And because it comes up later in the story: A bento is a boxed lunch.
Opening the door, I found… Ancient Egyptian pharaohs.
Haruhi did not give a single member of the Host Club a second glance, even though Tamaki was dressed in a stiff headdress donned with a serpent and wearing an elaborate gold collar, and holding the crook and flail; the twins were dressed nearly as extravagantly, but they were holding giant, real palm branches; Hani looked almost exactly like Tamaki, minus the pharaoh crown; and Mori and Kyouya were dressed as Roman Caesars ready for battle. They were all standing randomly around the third music room, apparently not talking to each other.
"You're late… again," Kyouya announced promptly once the door had been closed. He seemed to be more interested in securing his red cape just right rather than holding a conversation.
"Sorry," Haruhi apologized automatically. "I just—"
"Was in the library?" questioned Kaoru.
"And lost track of time?" Hikaru added, tilting his head. That action was mirrored by his brother.
"No time for excuses!" Tamaki cried over-dramatically, popping up behind Haruhi and directing her further into the room. "Your outfit is already in there." He pointed to the changing room in the farthest corner, and assumed a helpless pose. "And although my brilliant idea of making you dress as Cleopatra was cruelly overruled…" ("No!" the twins had shouted most vehemently, "then they'll know for sure she's a girl!") Tamaki gave a drama-queen-esque sigh, "We've picked out the next best thing."
"Hurry, Haru-chan!" Hani called from across the room, "our customers will be here any minute!" The twins came up behind Haruhi as she was rushed toward the back. Somehow they squeezed in between Tamaki and his daughter and began pushing her instead.
"What if we help you?" they asked in unison. "These outfits were nearly as difficult to put on as those Kamakura kimonos."
"Haruhi, no!" cried Tamaki, almost on the verge of tears (though whether they were fake or not was completely up for debate), "they lie!"
"For the last time, guys, I don't need your help," Haruhi replied in a tired tone more than anything else. Tamaki gave a shriek.
"How many times have they offered to help you dress?!"
"Easy, Tono," the twins replied as they turned around simultaneously to face him.
"You're corrupting my daughter!" His head snapped to the other members of the club who were wisely remaining out of it. "Mother! Talk to your children!"
Kyouya, as usual, was taking notes in his black binder and did not even look up when he replied: "Work it out among yourselves."
The three of them kept bickering with Hani and Mori watching silently and Kyouya not paying attention to anyone until the grandfather clock in the middle of the room struck the hour. ("When did we get that?" Haruhi later asked.) By the time girls in prim yellow dresses began elegantly flocking in, all seven Hosts were in their places to give the expected "Irasshaimase."
"Oh, Haruhi-kun," one of her regulars commented when the Hosts were scattered about the room, "you look so noble in your costume." Haruhi was dressed like Mori and Kyouya, in Roman pleated skirt and breastplate shaped to accentuate muscles she did not have, and flowing red cape. Her helmet with the bright Mohawk was on the table.
"All your cosplays are so thoughtful— and adorable," another girl remarked with a smile. "What will be your next event?"
Haruhi balked. She looked to Kyouya, the one person who probably had the rest of her high school experience— if not the rest of her life— planned out for her. Luckily, he happened to be within earshot and appeared at their table in a surprisingly short amount of time.
"Well, ladies," he spoke up pleasantly with a smile to match, "in less than a week we are going to convert the school grounds into a labyrinth for everyone to take part in."
"It sounds scary," the third girl in Haruhi's group said with fists pressed against her mouth. She was hugged by another customer as Kyouya gave a lighthearted (completely forced) laugh.
"The Host Club shall be dressed up as mythological creatures to help you through the maze," he said, a smile firmly in place the entire time. "And to those who can find their way through fastest, a reward awaits." Even though he was pressed for answers, the reward in question remained a secret. "It's scheduled for an entire day. Who would like to make reservations?"
