UP IN SMOKE

By Tsukiko Hitachiin

Notes and Disclaimer: I don't own Host Club. Bisco Hatori does, so please don't sue me. Thank you.

Summary: It was a nightmare unfolding in front of the terrified girl's eyes. Acrid smoke, raging flames, and the resulting destruction. How could all this insanity be taking place? Please read and review. Thanks!

CHAPTER 1: HOMEWARD

It had been a long night at the library for Haruhi Fujioka. In two days, she would have her calculus exam, and she had spent the better part of the last four hours studying derivatives, integrals, asymptotes, functions, and all other forms of mathematic equations relating to the subject matter. Her eyes burned as she closed her calculus book, hoping she had absorbed all the necessary knowledge to score well on this exam.

Mother in heaven, I just want some sleep. Just a little sleep.

Haruhi knew her mother was watching her from heaven, and she almost felt like she could hear her mother's strong, confident voice cheering her on in her academic pursuits. For as long as she could remember, Haruhi knew she wanted to follow in her mother's footsteps and become a brilliant lawyer like her. That was why she tried to get into Ouran High School in the first place, since that was the school most likely to offer her the challenges that would motivate her to succeed and help her in her aspirations. By comparison, public school would have been too easy, and would never have given her any sort of challenge.

Besides, Haruhi thought, if I hadn't gotten into Ouran, I never would have had a chance to meet all the crazy boys who I have the pleasure of knowing as my best friends.

She smiled softly as she reflected on the different faces of the boys who made up the Host club. All six of them had their different yet lovable personality quirks that Haruhi had grown to enjoy even though she almost never admitted it out loud. Each of these wealthy young men had imprinted themselves on her heart in different ways as friends, mentors, lovers (or at least, wannabe lovers) and most importantly, her surrogate family, albeit an upper-class family in which she often felt out of place.

Descending the outside stairs of the library with her books securely placed in her backpack, Haruhi started home, sticking to the well-lit sidewalk and keeping watch in case of any possible trouble. Even though she was walking home by herself at night, she felt relatively safe since the library was in a good neighborhood, and it was still relatively early, for her at least.

She figured her father would be asleep by now, since he was getting ready to go on yet another staff trip with the hopes of bringing in some more money for them. Despite his rather unorthodox line of work as a cross-dresser in a bar, Haruhi loved her father and was happy that he loved and supported her even though she constantly asserted her wishes to be independent and take care of things by herself. Thankfully, he respected those wishes for the most part, but he would be by her side in an instant if she truly needed him. Continuing to listen for any signs of danger, Haruhi continued her trip back to the apartment she shared with her father.

About four minutes into her journey, Haruhi heard sirens coming from several blocks away.

Fire engines? Why so many of them? At first, she shrugged off the noise, figuring that some building across town caught fire judging by where the noise was coming from. But then the sirens got louder as Haruhi continued walking towards her home. As she got closer to her destination, however, her unease increased, as did the sound of the fire engine sirens. Before she knew what was happening, several fire engines rounded the corner and sped past her in the very direction she was heading. They turned the corner about two blocks ahead…and then she saw a faint and ominous light up ahead which could only mean one thing.

Oh no. Please tell me this isn't happening. Haruhi thought as she started running after the fire engines. Before she could reach the intersection, though, a black limousine drove up right in front of her. The back window slid down to reveal the unusually worried face of Kyouya Ohtori, thus confirming the young girl's fears.

"Kyouya-senpai? What are you…" Haruhi began, but Kyouya cut her off immediately.

"Haruhi, get in." Kyouya commanded somewhat calmly, but Haruhi caught the tinge of panic in his voice. As the vice president and unofficial shadow king of the Host club, Kyouya was usually cool, calculating, and virtually unflappable in the face of the daily chaos surrounding his life. But as Haruhi entered the limousine, she noticed that the shadow king was fighting to keep his emotions and anxiety under control as he gave tersely-worded instructions to his chauffer.

"Driver, take us to the Fujioka residence immediately." After that, Kyouya fell silent, but Haruhi could still sense his worry.

Several blocks away, the flames increased in height and intensity. The invisible angel of death was watching from above, waiting to claim his prey from the resulting destruction.

Haruhi's long night was only beginning.

"Sir, this is as close as we can get. The fire trucks are blocking the way." Kyouya's driver stated apologetically as he braked the limousine two blocks in front of the rapidly burning apartment complex that had served as the Fujioka residence since Haruhi was born. Without thinking, Haruhi opened the doors to the limo, ignoring Kyouya's shouts for her to stop, and sprinted toward the conflagration. Panic and utter terror completely overtook the normally calm and rational girl as she thought of her father and her home. The acrid smell of smoke and burning debris stung her eyes and made her cough, and the heat from the flames was close to unbearable, but Haruhi continued to run towards her home.

Please be okay, Dad. Please be outside waiting for me…

TBC

Author's note: It's been a long time since I have actually posted any fanfiction, and this is my first shot at writing a multi-chapter fic. But my life has been pretty hectic with schooling, learning foreign languages, and just plain old writer's block. But upon seeing "Ouran High School Host Club" in both anime and manga form, I feel like the creative juices are starting up again. (Thank you, Bisco Hatori!)

Oh, and incidentally, in Volume 1 of the manga, Takashi Morinozuka, or Mori-senpai, is indeed compared to a Siberian Husky because he is dependable and loyal, like this noble breed of dog.

Anyway, please feel free to read and review. Constructive criticism welcome. I wonder if I should turn this into a romance, if I haven't lost too much of my creative edge. I welcome your suggestions.

Until next time.