Chapter 8: Quick Draw at the Ouran Corral
"Mr. Winner," Chairman Suoh gestured to the seat in front of his desk, casting Rashid a glance that Quatre wanted to label as 'nervous' as he sat down in his own chair, "it is an honor to have you attending my school, despite your father's position in the colonies."
Rashid must have made some sort of movement that instantly set Suoh on guard. Quatre settled himself in his chair, placing his hands on the armrests. "My father and I," he started slowly, "had a disagreement." He smiled tightly. "I supposed you can say my coming to Earth and attending this institution is a show of rebellion against him. But I guess that makes me sound more like the petulant child than the heir to the Winner Corporation."
With Quatre drawing his attention away from the bodyguard, Suoh started to relax and leaned back in his chair as the look on his face turned into the grandfatherly persona Duo had warned him about that morning.
"Quat, be careful around the chairman," Duo had said as he laced up his shoes. "Especially when he goes all 'give Grandpa Suoh a hug and he'll make it all better, would you like some candy?' which, saying it out loud, kinda makes him sound like a creeper." Duo had shaken his head. "He's a lot more observant than Heero would like to give him credit for."
"I'll be okay, Duo."
Duo had laughed. "Yeah, I know. Make sure Rashid doesn't snap him in half." Quatre had given him a flat look that he had just brushed off. "Or maybe I should tell you not to break him and bend him to your Machiavellian will and turn him into a brainwashed underling."
Quatre had literally kicked the braided pilot out of the door after that comment.
"That may be so," Suoh rubbed his chin, "but the experience you gain here may help you and your father's company in the future. You may make ties here that could benefit those who live in the colonies. But as a father myself, I can also say that I wouldn't be too happy with the decision you have made, whatever your reasons." He sighed and stood up. "I'm not here to lecture you, because you are an heir to a business and old enough to make your own decisions. Forgive an old man his rambling and let me welcome you to Ouran."
Quatre propped his chin in his palm and gave the chairman a smile. "An old man, you are not, but, please, tell me more about your school. I fear my bodyguard has some qualms about security and leaving me out of his sight."
Rashid made a small noise behind him and Quatre felt the disgruntled emotion radiating off of him. Quatre let his smile slip into a smirk.
"That is understandable. You and your bodyguard can rest assured that you are in the safest environment available." Suoh dropped a hand to the desk and shifted some of the knickknacks around the surface, moving an inkwell away from the edge, straightening the telephone and running his fingers through a pad of post-it notes. "This institution is under the protection of OZ and Romefeller and has been declared as being neutral ground in the current events and unrest."
Quatre raised an eyebrow, dropping his hand back down to the armrest. "Neutral? How can this place profess neutrality when there are direct ties to the war effort?"Including you, Chairman Suoh.
Suoh chuckled. "You are a sharp one. I would not be surprised if you tell me you've been able to give your bodyguard the slip."
"Just how is my 'sharpness' related to my ability of separating myself from my bodyguard?"
The chairman gave Quatre an appraising look, the smile lingering on his lips with a hint of something sly. "I wonder." He didn't give Quatre anytime to respond. "In any event, our status as neutral is more to declare our intentions that though we are affiliated with OZ and Romefeller, we are merely a school with no hidden agendas in hope that there won't be another incident such as the one at the Saint Gabriel Institute."
And yet, here we are, Quatre couldn't help but think. Though whether or not we're here to harm remains to be seen. "I remember hearing about that incident; it was a Gundam attack and yet there were no civilian casualties."
Rashid cleared his throat, managing to startle the two. "As much as I would like to hear a discourse on what determines neutrality, I want assurance that Master Quatre will be safe here. He is not part of Romefeller and Master Winner has actually spoken out against OZ. Master Quatre has positioned himself in a place where he could potentially be surrounded by enemies. He is colony-born and many who are part of the Earth Sphere see that as being an enemy due to the colony rebels who are currently fighting against the control Earth has over the colonies." The bodyguard let a sound pass through his lips, a small sigh. "If I can't be here to protect him, I want to know that he will be safe and there won't be any heroic attempts at trying to hold him for ransom or have him killed as some sort of example for the colonists."
Suoh walked around his desk and stood in front of Rashid. He had to tilt his head up to make direct eye contact, but he managed. "Let me be perfectly honest, I cannot account for everything, just as you cannot account for everything. But I take full responsibility for all my students, whether they are from the colonies or Romefeller."
Quatre glanced at Rashid from around the chairman. He knew Rashid to be overprotective when not on the battlefield even though Quatre had proven time and again that being a Gundam pilot had prepared him for many different situations. If he was impressed by his bodyguard's sheer tenacity, or annoyed by it, it had yet to be determined.
Rashid finally inclined his head. "Very well, I will leave Master Quatre in your care." The smile that started to spread on Suoh's face was erased when the commander of the Maganacs crossed his arms over his chest. "But if anything should happen to Master Quatre, you will be the first one that I am visiting."
Chairman Suoh gulped. "I understand."
"Good." Rashid moved past the chairman and knelt in front of Quatre who was still seated in his chair. "Master Quatre, I will say this one last time, though I know it will not change your mind; I do not like this."
Quatre sat up straighter in his chair. "I know."
"I understand." Rashid stood up. "I will be waiting for you at the end of the school day."
"I hate to butt in, but there are a number of clubs that take place after school," Suoh said.
Rashid glanced heavenward and appeared to mumble a quiet, "Allah."
"I would like to see some of these clubs, Rashid. I will call you fifteen minutes before I am ready to be picked up. Is this alright?" He gave the commander a flat look, but the offer was more for the sake of Chairman Suoh.
"Yes," Rashid gritted, knowing he can't argue with Quatre. "I will wait for you outside. I would like to walk with you through the school and then I will take my leave until you call for me."
Quatre nodded. "Yes."
With a short bow, Rashid walked around the chairman and headed out the door. Suoh relaxed once the door had shut behind the commander and Quatre watched him pick up the pieces of his composure that Rashid had managed to break. With a breathy laugh, Suoh returned his focus to Quatre. "I must say, your bodyguard is an impressive man."
"He must be if he is to be my bodyguard." He stood up from his seat and glanced up at Suoh, his head tilted to the side. "The morning is practically gone, and I have yet to see your school."
Suoh smiled and held out his hand to Quatre. "I will say this again, it really is an honor to have you here."
Quatre took the offered hand, giving it a firm shake. "I don't know if I had expressed this earlier, but I am also honored that this institution has accepted me."
