He listened to the rain fall. His keen ears attuned to the steadily increasing patter on the roof. A storm was coming. His fingers gently glided over her shoulders as he stared at the ceiling, letting his mind drift back to that day…
Mori was sitting on the windowsill, staring out over the gardens of Ouran Academy. "She left nearly an hour ago…" he wondered, inwardly panicking about his classmate's delayed return. Outwardly, Mori appeared a solid rock, steely eyes piercing through the rain dripping down the glass.
The third music room was bustling with the usual activities of the Host Club. The twins were busy teasing guests with "Which one is Hikaru?" game. King Tamaki whispered sweet nothings into the ears of his clients. Kyouya sat quietly noting all the precedings in his precious notebook. The afternoon was somber, even Hunny was quiet, resting his head in the lap of 2nd year student, having finished off 3 strawberry cakes. Only Mori sat apart from the others, at the window watching the sky darken, listening to rain fall.
Haruhi left before the guests arrived to buy more instant coffee, the official drink of choice of the host club. She went at Tamaki's request, although he had planned to accompany her. She deftly diverted Tamaki's request by insisting that he stay to work on the audacious plans for the upcoming dance party, particularly her costume. Hikaru and Kaoru were next in line to hound her for a field trip, but she quickly put the idea out of their heads. Kyouya would not dare to enter a commoner's market and Hunny was busily unpacking and tasting the day's pastries delivery. Only Mori understood that she wanted to be alone, that she needed some peace and quiet. He wanted to escort her, but thought it would be too awkward having watched her fend off the other club members. So Mori resigned himself to sentry-duty and watched her run though the gardens and through the gates towards the shops. He hoped she would return quickly.
Then the guests arrived and the club members quickly jumped to life, delighting and entertaining the young ladies. Mori eyes flicked to his watch and then to window, noting the darkening clouds on the horizon. A flash of lightning broke through the clouds. Mori leapt from the sofa and bolted out of the room leaving his designations politely holding tea cups alone. The other members and guests were stunned by the stoic's burst of energy and watched his tall form run down the hall. He leaped down the stairs faster than Kyouya could even make note of his departure. Tamaki stood in the doorway shouting, "Mori-senpai, you've abandoned your charges, neglected these noble ladies..." but a loud crack of thunder silenced his theatrics. It was storming outside and no one could find Haruhi. The host club members were suddenly aware of the serious situation.
Mori exited the building as that first roar of thunder rolled over. The rain poured down, making difficult to see clearly, but Mori wasn't relying on his eyes. He ran to the gate, then the fountain, but found no sign of her. Drenched and worried, the usually calm senior was near panic when he realized where Haruhi would be. He ran along the garden hedge and seemed to stop randomly, pulling the branches aside. She was in the abandoned garden, a favorite hiding spot from the club's many rounds of "hide & seek," always played at Tamaki's insistence.
Pushing through the brambles and branches, Mori realized it was during a hide & seek that he completely fell in love with Haruhi. Tamaki had dragged the members together on the club's off day for another game in the garden. A beautiful spring day. Hunny took his turn as the seeker, closed his eyes and began counting. Already annoyed at Tamaki for arranging this activity on her off day, Haruhi was not in the mood to put up with the king's antics, the twin's teasing, or Kyouya's glare. Instead she bounded off in a direction away from the others, down a path by the garden hedge. Not much for sports of any kind, Haruhi paused to catch her breath.
"Haruuuuu-channn….Usa-chan and I will find you!" Hunny gleefully shouted. "How can he be that close already?" Haruhi mumbled and looked around. The path only lead around the garden, back to where they had started. Not seeing any options, she backed through the tall hedge and thumped against a tree.
"A tree? In the hedge? Not possible," Haruhi thought to herself. "Too warm." A hand rested on her shoulder and she turned upwards to see the face of Mori-senpai over her - in the middle of the hedge. "But how…" she began to ask when he put his finger against her lips and mouthed "Shhh."
Footsteps. Haruhi heard the mumbles of Hikaru and Kaoru as they ran down the path in search of a better hiding spot. Without a word, Mori took her hand in his and with his other arm lifted the branches aside to reveal an enclosed garden with a gazebo. He led her to a seat and they hid there, silently but together with his hand over hers on the bench between them.
