoru cocked his head and slowly smiled down at Haruhi. "Don't tell me you didn't realize...?"
All of the angry, frustrated, worried, nervous feelings left Haruhi in a big gust of air. Complete deflated, her voice was small and weak with the next question.
"When I took you to coffee...I think?"
"But...but that was ages ago!"
Kaoru shrugged. Haruhi didn't let go of his wrist.
"We never even kissed!"
Hikaru took the moment to pipe up. "You haven't? Kaoru, what have you been doing with her all this time?"
Kaoru shrugged again. "I was going for subtlety." He finally looked down at Haruhi, and his frown slowly turned into a smile. "Is that all you can think about, Haruhi dear?"
"What?? No-I just-"
"No worries, that can be solved easily." Kaoru wriggled his way out of Haruhi's grasp and placed his hands on her shoulders.
Haruhi swallowed hard, growing nervous at the sudden lack of distance between her face and Kaoru's. He had looked at her up close before, but it never had that romantic context added to it. At least, Haruhi never thought that it had. Now, everything was different. Kaoru leaned forward and smiled, lazily tilting Haruhi's head back. Before she could even question what he was doing, Kaoru was covering her lips with his own. She tasted sweetness from his mouth, her hands going up timidly to rest against his chest. His fingertips brushed lightly against the back of her neck, and he pulled back only a scant centimeter, so that his words brushed against her lips like light puffs of air.
"I didn't know you wanted kisses that badly, Haruhi dear."
"I..." Haruhi felt her cheeks burning up, she suspected one could fry eggs on them. All wit had left her for the moment.
Hikaru's voice was dry as he walked away from the pair. "Way to go Kaoru, you've successfully kissed your girlfriend of seven months for the very first time." He muttered to himself while leaving to catch up with Tomoyo. "Subtlety, he says. Honestly."
Kaoru waved his brother off vaguely, and turned his attention back to Haruhi. Haruhi was still a little shocked by her first official kiss, the one at that Christmas dance last year not counting.
"Haruhi dear? Are you alright?"
"...I'm sorry about ignoring you. I was being...childish. I got scared, that you'd get hurt."
"You...did?" Haruhi's voice was faint, but she was slowly regaining her senses.
"...Yeah." And it was only now that the faint reddening of Kaoru's cheeks was obvious to Haruhi.
"I'm...sorry for worrying you, then. And for...being too independent."
"Mmm, but that's the way I like you, Haruhi dear." Kaoru leaned forward and stole another kiss. "That's the way I like you, just fine." He smiled against her lips and wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her closer.
Haruhi leaned into his kisses willingly. She supposed it was official, then. She had her first boyfriend.
To make absolutely sure, Haruhi had gone to Renge for some female advice a day later. Not that she had wanted to, but Renge had been the only female friend available at the time. Surprisingly enough, Renge had been quite helpful. She asked about what Haruhi would do if she found out that Kaoru would be gone forever.
Haruhi gave it some thought, and hated the clenching her chest did whenever she tried to imagine it. Renge insisted that that was what love was. Haruhi hated the sappiness in Renge's voice, but she accepted the facts for what they were. They made sense to her, at least. She didn't think she'd like it much should Kaoru disappear. Especially if he found another girlfriend. Haruhi hated that idea.
Outwardly, Haruhi and Kaoru's relationship didn't seem to change to the rest of the school. Haruhi supposed that they had been "dating" for so long that they had fallen into a natural pattern that was undetectable to anyone who wasn't close to her or Kaoru. She still debated with Kaoru over whether or not they could call anything before those kisses "dates", but that was a trivial discussion.
The good thing was, Haruhi found herself subject to more hugs and more kisses from Kaoru. She grew to like his touches and leaned in eagerly when host club duties were done for the day.
They went out to eat more, once Kaoru stopped having to make up a good excuse to get Haruhi to join him. If it was a date, then no reason was required.
In all, Haruhi supposed she would let Kaoru get away with not telling her. It probably turned out for the best anyways; Haruhi wasn't stupid enough to not realize she had had a horrible track record with guys. In reality, what Kaoru did was probably the best way to make Haruhi his own.
And at least it was Kaoru who had tried it. Haruhi didn't mind...seeing as it was Kaoru.
A/N: So...what did you all think? Like I said, reviews are most welcome! Particularly ones with lots of specific detail.
They finally kiss...aww. I was very happy to get to write that part, and I hope I did this entire episode justice. It's so crucial to the entire story, you know? Hopefully you got the same sentiments as I did.
Thanks all for reading and reviewing! I hope to be back sooner or later with more Ouran goodness, but until then, have great lives!