Releasing Quatre's hand, Suoh led him to the door and held it open. The sight that greeted them had Quatre shaking his head in bemusement. The twins were circling around Rashid, gawking at him and exclaiming at just how big he was. Duo hung back, giving Rashid a wary glance, though Quatre could see the corner of his lips trying to hold back a smile.
"You're even taller than Mori-senpai!" the twins said.
Rashid gave Quatre an almost pleading look and even turned his gaze to Duo who moved back to stand by the chairman.
"How much can you lift?"
"You look like you can kill someone with your bare hands."
"Have you ever done that?"
"Did you take steroids when you where younger?"
"Did you grow up near a radioactive testing site?"
"Are you some kind of macho wrestler?"
The twins rattled off the questions like bullets not giving Rashid a chance to answer even if he wanted to; they had already won the quick-draw against the commander.
"Ah, Mr. Maxwell, it seems that you're fitting in splendidly." Suoh clasped his hands behind his back. "Tell me, how are you adjusting?"
Duo shrugged. "S'not bad. It is kinda strange havin' to follow a schedule though. I'm doin' good, the twins have really helped." He rocked back on his heels, his hands pulling his braid over his shoulder in a gesture that could be taken as a nervous habit. "Milord—I mean—Tamaki has also been a big help along with everyone else in the Host Club." He leaned over to gaze at Quatre. "So, is this another transfer?" he asked, gazing sidelong at the chairman.
Suoh clapped a hand on Quatre's shoulder. "This is Quatre Winner, and yes, he is the next transfer."
Quatre stepped away from the chairman and held out his hand to Duo. "I'm Quatre Raberba Winner, pleased to meet you."
Duo grasped his hand. "Duo Maxwell; coffee's the name, caffeine's the game, but decaf's the shame." Receiving a small chuckle from Quatre, he tilted his head at Rashid. "He yours?" Quatre nodded and he continued, "Well, I would hate to be the suspect if anything happens to you and he's the one doing the interrogatin'."
"And I would hate to have anything happen to me that would cause him to have to interrogate you." Quatre smiled.
They watched the twins heckle Rashid for a few more moments before Duo spoke up again, "Yeah, well, nice meetin' ya, but I'm gonna head back to our classroom." He jerked his thumb at the twins. "Unlike them, I seem to have better survival instincts, but I'm sure they'll give you the whole tour. Later!" With a jaunty salute, Duo started to walk backwards and waved to the twins, letting them know he was going on ahead. The twins gave him a quick acknowledgment before returning to their line of questions that were beginning to become rather ridiculous, if the question about being an experimental subject through the use of gamma rays was anything to go by. Once the exchange was over, Duo turned around and headed toward the stairs, a slight spring in his step as he flipped his braid back over his shoulder.
"Misters Hitachiin, since you're here, why don't you show Mr. Winner around the school and where his classes will take place," Suoh said, able to draw their attention away from Rashid.
They zeroed in on Quatre and sauntered up to him with matching grins and matching just-about-everything-else. "Nice to meet you, we're the Hitachiin brothers!"
"I'm Hikaru," the one on the right said.
"I'm Kaoru," said the other.
"And you're the heir to the Winner family's resource satellites in the L4 colony cluster," they said in unison again.
"Yes, I'm Quatre." He smiled as he watched Rashid slump in relief at the lack of attention. The bodyguard straightened when he felt Quatre's gaze. Quatre's attention was drawn away when the twins wrapped their arms around his shoulders.
"It's a shame Duo—"
"—didn't want to stick around."
"But we'll make sure to give you the grand tour!"
Quatre smiled, adjusting himself under the weight of their arms. "That's sounds wonderful. I am grateful."
"Sounds like everything is under control." Suoh smiled. "You're in good hands Mr. Winner. Oh, Hikaru and Kaoru, would you mind telling my son that I would like to speak with him?"
The twins gave a salute that caused Rashid to cringe. Even Quatre had to admit it was so sloppily done that anyone with a military background would instantly cry insubordination.
"No, problem!" They hooked their arms around Quatre's elbows.
No matter how innocent the gesture was or how many times Quatre told himself not to react, he tensed, locking his elbows to his sides, and dug his heels into the ground.
Hikaru and Kaoru exclaimed at the movement and even Suoh made a concerned noise. Quatre felt Rashid's tension skyrocket and he mentally cursed, hoping he could salvage the situation. The pressure of trying to conceal their identities—not only in the school, but also in the other social situations the pilots had often found themselves in—was beginning to take its toll. Trying not to be discovered by the Earth Alliance, OZ, and Romefeller, the whole concept of faking normal knowing they were far from it, and the ingrained response to anything that could be correlated with the idea of being 'capture' left very little difference between arms around one's shoulders and arms locking in place around one's elbows.
He forced himself to relax and tried to put on a wavering smile. "Sorry. I would appreciate if you wouldn't do that." Quatre dropped his voice into a faint stutter, lowering his head to the ground. "I-I was kidnapped once and—"
The twins immediately removed their grip. "Sorry, we had no idea."
"Is that true?" Suoh asked, turning to Rashid, surprised.
Rashid inclined his head, picking up the cue from Quatre. "It was before I officially became his bodyguard. There was a traitor within our employees." He lifted his head again and glared. "That is why I am not fond of Master Quatre attending a Romefeller-funded school. I do not want a repeat of that incident."
Hikaru and Kaoru brought up mirrored hands to their chests and bowed slightly. "Quatre will be in good hands with us. We'll take care of him." They placed their free hands on Quatre's head and ruffled his hair. "No need to worry about him when he's with us."
"In fact, the whole Host—"
"—Club will keep an eye on him—"
"—to make sure nothing happens!" they said together. "Now, let's get going!" Their hands went to his shoulders, but that was the extent.
Apparently they could learn.
Rashid didn't look convinced and Quatre knew it wasn't completely part of the ruse. Rashid had worried about him when he went off by himself to the New Edwards base, he had worried about him when he took in Duo after Siberia, and now he was worrying about him being in a school of non-combatants with the other pilots there as back-up. At least it made sense in Rashid's mind.
"Take good care of Mr. Winner, Hikaru, Kaoru. And you might want to start your tour; lunch period is in twenty minutes," Suoh said as he walked over and held out his hand to Quatre one last time. "If there is any trouble at all, please see me. Especially if it is something about your family."
"I will," Quatre promised, taking the offered hand once again. "Thank you, sir."
"Let's go!" the twins crowed once Quatre's hand was released and began to steer him away.
Quatre glanced over his shoulder back at Rashid, who was following a few steps behind. He inclined his head, barely perceivable, but Rashid understood. The commander of the Maganacs needed to keep his eyes open—not only for potential threats, but for anything that could be detrimental to their mission or advantageous.
