a/n: Well, I'm almost done with a very long story I've been writing, so I decided to finally post this. xD Although until the final chapter for that story comes out, I won't be posting chapter two of this one.
Oh, and I don't know if Kyouya has a mother or not. I don't think I've ever seen her... for purposes of this story, he has one. Also, I'll be using honorifics in this story. I think most people know about these, if you don't it shouldn't be too big of a deal. The reason I mention it is because I might make a few mistakes with them here and there. So, in advance, I apologize.
Lastly: Please review with suggestions, comments, ideas, and constructive criticism. I love it all. :3
Ootori Kyouya sat at the end of the table, looking down at his breakfast. He took a small bite of the eggs, then slowly examined the two other figures at the table.
Their faces were nearly expressionless.
The only sounds were the clinking sounds of tableware. Yet again, his mind flashed to how it would be right then if Fuyumi was there – at least the discouraging silence would be filled with talk of trivial social engagements, new restaurants, or endangered animals.
But now, there wasn't a hint of whimsy at the table. All that Kyouya could detect in the air was pressure.
His father spoke. The words Kyouya knew so well, so well that he moved his lips silently to them.
"Goodbye, Megumi. Kyouya." He gave a curt nod to his youngest son.
He shuffled out of his chair, then picked up his suitcase and walked out of the room, his steps echoing.
His mother gave him a little smile, noticing her son's unnaturally vacant expression."You know he cares about you, Kyou." she told him softly. You know he cares about you. He just doesn't know how to show it. It was his mother's signature speech, meant to comfort him.
Kyouya shrugged, stood, and slung his school case over his shoulder. He had better get going. He had some Host Club business to deal with this morning.
As he was sitting in his limousine, he gazed out the tinted windows, bored. He hardly ever allowed himself this luxury (he should have studying this week's English vocabulary) but he found that it cleared his head.
Today his thoughts floated around lazily. It was rather relaxing. What crazy cosplay would Tamaki come up with this week? Hopefully it wasn't going to be one of those rare last-minute demands where Tamaki wanted him to come up with the costumes during lunch break. Last time he'd done that Kyouya had sworn that it would be Tamaki's last.
He hoped the twins would be willing to cooperate. Really, those two could be so unruly – even when something so trivial as a costume didn't suit them. They were fashion-minded, and it was difficult to please them when it came to clothing. Mori and Hunny, on the other hand, were like clockwork: both were unchanging and kind – perfect for business.
Haruhi. Now there was something interesting. She was always gentle and polite to their clients, no matter what kind of mood she was in. She was getting almost as good as Tamaki, who honestly enjoyed his work – how ironic that she was a girl!
A girl. A girl who posed as a boy. That was strange enough, but the fact that a girl intelligent enough to gain scholarship to Ouran posed in a host club – well, she was one of a kind. That was certain. But enough of her.
Thinking so much about Haruhi was not wise. He was already beginning to suspect that he might… feel something for her, but he'd never act upon such feelings. After all, he didn't want to set himself up for defeat. Or perhaps he didn't want to worry Tamaki. Tamaki wasn't aware of it yet – and neither was Haruhi – but he had the feeling the two of them would make a fine pair.
He pulled out his English textbook. That was enough pondering for one day.
"I cannot believe I did this."
"You know you want to! Last-minute decisions are always the most exciting!" Tamaki cried, hopping joyfully around the room. He had been pleading to Kyouya to organize this since he had stepped into the school.
Kyouya adjusted his tall, troublesome bishop's hat. "Medieval," he said dryly. Tamaki was weighed down with heavy robes and jewels (yes, they were all real. Kyouya had rented them). Kaoru and Hikaru were wearing the outfits of nobility. Haruhi was wearing a loose, colorful peasant's outfit. Mori and Hunny were dressed as knights.
Haruhi glanced over at him and Tamaki. He watched as she sighed, and he smirked. He knew what she was thinking:
He had to admit that the costumes were especially fitting today. Except Hunny's, although even his seemed to fit in its own way.
A girl – Gina Springfield, whom he quickly recognized as the daughter of the British ambassador - threw a flirtatious glance his way before looking away quickly. Kyouya pretended he hadn't seen her.
The Ootori family had no need for a diplomat's support at the moment.
Kyouya didn't treat guests. He had developed a technique for it after time went on, but it had never suited him. He preferred to be the brains behind the operation, stepping in only when he needed to. There were a few A-class ladies, that of course, he couldn't turn away. But generally his duties were fewer and farther between than anyone else's. If you didn't count the hours of planning he did work.
It wasn't so bad at all. He was really quite immersed in it – after all, the host club wasn't too different from a small - fine, very small – business. But a business nonetheless.
British ambassador. Hm. That reminded him, he needed to brush up on his…
"Is that English?"
He'd started muttering his vocabulary, memorized verbatim, without even noticing it. How silly. And how like Haruhi to notice.
