This came of me wondering what kind of a host Kyouya really is. I mean, he spends all his time writing or playing on his computer. Even Mori is shown with girls visiting him. Kyouya is just sort of there. So I startd writing and it took an odd twist that I didn't expect, but I ended up liking it very much.

I don't see anything else happening with this, at least not in this first-person style... -- I need to stop bringing up sequels...

Standards apply: own nothing, getting nothing. Please read and reply.

I never thought of myself as a caring, sensitive person, so I don't know how I came to be in this position. I can say I wish I was some place else. I'd like to walk away. Instead, I smile and try to look like I was listening a minute ago, because she's crying and I don't have a clue why.

"Please don't tell anyone."

I nodded sympathetically. "Of course I won't."

"You're the only one I can talk to."

I can't honestly say I even know who this girl is, but if she wants to depend on me I feel obligated to let her. She is paying, after all. "I'll be here any time you need to talk."

She smiles and her face is blotchy. "Thank you, Ootori-sempai."

I glance at the clock on the wall. Her fifteen minutes are up and someone else is waiting to sit with me. Usually the girls just watch me work on my computer or write in my notebook, periodically asking questions. This girl is disrupting my schedule. I don't get many designations... I decide to be tactful when I let her know she has to go. "I'm glad I could help you feel better. Let me get you a drink." I stand and hold my hand out to her. She takes it and stands as well. I bring her to the refreshment table and fill a cup of tea. "Sugar?"

"Yes, please."

When the drink is prepared, I lead her to one of the small tables in the back of the room and set in down. I pull out her chair and smile again when she thanks me. "I'll have Haruhi-kun bring you something to eat." And I walk away. On my way to the couch I nod to Haruhi, who takes her tray and starts towards the girl. I feel kind for a moment, then I see my next customer. She is one I know well.

She was the first to ever designate me, which was an odd experience in and of itself. When she walked into the room and introduced herself--Yamaguchi Yukiko--I thought she would be Tamaki's type. She had those wide, sparkling eyes and I knew she talked quite a bit because we had been in the same class off and on since grade school. But no, she did not want Tamaki. I asked who she would like to see, or if she just wanted to sit with a group while she got to know us, but she shook her head and didn't talk for a long time. When she finally did, it was a very small, "I'd like to visit with you," that came out.

I was surprised because no one wanted to visit with me. I am the busy one. I welcome people in and make sure they find the right host for them. I am never the right host. But Yukiko seemed to think I was. I apologized and told her I might be busy while we talked, but she didn't mind. After a few minutes of sitting with her, I realized she was content to be quiet and watch me--an odd feeling, really. I was sure she was disappointed and so was I--I had just lost a customer. But she came back the next day, and the next. When we started having the young ladies sign up on our website for their designations, she scheduled me every afternoon of the semester. I was flattered and I hoped she would continue to be content sitting quietly. She was. That was nearly a year and a half ago. She still comes every day and sits with me. I think she's spoiled me and ruined me for my future wife.

Today she is blushing a little and her hair is shorter than I have ever seen it. I smile as I walk towards her. "Hello, Yukiko-chan."


"Your hair is pretty. Did you cut it?"

She blushes more and fingers the shoulder-length strands. "A little. Do you really like it?"

Tamaki would say something about princesses and stardust right here, but I only reply, "It is very nice."

Even though I am not as eloquent as Tamaki, she smiles more.

I sit down and open my computer, which I had closed when the other girl started crying to give a better impression of listening. "I'm sorry I have so much work to do today. If you'd like someone else..." I make the same apology every day.

Yukiko shakes her head and gives her usual responce: "No. I don't mind."

I type a little then ask, "Did you have a good day?" I feel like an inattentive husband when I ask these questions I don't listen to the answers to, but maybe that's the fantasy she comes here to indulge, because she knows I'm not listening and she answers anyway.

The numbers for the month look good. I have to print out summaries and highlight income. The school likes a report of club funds. I'm sure if they knew how much we made they would question us more, but I donate some of the money and don't count costume rentals in the income. In the end, we look about as successful as the fencing club. The teachers would have to blind to believe that, but they dont seem to mind since our "donations" usually go to Ouran itself.

"Um, Kyouya-sempai?

I look up. We have a code for when Yukiko wants me to pay attention: she says my name. She doesn't do it often and usually when she does it's something moderately important, like letting me know she's going to be away from a week, so I should take her off my schedule and expect a nice gift when she returns.

Her voice is quiet, like the day she first designated me, and she is blushing. "I was wondering if you'd like to visit my house this weekend. My father is having a small dinner party."

Yamaguchi Akira is the owner of one of Japan's largest export companies. Hardly anyone gets anything out of the country without paying him a precentage. He isn't particularly useful in any forseeable way, but it is the unforseeable ways of connection that come up the most frequently and tend to be the most important.

I smile. "I would like that very much."

She smiles as well and I can tell I am allowed to go back to ignoring her after she tells me when and where. She is visibly excited and I think I might have just agreed to an omiai of a sort. (note 1)

When her time is up, Yukiko stands and I close my computer. "Thank you, Kyouya-sempai. I look forward to Saturday."

"Me, too," I assure her with a smile. I stand and offer to walk her to the door, but she says she wants to have something to drink before she leaves and I watch her walk away. She was my last appointment (of only two) and I take my computer to my desk in the corner so I can finish my work. I usually try to at least appear sociable by standing someplace more prominant in the room, but it is getting closer to report time and I like to have my summaries in promptly.

When I arrive at Yukiko's house Saturday evening I am pleased with the looks of it. It is a tidy western estate with many rose bushes and I wonder if her mother is one of those English fanatics. There are three other cars in the driveway and I wonder exactly how small this dinner party is. I know I am not especially early.

