a/n: 1/16/08: OMG. This is it.
It's kind of weird to come to the end of this, because it really was a huge deal to me. Wow. That sounds nerdy when I type it out like that. Haha.
No matter what, I thank all of you who left reviews. I thank you a hundred times over!!! xD You really pressed me to finish this and to do my best.
By the way, I will definitely be doing an epilogue, but it's nice to think that now there's no hurry. ;D (And that I wrapped up Complicated in a way that really satisfies me.) Therefore, this fic will be set as 'complete' but will probably be updated at some point. In a week, in a month, in six months... who knows? o.o
Review. And enjoy. : )
Kyouya waited expectantly, and his father looked down at his hands.
Yoshio's eyes were voids. A wall of quiet, the glint of his father's lenses, and the bow of his head prevented Kyouya from seeing the look in Yoshio's there, but he probably wouldn't have seen anything, anyway.
He could see nothing, could not calculate his father's next move.
The odd thing was, he could feel. He could feel his father weariness, how very tired he was. And Kyouya could feel something shake and give way, because this was how he felt, too. And it reminded him – like a gentle, painful punch in the gut – that he was very much like his father in so many ways. Perhaps not all of them negative.
This was it, Kyouya realized, as his father opened his mouth to speak.
Quite literally, this was the moment of truth.
"I knew from Fuyumi that you loved her."
It was almost the oddest way Kyouya could have envisioned the topic opening. It was almost sentimental, with a certain softness in his father's voice that Kyouya had never heard.
"She came to me that night, what would have appeared to be a normal school day. She said you were lying on a couch in your room, sick over a girl rejecting you."
Kyouya pursed his lips and forced down an embarrassed flush. That Fuyumi found him so pathetic that she would go behind his back to tell his father, straight up, that Kyouya was lovesick; more than anything that his father knew this at all. Business was business, Father was Father, the Host Club and Haruhi his private salvations.
"She's an extraordinary girl," Yoshio prodded his son.
"It had nothing to do with being convenient?"
"What do you mean by that?"
"You didn't have us engaged simply because Fuyumi mentioned this to you and you realized she was the same girl Suoh was after for his son?"
Yoshio paused, pushed up his glasses, and regained his aloofness for a moment.
"Suoh. He wanted Haruhi to marry his son."
The straight answer should have put Kyouya at ease, but instead he felt like he had been pushed even closer to the edge of his nerves. It was not because he didn't know the answer. He knew the answer. But it was too absurd, too ridiculous, too improbable…
"Kyouya," his father told him, in a voice soft but toneless, "I'm your father. I am your father, and as such I… I want the best for you."
Too absurd, too ridiculous, too improbable…
"I wanted you to marry her because you loved her, Kyouya; gave her more time of day and interest and concern than you'd ever seemed to give any other girl, any other person, save Tamaki, and perhaps your sister."
It couldn't be.
His father had done it because he loved him.
Kyouya struggled to absorb this.
It was an image of his father that Kyouya was not accustomed to. Gentle and loving? Not his father. Never. Careful, yes. Cruel, no. Did he care about his sons? Of course. They were cagey and industrious; sons to be proud of.
But Kyouya had never seen his father's care for his children as love. Love in the paternal, uncalculated, selfless sense. Those were words that did not describe his father, didn't describe the complicated relationship his father shared with his children.
"Few people know you. I don't understand you. You're my son, but I am probably the one who knows you least."
"It's true," Kyouya whispered out, but it really came out louder and calmer than it sounded in his head.
"I realize that. I have never deluded myself, Kyouya."
There was an awkward pause in conversation to match Kyouya's awkward answer.
"You're a third son. I was an only child. It might not seem like I sympathize, but I think being at the greatest disadvantage makes for the most admirable challenge."
Kyouya's eyes flicked up quickly, then flicked back down.
There was another quiet, not awkward.
"I made the arrangements for you two in three hours. I took care of all the papers, her father, and sketched out plans for your future together."
Kyouya had never known his father to be so hasty. Still, the mention of the arrangement irritated him, made his fists tighten again with the memory of all the trouble it had put him through.
"It wasn't right. You forced it on Haruhi. You know that."
"It was perfectly legal. Her father agreed to it," Yoshio replied airily, breezing past any accusations of wrongdoing (a manner Kyouya had learned well). He grew more solemn. "Arranged and businesslike is the best way to carry out most aspects of life, Kyouya."
"I disagree," Kyouya replied dryly. His father went on.
"The Springfield engagement was in hopes of creating some jealousy. Or at least some regret. As I understood, the daughter was enamored with you – an easy agreement to make, considering that her parents dote on her, and, of course, the prestige of the Ootori name." His eyes light a little, as if remembering a joke. "To my great surprise, I was spared the embarrassment I was prepared for. Gina Springfield herself came to me to cancel the engagement." A sly smile, a rarity, formed on his lips. "What good luck.You'll have to thank Fujioka-san for me."
Kyouya only vaguely grasped what his father meant.
Then it hit him.
But it couldn't be Haruhi – Haruhi, who had said she didn't love him – who'd driven Gina away.
Was he wrong?
Was Haruhi wrong about herself?
He stood with inelegant quickness. "Excuse me," he told (apologized to) his father, and he scurried to the door with the same kind of inelegance.
Could she… ?