"I have a test later this afternoon."
"I didn't think you'd be the type to study for tests, Kyouya-senpai. Or rather, the type who didn't need to study very much." She sat down in the chair across from his.
He gave the slightest shrug as an answer. "English is different, at any rate."
She looked mildly curious, so he continued.
"It's exactly that which spurs me. The sounds and letters are foreign; the speech pattern is nothing like Japanese. It's not just something you can glance over and understand."
She nodded, and smiled. "It's one of my favorite subjects. Probably for those reasons."
"Haruhi!" Tamaki grabbed his "daughter's" shoulder. "The guests will be here any minute! Please, get out of those clothes immediately!"
Haruhi gave him the look, and Tamaki instantaneously took a step back.
Kyouya fiddled with his glasses for a moment. Then, finally:
Tamaki's words poured out in a quick stream. "Why oh why oh why are you making our daughter dress in such a manner? Why doesn't she dress like our boys? There's no need to…" his eyes slid over to Haruhi's slitted ones, "to hint at her… condition…" he finished in a whisper.
"Tamaki-senpai. It's not an issue."
The twins nudged each other in the sides, and were watching the scene with their usual amusement.
"Mori-senpai, would you please be so kind as to let our first customers in?"
"Kyouya! This is important, no matter what our daughter says! It is our duty as parents –"
"Places, everyone," Kyouya said briskly.
Tamaki immediately switched to host mode. As the first lady flounced in, followed by a crowd of other girls, he smiled debonairly at her:
"Hello, hime… what type do you prefer?"
While Tamaki was busying smiling at her, Kyouya examined her.
"Um, are you, um, Tamaki-sama?"
The girl had lost every ounce of her nerve and was now blushing fiercely. "Yes, hime, I am the king of this third music room. I have never before seen your beautiful face… you are new to us, no? Please, assign a host." He gave her a welcoming grin.
The girl took in a quick breath – probably to keep from swooning.
This one's particularly susceptible to his charm. She'll probably assign him. But that would, of course, fit with the statistics.
"My name is Anno Kayo." She gave a little bow. Her eyes were locked on the ground, her brunette bangs hanging down and covering them from Kyouya's view.
This one is shy. But certainly, by the way she's reacting to Tamaki, an idealist in romance. Anno Kayo? Yes, that sounds familiar. Her father owns a shipping company. She's a first year.
"I-I would like to assign you, Tamaki-sama," she offered shyly. He took her hand.
"Of course. Please, come with me."
The girl, suppressing a goofy smile, was led off to a table where a few other girls were waiting for Tamaki.
Kyouya opened the ledger and scribbled down the mental notes he'd made.
He allowed his eyes to slide over to Haruhi's table. She was pouring tea for the girls, wearing a soft, kind expression. She was a natural. She made people feel good about themselves, and welcome in her presence.
It made it hard to tell what her true feelings were.
It was easy to see when she was annoyed, pleased, or – in rare cases – frightened. But it was not easy to see whether she saw Tamaki as a friend, or something more.
Good Lord. Why did he care?
"Are you all right?" He reached down and took her hand, but she pulled herself up without his assistance.
Her eyes were, as usual, bright and wide – with a slight curiousity in them. "Kyouya-senpai?" He withdrew his hand, raising an eyebrow as if to say, "What's so strange about this?"
"Ah, I'm fine. Just tripped." She put a thoughtful fingertip to her chin and stared up at the ceiling. "Today hasn't exactly been a good day for me."
"How so?" He had the strange urge to be chivalrous and carry her books, but it passed quickly.
"I came in second place on the exams again."
"Do you need tutoring? I'm afraid you can't leave the host club until your debt has been paid."
Her eyes widened. "Don't say anything to Tamaki-senpai or the others."
He couldn't help chuckling a little. He knew what she was thinking: those fools would insist on 'helping' her.
"I wasn't speaking of them. Jonuichi Ayame still owes me a favor."
She met his eyes for a brief moment. She was interested, but didn't want to ask.
"It was nothing important. I just sold her one of Tamaki's spare pens at a greatly reduced price."
"I can't believe they buy that stuff…"
"Believe it or not, she owes me a favor. Do you need the tutoring?"
"I should be fine." She gave him one of her smiles, which even he would admit was adorable.
"Do you need time off? I suppose it could be arranged."
"How much would I owe you?" she asked grimly.
"You'd add it to my debt, right?"
"No. It would be for the overall benefit of the host club. We'd lose money if you did not ace this next exam, were dropped from Ouran, and could not pay off all of your debt."
"Kyouya-senpai…" her voice was hesitant. Again, she was curious but did not want to actually know the answer. "How much have you added to my debt since I've joined the club?"
"Only what I've notified you of, Haruhi."
She was quiet for a moment, as they continued to walk to the host club.