The Winner heir wasn't worried about being threatened because of his status in the colonies. If anything, he expected many of those connected to Romefeller would try and cater to him, lure him away from the stance his father had taken and possibly start negotiations that would allow Romefeller access to the resource satellites owned by his family.
The only thing he was worried about was what his father would do if he found out Quatre had enrolled in a Romefeller school. He was already unhappy with the whole run-away-and-be-a-Gundam-pilot thing and going against the pacifistic ways of their family.
Any meeting with his father will most likely end up being a gunfight with ideals and words, and—between the two males of the Winner family—that was just about as destructive as the use of a mobile suit.
As Hikaru and Kaoru gave the two infiltrators the tour of the school, Quatre kept a small part of his attention on ways to possibly avoid such a confrontation between him and his father.
By the time lunch period was half over, most of the school was buzzing over the story of the newest transfer student. Earlier in the day a number of students stated they saw him with his bodyguard go in and visit the chairman, but there had been no sign of him since.
Haruhi felt she was in some sort of knock-off of the American Twilight Zone with the way the past couple of days had been playing out. The world acted like it was on some sort of playback loop as her classmates wondered and chattered about the next new student. There were the additions of Heero and Duo to keep the loop from being completely monotonous—and the hitch Trowa caused was an interesting distraction—but the day still had the same redundant vibe.
This day appeared to be no different.
She sighed and took her seat in the classroom as her classmates began to trickle in.
A chair scraped against the floor. Haruhi jumped and swiveled to see Heero sitting down in his seat. She didn't even hear him come in through the other door at the back of the classroom.
"You're alone?" she asked and flinched slightly when he finally glanced up at her through the fringe of his bangs.
"Duo and the twins decided to see if they could find the next transfer." He shrugged and glanced around at the others who had meandered into the room.
Haruhi relaxed when his gaze left her, not quite understanding why she suddenly felt nervous around him. "Heero, is something wrong?" He had always lived up to his hosting type, but this was the first time she actually felt threatened; felt that there was something very true and very dark that went hand-in-hand with his Dangerous Type.
His eyes snapped back to her and she leaned back. "It's none of your concern."
"You don't have to be rude about it," she snapped, the threatened feeling replaced by annoyance. Her spine tingled when she gave her back to him to pack up her lunch. Shoving the feeling aside, despite what her survival instincts were screaming at her, she scowled. If she went through the trouble of being concerned for him she wouldn't tolerate his brush-off. Have to deal with rich bastards and now ungrateful, bitter scholarship students. Haruhi lifted her eyes to the ceiling. Mom, continue to give me patience.
"Praying doesn't always help, yanno."
Haruhi lowered her eyes and found Duo standing in front of her desk. He had his devil-may-care smirk and his braid draped over his right shoulder. A shoulder that was bare of either of the twins. His comment was too interesting to leave untouched even if just to inquire about Hikaru and Kaoru. "What makes you say that?"
Duo gave an elegant shrug that Haruhi took to say a number of things from "Because there is no God" to "It never worked for me". Haruhi raised an eyebrow, which he just laughed at.
"Sorry, Haruhi, your powers of persuasion won't work on me." He stepped around her desk. "I'm a Rogue, remember, I need my mysterious past."
She watched him to his seat, giving Heero a friendly pat on the shoulder as he went.
What is with them today?
It was an anomaly in the monotony of the past three days. A break in the familiar pattern. Heero was on edge about something, Duo being even more cryptic behind his smile—her thoughts flashed to Trowa. She couldn't figure it out. His feelings on the war seemed obvious but she was associating the new 2-A student's opinions with her own classmates. Was it because they all shared the same home—the colonies—for a time? Duo had readily admitted he had spent most of his days in the colonies while roaming around for 'coffee inspiration', did that make him more empathetic toward the colonies' oppression? Or did she just have some type of an ingrained discrimination? Or was there more? With what she witnessed with Trowa, was there more to him, to them, to the others that have yet to arrive?
Kyoya is making me paranoid.
Her discussion with him the day before hadn't helped, especially when he told her to just keep observing them. All said with a pleasant—fake—smile.
"Earth to Haruhi, or would colonies to Haruhi be more appropriate?" Duo waved his hand at her. "I didn't think you were the type to space out. I thought that was Milord's job. Or maybe you were just so entranced by my mysteriousness."
Haruhi rolled her eyes. "Where are Hikaru and Kaoru?"
Duo leaned back in his chair, balancing it on the back legs while the hand he used to wave at her flapped limply. "Cornering the new guy and heckling his bodyguard. At least I have self-preservation instincts, this bodyguard is huge! And I don't like the idea of being snapped in half, thank you very much."
"So you met him?"
"You'll get to meet him soon enough." Heero's voice startled her. "I can hear them coming down the hall." Duo was nodding his head in agreement while she frowned, unable to hear.
She tilted her head to the side and listened. Heero and Duo kept silent. She tried to tune out the spattering of conversation going on in the room. There were a faint number of voices out in the hall, accented by giggles. Haruhi sighed, it sounded like this one was another charmer.
It wasn't long before she could pick out Hikaru and Kaoru's dialogue.
"And here is where—"
"—you'll have home room."
She watched the back door slide open and the twins stepped into the classroom. Following them was a smaller blonde already dressed in a uniform. He couldn't have been any taller than herself and Haruhi felt embarrassed that she thought he looked fragile. His blonde hair was shades paler than Hunny's or Tamaki's and brushed the top of his eyes. The newcomer glanced around, nodding as the group surrounded him added details and anecdotes.
He turned to one of the girls who made a remark about how he had the most wonderful complexion and he should consider the Host Club, which Haruhi was beginning to suspect as some sort of a conspiracy the twins devised to win their bet. But his response to the girl received a number of exclamations. Even though Haruhi wasn't given the full effect, she assumed that the smile he had given her was on par with Tamaki with the way the girls blushed and the sly glances the twins cast each other. While everyone was momentarily stunned, he took the chance to glance around the rest of the classroom.
Haruhi made eye contact and was momentarily frozen. His eyes were a light color, almost a teal shade and had a soft, compassionate awareness. But for a brief moment, she thought she noticed something. Something more. Something harsh. It was that hidden something that had caught her and kept her locked in place. She couldn't be completely sure if she had actually witnessed a glimpse beneath a well-constructed mask or if it was all her imagination. Damn you, Kyoya and your conspiracies.
Apparently the newcomer wasn't affected by the microsecond exchange, his gaze swept over the rest of the room while the twins ushered him in. "Let's introduce you to the rest of the class," they said as they directed him to Heero, Duo, and Haruhi, standing on the right side of Haruhi's desk.