Haruhi tried not to roll her eyes as her three customers clamored to reserve a spot. She was waiting to see where the profit for the club was for this and for a moment almost though that they were finally hosting an event with no strings attached. Like that would ever happen.
Kyouya flashed the girls a warm smile once their names were down and in polite, flowery language explained how he would look forward to seeing them there. As he left, he flashed Haruhi a look that told her she would have known about the upcoming event had she been on time. (Sempai's got a talent for expressing himself wordlessly, the girl thought.)
"How exciting," all the girls giggled. One of the freshman's longest regulars, Sorimachi Kaho, smiled up at her host. "Ne, ne, Haruhi-kun, who are you going to be dressed up as?"
The girl felt like scrambling over to Kyouya and repeating the question, but instead smiled and with a tilt of her head said, "You'll just have to wait and see when you come to the event." When her designators began to royally complain that the answer was unfair, Haruhi gave a little laugh.
"I just don't want to spoil the surprise."
"So really, what is the surprise?" Haruhi asked when all the customers were gone. "That reward at the end…" The Hitachiin twins descended on either side of her and wrapped their arms around her waist.
"…Is a kiss from whomever they choose," they replied in unison and proceeded to suction their lips to her cheeks. With an outraged cry, Tamaki produced a crowbar out of nowhere and attempted to pry the twins away from his beloved daughter. Haruhi gave an annoyed sigh and wriggled free all on her own.
"Haven't we already done that before? Don't we have anything else to offer?"
"What else is there?" Kyouya questioned, looking up from his notes. "We can't offer money or any little toy or trinket easily affordable to our customers."
"Cake!" shouted Hani from Mori's shoulders. "The winners can have whole cakes— and we can help them eat it!"
"Somehow, Hani-sempai," Tamaki spoke up, "that doesn't seem like much of a reward. Especially because we'll be serving sweet food all day."
Haruhi arched a brow. "Waitaminute. If we're going to be in this labyrinth, how are we going to serve food?" Mori, who was near Haruhi after carrying Hani to the eating area because he wanted cake, handed her a map of the intended maze. There was quite a bit of space in the center of the drawing filled with numerous dots of varying sizes.
"That is the eating area," Kyouya said when Haruhi asked about it. "We'll all take shifts serving the guests tea or dessert when they happen upon the middle. When they are finished eating, we point them in the right direction, but only we are to have the maps."
Somehow it feels less and less like a game, Haruhi thought, spirit sinking. Rich people…
"Tomorrow we'll work out the details. I have groundskeepers already working on the construction of the maze, so tomorrow evening it should be done," Kyouya informed them. And of course they all knew "work out the details" meant the Shadow King would tell them what to do.
"How bothersome," sighed Hikaru as he and Kaoru made their way to their limo waiting for them in front of the main building. "A whole day leading around our squawking—"
"You shouldn't say things like that where you can be overheard," Kaoru cut in quickly. He nodded toward a small group of yellow-clad giggling girls across the hall, whose eyes were fixed on the twins. "You're just upset that the others rejected your idea."
"If only that idiot Tamaki would've agreed…"
Kaoru broke out laughing and clung to his brother's jacket sleeve to keep from falling behind. "Of course he wouldn't! Even though a nudist colony day would cut down on costume expenses, then all the customers would definitely find out about Haruhi." Hikaru glowered and shuffled on, still dragging along Kaoru, who suddenly grinned.
"Tamaki's starting to corrupt you, it seems. Your imagination must be getting as sketchy as his…" To his slight disappointment, Hikaru chose not to respond; he plodded toward the front entrance, not even watching where he was going. Even if he had been looking, he probably would not have seen the dark shape closing in from behind in a sprint. Just as the runner was about to pass the twins on Kaoru's side, Hikaru realized he was still towing his brother and jerked his sleeve free, causing Kaoru to stumble back a step. The boy could have easily regained his balance… had not the stranger been there. It was a badly timed coincidence, and it caused both to fall to the ground. Hikaru turned back, his brother's name escaping his lips immediately. He was instantly at Kaoru's side, helping him to his feet.
