A/N: I don't own OHSHC.
Hello! Well, finally, after such a long wait, I come back with the final chapter of Working for the Hitachiins! I'm sure a lot of you are anxious to see who Haruhi is going to choose...if she chooses at all. Hehe. To be honest, I myself was having trouble deciding, until last night when I tried to work out the scenario in my head and managed to come out with a relatively good outcome. Anyway, I'm babbling. Have fun reading this chapter!
Working for the Hitachiins
Her suitcases had been packed and were already taken and placed in the trunk of the limo that was going to drive her home. This was real. This was actually happening. Haruhi was really leaving, and nothing either of them seemed to do could change her mind.
Hikaru looked wistfully at her while she stood by the front door in her pale blue coat. If he could say one thing to her at the moment, it would be that she looked quite different from the Haruhi who came to work for them a few months ago. She looked more grown-up, more mature...she held herself differently now, and there was an air of definite sophistication about her. Yet at the same time she was still the same. She was the same innocent, bright-eyed Haruhi who had come into their room on her first day of work.
Kaoru stood at his side, and he could tell even without glancing at him that he was looking imploringly at Haruhi, willing her to stay with them. Hikaru groped the air for his brother's hand, and when he found it, he squeezed it gently. Haruhi, on the other hand, didn't appear to want to meet their gaze.
Her soft brown hair hung about her face and fell over her big eyes. It was as if she'd brushed it this way on purpose, to give her self the chance to avoid the twins altogether. Hikaru wouldn't have that; it wouldn't be a proper good bye if they didn't meet each other eye to eye. Releasing Kaoru's hand, he marched towards her, spit on his hand and used that to sweep her hair away from her face.
There was a pregnant pause in which nobody was even able to say anything. Kaoru's eyes were widened in shock and Haruhi's expression was totally unreadable. Hikaru appeared totally nonchalant as he shoved his hands back into his pockets.
Haruhi was able to regain her voice first. "Why the hell did you do that for?" she demanded, looking utterly disgusted. "I just showered and now I have your spit all over my hair!"
Hikaru shrugged. "You did that to me before, remember?" he questioned, but she just narrowed her eyes in confusion. "I was studying and my hair was all over my eyes, so you spit in your hand and pulled my hair back. Don't tell me you forgot. I made you wash my hair then."
He smirked when a blush crept up her already pink cheeks. He remembered that day all too clearly. When she smoothed back his hair he'd thrown a fit, lying on the floor and thrashing back and forth, while she stood above him rolling her eyes and telling him to grow up. When he seemed to ignore her completely, she'd yelled that she'd do anything to make up for the spit thing, at which point he'd sat up immediately and gave her an impish grin.
"Give me a bath," he had said.
To his dismay, half an hour later, Haruhi was still resolutely saying no. So he had to settle for her washing his hair over the sink. That had seemed like the best deal for her and she obliged quickly. She didn't know it, but having her gentle hands run through his hair and massage his scalp...it had made his legs buckle. It was good that he was already bending over the sink or else she'd have thought that something was strange.
She was huffing now. "That doesn't mean you could do it to me!" she protested.
"Oh, are you upset?" Hikaru teased her, and then Kaoru seemed to catch on and they both intoned, "Would you like us to give you a bath to make it up for you?"
"No!!" she exploded, her cheeks turning a deep shade of crimson. "Sheesh!"
There was a slight pause, and then the twins started to giggle. The pair of them clutched on to each other and laughed almost hysterically. Tears had sprung to Hikaru's eyes and he was struggling to fight them back. When he felt a certain wetness on his face, he thought he'd lost the battle...only to find that it was Kaoru who was crying. He held him even more tightly which caused Kaoru to cry more.
Then he felt another pair of arms around him and Kaoru as the warmth of Haruhi's body pressed against them. She brought her head so close to theirs that her forehead was touching Hikaru's and her nose was gently rubbing against Kaoru's. She was giggling incoherently, too, and her thin fingers clung firmly onto both of them. Hikaru gazed at her in wonder, and saw that tears were hanging over the tip of her eyelashes. Even as he watched, a tear seemed to fall and it landed on his dry lips. He wanted to, but he didn't dare let his tongue dart out to lick the tear. He didn't wish to spoil this moment.
This was the closest Haruhi had ever been to either of them. Even closer than the time the two of them were snogging...and he wasn't talking about the literal sense of "closeness".
