by The Fairy Palatyne
Disclaimer: I do not own Ouran High School Host Club. The original manga story, characters and plot belong to Bisco Hatori, Lala, English editions to Viz Media and the anime to Bones, et.al.
Author's Note: I have not read the manga. So this is anime-based, post episode 26.
Chapter One – The Peace Offering
"Haruhi, you are the only one we can count on." said Kaoru.
"But it's a Saturday, I'm not supposed to do Club duties." she intoned almost whiningly.
She had woken up to find all but one of the Host Club members at the door – each of them wearing an expression that could only be described as pleading.
A small hand tugged at her sleeve and as she turned, a huge pink stuffed bunny was practically smothering her face. "Ne, Haru-chan, we can't have fun if we're not complete!" came Hunny's baby voice.
"Haruhi, my daughter! We simply cannot let this day pass without going to the commoner's fair, and I especially want Kyouya to come because he missed the last one. It would be unfair for anyone to miss out on such an instructive trip!" Tamaki said theatrically, taking her hands for effect.
"Tamaki-sempai, the fair will go on for a few days more. Why don't we just go after school sometime next week?" she suggested firmly, snatching back her hands and backing away from the Host Club, her hand subtly making a move to close the door.
She wanted to spend her weekend catching up on her studies. The past week had been full of activities for the Host Club. They could afford to spend the entire day in a fair, but she had to study or lose her scholarship.
And besides, fairs were nothing new to her or to most people. It wasn't even a large fair, just an outdoor expo of the neighborhood commerce group. Yet for the Host Club, it was a world wonder. She smiled inwardly in spite of herself. For all their sophistication, the Host Club members were still very much like children – let loose in a world of unfamiliar yet fascinating things.
She had wanted to go the fair herself, but her books and notes were already on her desk, waiting to be attended to.
"Onegai, Haru-chan! We can eat ice cream together, and strawberry cakes!" Hunny-sempai said pleadingly, looking at her with eyes that would have made any other girl swoon.
Her resolve was already diminishing. "I am not a glutton! I am not a glutton!" she chanted inwardly, even as thoughts of strawberries were filling her head.
"C'mon Haruhi, it's only a small favor!" Hikaru said brusquely.
Almost. They almost had her, yet she sensed something suspicious about their motives. There was excitement in their voices yet there was a slight tension in their expressions – as if they were hiding or pretending.
"If it's not that difficult, why don't you guys do it? Why'd you have to come all the way here?" she said testily.
All but Mori visibly flinched.
"Hmmmm…"she muttered tonelessly. She was now staring at each of them intently, waiting to see who would give in first. Hunny was hiding behind his stuffed bunny. Hikaru had his arms crossed and on his face an irritated expression. Kaoru on the other hand, was grinning mercilessly at Tamaki who looked extremely agitated.
"Well, you see Haruhi…"Tamaki's voice trailed away.
"Go on Tono, you'd better tell her what happened."
"Ano…..you see Haruhi…" Tamaki's voice was growing even fainter and he was slowly backing away from the group, moving closer and closer to the balcony railings. "Maybe, we should just go to the fair some other time…"
"Tamaki-kun woke up Kyoya-kun early this morning." said Mori-sempai's gravely, as if he were delivering a verdict.
"Eh? What about it?" She felt like she was missing a vital piece of information, something which no one seemed to have the guts to speak about.
"You see Haruhi, we call Kyouya, the Low Blood Pressure Demon Lord." came Kaoru's exasperated tone.
'The Low Blood Pressure Demon Lord!!" all but Mori-sempai said at once.
"He wakes up with a bad temper, not even Usa-chan can cheer him up. Ne, Takashi?"
"He's usually manageable. But Tono here overdid things again."
"Kaoru!" came Tamaki's strangled cry.
"Yeah, we weren't supposed to go there so early. But he insisted." Hikaru added, looking pointedly at Tamaki.
"Hai, Kyo-chan is a late riser so we should have come later!"