"I thought… I thought that you were constantly adding on. For example, when you asked Jonuichi-san to tutor me. I thought you just wanted me to owe you."
Kyouya admitted to himself that at one time he had thought of doing that. Initially, he'd charged her for every kimono rental, for every inconvenience. She had intrigued him from the start – a little commoner lost in a sea of riches and play-acting. He wanted to keep her around as long as possible, thinking that she would run given the chance.
But as he got to know her – got to care for her – it became apparent that this was like a second family to her, and that running was the last thing on her mind.
"Did you want me to owe you something other than money?"
Was it something other than money that he sought?
She smiled at his honest answer.
Finally, their day was over. Kyouya shut his notebook and nodded towards Tamaki. Tamaki acted at first as though he hadn't seen, but after Kyouya glared daggers at him he hurriedly stood up.
"Ladies, princesses, we wish that we may spend more time with you but life is fleeting and we must part ways. May we have the joy of seeing your lovely faces tomorrow, and may those beautiful stars that are your eyes never stop shining. May your smiles -."
Kyouya cleared his throat. Tamaki sighed dramatically and finally finished up.
The "princesses" then began to say goodbye to their respective hosts, and hurried out the double doors in giggling groups.
As soon as the door shut on the last customer, Haruhi gave a relieved sigh. "Well, see you tomorrow," she said brightly. Tamaki gave her a puppy dog look.
"Haruhi! Can't you stay for just a little longer? It's Kyouya's and my turn to finish up some of the business!" Business meant cleaning up and preparing for the next day, under Tamaki's conditions that they must learn to feel Haruhi's pain of living a common life (where one cleaned up one's own messes).
She hesitated, but then:
"Well, I suppose I could help out. Dad won't be home until late tonight, so I'd just be eating dinner alone anyway."
Tamaki joyfully threw his arms around her. Kyouya, for some reason, felt a little sorry for her – he knew what it was like to be alone. There were nights where he would eat at his huge table by himself, not even bothering to have the lights turned on…
Haruhi twitched in Tamaki's arms, but did not make her usual attempt to slide away. She was adjusting to his copious amounts of affection.
"Haruhi," Kyouya said, tapping his pencil on his notebook, "please collect the tea sets used, so that I may take them home and have them washed. Tamaki, you'll box up the leftover cakes for Hunny-senpai."
"I will supervise."
Haruhi gritted her teeth against a reply. Actually, Kyouya would be working on arrangements for the next day's refreshments, but it was much more entertaining to see her annoyed reaction.
Tamaki, after a lot of trial and error (he was over-excited about cleaning up the commoner way) finally managed to clean up the cakes. After a tearful goodbye ("You'll see me tomorrow, Tamaki-senpai…") Haruhi allowed him to give her a light hug.
Again, Kyouya noticed how much she was consciously letting Tamaki touch her. She had always been lenient with the twins – obliviously letting them lick her face and flirt with her. She had barely batted an eyelash when he'd cornered her in a dark room.
Why was it that her walls were always up around Tamaki? Why did she treat him differently? He blinked, and suddenly it was clear.
Could it be that she was in love?
In the case of a practical girl like Haruhi, could it be that she was trying to deny her feelings?
It was just him and her now. A silence hung between them, reminding him of the one that had taken place between his parents and him that morning. But as was Haruhi's way, it was pleasant silence, something more companionable than cold.
He turned toward the window. It was nearly dusk.
She turned her head toward him, pausing herself in the motion of picking up a saucer. Unconsciously, he felt himself smiling.
"Let's pick up these last few tables. It's about time we went home. We certainly had a lot of costumers today, didn't we?"
"Small… talk… Kyouya-senpai?"
"You're right. Sorry."
Why was his face inches from hers now?
She stared up at him casually, yet he could see that even she thought something odd was going on. She blinked. He couldn't have ever felt more alert, as though every second was drawn out. His breaths were light. His heart… why was it pounding?
His face was inches from hers, when suddenly her eyes reached unheard of limits of wideness and took a step away. The throbbing in his head stopped.
He had been about to kiss her. Oh God.
"Kyouya-senpai?" her voice barely betrayed her surprise. His bold actions could not even pass under her radar, this time. There was no excuse.
"Pardon me," he apologized, taking a small step back and nervously pushing his glasses up.
She gave him one last tentative look.
This never happened.
He helped her to pick up the last few teacups. The silence loomed now.
"You may go now."
"Well, goodbye. See you tomorrow." She managed a little smile, probably still puzzled over what had taken place. She wasn't the only one.
Standing there like a fool, he suddenly remembered her familiarity with Tamaki… it was obvious.
She didn't think of Kyouya in that manner. No, more likely that was how she thought of Tamaki. But that would fit, wouldn't it? Seventy percent of the girls requested Tamaki… Now he was confused. Haruhi wasn't like other girls, was she? Wasn't she different?
Kyouya suddenly felt he might throw up.