Written for: celebration of my vacation coming up! I figured I should post this before I head on vacation :)
Dedicated to: irgroomer, greetingsfrommaars, DarkRavie, mtnikolle, xKireyy, Orchidellia, TobiSaru, mfaerie32 (for reviewing chapter 2—so early in the story! It's been years since the first couple of chapters! So thanks!), Bubblybunny153. Thank you all for following my story for so long! What would I do without amazing readers like you all?
Tanaka's girl: ah, your kind words really made me squee on the inside. Thanks so much for following me through this fanfic. Really, without readers like you, what would us authors do with ourselves? Thank you for appreciating my writing—you have no idea how much that means to me! HUGHUGHUGHUGHUGHUG.
Warning: Beware of OOCness. Not BETA'd...sorry for little mistakes here and there.
Disclaimer: I do not own Ouran or any of its characters. They belong only to the great Bisco Hatori-sama (and BONES and Funimation)...and I'm almost done, so please let me borrow them for a little longer!
A Kyouya and Haruhi Tale
By, Yue Guang Kuroneko
Just sunshine and blue sky
Is this all we get
For living here?
Come fire, come fire
Let it burn and love come racing through
Oh I'm still alive
I'm still alive
I can't apologize, no
I've learnt to lose
I've learnt to win
I turn my face against the wind
("Still Alive" by Lisa Miskovsky (Mirror's Edge OST))
For once, the office was quiet, desolated. Everyone had gone home for the holidays. She felt generous this year. And, if she were honest with herself, it was also because there was no point in them working this holiday season. They all had plenty to be thankful for, and they should be home to celebrate their fortunes—after all, they were all financially secure now.
Reiko sat back in her chair, staring at her computer screen. The numbers were high and doing fairly well. Though, 'fairly well' was just a mild way for her to give the youngest Ootori credit. They were doing extremely well. She didn't understand why no one had saw it before. The fan base was certainly a dangerous force to be reckoned with, but she did have to hand it to the Houshakuji girl for handling her business so flawlessly. It takes a fan to know one.
Their relations with the Black Market were stopped, though not by the request of the Asakura Corporation. He was clever, that black sheep. He knew that businesspeople were greedy, and he knew that there was no way her board of directors would ever allow her to pull out of their Black Market schemes. After all, it was also a source of 'income', and with the Houshakuji Publishing Group doing so well, they would have doubled, even tripled, their profits. They would never have been able to pull out of the Black Market had the youngest Ootori not used his own ridiculous power to threaten them. She had no doubts that Ootori Kyouya was a genius.
That put her in a rather difficult position, having admitted that. She dropped the pen in her hands and used it to cover her eyes, massaging lightly away the ache that settled in them. She really ought to thank him. She wasn't so prideful that she wasn't willing to thank someone for improving her company, but this was Ootori Kyouya. Nothing is ever really that simple with him.
Or perhaps, she was overthinking things? Perhaps Ootori Kyouya, by some madness, was simply a good person, just horribly misunderstood. That would explain why the little commoner girl was attracted to him. Most commoners were unable to handle high society without strong convictions and motives. Most of them survive only through money. But this woman—his woman—didn't seem the type to be superficial enough to stay with a man just for his money. Also, Reiko highly doubted that Kyouya would choose such a wife. After all, he held his moral standpoints at high regard. There could be no one else who matched him. Except Fujioka Haruhi.
Reiko, despite her vanity, was curious about the woman. Even high society women had troubles keeping Ootori Kyouya at bay. He was a free spirit, for lack of a better, less whimsical, word. He refused to be tied down to a singular person. He was far too practical, far too emotionless and cold for that. Or at least, that's what she originally thought. By further examination, Kyouya was also very passionate.
Reiko gave a laugh as she stood to pour herself a glass of wine. The Ootori sons were all cold marble on the surface, but blazing fires within. It was almost infuriating. Especially when it came to her husband, Akito.
She married him, originally, out of convenience and fear. Her involvement with Yuuichi had gotten deep. Far deeper than she had imagined, and she wasn't ready to risk it. She feared becoming so involved that emotions would get in the way of business and it would cause disappointment. So she cut off all emotion and settled for marrying the weakest Ootori. It had been a splendid idea at the time. He was extremely easy to manipulate, and push, and pull, and mold. But, she smiled to herself slightly bitterly, she was the one being played all along.
Akito was nothing like Yuuichi. Where Yuuichi was calculating and logical and rational, Akito was spontaneous and ridiculous and unpredictable. The past couple of months really changed how she saw him. She couldn't determine whether or not she was happy or upset by her discoveries.