The walkway to the front door is flagged stone lined with low flowers on either side. When I ring the bell the door opens almost immediately. A tall man with deep features and a stiff suit looks down at me. He is the butler and I pity him because we have one just like him.

"Whom shall I announce?"

"Ootori Kyouya." I hand him my jacket and check my tie in the entryway mirror as he leads me into the sitting room at the end of the hall.

I follow the butler into a modest room with a thick area rug covering a hardwood floor. There are several chairs and a low table with cookie plates and a silver tea service. It smells like citrus and spring time and I marvel that the housekeeper managed the smell so close to winter. There are five people in each of the chairs and on the couch. Yukiko is sitting on a small sofa beside a slight woman who can only be her mother. She is wearing a blue dress and her hair is tied up with a ribbon. She would be quite lovely if she looked even remotely comfortable. A short but commanding figure is standing by the bar in the back pouring an amber liquid into a glass. He must be the father. He watches me walk into the room with still, clever eyes.

"Ootori Kyouya-sama," the butler states and everyone turns to look at me.

Smiling, I bow as Yukiko and her mother stand.

"Kyouya-san, we are pleased you could come." Her mother is charming.

"Hello, Kyouya-sempai."

I feel awkward having her call me "sempai" when she has invited me to her house, but I do not want to correct her in front of her guests, so I smile and reply, "Thank you for inviting me, Yamaguchi-san."

Her father likes that I don't use her first name. I can tell by the way he shifts his stare and the corners of his lips twitch upwards. He steps forward. "Welcome, Ootori-kun."

I bow to him then extend my hand. If their mansion is any indication of his interests, he probably enjoys shaking hands.

Yamaguchi-san nods a little and takes my hand firmly. His smile becomes a little more pronounced. "Please sit."

After I sit, Yukiko and her mother do as well. Yamaguchi-san makes introductions and I discover that this dinner party is actually a celebration for his second oldest son who has recently been promoted in his company. Everyone else in attendance is family.

I suddenly realize that I am supposed to be Yukiko's date.

We make small talk for a few minutes, then Yukiko stands up. "Would you like to take a walk before dinner? I could show you the gardens." She is smiling sweetly and I have to agree.

I suddenly realize that she planned this. Perhaps she does not like being ignored after all.

I follow Yukiko out of the room after a nod to her parents, brother, and sister-in-law. We walk down the wide hall to a side door that opens onto a small, neat porch. The gardens are spread before us like a tide of gold and red reaching towards the shore. The fall flowers are at their peak and I comment that her parents must have a very talented landscaper.

"Yes. It's very pretty in the spring, too." We walk along between the flowerbeds and stop at a small bench on a patio off the path. "This is one of my favorite spots."

"It's peaceful." The distant hedges block any view of the neightbors or sounds from the road and we could almost be in an English story book about a boy and a girl in a garden in the middle of some perfect nowhere. A genuine smile tugs at my mouth and I know she must realize more about me than I thought she did because she doesn't seem surprised that I like this place so much.

Yukiko sits on the bench and moves to the side so I can sit as well. We are quiet for several minutes, but it's comfortable and I like the way the fall sky is hazy, so I look at that for a while.

"I'm sorry I didn't tell you about the dinner party," she starts softly. "I didn't think you'd come if you knew, and I really wanted you to. You aren't angry, are you?"

"Of course not." I'm really not angry, though I berate myself that I should have guessed this might happen. "I wish I could have brought a gift for your brother though."

"I'm sorry."

"It's OK."


"Yes?" I look at her. She is looking at her clasped hands and I think I know what she's going to say. More to save myself than her, I speak before she does: "This garden is wonderful, but..."

Yukiko looks at me.

"It's a shame winter is coming so early. All the flowers will freeze."

"Yes," she agrees, looking away again. "I wish they could stay forever."

"But if they stayed, they would grow old and you'd be tired of seeing them. It's far better to miss them for a while and like them better when they are here, isn't it?"

Quietly, she nods, her head tipped forward as though hoping in vain that her tied-back hair will hide her face. She is crying and I am glad she understands me.

"But we can at least enjoy them while they are here."

She nods again.

We sit in silence for several more minutes. I think I've hurt her feelings very badly: the tears begin to come faster, but I like her too much to try to comfort her. That would be insulting us both. Instead, I look at the sky and listen as she cries softly, really hearing her for the first time since we met.

For a moment I pity the girls who come to the Host Club. Not all of them, because most know it's only playtime, a recess away from reality. But for some... Some get as wrapped up in it as Tamaki does, and the make-believe fairy dust disappears. What an odd existance for someone to prefer. A life lived as though only the fifteen minutes in a music room were reality.

When Yukiko stopped crying, she said, "I'm sorry."

"It's all right," I answer.

"Do you like any of the girls who visit with you?" Her question is undemanding and I am sure I could ignore it and she wouldn't ask again.

I answer, "I don't know many of them very well."

"I see."

I think I might have just hurt her feelings even more, but I can't tell because she still isn't looking at me. Despite my resolve not to comfort her, I pretend we are in the music room and she is paying for me to say what she wants to hear. "I know you better than most, and I appreciate your company."

"Can I still designate you on Monday?"

I smile. "I look forwad to it."

We are quiet again and soon she is looking at the sky, too, smiling. We point out clouds and make up shapes for them. Yukiko laughs and I feel odd.

I should never have started listening to her...

Note 1: "Omiai" is a meeting usually set up by two sets of parents, or parents and a matchmaker (yes, the Japanese still employ matchmakers) during which two people who might get married meet each other and decide if they like each other/could stand to live together. A surprising number of marriages are still arranged this way and are usually based on the woman's cuteness and ability to appear subdued and the man's earning potential.