From One to Another
"Could you help me?" the woman asked, sliding over to him in a matter of seconds. He nearly fell out of his seat from surprise, caught completely off-guard. Usually he was very good at sensing them before they came, but this time he had been so engrossed in his music, that he didn't even notice her sneaking up.
"Don't. Do. That," he said fiercely, trying to make his heart beat again.
"Oh I'm sorry," she said, a slight laugh to her voice. "I didn't mean to scare you. I was told you were used to this sort of thing."
The boy frowned and pulled the chair over, hoisting himself back into the seat. "It's not you, in particular. It's you sneaking up on me. I nearly had a heart attack."
"You're much too young for a heart attack," she pointed out. The boy rolled his eyes and muttered under his breath. "Anyway," she said, gliding down on his bed. "I was wondering if you could help me."
"I don't make promises," the boy said firmly.
The woman smiled.
"I have a daughter, she turned sixteen this February, and she's in High School now. I wish I could have been there for her first day. I died when she was six," she explained. An odd expression passed over the boy's face.
She continued; "I've been feeling very sorry, leaving her alone with her father at such a young age. She was too young to understand and go through losing a mother. She was the only regret I had when I died, I think. I was very prepared for death, you know. I knew it would happen no matter what, and crying and fussing over it would not change anything. I made good use of my time until I died, especially saying things I would have wanted to say over the next sixty years of my life I suddenly didn't have. I was sad I was leaving behind a wonderful husband and daughter, yes, but I was very ready for it, very prepared to die. Or...at least, I thought I was."
She sighed, and held out her hands in front of her. She turned them this way and that, holding it up to the air and sliding it through the solid objects, seeing how translucent it was and how everything was intangible. "So, I was very surprised, you understand, when I found myself still in this world, as a ghost. I thought I was ready to leave it all behind. I was confident."
"You were worried about your daughter," the boy pointed out, speaking for the first time since she began her story.
"Yes, and I do miss her so. I know she misses me very much as well, despite how strong and optimistic she is. But I had prepared myself to leave her before I died. I was very firm about it, too. Of course I felt bad for having to, but I knew it was what I would have to do, and I was going to do it without any hesitation, with little remorse." The woman sighed again. "I wonder what went wrong."
"No one knows really," the boy said, looking thoughtful. "There's no telling why some people becomes ghosts, and others don't..." His brows drew together in a tight line. She leaned closer, to examine his face, and noticed a flicker of grief in his hard brown eyes.
"Are you alright?" she asked, carefully.
The boy snapped out of it very quickly with an awkward smile on his face. "Yes," he said briskly, but she saw the trouble in his eyes. "So, I guess the reason you're here is because you're worried for your daughter. Well, that's the only thing I can think of, anyway. Do you see her a lot?"
"Yes," the woman admitted. "But only when time permits it. Sometimes I can't come by day, so I have to come at night. I prefer the night, though, that way I can concentrate on both of them at once. My husband and daughter, I mean," she said, seeing the puzzled look on his face. "They're both a handful, I can't help but be worried about them. Well…my daughter's very responsible for her age, but my husband..." She laughed clearly. "He really worries me the most."
At this the boy snorted a little, and seemed to be recalling a similar experience of his own. "I think I know what you mean," he said.
"Do you?" She looked hopeful. "So will you help me?"
The boy looked at her, intensely and with a very concentrated expression. He seemed to be thinking about many things at once, and his eyebrows drew more tightly together each minute. But the woman was patient, and silently waited for his answer. Finally, he sighed and shrugged.
"Why not," he said. The woman beamed. "You really shouldn't be here though," the boy added, sternly. "You should move on if you can, maybe find a nice priest or someone to do it for you."
"Oh I will," the woman said brightly, "as soon as you do this for me."
The boy scratched his head. "What is it?"
"First, tell me, how old are you?"
"Fifteen," he answered, slightly baffled by the unexpected question.
"Close enough," she said. "Now, tell me, do you think my daughter would be mad at me?"
"Mad at you?" he repeated.
Her tone was very serious, very honest. "For dying, and for leaving her alone."
"Absolutely not." His answer was quick and firm; the intensity in his voice startled her. He seemed so certain though, that she dared not argue.
"Alright, then," she said, again smiling, completely assured. Then she said, giving him a queer look. "You're very odd, you know."
The boy scowled. "And you're really blunt."
She only laughed.
She was on her way to club activities, her books gathered in her arms as she weaved through the halls full of chatting students. She was running very late already, and didn't want to have to deal with whatever fuss would be made if she dared to show up late for the club. It would all be much too annoying, and she liked to avoid annoying situations, so she picked up her pace, and rushed.
She was almost at the large pink doors and walking towards it when suddenly a tall boy in a gray uniform sidestepped in front of her, blocking her way. She pulled back, puzzled, and slightly intrigued by the color of his hair; a shocking mass of bright orange.
"Fujioka Haruhi?" he asked carefully.