Her husband was never the type of person to throw away a challenge. All Ootoris were like that, in fact, with the exception of the weaker Yuuichi, but Yuuichi had never been weak when they were in high school. In fact, she remembered him as the complete opposite. When did he start 'settling' for things that were within reach?
Even now, with the ever loom of Ootori Kyouya's presence (or reminder of said presence) in their lives, Akito was working hard for something. She wasn't quite aware of what, but he had, surprisingly, given up his need for revenge. He had buckled down to help her with the Asakura Corporation (as opposed to destroying it.) He had requested, however, that he had no matter with any future Asakura-Ootori business.
She raked her brain for the moment Akito had his sudden change of heart. It was out of character for him, for most humans, but it wasn't unheard of either. It must have been when Ootori Kyouya visited them before he and Haruhi returned to the States. Reiko made a mental note to RSVP to their wedding in a few months. It was a conscious, not quite so painful, choice. They were, after all, family.
She willed her brain to return to the subject at hand.
Before Kyouya left for the States, his visit was simple and to the point. Akito was on his guard as Kyouya and Haruhi stepped out of the car. Reiko noted that Kyouya was the one driving. They did not utilize a driver. She invited them into the tea room and the help poured tea as the brothers sat at the table in stony silence. Meanwhile, she and Haruhi had a very comfortable talk on the couch about the wedding. It was going to be simple, Haruhi said, unashamed of the low-costs. Reiko remembered feeling envious at the woman's confidence in herself. There was no pressure to be accepted or liked by anyone else. It must have been liberating.
As for the brothers, it seemed that neither woman needed to worry. Kyouya was cordial. Distant, perhaps, but not unkind. He simply handed some documents over to Akito, said a few words, and motioned to Haruhi that he was done. She handed Reiko an invitation, an understanding smile, and they left as quietly as they came.
Her cell phone buzzed and she reached over to pick it up.
"Where are you?"
"At the office."
"I'll come up and get you."
"That's all right. I'll finish up and come down."
"Nonsense. I'm already in the elevator."
"See you soon, darling."
Reiko blushed lightly as she hung up. Akito was affectionate with the change that was brought upon by his younger brother's visit. It was rather out-of-character for him. Reiko gave a sudden laugh as she realized she used a term that the Houshakuji girl had been ranting about a week or so ago. Something about delaying print because whoever had been in charge of drawing the comic made the character too "out-of-character." Of course, Reiko was supposed to be concerned with delay printing—that cost money. She found herself amused, actually, and didn't mind losing the money, just so long as it was made back tenfold by recreating the character to be "in-character." Whatever that meant.
She wasn't unhappy. Sure, she had a very special place in her heart for the oldest Ootori. She will always, and forever, love him. But…
Akito strolled through the doors, his suit jacket slung over his shoulder, revealing the crisp blue shirt underneath, tie undone. She watched him as she stood behind her chair, scanning him with her eyes. She lifted her eyes and met his, dusty-brown eyes and could have sworn that there were some gold flecks in them. She wondered, briefly, why she hadn't noticed them before, and then ceased to wonder as he came around the desk and stood over her.
"Are you ready?" he murmured as he brushed a light kiss on her cheek. She shuddered. He suddenly became concerned. "Are you cold?" He immediately placed his suit jacket around her shoulders with such ease that she could have sworn they were in a romance movie. Not that she's ever watched such frivolous and unrealistic films.
Her husband was an enigma. Surely, surely, there was something wrong with her. Most women would think that it was natural for her to react to her husband. It was only natural. But she wasn't most women. She would never sink so low as to allow her emotions to take over her rational mind. And she should never allow her emotions to cloud the fact that this man was the man who had plotted for years to bring down her family's company, as well as his own.
"You think too much," he chuckled as he brought her body in close.
"Why did you want to destroy my company, Akito?"
He paused as he surveyed her face closely. Seeing that she was honestly curious, he let out a sigh and seated himself on her chair. He pulled her down to settle in his lap, and he held her tightly.
"I was angry," he said after a long pause. "Irrevocably angry. Or so I thought."
Reiko was uncomfortable. She's never had a conversation that required the exploration of feelings and truth. This was uncharted territory. She wasn't sure she liked it. She wasn't ever sure about anything when it came to Akito.
"With life," he answered vaguely with a distant look in his eyes. "With many, many things."
"That's not vague at all," Reiko's sarcasm caused him to chuckle.
"Is this something you'd want to hear, Rei?"
"Was it because of Yuuichi?"
At the sound of his brother's name, she could feel his arms tighten around her, as if possessive of her. It immediately set off a strange sensation in her stomach, one that clenched and fluttered.
