Disclaimer: Sci owns neither Host Club nor the lyrics to Ryan Adam's "Desire" that gloss this particular piece.
two hearts fading, like a flower
Written with lum for mirai3k
i. two hearts fading, like a flower. all this waiting, for the power.
Having achieved the dream she had set out upon originally, Haruhi found that, as a graduate of the Oxford Law Programme, she had to form other dreams.
For the first time in her life, she was without any semblance of a plan.
Looking down at the leather bound folder that held her diploma, she quietly reflected on her life.
Middle school was an ephemeral memory, graced by a few sepia-tinted memories and half familiar faces...
Tokyo University had this same quality, but seemed less personal and more like an instrument used for a purely functional purpose than Middle School…it was just a rung on the ladder to Oxford.
However, there was one place that still held an almost – and she always felt as if it had tainted her with some bizarre miasma that made her think of it in such a troublesome manner – mythic quality.
Ouran was still impossibly vibrant in her mind's eye. The sky seemed too blue and - as much as she relished the pursuit of her law degree - it had been a time of chaotic enjoyment and a whirl of tastes, touches, and caresses that still defied any attempt she made to classify them and make them behave within confined spaces.
Every now and then, Ouran - well, the members of the Host Club - still intruded on her currently well-ordered life.
The twins e-mailed regularly and somehow managed to show up and fall asleep on the couch in her living room at spontaneous intervals.
Mori and Hunny sent her tickets to demonstrations they held in the UK and on the continent and still sent tasteful flower arrangements with a card featuring some cute figure or another on major holidays.
The connections that Kyouya still made with her life were a bit more tenuous and removed...he appeared in newspaper articles wherein economic commentators tried in vain to predict his next bold move or - far better word choice, in Haruhi's opinion - his next hostile takeover.
The most direct communication Haruhi had had with him over the years had been him personally sending her an article – actually, she couldn't be sure that he personally did it, knowing that, as head of the largest hotel chain in the world, he probably had an army of secretaries at his beck and call. The newspaper article expressed in a nutshell that the sole heir of the Suou Empire had been disinherited in a collective action by the board – and by "board," Haruhi knew it actually meant his grandmother – for being "unfit" and the Suou Matriarch had adopted the third son of another company – namely, someone of pure Japanese descent to soothe her xenophobic notions.
Kyouya, of course, had nothing but "I hope you, in particular, should find this interesting" to say on the article – typewritten, definitely the work of a secretary – with no indication why she "in particular" should find it interesting.
She did, however, feel sorry for him and wonder what he would do now that his life was governed by a stricter income.
But, mostly, Haruhi knew that it was pointless to worry about Tamaki. He – even for all his troublesome daydreams – could more than take care of himself.
Strangely, Tamaki - with the exception of a few handwritten notes rendered in painstakingly elaborate, and most likely unnecessary, cursive - had maintained a fairly uniform silence throughout the years.
Annoyingly, the rest of the former Host Club seemed to be engaged in a conspiracy against telling her any actual information on the former King besides what the few lines – which mostly amounted to nonsense anyways – that he sent himself said.
ii. for an answer, to this fire. sinking slowly. the water's higher.
As she was packing up her small apartment in preparation for a move back to Japan and the acceptance of an offer of work at a law firm, she heard the familiar strains of piano music drift up from a few floors below and through her open window.
Packing up the few photos she kept on her desk – a picture of her mother, a glossy fashion portrait of her father, and one of the Host Club with the group clustered around her chair in which Tamaki's hand rested on the shoulder of her high school self – her previous wave of nostalgia returned.
Piano music always dug up something within her that, at other moments, she tried to harness and push back into a more convenient place.
However, for once she let it escape and run its course.
Haruhi did not know the song's composer, or the mode or meter it was composed in, could not tell a sonata from a symphony, and knew nothing but the simplest aesthetic pleasure that it could give her.
But, she did know that it reminded her of Tamaki.
And, looking back, she realized that piano music had had a strange kind of dependability in her life after Ouran.
Even within the small two-room apartment that she had lived in when she attended Todai, late at night – sometimes at inconvenient times when she was trying to study – quiet, lilting melodies had drifted through the thin walls of her room.
All throughout her time at Oxford, within about a half a year of her moving in, it seemed like another pianist had moved into her building, and late at night when her window let a nice breeze in, somber and melancholy chords saturated the air.
By this time, however, Haruhi was so used to the occasional musical intruder, that it was merely like an old friend returning.
Tonight the melody communicated a longing that wasn't quite melancholic, but one that seemed to call out for something that it wasn't quite brave enough to name.