"Alright." He allowed the hands on his shoulders with a small smile.
"You've already met Duo." They gestured to Heero. "This is Heero Yuy, like you, he's a new transfer; a scholarship student from the colonies."
"I'm Quatre Raberba Winner, it's nice to meet a fellow colonist."
Heero grunted a response and went back to the book he had pulled from his bag.
Quatre tilted his head and glanced back at the twins. "Did I do something?"
They just waved their hands at him and shook their heads in tandem. "Don't worry about it."
"He's unsociable at best." Duo shrugged with a smile. "And uncommunicative at worst."
Isn't that basically the same thing? Haruhi thought.
"And this is Haruhi Fujioka." The twins turned him to face her.
She stood up from her seat. "Hello." She couldn't quite get used to the fact that so far, most of the new transfers were only a few inches taller than her. Quatre was no different, standing just barely an inch or two taller. Despite them being shorter than the rest of the hosts—besides Hunny—it really wasn't noticeable. They had a presence to them that made them more than their physical stature.
Of course, being set right next to the other hosts their lack of vertical was kind of hard to ignore even with their unique presence.
"Haruhi is one of our top scholarship students from Earth," they explained.
Quatre nodded. "Impressive. I hope I am able to learn from you as well during my time here."
Haruhi shrugged, uncomfortable with the attention he was giving her. She cleared her throat. "Did you also get a Colony Scholarship?"
Hikaru and Kaoru burst out laughing, resting their elbows on the blonde. "Haruhi, Haruhi," they admonished between chuckles.
"This is the heir to—"
"—the L4 resource colonies owned—"
"—by the Winner family," Duo cut in.
It took a moment, but the dots finally connected. "You mean the Winner family of L4?" Haruhi felt her jaw drop. It didn't make sense. Why would an heir to what amounted to a colony monarchy want to come to Earth to attend a school? A school whose administration was directly connected with the powers trying to control space?
Quatre smiled. "Yes, that Winner family."
"And because of that, we need to watch out for him while he's here!" the twins announced.
"He'll be under the protection of the Host Club!" Duo slipped over to Heero's desk and leaned on his shoulder. "Plus, with Heero here, he'll be able to scare anyone off who would want to mess with our resident dignitary."
"Geez, if we're going to protect him, why don't we just get him to join the Host Club," Haruhi mumbled, already seeing how much of a hassle this particular, self-imposed assignment was going to be.
"Why, Haruhi, that's a great idea!" the trio said with matching smirks as Duo stepped away from Heero to stand between the twins.
"That's not what I meant!"
"He can be our Noble Type!" they continued, ignoring Haruhi's attempt to take back her suggestion.
Quatre glanced around the group with a confused smile. "I would be honored to see what clubs are offered here. I've never participated in any school clubs before."
"We have a—"
"—number of different—"
"—clubs to check out!"
As they began to shoot off whatever club came to mind, Haruhi watched Heero shake his head and return his attention to his book. She had noticed the quick glance Quatre had given him—his brow had furrowed slightly before smoothing out again—but no one else saw it as he returned to nodding politely at the list.
"That's an idea!" Hikaru exclaimed.
"What is?" Kaoru and Duo asked.
"We can show Quatre—"
"—the different clubs!" Kaoru caught on.
"What about Milord?" Duo asked.
It took a moment of eye contact between the three of them before they turned to Haruhi at the same time, zeroing in on her with quick efficiency. "Oh, Haruhi," they practically sang.
"I am not your messenger," Haruhi mumbled, crossing her arms over her chest.
"Please, Haruhi!" they begged, separating each syllable of her name.
"We'll get the supplies you were supposed to pick up for today's guests," Kaoru offered.
Duo leaned his elbow on Hikaru's shoulder. "All you have to do is just tell Milord that we'll be arriving late with our latest classmate in tow."
"And," Hikaru shrugged, "you'll have Yuy with you so Milord can't throw too much of a fuss unless he wants to incur the wrath of a Dangerous Type." The three of them glanced back at Heero with dramatic expressions of terror, who just ignored them.
Quatre chuckled, holding his hand over his mouth. "I don't mean to be a bother, Haruhi, but it'll be alright if we check out the other clubs another day so you don't have to pass the message along."
Haruhi cringed. With the way Quatre said it, it made her sound like some belligerent child. She sighed. "Fine, but you get to explain it to Kyoya if Tamaki-senpai makes a fuss about it."
The three of them saluted as Quatre laughed. With the last couple of minutes of the lunch period winding down, a few other classmates approached Quatre, introducing themselves and assuring him they would do their best to make sure he would be safe and that his time at Ouran would be pleasant. He nodded with a congenial smile, but never really promising anything in return.
It didn't take long for Haruhi to notice that about him. The twins were right in declaring him as some sort of noble dignitary; he certainly had the act down. Though it was difficult to tell if it truly was an act or if he had the same type of personality that Tamaki had when it came to caring for the masses. He—his personality—was too layered.
When the bell sounded, Hikaru ushered Quatre to the desk behind him and on Heero's right. Quatre settled himself into his chair with perfect posture and an attentive visage. Duo flopped into his own chair behind Kaoru and Haruhi felt Heero's attention shift from whatever he was reading to watch the teacher enter the room and tap his notes on the desk.
She still didn't understand why a colony heir would come to a Romefeller institution. It was too contrived to be true, right? Haruhi honestly didn't know anymore. In any event, she would report Kyoya and try and stay objective concerning the latest additions. It was getting bothersome trying to find conspiracies.
It wasn't one of Wufei's better ideas. Although, in actuality, it was a good idea—just one that went against Quatre's unspoken orders. Even Ahmad had reservations about driving him to the school just to scope things out, but the Maganac member did eventually agree to meet him at a deserted rendezvous point. Before he actually agreed to drive Wufei to Ouran, however, he had tugged on his moustache and shifted his weight, hedging around the topic that, "Master Quatre won't be too pleased."
It took some convincing and assurance from Wufei that he would take full responsibility before Ahmad conceded, "Master Quatre is a good kid, but I would hate to get on his bad side, and it's not because his father is our employer, but he can get… serious."
Wufei nodded in understanding, already have seen that particular trait of Quatre firsthand the day before. But he trusted himself to be able to handle whatever Quatre threw at him. For the most part.
Ahmad drove the Rolls-Royce—an expensive ride no doubt was funded by not only the Winner estate but accounts from a number of OZ officials—up to the main entrance, circling around the fountain just outside the gate and put the car in park. There were already a number of other vehicles parked and set to pick up students—valets standing outside some of the cars just waiting to hold open the door for whatever prosperous brat sauntered over.