"Mori-sempai! Hunny-sempai!" Tamaki was shaking and close to tears.
Ultimately, it was the twins who did all the explaining.
"Yep. We came into his room, and Tono here started raving about the fair and all –" Kaoru started.
"And he didn't notice that Kyoya-sempai was already awake and glaring at us." Hikaru interjected disgustedly.
"Yes. He seemed really calm. He just told us to leave. Of course, Tono here was not listening and he went on, even shaking Kyouya-sempai. Then all of a sudden Kyouya-sempai, he…" Kaoru paused, his expression hesitant.
"It was scary…" Hunny intoned.
"His eyes…" Tamaki's voice was even fainter.
"...he told us once more to leave, but we knew then he was serious. I've never seen him that angry before." Kaoru continued, while Hikaru nodded his assent.
There was silence, as all of but Mori wore expressions of mild horror on their faces, as if they were remembering something extremely unpleasant.
Haruhi simply stared at them. She, more than anyone else, knew them very well. Exaggeration, and theatrics were part of their conversational repertoire. She had learned to tolerate their quirks and even at times humor them, but at the moment, she was not in the mood to be so solicitous. Also, the "blood pressure demon lord" thing was just too absurd. Kyouya was the most level-headed member of the Host Club, the only person whom she can, with only some slight hesitation, deem completely sane.
Even if he is opportunistic, ruthless and as he said, an egoist…or pretending to be one.
"OK." she said, trying her best not to sound patronizing. "But I still don't understand why I have to be the one to ask him. Why don't you just go back, apologize and ask him again?" she asked directly.
"We can't." said Hikaru.
"No Haruhi, we physically can't go anywhere near him now."
Haruhi simply raised an eyebrow and gave Kaoru a questioning look.
"We are banned from entering his suite. Actually, we are banned from entering the entire hotel complex. We found out when we tried to go back to ask him again." Kaoru explained with sigh.
"What?!" Now Haruhi was taken aback.
"Banned. Our faces are in their security database. We can't come within ten meters of the main hotel."
"Kyouya has treated us like fugitives, to be chased away by rabid dogs –"
"Wait." Haruhi interrupted Tamaki's lament, she was now very much surprised and confused. "What hotel? I thought they had a mansion?"
"He's not in their mansion." Kaoru answered.
"He wouldn't tell us. But never mind that! The point is, we can't go anywhere near him while he's in that building."
"Please Haruhi. I'm sure Kyo-chan didn't mean to ban us, it was the Low Blood Pressure Demon Lord and not him."
"Hotel security won't let us in, not even when we told them who we were." Hikaru exclaimed indignantly.
"You're the only one who's not banned. Will you do it Haruhi?"
Haruhi remained silent, hesitating to answer Kaoru's question. There were details in their story which intrigued her. Why was Kyouya living away from the Ootori mansion? From what she had observed so far, Kyouya did things calmly and with surety. He was the last one to do something rash.
And whenever he did, it was always because he was provoked, Haruhi mused, remembering how Kyouya hit his father's car with his bare fist.
Tamaki unexpectedly snapped out of his stupor and his voice was at once serious and thoughtful. "I think Kyouya is going through something. Maybe he is trying to figure something out."
Haruhi was slightly surprised by Tamaki's comment, and by the way he looked at her as he said it.
"He has been acting strange lately." Kaoru mused.
Haruhi remained silent, but inwardly agreed. Kyouya had been noticeably more serious the past few weeks. He seemed even more preoccupied than usual and often less tolerant of the idiocies of the other Host Club members.
And sometimes, she would catch him looking at her intently – or at least she thought she caught him looking, she could never be certain.
"Onegai, Haruhi. Will you go to him?" Kaoru pleaded.
It was then that she realized. A trivial thing like an invitation to the fair was not what they wished to extend to Kyouya – not an invitation, but an apology. It was their way.
Considering Kyouya's personality, it must be the only way.
They wanted to apologize to Kyouya, and she was to be their messenger. A part of her was annoyed, but another part of her was slightly concerned about Kyouya as well.