The distressed shouts of Hunny that Usa-chan had decided to hide and could not be found roused Mori. The two left the hidden, peaceful garden knowing that a lost Usa-chan made for an unhappy Hunny, which was no fun for anyone. They were the last to arrive. Hunny successfully found the others. Kyouya did not bother to hide, but worked from his laptop in the central garden. Tamaki rejoiced and ran to Haruhi shouting that his "Precious daughter had been lost!" and pulled her into a suffocating embrace. Only Hunny noticed Mori and Haruhi return together, hands entwined.
Since afternoon, Mori could not forget the gentle brush of her lips against his finger or the warmth of her delicate hands. She blushed whenever he looked directly into her eyes. Those beautiful brown eyes motivated him to move faster.
He found her in the gazebo, under the bench. The grocery bag soaked from the rain, lay on the ground. A broken jar created a puddle of Nescafe as he stepped into the garden structure. He got to his knees and pulled her to him, holding his arms over, protecting her from the sound of the storm. With her head tucked to his chest, she could only hear his steady heartbeat and feel his chest rise with each breath. Soon that was all she could hear, the sound of the thunder overwhelmed by his strength.
He felt her body relaxing, her arms slackening from the tense grip over her knees. She opened her eyes as he looked to her face, tears silently running down her cheeks. He gently brushed the tears away with his lips, not quite kissing her cheeks, but removing each drop and savoring the softness of her skin. She blushed deeply and stammered "Mori-senpai…?"
"Ah." He gathered her closer still, slipped an arm under knees and lifted her off the ground as he stood up. The lightning flashed and she shuddered, but no sound followed. The storm had passed. She rested her head against his shoulder with a gentle sigh of relief. He kissed her forehead. She looked questioningly at him, "Mori-sen…"
She paused. "Ta..ka…shi…arigatoo."
"I will always protect you," he promised. She nodded, moved her hand to his cheek and kissed him deeply on the lips.
As he carried her back to the academy, Mori became acutely aware of the tightness of Haruhi's wet clothes and the lucidity of her white shirt. The lace of her camisole showing through caused the most indiscernible color to rise to his face. His own clothes were disheveled and soaked, his tie lost, shirt untucked and buttons undone. Haruhi's hand lay against his bare chest. This is how it looked when the rest of the club reached them.
Tamaki fussed over Haruhi, worried that his precious "daughter" may catch a cold. Hikaru and Kaoru had a towel in hand and quickly bundled Haruhi, taking her from Mori's arms and guiding her back up to the Third Music Room. Hunny ran to Mori with a towel, "Daijobyou?"
Mori turned to his cousin and let the faintest smile cross his lips. Hunny had seen the flushed looks on their faces and grinned back.
"Excellent work, Mori-senpai. I do wonder how you found her so quickly." Kyouya quietly stated, pushing his glasses up. He turned, walked up the stairs of the building, "More importantly, I wonder if 'Father' will be upset over Haruhi's lost innocence."
Mori's eyes narrowed, prepared to fight, but Hunny grinned and patted his cousin's arm. "Daijobyou, Taka. Haruhi is glad you found her."
Things at the Host Club changed very subtlety after that stormy day. Kyouya kept Tamaki and the twins from monopolizing Haruhi's time while Hunny created outlandish distractions to give Mori a moment to slip away. In these spare, private moments, Mori would pick her up and kiss her. Deep, long, genuine kisses.
He recalled all those precious moments of secret kisses and shy whispers. It took nearly a year for Tamaki to realize their relationship. The twins sooner and although they may have been hurt, it was much more entertaining for them to tease the ever-clueless Tamaki. It wasn't until his graduation that he was finally able to say to tell her loved her.
She murmured in her sleep, and Mori's thoughts returned to the present. She lay sleeping in his arms, her head against his chest. The sound of thunder cracked and her eyes flickered open. "Taka?"
"Ah." He kissed her forehead and pulled her closed though she no longer panicked during storms. She held him tightly, feeling the warmth of his body and was drifting back to sleep when the door slid open.
"Mama? Papa?" The hushed, timid voice of a little girl called from the hall. "I'm scared!"
"We're here." Both Mori and Haruhi said together. Little feet shuffled across the floor as their 4 year-old daughter walked in, pulling her sleepy little brother behind her, each holding a bunny plushie. Mori pulled his daughter and son onto the bed and snuggled them between him and his wife. Haruhi kissed each child, wiping tears from their little faces. Listening to their breaths slow, he reached his hand across the bed Haruhi's. She squeezed his hand and gave a sleepy smile before closing her eyes. Mori slept with his long arms wrapped around his family and a broad smile on his face.