"Thank you, both of you," she whispered softly.
And then she left, just like that. Hikaru and Kaoru stood on the front steps, both looking rather forlorn. Their expressions were solemn, and in Kaoru's case, tear-stained, as they watched the limo drive off and pull out through the gate. They continued to watch it until it was no more, and then they both released a breath they didn't realize they've been holding.
Hikaru felt his brother's hand squeezing his, and he whispered, "She didn't choose."
Of course, Hikaru already knew that. Haruhi had left without choosing either of them.
Sinking back into her normal life had been difficult at first. For one thing, she was now back to sleeping on a futon rather than a queen-sized, soft bed. She was back to having "commoner" food as the twins' called it, and she was back to the confines of a small studio apartment which she shared with her dad. She was also back to her job at the department store. Her dad didn't see why it was necessary to work when she has her scholarship, but she wanted to help with the household expenses.
It would've made more sense if she'd stayed with the twins and sent the money she earned from her job to her dad, but she couldn't bear to stay with them any longer.
There was the other different thing in her life. Now, there were no twins. A week after she'd left the Hitachiin mansion, she still hadn't quite gotten used to the fact that the twins were no longer living with her in the same house. Sure, they had her on the phone each day for hours at times, but it wasn't the same. When she was still in the mansion, she was the one who woke them up, she was the one who laid their clothes on their beds for them to wear and she was the one who waved at them as their car left the driveway.
When they came back, she was the one on the receiving end of their hugs and their constant whining about how much they'd missed her while on campus. She had lunch with them, and then sat huddled together with them in the library while they finished their homework. Then they hung out, watching TV, talking, playing...or had another Let's-Play-Pervs! Session, in which Haruhi refused to take part of.
They had become part of her everyday life, and even though she hated to admit it, she missed the twins terribly. A huge part of her wanted to go back and live with them for the rest of her life, but a little voice in the back of her head told her that she was drifting away from reality, and that there was really no way she could continue to live with them. After all, on what premises was she staying with them? Work? She hardly worked for them. They were more like roomies in a huge house...and she was the sole freeloader.
Sighing, she hitched her bag properly over her shoulder as she continued on her way home. She had just finished her daily shift, and was heading back to make dinner for her and her father, who should be arriving in an hour or so. As she neared the apartment complex where she lived, she saw a moving lorry parked outside. On closer inspection, she saw that the henchmen were carrying the stuff to the apartment next door.
Haruhi frowned. She hadn't been aware that they were going to have new neighbors. It wasn't of importance to her, anyway; she rarely ever interacted with her neighbors. The only person she talked to was the landlady, and that was only when she had to pay the rent. Side-stepping around a henchman carrying a small fridge, she climbed the stairs up to her home. She unlocked the door and stepped inside.
Slipping off her shoes and letting her bag drop to the floor, she padded into the kitchen and started pulling pots and pans out of overhead cupboards. She was planning on making stir-fry for dinner tonight, with rice at the side. And some miso soup, too. She hummed to herself as she worked, trying hard to ignore the quietness of the place. Her stay in the mansion had been anything but quiet, so this was something else that she was trying to get accustomed to now that she was back to her ordinary life.
The silence was pressing down on her, and she felt something sting her eyes. She breathed in sharply. She was not going to cry. She was not going to cry. Haruhi does not cry. She's a big girl, she does not cry over trivial things like moving out and...and...
Haruhi hiccupped. She felt an alien wetness sliding down her cheeks. She was...crying? She crouched down and dug her eyes into her knee caps, trying to stop her tears but it only served to make her eyes burn even more. She would've probably allowed herself to cry freely if it weren't for the doorbell. Its shrill ringing made her head jerk up and she looked around guiltily, as if she'd been caught doing something bad.
She hastily wiped her eyes on her sleeves and hurried to answer the door. She didn't pause to inquire who it was before pulling it open. "Hello, how may I...?"
Haruhi froze in her tracks. Her eyes widened in shock and her mouth hung open ever so slightly. A few moments passed and she became aware that she was gaping, so she clamped her mouth shut and lowered her gaze a little.
It was Kaoru.
Kaoru was standing there, smiling. He appeared to study her for a moment, before holding out his hand. "Hello, my name is Kaoru Hitachiin," he said pleasantly. Haruhi stared at him again, dumbfounded. "I'm your new neighbor, and I thought I'd stop by and introduce myself."