What do I do?
She asked herself as she looked at the pleading, expectant faces of the Host Club members.
"I thought I'm done being the club dog…"she intoned exasperatedly, half-resigned to her task.
"A dozen strawberry cakes…"
"If you think you can bribe me with food –"
"A month's supply of tuna sushi!"
She groaned loudly. "All right, then. What's the address?"
"Will this hallway never end?" Haruhi mumbled to herself as she trudged along one of the silent halls of the posh, five-star hotel. Not even her footsteps could be heard as the floors were richly carpeted, the walls elegantly furnished and every several paces were decorated alcoves and paintings.
Yet for all its grandeur, the hall was extremely quiet. No sounds could be heard from any of the rooms she passed. So unlike the building she and her father lived in – small, crowded and often noisy. She knew everyone in their building and even some few in their neighborhood. They were mostly middle-class people, parents, children and some singles – busy with their own hectic lives yet unfailingly amiable and always eager to help.
The place she was in, though essentially the same – a residential space – seemed more like a museum
"No wonder he can sleep in so late." She said a little louder. She saw no point in lowering her voice as she had seen not a single soul since coming up. She continued walking, looking closely at every door as there seemed to be very few and wondered exactly how large each unit was.
From within her jeans pocket she took out the key card given to her. She had wondered at how easily she was granted access to Kyouya's room. She had declined the other Host Club members' offers to drive her to the building, and instead asked them to wait at the fair. The building was only a train's ride away from her own neighborhood, but it was in a part of the city that was completely different from where she lived.
She had managed to find the hotel on her own. But how she got from the lobby to the hallway she was in at the moment was the result of a bizarre encounter.
She had wandered a while at the hotel lobby, unsure of what to do, until someone from the front desk approached her and asked for her name and purpose. She gave her name and asked if they could inform Kyouya Ootori that she was there.
Instead of answering her, she was shuffled into what looked like a small lounge behind the front desk area and was asked to wait. There was a flurry of activity, with several people making several calls and once or twice she thought she heard her own name being mentioned. Finally, the man who approached her came back and introduced himself as the security supervisor. She was informed that Kyouya was not answering their calls and it might be that he was still asleep.
"Demo, Fujioka-san, you might want to wake him up yourself?"
"Eh?" What does that mean?
Amidst her confusion she noticed that the man's demeanor had changed, he was suddenly very accommodating but there was a guarded tone to his voice, as if he were arranging a clandestine meeting.
"Please, this is a visitor key card for the bocchama's room, it will bypass the sensor. Let me escort you to his floor."
Slightly bewildered by the man's overly accommodating manner and incredulous at his suggestion, she let herself be shuffled around once more. The shiny plastic key card was pressed into her hand and she was escorted – practically dragged – to the elevators.
"Anou, are you sure I can just go to his room?" She ventured to ask a little later, as the elevator rose past the building's numerous floors.
"Of course you can, Fujioka-san." The man's answer, though polite, was too curt to be truthful. She very much doubted that it was standard protocol to let an unfamiliar visitor have direct access to a room.
"Demo, Tamaki-sempai and the others…." Didn't these people just ban the other Host Club members?
"Ah, but we have specific instructions regarding you, Fujioka-san."
"Eh? What-" But before she could ask any more questions, there was a soft chime as the elevator reached its destination. She automatically stepped out and she turned only to see the elevator doors already closing.
"Chotto matte!" she called out, but too late.
The strangeness of the encounter bothered her more than the man's apparent rudeness. But true to her practical nature, she simply proceeded to search for Kyouya's room.
But half an hour after she was unceremoniously abandoned, she was still looking for the right room.
Placing the key card back into her pocket, a sigh escaped her lips as the door she found turned out to be the wrong one. Her small favor to the host club was now turning into an exhausting chore. She was done berating herself for agreeing. She could only trudge on, and hope that the next door be the right one.
Why, why did I let myself get into this?
to be continued…