It was waiting. It was a song that perched on the windowsill expectantly.
Carefully wrapping the cloth around the last picture frame – this one, of the Host Club – she glanced at the clock and, finding that it was a time when everyone but herself and the pianist that should be asleep, found that she had no inclination whatsoever to go to bed as of yet.
Unable to shake off years of conditioning herself to stay up for days at a time studying, she decided to take a short walk.
However, as she got to the landing of the second floor, she found that the piano music had quite permeated the stairwell. Logically, she decided that, since the music had seemed faint and quiet from her window, the room that it was emanating from must be very near the spot where she stood.
Half out of curiosity, and half out of a desire to, perhaps, politely say that the music might be keeping other people up at this late hour, she decided to go knock to find the specific apartment where the music was coming from.
Stepping out of the stairwell, she found that the reason that the quiet tune had been so audible was that – as the only apartment with a square of light outlining the door in an otherwise dark hallway – the pianist's room was directly adjacent to the stairs.
Here, outside of the door, the sound was muffled but still delicately beautiful.
Hesitating, Haruhi knocked on the door and immediately felt very foolish.
Justifying her current actions to herself - and decidedly sublimating any residual curiosity she felt under a strict code of propriety - Haruhi decided that, if she could hear it two floors up in her room, the neighbors must be equally as bothered by it.
The music promptly stopped and remained hanging on a leading tone, awkward and unresolved.
There was the click of a lock and the sliding of the bolt before a brilliant shaft of light illuminated the hallway, briefly overwhelming her eyes and making her unable to see anything but the tall silhouette of the figure behind the door.
"Excus - " she began, but was interrupted by a startled, "H-H-H-Haruhi…?"
She blinked, and her eyes adjusted and took in the rumpled figure of someone who was, indeed, an old friend.
iii. with no secrets. no obsession. this time i'm speeding with no direction.
They both stared at each other in shocked silence after the initial communication.
Haruhi, finally, could only say rather lamely, "Sempai, playing so late at night will no doubt wake your neighbors up."
He nodded dumbly and, after his initial surprised outburst seemed at a genuine and uncharacteristic loss of words and rapidly turned a deep shade of crimson.
The man looked a bit embarrassed at the fact that, after six years of never talking directly to her, the first thing she had to say to him was actually an admonishment.
Rather, he stuttered through a very simple apology and pulled her in and shut the door behind her. She didn't resist, he found, in the least.
Once inside, Haruhi met with a room that was almost completely lacking in the opulence that she knew he had been accustomed to in high school.
…the most adornment in the room, was, in fact, a vase of red roses a top a rather battered grand piano. Other than a large lamp perched a top a large stack of thick books and - was that shoujo manga? - the rest of the room's halo of light came from a rather eclectic collection of candles on every other surface.
However, as she was numbly led by the hand to a couch that had certainly seen better days, Haruhi barely had time to notice anything else.
Seeing Suou Tamaki in a place like this was certainly shocking enough. Through a hazy fog that, on the one hand, consisted almost entirely of trying to logically parse the situation and, on the other, trying to silence the chaotic mess of…what she didn't even know, besides the fact that it was troublesome…that she had allowed to arise from the initial nostalgic memories.
Tamaki, like-wise, wasn't very well off himself. He had known she was there…two floors up, in apartment 204. Before that, she had lived in apartment 509 at the Fujiyama apartment complex, four blocks from Todai.
He had lived in apartment 437 in the same complex until she transferred to Oxford. It had taken him a half a year to find enough piano concertos and lessons to make up a fare for him and his piano to follow her.
He had even done a stint as a professional host.
Kyouya had urged him for the entire length of time to talk to her and tell her why it was that he was doing what he was.
Actually, his exact words were a harsh, "If you're going to follow her like an idiotic puppy dog, than don't simply be an idiotic voyeur."
But, for the time being, at least – and indeed, for about six years – Tamaki had told himself to be content with being near her and seeing her accomplish her goal at long last.
It was what he thought she wanted. No interruptions, no impositions, no distractions.
And Tamaki knew, even if he felt a touch of melodramatic regret as he thought such things, he was all of those to her.
By now, the awkwardness had decidedly settled between them.
Tamaki, having not prepared any speeches or things to say even after all the years he had taken care not to have a chance encounter with her – Kyouya, of course, somehow managed to obtain her class schedule and relayed it to him – was jittery and uncomfortable.
Haruhi just tried not to think, Why is he here…? And failed as much as Tamaki failed at keeping his composure.
Now, at a distance of just a few feet from each other, there was an unspoken agreement not to look or ask or do anything at all…it was as if a giant elephant was in the small apartment that both tried to pretend was so commonplace that it wasn't worth commenting upon.