She nodded. "Yes," she replied, and pondered about his identity. A school visitor perhaps? A new student maybe? Or a Middle School senior that wanted to enroll for next year? No, he looked too old to be in middle school...
The look of relief on the boy's face when he heard her confirm her identity was of pure bliss. It made Haruhi wonder what kind of trouble he had been through to find her, forgetting momentarily on the question of his identity. She watched, curious, as he fumbled through the bag slung over his shoulder and broad chest, then as he plunged his hand into his uniform pockets, searching. Wordlessly, the boy finally pulled out a small, shiny, white, rectangular paper from the front chest pocket and held it out to her.
"From your mother," he simply said, when she took the shiny paper, and walked past her without another word.
She stared after him for a couple good seconds, watching as he weaved through the students in the hall, standing out very much in his plain, but here foreign, gray uniform. Then, as the clock outside chimed, she realized she was late. Shuffling her books in her arms she pushed the doors to the 3rd Music Room open.
"Sorry I'm late—"
"YOU'RE LATE," a voice bellowed from across the room, and Haruhi was overwhelmed by the scent of roses and bright blonde hair. The others were beside her in an instant, fussing and making the exact scene she had wanted to avoid.
"A host is never late, and it's even in the rule book," Tamaki was saying. "I was so worried! What if you got lost in these big halls! What if you were crying all alone in an empty locked room! What if no one found you! What you wasted away in there! It's dangerous! Especially for someone who's still not familiar with—"
"It's been a month," Haruhi pointed out.
"Yes, but," Tamaki resumed, slightly frustrated. "You worry us! You had us on the edge of our seats!"
"Except Kyouya-senpai," piped one of the twins. Haruhi glanced over, it was Hikaru.
"Which brings me to notice, why were you two not with her?" Tamaki rounded on the twins.
They shrugged, simultaneously. "But I thought you didn't want us with her."
"That—" Tamaki struggled.
Haruhi turned to look at the shortest and oldest blonde, who amid the chaos had turned his curiosity to the small white paper the brunette held loosely in her hand. This converted everyone's attention to her, and Haruhi, remembering it herself, looked down at it.
"I don't know, a boy gave it to me. Just outside the room." An odd look passed her face as she remembered the brief encounter. She frowned thoughtfully, just a little, but a pair of sharp, cool gray eyes caught the change in expression.
"Who was it?" Kyouya asked, lightly, but intrigued.
Haruhi shook her head slowly. "I'd never seen him before...but then again..."
"You're not good with faces away," Kyouya finished bluntly. Haruhi gave him a sharp look. It was quite impressive.
Exactly who the boy was, however, was the least of Tamaki's worries. "A boy?" he gasped. "What is a boy doing giving you something? What's his business in mysteriously walking away afterwards? What is his objective, anyway?! What horrid intention is he scheming, trying to flatter our young, beautiful, innocent, charming, benevolent—"
"That's enough now," Haruhi said flatly, unimpressed.
"Maybe it's a love letter!" He continued, quivering. "Is it a love letter?! I will not stand for—"
"No one knows Haruhi is a girl, if you remember," Kyouya said coolly from beside him. He passed the blonde a frighteningly pointed look, also unimpressed with his run-away ideas. Tamaki quickly closed his mouth, ashamed, but considerably relieved.
"What is it, then?" asked Kaoru, suddenly appearing to Haruhi's left. He leaned over her shoulder, craning to get a better look.
Haruhi looked down at the paper, as well, and saw that it was a photograph. There was a woman, smiling brightly, and a young girl beside her. "It's my mother," Haruhi finally said, reaching a conclusion.
"Is that you?" Hikaru asked, popping up at her right and pointing to the young girl beside the woman.
"Yes. When I was...five, I think," Haruhi furrowed her brows. "I'm not sure."
"You're so cute!" squealed Tamaki. He sprang up in front of her, looming over the picture. For some strange reason, he was blushing terribly.
The rest of the Host Club continued to pour over the photograph, but Haruhi's mind was concentrated on something else. It was Kyouya who noticed.
"You said the boy just gave it to you? Without saying anything?" asked the dark haired boy, raising an eyebrow high above the rim of his spotless glasses.
Haruhi nodded, her eyes still on the photograph. "He said…He said it was from my mother."
The Host Club members paused and looked at her with a curious expression.
"Hmm..." said Mori.
The others began to look slightly uncomfortable. "But Haruhi, your mother...she's...Ehh...well...you know, she's..."
"Dead," Haruhi finished the sentence for Hikaru. The brunette was just as perplexed; her mind was racing in futile circles to make sense of it all. Amid the confusion, her eyes caught a quick flash of thin, black letters as Hani struggled through the taller members to get a better look, shoving her hand to the side in the process. She turned the photograph over. Her eyes widened, faintly, but surely, quickly clouded over by a flurry of tangled emotions.
There on the stark white, written in a vaguely familiar handwriting, was a single message;
I miss you.
Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach or Ouran, rightful properties of Kubo Tite and Hatori Bisco.