Huh? What did he just say?
She blinked. "You're my what?" she said stupidly.
His hand was still hanging out, but she didn't shake it. She wasn't sure if it were real to begin with.
Kaoru continued to smile. "Your new neighbor. I just moved here," he explained. "You won't believe how glad I am to find such an apartment that is both close to my university and my work place."
EH? University? Work place?
"E-excuse me?" she stammered.
"I work for the little pizzeria down the street. I'm the delivery boy," he said, grinning sheepishly. "And I study at the community college that's two blocks away from here. It's really so convenient having them both so close. This way I can get a few extra minutes of sleep in the morning."
Haruhi scrutinized him. Was he lying? No, Kaoru didn't look like he was lying. So what did this mean? Did he give up his posh, luxurious life and come to live in the commoner side of town? Did he actually quit Ouran and was now studying at a public college? And he was working, too? She gazed openly at him, and he just smiled earnestly back at her.
She then gingerly placed her hand in his, squeezing it gently as she shook it. He started to pull away, but she held on. She held on, and she pulled him down towards her, gently pressing her lips against his. Kaoru didn't respond at first, but soon his free hand were sliding around her waist, pulling her tightly against him, deepening their kiss. Haruhi released his other hand and he used it to rake his fingers through her hair.
Haruhi snaked her hands behind his neck, pulling him down even more. She kissed him with such intensity you'd think her life depended on it. As Kaoru whispered, "I love you," through their kiss, her mind automatically went back to what Tamaki had told her before.
"It's not you who has to choose. It's them. If they love you, they'll be willing to give up anything for you. When they do that, you'll know...you'll know it's the right choice. You don't have to do anything."
"But what if neither of them does anything?"
"You'll always have me!"
Kaoru had chosen her. He'd chosen her over Hikaru, and over his perfect life at the mansion. He'd given up everything for her. When he pulled back to have a proper look at her face, she saw that his face was glowing with delight. His eyes were bright and misty, and his lips were stretched into a huge grin. She smiled happily back at him.
"Do you greet all your neighbors this way?" he teased her.
She hugged him. "I don't get helpers on a silver plate everyday," she retorted. "I found out I ran out of salt, so you're here just in time. You wouldn't mind running along and getting me some from the supermarket, do you?"
"Haruhi!" he whined.
"I'm kidding," she said. She smiled warmly. "I'm not fond of my neighbors, but with you I can make an exception."
"So...you're fond of me?"
"No, silly, I love you."
A small smile touched Hikaru's lips as he saw the door close behind his brother and Haruhi. He was sitting in the passenger seat of the lorry that had brought Kaoru's things over, watching things unfold between the pair. He had been quite shocked when Kaoru had announced that morning that he was moving out of the house so he could be near Haruhi, he had fought against it, he had thrashed the room, yelling that he couldn't bear it, that he wouldn't allow it.
He was starting to tear one cushion apart when it suddenly dawned on him. He quieted down, and looked up at his brother, who was still sitting on the bed, looking at him with an expression of sadness mingled with patience. Hikaru understood it all.
Kaoru was the one choosing Haruhi. He wasn't going to sit around and wait like Hikaru had intended to do, he was actually choosing her over everything else. It occurred to him that maybe that was what Haruhi wanted. She wanted to see who would choose her, and Kaoru did.
He realized he would never be actually ready to do what Kaoru wanted to do. He was just weak like that. It didn't seem like he wanted Haruhi as badly as Kaoru did.
Or rather...it was the obvious truth that it was Kaoru who Haruhi deserved, and not him. She deserved someone who'd be willing to do anything for her, and that someone was Kaoru. It wasn't him - he was just not mature enough for her. He was still selfish.
He sensed that he was becoming misty-eyed and quickly looked away from the building. He kept his eyes stoically up ahead. "Drive me back home," he said firmly.
I just want you to be happy, Kaoru.
A/N: Oh, God...I'm done! This story is actually finished! Woohoo! And right before my birthday, too; it would've been depressing if a second birthday had passed on this! XD So, how was it? Too cliché? Too sweet? Too fluffy? Whatever it is, I do hope you've liked this! HUGE thanks to all who stuck with me for all the time I've been writing this; you were the motivation force that kept me going! Arigatou-gozaimasu!!
- S. N. B.