There was no Hunny perched upon Mori's shoulders making a well-timed offer of some sugary confection with an accompanying grunt from his cousin.
No twins were present to distract and lighten the tension of the situation with some remark at their Tono's expense.
Notably absent were Kyouya's normal scathing remarks that – and, this was truly a mark of the desperation on both their parts – would surely have been welcomed by both parties at the time.
Fidgeting amidst the all too long period of complete and utter silence and absolutely not wanting to be the one who was the one to shatter it into tiny, tiny pieces, Tamaki finally stood up and, after a short period of frantic pacing and muttering of half formed and incoherent phrases, found himself stopped short by Haruhi, who was looking at him carefully.
"Senpai," she said in cautious, measured tones.
Normally, he would have objected to being referred to as such when they were so far removed from their Ouran days, but rather because she was actually addressing him he found himself frozen in a rather ridiculous position.
Haruhi almost laughed and mentally remarked upon the fact that, for all his bizarre quietness since their meeting, Tamaki was still very much Tamaki.
But, she also realized that if she left him in that position for much longer, he might faint due to lack of oxygen due to locking his knees…and she still had packing to do tonight.
She wanted to ask him all of the obvious questions…why, how long, and when he was here.
However, the only thing that managed to escape her upon seeing his hopeful eyes – they reflected a puppy-like innocence she didn't know if she herself still had – was a rather flat, "Will you play the piano for me?"
"Of course, my princess!" He exclaimed, shifting his weight away from his former acrobatic position and funneled all of his nervous energy into a verbal barrage, "I shall play for you now to make Orpheus jealous and to spring my Eurydice once more into the land of the vibrant and viscerally living and thriving and – lov!"
He swallowed the last word of his poetic flight of fancy in complete embarrassment and, clearing his throat awkwardly, took his accustomed seat at the piano.
Taking a deep breath and appearing a good deal more nervous than Haruhi thought her presence required him to be, he began.
The melody he played was so deceptively simplistic.
It was lively, bright, lilting, and airy. Something so strong and blatantly out there that, unless someone concentrated on the subtle undercurrent, no one would know.
Illusive and almost ephemeral, there was a hint of an ache beneath it.
No, she corrected herself, listening to the dominant strains of the melody, it's not so much an ache…maybe…perhaps, it's a sort of longing.
It was something that she, listening and feeling the years just slough off of her, felt reflected in herself. It was the same old feeling that had stirred in her with the intermittent piano music and melodies that seemed to haunt the walls of her rooms sounded about in the late hours of the evening.
Everything, everything about it…sitting there watching him closing his eyes and weaving the spell with a percussive touch upon the instrument, was familiar.
It brought back to her days after the Host Club – it had collapsed when left in the less than financially deft hands of the twins alone – in her senior year when she inexplicably sometimes found Tamaki in the Third Music room, performing for no one in the empty space.
More memories welled up.
iv. you know me. you don't mind waiting. you just can't show me, but god i'm praying.
"Haruhi! Have you missed me?"
It was the same question that usually interrupted her attempts to study in a quiet, familiar place.
The interruption was so expected by now that Haruhi didn't so much as look up from her current textbook at him and just made a vague sounding noise that merely amounted to "I acknowledge your presence."
In a moment, just as he did everyday, he was within a few feet of her and babbling, "Thank all imaginable powers that in my absence my Haruhi is well and untouched by the rampant poverty that strikes down commoners in the prime of their lives! When I think of my dear Haruhi withering away in the prime of her youth - like a flower which is lost to an autumnal frost – " here he touched a hand to his head in a gesture of overwrought sentimental compassion " – my knees threaten to buckle under me with a powerful quaking fear. Why, it must be that I - "
"Senpai," she said, cutting him off with practiced ease, "as you can see I am here and intact and wishing for quiet."
It was those eyes…the one's not even Kyouya could avoid obeying and feeling guilty over.
Grudgingly, she put aside the book and glowered at him.
dog eyes might win her over in the end by necessity, but it didn't
mean that she had to be happy about it. Stubbornly, she refused to
start any sort of conversation, knowing that if Tamaki was left to
his own devices, there was a good chance that he might be able to
carry on a conversation all by himself.
After a while, he asked, subdued to the point that his behavior was rather suspect, "Haruhi, what do you want to do with your life after Ouran?"
Haruhi, being only three months from graduation and having given the issue extensive thought, "I've been accepted to Todai…and from there I'll go to law school."