He had made his way into Ouran High School just as they were excusing students from their classes. Many had cast him curious glances but otherwise went about their business. It might had been because he was dressed in his best—the white duster cleaned and buttoned up to his collar, covering the silk tank instead of his normal cotton one, the white pants that encircled his ankles, and the black slipper-like shoes instead of the sturdy boots—and walked with the assured gait Duo liked to call "walking with a stick up one's ass."
His eyes roved over each person he passed, marking their position, the way they were heading, and how long it would take for them to pull a gun or make any sort of attack. A scoff slipped through his lips; like these civilians would actually be able to try something like that. It was a hard habit to break in any event, not that he wanted to in the first place.
Coming to a stop, Wufei turned to the male student just exiting a classroom. A girl followed him with a soft smile on the verge of fondness as he went into describing what they needed to cover in the next meeting. The male stuttered to a stop when he saw the Chinese teen watching them, not sure what to make of him.
"Can I help you?" the girl asked, stepping around her male counterpart. She gave Wufei a small smile as her eyes studied him; a quick calculation of who he could be.
Wufei recognized the social examination for what it was and pulled together the high bred scholar he had been before getting caught up in the war. He straightened his already rigid spine and lifted his chin. How nostalgic; the look was one he had given Meiran many times. "Are you asking if you are able to help me or requesting permission to do so? I highly doubt you would be capable in either case, woman."
He watched as pink started to dust her cheeks. It certainly brought back memories. Duo would probably call him an ass if he was around, but if the other pilots and the scientists expected him to play in this school charade, then he would. He would play it the same way he had done so before. If there happened to be someone who knew of him from his boarding school days he wouldn't have to come up with some excuse of a temperament change.
"Excuse me," the boy placed a hand on the girl's shoulder, "but who are you? Don't you think you're being a little rude to someone you've never met before?"
"Rude?" Wufei arched an eyebrow. "It is rude that you have yet to introduce yourself when you were the first one to initiate conversation. I am just responding according to my status."
The boy shriveled and cleared his throat. Pushing his glasses up, he did his best to stand up to the rather pompous aura Wufei exuded. "I am Class 1-A President Kazukiyo."
Wufei nodded in return. "Wufei Chang."
The girl made a small sound, her eyes widened and she looked at him. "From L5?" she asked.
He narrowed his eyes, surprised she had made the connection and uncertain whether or not he wanted to answer. He wasn't given the chance. She brightened and clapped her hands, turning toward her companion with flighty movements that made Wufei think of a twitchy bird.
"President, he is of the Long family from the colonies, one of the most prominent and oldest familial hierarchies in the L5 cluster." She gave Wufei a brilliant smile. "My family sends supplies to L5, despite the blockade. I'm Momoka Kurakano. It is an honor to meet you."
Wufei felt the disdain wash over his face as his lip curled. He had to bite back the immediate response he wanted to give her—that his family doesn't accept charity or pity—and did his best to school his features back into some semblance of apathy, since pleasant was far from being part of his repertoire. "That is my family," he finally managed to ground out.
"Oh, I hope everyone is doing alright." She didn't notice Wufei's withheld aggression. "What with the war going on and the rebel colonists, I can't imagine what it must be like to live there, especially in some of the conditions I've heard of—and that unfortunate accident a few years ago with the defect in the sanitation system. That must have been terrible."
Wufei felt the last string of his patience fray to microscopic fibers, but he held on. Give me a goddamned cookie for not ripping this woman—girl—to shreds. He cringed at the expression, knowing he had heard it from Duo.
Momoko noticed the flinch and completely misunderstood its reason. "I'm sorry; I must have brought up some painful memories."
This whole mission is a painful memory, Wufei thought. He wouldn't like to admit it, but her words incensed an old anger at OZ and the Earth Alliance for describing the attack on his home as some sort of malfunction instead of the extermination it originally had meant to be.
"As an apology, I'll be sure to explain to my father that we should increase the shipment as compensation for my insensitive words." She bowed.
"It's alright," he said, trying to stitch back together his patience with what practically amounted to Gundamium and welding instead of the needle and thread it usually needed. It was no wonder why Duo accused him of being uptight.
"I have to wonder what brings you here," Kazukiyo finally spoke up, his hands flittering at his sides. "If you are from the colonies, I mean, why would you come here? I mean here here, as in Ouran—I mean, it's kinda strange, right?" He turned to Momoko.
Wufei raised an eyebrow at the rambling. The president was an obvious pushover, how he ever made the position had yet to be proven to the pilot. Using the best excuse he could readily give for his presence, Wufei shrugged. "If I am to be an heir to the family I should be able to understand and relate to the politics of Earth, including the very organization that oppresses my very way of life."
The two flinched.
"The fact that Romefeller allowed me into this school," Wufei continued, "says that maybe there can be some sort of agreement between the people of the colonies and the Earth Sphere. Because I am the next generation that my family and the colony is relying on, I'll do my damnedest to make sure that those following me won't have to live through another war, not when I can do something about it." Like destroy OZ and Romefeller and defeat Treize, he added.
The president cupped his chin in his hand and thought over the response while Momoko smiled.
"That's so noble!" She stepped forward and took his hands in hers. "Even though Ouran is affiliated with Romefeller, I'm positive that many of the students here feel the same way as you."
But what about the adults? The thought was cut short when the softness of her hands rubbed against the calluses of his. She didn't seem to notice, but he immediately understood the immense difference between them. Though he had followed the path of a scholar at first, he had still trained with Master Long, Meiran's grandfather, still held his family's sword from a young age, and still followed the arts of his ancestors. His training left him marked. But the marks left on his hands from piloting Nataku and holding a gun were different and, for a moment, he was nervous she would know.
He removed his hands from hers.
"So you're the last transfer," Kazukiyo said. Wufei just shrugged one shoulder. "I thought you weren't supposed to be in until tomorrow?"
"I heard that there was a respectable dojo and martial arts club here and I wanted to see it first."
"If that's the case, we can show you around," Momoko offered.
"Our duties can wait, President," She started walking, gesturing for the two to follow. "This is also an important part of our duties." Wufei fell in step with her, leaving the president to walk behind.
"One the Host Club seems to have taken over," he mumbled and then brightened. "At least we beat them to the punch this time!"
They passed classrooms and staircases, heading down a hall that lead away from the main foyer of the school and the grand staircase. She pointed down different hallways and rooms, explaining the various classrooms and what they were used for and even mentioned some of the rumors that were going on around the school concerning people who could usually be found in some of the rooms. They headed towards the Middle School wing, but turned down another hallway that led outside. Momoko tried making small talk with Wufei, but he stuck with monosyllabic answers. It didn't seem to deter her.