"No…" came the horrified (and horrifying) voice of the hooded and caped Nekozawa as he feebly reached a hand out toward the twins. "Your foot…"
Hikaru and Kaoru exchanged mystified, somewhat caring expressions. They both jumped, though, when Nekozawa popped up.
"Move your foot! You're standing on—" the Black Magic club president could not even get the last word out before choking with fright. The twins slowly lifted one foot after the other and Hikaru found he had been stepping on Bereznoff.
"Aw, crap," he muttered to himself. Nekozawa grabbed up the simple, crushed cat puppet and cradled it almost lovingly before shooting a glare (far scarier than anything the sleepy Kyouya had given) right for the twins.
"You… shall… pay!" With that, he dashed past them, out the doors, and jumped into his own limo waiting right behind the Hitachiin's. The twins exchanged frightened glances.
"Somehow, I don't think he means money," said Kaoru slowly.
"Are you guys okay?" Haruhi questioned slowly, holding her chopsticks a mere inch from her mouth; she had interrupted her eating to stare. The Hitachiin brothers were nervously glancing about the cafeteria the next day — something they had been doing since the beginning of lunch.
"We're… fine," Hikaru replied half-heartedly. Haruhi watched the both of them, sitting on either side of her, as she ate.
"So why did you make me come to the cafeteria today? I never buy anything here," she finally said. Her bento box looked pitifully out of place between the twins' trays of gourmet food.
"Because you're our good luck charm!" they cried in unison, hugging her.
"Okay, fine, fine— just let go!" protested Haruhi quickly. Others around them had started to stare, especially the girls, who seemed to be impatiently expecting some kind of "moe" scene.
However, as the day progressed, Haruhi observed the twins did not recover from their paranoid antics. Even at the club, Hikaru and Kaoru seemed a little distracted as they went through their "devilish type" shtick. Their customers did not seem to notice, though; they squealed on as usual.
When Haruhi had a lull in designators, she stood against a random doorframe (because there are many of those in the third music room) and watched the twins. She did not even notice Kyouya next to her until he spoke.
"Do you know what caused their strange behavior?" Haruhi jumped, but caught herself before giving a scream.
"They've been acting like that all day," she replied. She waited for some sort of an apology from him for startling her, but characteristically, none came.
"They've been hanging around you much more than usual," he added, scribbling something in his black ledger.
Haruhi smirked, "Somehow I became their good luck charm." Kyouya looked up instantly, one brow raised. Slowly he returned to his work, venting an almost apathetic chuckle.
"So that's it," he mumbled to himself. Haruhi looked up at him quizzically, but before she could ask anything, Kyouya pointed to a couple of girls who had just walked in, one being Kaho.
"Looks like you have more customers."
So I'm not the only one that sees something's up with those two, she thought as she passed the twins— tearing up in each other's embrace— and their fascinated customers.
"Irasshaimase," Haruhi greeted her regulars with a natural smile that made them blush and giggle.
Nekozawa was hunched in the middle of the Black Magic Club room, just down the hall from the Host Club. He was surrounded by a few other followers, garbed in the same black cape, and they were watching him hover over a small cauldron (they had snuck a burner into the school).
"You will all have to help me if my revenge— Bereznoff's revenge— is to be carried out completely," he informed them as he and the hand puppet read over the spell directions.
"Yes, Nekozawa-sempai," they responded automatically. They had already been graphically informed of the incident with the twins.
"My wrath shall be felt by the entire Host Club for this outrage, and— OH!" Nekozawa jumped back after the newest ingredient added made the boiling liquid splash. Some landed on Bereznoff's ear and immediately burst into a small fire, but Nekozawa quickly tossed the puppet on the ground and stomped it out.
----End of chapter one. I will be taking all thoughts, questions, and random comments in the form of a review. :3 (I'm a starving artist... they feed me and keep me going.) haha