"Yes." Akito was quiet for a moment. "I've always liked you, Reiko, from the moment I set eyes on you at Ouran. Don't laugh—I know it's cliché." His voice was teasing, but his eyes darkened. "And when you married me, I knew that you never cared for me. I was angry with myself, at Yuuichi for letting you go so easily, and at you for not being honest with yourself. I could never amount to anything, not when there were Kyouya and Yuuichi as competition. I'm a possessive man, Rei. I won't give anything up for anyone."
Accustomed to Akito's vague speech patterns and mysterious demeanor, Reiko was surprised he was so honest about himself. She slipped her hands into his.
"So what compelled you to marry me and then ruin both my company and your father's?"
"Marrying you was out of my own selfishness. You chose me, but not because you loved me. I was consumed by jealous rage. How could my brother have such hold on you even after he left you?" He shook his head. "I couldn't comprehend it. I started to resent the both of you for having put me in this position. Wouldn't things have been easier had you just let him go and realized that I loved you?"
"I don't know," she answered truthfully. "It's a gamble."
Akito gave a laugh, but he didn't continue. Reiko didn't mind. All she knew, seated in the darkness of her office, embraced in arms she didn't realize that she cared for, was that this was different. Different, but surprisingly unthreatening.
I wonder, she thought to herself as she lowered her head to rest her forehead on his, if this is what a partnership is like?
She'd always understood that a relationship is what goes on between a man and a woman. It could be filled with happiness, happily ever afters, bliss, and all those positive nouns, but she wasn't unrealistic enough to forget that with relationships came unrelationships—the relationships that rotted and became sour. Hence, her unwillingness to participate in any of those circumstances. What she and Yuuichi had, she realized back then, was a relationship. It had its ups and downs, and unfulfilled expectations. It was one pulling the other; each pulling the other so hard that they never moved, and the string they were pulling was so taut that they ended up having to be separated by force.
A partnership, on the other hand…
Reiko smiled suddenly, and pulling Akito's tie towards her, bent down to kiss him.
A partnership was what Ootori Kyouya and Fujioka Haruhi had. Rather than two people giving in to each other—they were two people who supported and complemented each other. They needn't sacrifice themselves to be with each other. They helped each other grow and become better versions of themselves. Now wasn't that the happily ever after that everyone was searching for?
"Why are you so honest today?"
Akito was silent, fingers playing with her hair as he pulled out pins to let her long hair down. He ran his fingers through it, tilted her head down, and kissed her again.
"Perhaps we should give Ootori Kyouya more credit," he murmured.
She raised an eyebrow, "What do you mean?"
"The documents he gave me included a note. A note that said that the reason he and Fujioka Haruhi were together again was due to honesty. Open honesty. Brutal, genuine honesty that broke them and healed them. He told me to give it a try."
"And what's your verdict?"
He smiled a naughty, impish grin that she'd never seen before on his face, closed all distance between them, and Reiko couldn't help but smile.
My dearest sister-in-law,
What wonderful news of your baby! Akito and I are disappointed we were unable to be there for her birth. Family acquaintances frivolously joked that the Ootori boys would be the type of fathers who were too busy with their empires to maintain any emotional connection with their offspring, but I believe that we know better than they do that the boys will be the ones to spoil them rotten. Give my best regards to Kyouya and little Emilie.
I write to you, not only to congratulate you on such a blessed addition to the family tree, but to keep you updated on Father's progress with his cancer, as you've asked so kindly in your previous letters. We believe that he's at his last now. It's a little difficult to write about, as I am unsure of how I feel about the situation, if I were to be truthful. The man as we knew him was stubborn, old-fashioned, and, let's be completely honest now, left plenty of uncountable emotional scars on his children. I don't think I've forgiven him for it yet. But I suppose it's about time I did.
He's not doing well, I'm afraid. Recently, he's been asking for you and Kyouya. It's not a request he's made consciously—he asks for you both in his sleep. When we inquired about it when he was awake, he denied it vehemently.
I know it's much to ask of you, especially with Emilie having been born not so long ago, but would it be possible for you to visit us? We'll make sure Emilie is comfortable with the flight over (and I can't deny that I'd love to see her.)
Please let us know. We really would love to see you; Father included.
Author's Note: With Reiko and Akito as such catalysts for Endless Story, I figured it would be nice to wrap them up and giving them an entire chapter to themselves.
We're very nearly at the end, everyone! This has been one incredible journey with all of you—thanks, again and again, so much for your support, readership, and patience. I really wouldn't have been able to finish without you!
Review if you'd like; constructive criticism is always appreciated. Hateful, angry flames, however, are NOT appreciated, and my army of zombified kitties will not hesitate to spit acid furballs at you or chew you up. That's why we should all be nice and support each other. Don't feed the angry zombie kitties!