With the same degree of subdued seriousness, Tamaki contemplated her answer for a while and seemed to struggle with phrasing something, "Do you plan to fall in love? Have a family? What about the other wonderful elements of life out there…?"
Haruhi smiled at him and noticed, in passing, that he colored slightly. She also noted that everything about him was very tense and expectant.
Even if it was Tamaki, his behavior was a bit strange.
"I don't think anyone really plans to do those things, Tamaki-senpai…but," she folded her hands and looked down at her lap, "I have a dream…I, well, I don't know if I should be distracted by any of that."
"So," he said, looking off towards the window, "you plan to wait?"
She frowned at his incredulous tone. Haruhi didn't see what was wrong with that and told him so.
He laughed at her response.
She wondered, for a moment, why his glittering personality didn't seem so genuinely Tamaki at that time.
For the next three months he came in with his questions, but instead of his puppy dog eyes forcing some bit of conversation out of her, he usually just went to the piano, where he would play as she looked over the material for her next test or read the textbook in preparation for her next class.
Haruhi only wondered, much later, what she had said to make him withdraw and ultimately disappear except for a few scrawled lines on paper for the six years after she walked out of Ouran.
v. burning slowly. my one and only. Desire.
He stopped, the last chord reverberating and the spell of the music fading slowly.
Tamaki, however, kept his fingers upon the keys as if he was hesitant to leave the comfort of the instrument's familiarity.
He had played a song that he had played very late at night intermittently throughout the last six years, hoping that, maybe…
For once, Tamaki had no desire to finish the sentence.
Haruhi was looking very hard at the space in front of her.
"Senpai," she said when all the music had faded into the same uncomfortable silence that had proceeded it.
"Where have you been for the last six years?"
Sighing, Tamaki got up and returned to his position next to her on the couch.
"At my piano."
The reply was so to the point that Haruhi couldn't help but raise an eyebrow in doubt at it.
"And where has your piano been…because, Senpai, I keep thinking I've heard a song like that but…" she trailed off for a moment, looking him directly in the eye, "I never saw you attached to it."
Unable to hold her gaze, he tried very hard to stare at a spot in front of him.
"Haruhi," he announced with a defeatist air, tinged with his normal melodramatic sorrow, "I'm a distraction."
Remembering a long ago conversation in the Third Music room and a question she had long asked herself without a coherent answer she suddenly started.
The fact that he had been gone and yet…there…It was all beginning to make a hazy sense.
"But," Tamaki continued, leaning back and turning his attention to the ceiling, "I wanted to be near you, even if it was only my selfish wish."
Everything – the piano music, Kyouya's cryptic note, his subdued behavior all those many years ago – suddenly made a clear and very guilty sense.
Haruhi finally understood what was wrong with waiting.
"Tamaki" she said, overly conscious of what she was saying, "you wouldn't have been a distraction."
He started at his own name and turned, at last, to stare at her.
"It was worth it - to see you accomplish your goal - I could wait."
It was a statement of something Haruhi had always considered Tamaki lacking in: self-control.
He had demonstrated six years of it.
And for what?
Haruhi had said it out loud without realizing it.
Again, with the same deep breath that he took before performing his piano piece, he reached out and took Haruhi's hands while flashing one of his radiant smiles.
"I don't mind waiting, Haruhi."
As with everything important, Tamaki - although he might have verbally tap-danced upon the subject at least five times during the rest of the evening – he never said the words, "I'm here, Haruhi, because I love you and I'm willing to wait until you figure your life out and see if there's a place for me."
But, after all of these years, Haruhi certainly knew what he was thinking.
At least, she amended cautiously, to some extent.
But still, she was conscious - just as she was conscious of the heavy weight of his arm placed now placed hesitatingly around her shoulders – that some things in life were worth all the time spent waiting for them.
And, amidst her six years of order and the absence of the former chaos that ruled her life prior to her college years, Haruhi at last decided to give way to distraction and desire.
In fact, she welcomed it.
A/N: This is really not like any TamaHaru fic I've even attempted before. I have no idea what to think. The word choice is a lot more elaborate and ornate than usual…or maybe not.
But, as I started the small, miniscule drabble that mirai3k…basically, Tamaki x Haruhi with music as a backbone. And so, apart from the obvious piano music – which is an obvious metaphor for Tamaki himself – there's the Ryan Adam's music used as a gloss for the chapter titles. On the technical aspects…I wanted to write awkwardness…pure, undiluted awkwardness. Also, it's full free indirect discourse, but less in the heads of the characters than usual. I wanted to mix it up.
But it's still kinda fluffy! Fluff is so hard.
I also wanted to play with the vignette kind of structure again…I think some of the connections are rather arbitrary though… :0