Kazukiyo caught up to walk on Wufei's open side and started to respond to Momoko in his place.
Stepping outside, the three walked down a covered walkway through a small courtyard—one that was small in comparison to the main one where the fountain was located. There were a number of facilities the walkway branched off to with students already strolling to their respective clubs. Wufei tracked them, making note of what type of club the students may be involved with.
There were a group of four guys wearing broad shoulder pads with helmets dangling from their fingers heading off the walkway through the courtyard. The American Football Club, heading to the field behind the East Wing. Wufei watched them as their apparent leader stopped and glanced over. He had an orange in his free hand that was brought close to his lips. His eyes narrowed before taking a bite of the fruit. The teen next to him tilted his head in question, but he just gave his head a small shake before ushering them back on their way. Wufei didn't miss the glance masked by the movement of turning his head to talk to the student next to him.
He's not associated with the war, but he might be a concern. Filing the teen's face away for later, Wufei made note of the other club members still making their way to their buildings. A few were dressed in hakama and carrying bows, others were wearing light shirts and shorts with long socks heading in the opposite direction of the American Football Club to the other field he knew the school had, and—the group they happened to be following—were dressed in Kendo gear and one of them was carrying a Kendo sword, a shinai.
"We're going to see Mori-senpai; he's the captain of the Kendo club," Momoko explained. "We would have taken you to the Karate Club, but Hunny-senpai isn't there right now."
"That's fine," Wufei said. Perfect. The whole reason for his un-Quatre-sanctioned mission was to get in touch with the Morinozuka and/or Haninozuka families and here was his first good chance.
Following the group, they entered the building. Wufei was immediately impressed with the facility. There were two separate "stages" layered with tatami mats. Along the left-hand wall were racks with shinai as well as a few other practice weapons. A thin eyebrow rose when Wufei saw a practice Chinese glaive—a guan dao—as well as the Chinese sword—a dao—weapons he was intimately familiar with, whether using them himself or being beat by them when he was younger. In front of the racks were a couple of benches where some of the participants were sitting and chatting, pulling on and adjusting gear. Most of the students, though, were gathered around a taller student who answered questions and responded with a nod or shake of his head.
Wufei knew exactly who he was looking at.
"I'll go get Mori-senpai," Kazukiyo offered. Pushing up his glasses, he moved over to the large group.
"What do you think?" Momoko asked, leaning forward to look over at him.
"I am impressed." Wufei nodded, watching a student exit from a door in the far right corner of the room. Locker room, Wufei labeled. There was another room in the right wall with glass windows and sliding door. An older gentleman was rummaging through some of the cabinets, setting out athletic tape and wrap, and organizing first aid kits. Wufei was able to count two cushioned tables and noticed a backroom where an icebox was visible and he guessed was probably an office as well. He had to approve of the trainer's room—it was surprisingly simple compared to what he had seen with the rest of the school. It almost looked like it was within the normal spectrum of trainers' rooms. He couldn't see further into the backroom, so for all he knew it might even have a sauna and massage area. With what he could make out, he was pleased, especially if he was going to participate in the club—there were going to be a number of Romefeller brats who were going to be sent in there.
He allowed a small smile at the thought.
Momoko poked him on the arm. "I take it you're considering joining, aren't you?" She dropped her hand back to her side and kept her gaze on her feet, scuffing the toe of her shoe against the floor.
Wufei raised any eyebrow at her sudden shyness, but didn't bother to question it; a female quirk, no doubt. "If I am accepted, then yes." He watched Kazukiyo lead Mori away from the group. The class president's hands were flitting about his body, tugging at his uniform while he glanced from Mori to Wufei.
The nervousness Kazukiyo showed caused Wufei to slide his foot to the side in a wider stance, masking the movement as a shifting of his weight. Was Kazukiyo nervous that Mori would start something because he had brought a non-student? Or perhaps he thought Wufei was just there to challenge Mori for some sort of prestigious design? In any case, it set Shenlong's pilot even more on edge. Especially since every eye in the room was watching; mostly out of curiosity but Wufei would swear he felt the heat of hostility.
"Mori-senpai, this is Wufei Chang." Kazukiyo stopped in front of Wufei and Momoko. "He's transferring here from L5 and is interested in the martial arts clubs, including Hunny-senpai's Karate Club." Mori was nodding as Kazukiyo went on, though the older student's attention was focused on Wufei. "He will officially be a student of Ouran tomorrow."
"Right," Mori said after a moment. "I'm Takashi Morinozuka." He bowed, bending his spin forward. It left him completely open.
Wufei responded before Mori could unbend. He showed the same respect he was given and bowed just as low. "Wufei Chang heir to the Long Family of L5," he said when they straightened.
Apparently, the silence between must have lasted too long or just made everyone else uncomfortable because a club member cleared his throat. "Senpai, are we going to get started before you have to leave for the Host Club?"
"Hm." Mori nodded again and said to Wufei, "You are welcomed to stay and observe."
Mori lead the group over to the nearest tatami platform. The students who had been preparing on the benches stood up to follow, brushing off their gear as they went. Once everyone was ready to begin, their focus was kept on their instructor and left Wufei mostly to his own devices. They were definitely amateurs if they couldn't at least split their attention with an unknown in the same vicinity. At least he felt Mori's subtle attention and that increased his respect for the older student. He started walking over to the empty benches but was stopped by a hand on his forearm.
"Wufei, will you be alright by yourself?" Momoko asked. "Kazukiyo and I should return to our regular duties."
His eyes flickered to her hand before he answered, "I will be fine." His tone came out sharper than he had intended but he wasn't going to retract or apologize for it.
Kazukiyo bristled but Momoko took it in stride and just smiled. "That's good. If you need anything, Mori-senpai will help you." She removed her hand and grabbed Kazukiyo's wrist. "Can't wait to have you in class!" She pulled the class president behind her, waving over her shoulder as they exited the hall.
Wufei watched the door slide shut behind them before continuing his way to the benches. He walked in front of the racks, running his fingers over some of the weapons, checking the conditions. He was once again impressed and quite pleased. The sounds of the students stretching and preparing, the smell of the wood and equipment, brought a sense of nostalgia before he shook it away. He finished his quick survey and took a seat just in time to watch the group start with the first basic form.
If he had been a normal student, he could have said he lost track of time, but he knew he watched the group for 23 minutes before another student took over. He didn't just watch the group practice their kata, he internally critiqued every movement or lack of balance in a stance. And everyone he had critiqued, Mori had walked over and helped to correct the mistake.