She really did…
Kyouya turned, his hand already on the doorknob, heart already pounding in his chest.
Yoshio wasn't smiling opening now, but the bright traces of one lingered on his face.
Kyouya allowed himself a moment of calm, objective thought.
"Thank you," he said, and with a last business-like nod he walked out of his father's office.
It took him ten minutes to stop his heart pounding.
It took him two more to pick up the phone and finally fumble for her number.
It took thirty seconds of ringing for her to pick up.
It took five for her to say hello.
It took ten before he'd said hello back.
Five more minutes before he specified that he wanted to meet her, where he wanted to meet her, implied that it was urgent, and hung up quickly.
It took another agonizing fifteen minutes to get to his destination.
And it took two minutes, when he saw her sitting on the swing, to reach her, in strides cool and unaffected and nothing like his thoughts at that moment.
"You came," she said, looking up and blinking. Stating the obvious.
Now that he could properly hear her voice, time had ceased to be terribly important.
She'd been swinging slightly, just a bit, like a bored child. There was something nervous about it, and he couldn't tell whether it was him or something else.
(But he noticed that she stopped swinging, sat expectantly still when she saw him.)
He sat down on the swing next to her. Her toes skimmed the ground, but his legs were much longer and bended a bit awkwardly. A bird somewhere chirped.
It was a gray spring day, with the threat of rain, but it was warm and slightly humid without being sticky, and smelled the way only spring can smell. With green everywhere, the way green can only look in spring.
She was concerned. She must have figured that it was something bad.
He stared off, seemingly into space.
"Do you want a popsicle?"
She turned her head to look at him. "Eh?"
He nodded into the direction he was staring, at a man with a cart. He was beginning to take it down because of the weather. A couple of children at the other side of the playground gave out faint child-shrieks at the faint call of their mother.
Kyouya left her on the swings and went to the cart. The man seemed to be surprised by this last customer, but handed him two Orange Cream pops. He brought them back, handed one to her, and idly held his own without even unwrapping it. He just turned it around in his hands, mind occupied with something else.
He saw Haruhi's hands tightened, one around the popsicle stick, one around the side of the swing, and it's only then he realized she was hanging on for dear life.
"It won't storm," he assured her quietly.
She stared down at her shoes.
"They said it wouldn't," she replied, equally quiet.
The park was empty, save for them and the bird, still chirping somewhere.
Kyouya felt a warm droplet of rain on his nose.
"Why did you ask me to come here?" she asked, a little louder and more conversationally. Her hand around the swing side was still white, the other, shaking. She'd licked up the last of the popsicle. Now she carefully made a distraction of re-wrapping the stick and tucking it into her pocket to throw out later.
"Fuyumi brings me here occasionally. She likes it."
The two sat there, just sat there.
Kyouya tensed up, imagining that he'd heard thunder. But, his ears were probably playing a trick on him.
Another droplet. And another. His sleeve had little wet marks on it, thanks to the insolent raindrops leaking out of the sky.
The rain won't stay stopped up forever.
She looked up.
"I love you."
She knew. Of course she knew.
In that moment, the sunlight seemed to break a crack through the clouds and the raindrops, and in retrospect he vaguely remembered that was moment when the rain started falling, just a few more drops, then a few more, and a few more, until it was a proper drizzle.
He leaned closer, leaned over, and brought his lips to meet hers in a kiss.
Her lips were still sticky, and he could almost taste the orange popsicle.
His glasses were getting wet, and his image of her blurring. He pulled away slowly and tried to wipe them with his sleeve, but it was already soaked through. He tucked them in his pocket and looked up at Haruhi.
She sat, frozen on her swing. Her expression didn't change.
But her face went pink, then pinker, then red.
She jerked up to stand, but couldn't seem to find strength to move any further.
He stood, too.
"Well," she said, gathering her wits, "that was…"
"Nice?" he filled in, with no trace of playfulness. His eyes were solemn, overly so, and she almost found herself laughing.
"I don't know," she admitted, her soft-but-sure answer almost drummed out by the drizzle.
She just really didn't want to realize it.
He paused. Then kissed her again, harder, and this time he could taste the orange and feel how warm and soft her lips were and he hoped she found his lips equally appealing.
But, from the way she kissed him back, she did.
He put his arms around her, and her hands were in his hair.
He didn't know how long they were like that, because time didn't matter and he wasn't counting, anyway.
She let go, pulled only her lips away, softly, and met his eyes. Her face was just barely pink now, and he noticed that her face, her hair, her clothes, were wet. Huh.
It's raining, he reasoned absently, I must be completely drenched, too.
(How completely irrational.)
Again, she smiled. So normal, so very Haruhi. Not like some coy maiden from a cheap romance novel – not like Ouran coeds or Tamaki's daughter fantasies.
Because it was Haruhi, it was better than any of those things.
He noticed the sun breaking through the clouds, rain continuing in a light patter, and realized that a rainbow must have been forming somewhere.
(How completely extraordinary.)
"I think I... love you."
He stared at her, a slow smile spreading across his face.
"Maybe," she amended hastily, going back to 'pinker'.
For some reason, Kyouya started to laugh. Just laugh. Happily, with no trace of a snicker or a snide thought, with a true smile; a smile and a laugh that had mostly been reserved for Tamaki in the last three years.
It rained and the sun shined and a rainbow formed.
He hugged Haruhi tighter.