After helping one more student, Mori separated himself from the group and made his way over to Wufei.
Wufei stood up to meet him, noticing that Mori didn't appear the least bit tired or even winded from the lesson. He hadn't even broken a sweat.
Mori placed his shinai on the rack and tilted his head towards the locker room, taking a step in that direction before he glanced back at Wufei over his shoulder.
Wufei nodded. Certainly the trusting one, he thought as he followed Mori to the locker room. Or else it's just confidence. He let the thought drop as he entered the room, his mind analyzing every corner in place of wondering about Mori's lack of caution. It was just as extravagant as Wufei expected from what he had seen of the rest of the school and the reports from the others, but it was also clean and pristine. Though the Roman columns were a little much.
He leaned against the wall near the door, crossing his arms over his chest. Mori had wandered to his locker a couple of rows over and began to change out of his gear. Only the top of his head was visible.
"Is there something you wish to discuss?" Wufei asked. Might as well drag whatever issue there might be out into the open.
The rustling stopped. "Not really." Mori's answered seemed to straight from the center of his chest to resonate throughout the room. The echo was joined by the sound of rustling clothes again.
Wufei didn't believe him.
A locker snapped shut and Mori appeared in his school uniform. His tie was draped over the un-tucked button down with the minimum amount of buttons actually closed while his jacket hung open and a bag was slung over his shoulder.
The two of them stood, eyeing each other. All they needed was the dust and tumble weed blowing between them while spectators cowered in their houses, peeking through the shutters. Wufei's tension level shot up even further, feeling like he was waiting for the 10-count in an old-fashioned quick-draw. Mori's calm, unassuming demeanor set him on edge—the thought of a civilian matching the same placid and tranquil aura that was Trowa's entire being was enough to make him grind his teeth.
"We would be honored to have you join the Kendo Club," Mori said, his voice like a gunshot as he drew first.
Draw and fire or dodge first? "I am honored that you would accept me." Wufei drew.
The older teen nodded. "Your station would see that you are prolific in Chinese styles, I hope you will be able to incorporate Kendo as well."
"I am sure I will manage," Wufei fired back.
Mori adjusted his bag on his shoulder and titled his head toward the door. Wufei nodded and straightened, lifting an eyebrow as he waited for the other teen to walk by before following a step behind.
The Kendo Club was still running through forms and exercises, but they paid no mind to the two leaving the building. Wufei followed Mori through the courtyard and back into the main building of the high school. The halls were less busy, but a few students were still milling around. Two female students approached and inquired whether or not Mori would be attending the Host Club. Mori gave them what Wufei was beginning to suspect was his default response, a nod of his head.
During the short exchange, Wufei had to do a discrete double-take. Trowa was walking behind a female student who had a "no-nonsense" air about her. Heavyarms's pilot had a stack of folders balanced in his arms, and a pair of reading glasses sliding down the bridge of his nose. He looked like he belonged; a normal student without a hidden agenda in espionage. But that was the point, wasn't it? Blend in, complete the mission—whatever it was—and get out without anyone knowing.
Within moments of his first encounter with Trowa, Wufei knew the teen was skilled at hiding in plain sight. The details that made him remarkable were the very things that made him unremarkable. Wufei, despite coming up with the conclusion himself, didn't understand it at first, but seeing Trowa in his element finally helped him make sense of it. Trowa's version of espionage was at the opposite end of Duo's; he relied on making himself just part of the crowd as being nothing more than a presence while Deathscythe's pilot used his charisma and likability to charm people into assuming he wasn't a threat at all. Quatre had Duo's charisma but he was more manipulative, and unlike Duo, Quatre didn't have any qualms about lying.
Out of the five of them, Wufei counted himself as the worst at undercover work. Even worse than Heero. The only reason why Heero made it through the times hiding out in a school was because everyone was too nervous around him, therefore never really took a chance to get to know him and have him blow his cover.
Wufei didn't even bother with the school route.
At Ouran he would just have to fall back on his boarding school days, a fact that was instantly revisited when Trowa stopped walking and glanced over. Shenlong's pilot lifted his chin and glared at the mild curiosity Trowa cast over him. Trowa gave a small shrug before he turned away to follow the girl who had kept on walking without him.
Tension crawled up Wufei's spine. Mori was watching him; his one-sided conversation with the girls done. He clenched his jaw, the scrutiny causing more discomfort since he had just mentally listed himself as the worst covert operative and he probably had just blown his cover because he stared too long at another student. Hell, he had probably blown Trowa's cover as well. Sure, he could sneak into a military base just fine, but blending in? That was an exercise in futility. All the meditation in the world couldn't cure that stress. "Is there something you want to say?" he snapped.
It took an impossibly long moment for Mori to respond. "Tamaki will probably ask you to join the Host Club." He started walking.
That wasn't what Wufei had expected him to say. It actually had him momentarily floored and unable to respond. Where were the accusations? The call for security? And the ordering of him to be sent to the nearest detainment cell? The giggles of the girls nearby jolted him out of his momentary stupor and he cursed at himself for letting his guard down. "I don't have time for such frivolities." He caught up in time to hear Mori hum in thought.
The rest of the trek was spent in silence and they made it to the main entrance without any further interruptions. Wufei was just about ready to excuse himself from Mori's escort, but of course he couldn't get off that easily.
"Mori-senpai!" a trio of voices called down from the second floor landing of the staircase.
The older teen stopped and glanced up, causing Wufei to take the extra step forward to see around him and who it was who had hailed him.
He was dead.
Duo and the twins he had heard about were waving down at them with matching grins. They weren't the issue though, maybe a handy distraction, but definitely not the issue. Wufei didn't even have time to consider dodging, drawing, let alone firing.
Quatre already had him pinned; reflexes faster in this quick draw and Wufei hadn't stood a chance. Sandrock's pilot had leveled a stare at him even before he had realized it and by the time he did, Wufei knew he was going to pay for his improvisation to the original plan without clearance first.
Yeah, he was so dead.
Bonus!: "Because of Halloween (even though I'm about a week late) here's a little sketch/drama/script/outline thing that I whipped up."
Tamaki:(rushes into clubroom) I have the most wonderful idea!
Kyoya: (puts down calculator) And what might that be?
Tamaki: (brushes hair back with flourish) Since it's only been about a week after Halloween and Death has been stressing out over the insurmountable amount of homework and could use a bit of cheering up, why don't we get the RGB cast together and cosplay!
Kyoya: (raises eyebrows) And how is this different than what we already do at the Host Club?
Tamaki: (waves arms) Because we'll be cosplaying as Final Fantasy characters! And if it's well-received, we might be able to convince Death to put some form of it in the actual story!
Kyoya: (taps in a few numbers on his calculator and hums in thought) Congratulations, Tamaki, you have once again impressed me with the fact that your head isn't there for mere decoration.
Tamaki: Why are you so mean?
Kyoya: Tamaki, now isn't the time, we're on a tight schedule (stands up and exits the clubroom with Tamaki trailing behind)
-(A few hours later)-
Tamaki: (voice comes from behind the curtain where everyone else is waiting) Let's play name that Final Fantasy charater with the RGB cast!
Haruhi: When did this become a contest?
Duo: Who's s'posed to be the judges?
Hikaru/Kaoru: Death isn't even here.
Quatre: Maybe the reviewers?
Wufei: (scoffs) Unlikely.
Hunny: We're supposed to be having fun!
Kyoya: Let's just continue with the plan, shall we?
Heero: Mission accepted.
-(curtain flairs open and Tamaki walks out)-
Tamaki: I'm the hero of this Final Fantasy! (lifts huge plastic sword to rest on his shoulder, his hair looks like someone had attempted to gel it up in unruly spikes)
Hikaru/Kaoru: More emo, Milord!
Duo: I still think we shoulda put him in the dress instead of the fatigues…
Tamaki: Haruhi! Haruhi! Your turn! (reaches through the curtain and grabs an arm and pulls)
Trowa: (allows the grip on his free arm, while the other was tucked into the sleeve of his red tunic. The collar hides the lower half of his face while the dark sunglasses covers his eyes) Am I supposed to mention something about a story?
Haruhi: (stumbles out from behind the curtain after being pushed by the twins) Why do I have to wear this? I don't even know what to label half of the things I'm wearing. (wearing what looks to be Elizabethan era men's clothing with loose sleeves and white gloves. Boots reach up to mid-thigh and an amulet of 2 serpentine dragons curling around each other hangs off her collar)
Tamaki: Haruhi, you look so—
Hunny: (springs out from behind the curtain and ends up knocking Tamaki to the ground) Sorry, Tama-chan. (tugs on brown hat that doesn't quite make it up to a point but instead droops down, pulling it lower over his face. A blue jacket with baggy striped pants complete the outfit)
Mori: (steps out) It's alright, Mitsukuni (is wearing heavy cargo pants with a blue sash around his waist. A beige trenchcoat covers his blue vest and black shirt and he is wearing a black bandana)
Hunny: (slumps) Aw, Takashi, you need to be more like your character! You're supposed to say that you're a hero!
Quatre: Since everyone else seems to just be walking out… (shrugs, the spikes on the shoulders of his blue and white armor lifting dangerously close to poking Trowa. A cape trails behind him, catching on the sword sheathed across his lower back)
Hikaru/Kaoru: (follow Quatre and place their hands on his head) Wow, in the light you're even more shiny, Quatre.
Hikaru: Oh, should probably be in character (clears throat) Too bad there aren't any pretty girls around or a princess to kidnap (his tail sticking out of the back of his blue pants swishes as he moves. He is wearing a white sleeveless shirt under a teal vest with gloves that have large cuffs)
Kaoru: Right (nods head. He is wearing an outfit comprised of different blues with white, completed by a sash around his waist, leggings, and a blue short cape) Oh, should probably be in character (clears throat) Too bad there aren't any pretty girls around or a princess to kidnap.
Duo: Not surprised that you're good at that (instead of his normal braid, his hair is pulled back into a low ponytail while a cowboy hat covers the rest. He is wearing a trenchcoat with a purple vest underneath and brown chaps layered over his jeans. He taps a shotgun against his shoulder)
Haruhi: (pushes Tamaki away who is trying to hug her and receives a spike of hair in the eye) That isn't a real gun, is it?
Duo: (shrugs) Of course not.
Trowa: It shouldn't be…
Hunny: (points a gloved finger) Tama-chan, you and Takashi aren't in character! Don't make me cast a Bun-Bun Fire! (holds out Bun-Bun who has purple wings taped to its back with a red pom-pom sticking out of the top of its head)
Quatre: Don't you think you should come out, Wufei?
Wufei: (walks out, grumbling) Maybe you should've worn the black armor instead, Quatre. (is wearing a finely-pressed black suit, his hair is out of its normal tie and is brushed back from his face with a chakra on the center of his forehead) This is so type-casting.
Heero: (walks out) Almost as obvious as mine (is wearing black leather pants with a black leather jacket that has a white feathered collar. A scar was painted on between his eyes) This doesn't even make sense (holds up gun with a cardboard extension cut in a shape of a blade)
Hikaru/Kaoru: Where's Kyoya?
Renge: (appears from out of nowhere) Oh ho ho ho! Where is my dear Kyoya? (her hair is done up in a ponytail and she is wearing a red strapless top with separated sleeves. She is wearing leggings and a decorative sash wrapped around her waist and a cape)
Host Club Members Minus Haruhi: Otaku!
Kyoya: Tamaki, you're making a scene (light dim, he steps out wearing a long black leather jacket with straps crossing over his chest and black leather pants, in his hand he holds a long slender sword) I think you should get in character now to make this more serious.
Author's Note: "Again, I'm still alive. Though this semester is kicking my ass, but once it's done I only have one more to go before I graduate! Honestly, it's been a mess. I'll admit to that and I'm sorry I wasn't able to get a chapter out sooner. I'm sure many of you have been waiting impatiently and I don't blame you, but I have not forgotten about my readers.
"A lot has happened this past year that I really don't know where to start to explain my absence. Germany trip back in May, summer semester classes, two jobs, etc…
"As usual, many of the things in here are completely different than what I had originally planned for this story way, way back in '07 or whatever year it was. However, I am pleased where it's taking me and the fact that it is actually making sense.
"Yes, I like writing a darker Quatre. He's a lot more fun than the sweet guy many make him out to be and besides, there has to be something more to him in order for him to snap under ZERO other than his father's death.
"Ah, Wufei, he really is a bastard. But thanks to him, Mori and Hunny are going to get more time. Hopefully the Kendo Club scene worked out and I plan to have some scenes with them sparring (can't wait!)
Acknowledgments: "Many thanks to Strata-Assassin for the beta and everything else that she puts up with from me (which is a lot, I'm guessing…)
"Special thanks to SmileRen for voicing her concerns about some details and for the conversation (which I'm sorry for not replying back!)
"As always, in typical closing fashion, leave critiques, suggestions, questions, ideas, criticism, whatever in either a review or PM. Much appreciated!"