The First Year
Mori was beside himself. It was the first time Haruhi had ever seen him really cry.
"We're going to miss you so much!" Hunny said, tears oozing out of his own eyes as he clung to the sole female member of the Host Club. "Promise me, promise me that you'll call me and visit me all the time, okay?!"
Haruhi gave him a reassuring smile. "Hunny-senpai, of course we'll all keep in touch."
"Really? Really?" Hunny said, and Haruhi nodded.
"Yes. Won't we, Tamaki-senpai?" she said. Tamaki was tearfully dabbing at his eyes with a lace handkerchief.
"Our family is falling apart..." he exclaimed.
"It is not, m'lord," the twins chorused, but neither of them looked particularly happy about the event that was unfolding that day.
The only one unruffled, of course, was Kyoya. "I've already selected quite a few promising new freshmen to begin tomorrow," he said from his post at his computer. "We'll have your replacements by the end of the first new school week, I expect."
Mori looked more heartbroken than Hunny, standing their and holding their diplomas.
"We're being replaced...?!" Hunny wailed.
"You thought we would keep you following your graduation...?" Kyoya retorted coolly. "There are always going to be new members of the Host Club every year. It is a club, after all."
"It won't be the same, not at all," Tamaki said mournfully, and blew his nose with the handkerchief. Haruhi patted Hunny soothingly on the back.
"Hunny-senpai, I'm absolutely sure that there's nobody in the school that could ever replace you, or Mori-senpai," she said. Her glance darted sideways, slightly exasperated. "Believe me, I doubt it."
Hunny wrapped his arms around her neck and continued to cry. "Haru-chan!"
"You know, no doubt Renge-san would agree with me that new 'types' would be excellent for business," Kyoya added, neatly typing in a line for his database. "This will be an exciting event for our frequent customers―those that aren't graduating, of course."
"Uncalled-for!" the twins said, frowning.
"Kyoya-senpai, could you at least pretend that you're going to miss Hunny-senpai and Mori-senpai?" Haruhi said, glancing at him. The collar of her uniform was getting wet from Hunny's tears, and Mori was beginning to produce tissues from his sleeve. Kyoya didn't reply.
"You know, you and Kyoya are gonna be leaving next year," Hikaru remarked. "That means it'll be just us and Haruhi, m'lord."
With this realization, Tamaki began to cry louder than Hunny.
The Second Year
"Haruhi, I don't want to leave!" Tamaki declared, on his final day in the music room.
"You're making a spectacle of yourself, m'lord," Kaoru said disapprovingly.
"You don't have that much of a choice, Tamaki-senpai," Noboru, one of the freshmen, said. Of the three new additions, he was charmingly studious and straitlaced. Renge declared him a "glasses" character immediately upon his entry, even though his eyesight was fine. He wore fake lenses, but he was not wearing them now.
"But I'm sure there's a way!" Tamaki continued, waving his arms near the unflappable Haruhi. "Mother, tell me there's a way."
Kyoya was having issues of his own, whizzing through databases at lightning speed on his computer, a grimace on his face. "There's absolutely no way..." he muttered.
"Mother, are you listening to me?" Tamaki whined, as Haruhi resolutely marched away to be with Yuki and Bonta―they were of the Rebel and Shota types, respectively.
Although normally a very well-mannered boy, Yuki (his family being highly successful actors) took on the role of a delinquent of the highest degree, refining his accent, dress, and manner to appeal to any girl with a weakness for bad boys. Renge adored him for his effort.
Bonta (though everybody called him Bonbon), on the other hand, was short and squat, with a round, pleasant face and an immense love of sweets―his family did own a chocolate manufacture, after all. Although not as petite as Hunny, he still succeeded in charming girls and letting them coddle him immensely.
"Gosh, Yuki exclaimed―nobody was around, so he was his kind and thoughtful self again, "Kyoya-senpai, is something the matter?"
"It's just impossible," Kyoya replied, although it was most likely that he was talking to himself. "There's absolutely nobody."
"Haruhi, your mother is ignoring me..." Tamaki said, continuing to whine.
"Tamaki-senpai, pull yourself together," she said, snapping a little.
"Yeah, m'lord, you're acting worse than Hunny-senpai, almost," Hikaru added.
Tamaki produced the lace handkerchief, tucking the tube of his diploma under his arm, and wiping dramatically at his eyes. "Hunny-senpai..." he sniffed. "He's barely called us at all, hasn't he?"
However, his remarks were ignored as Kyoya clutched at his head and looked like he was about to pull some of his hair out. "Shut up, shut up, shut up!!" he yelled.
"Kyoya-senpai!" Noboru exclaimed. "What in the world is the matter?"
"Can there be just one person in this entire school capable of handling the finances when I leave?!" he said, slamming his palms on the table, and practically screaming. His diploma quavered a little from the impact and nearly rolled away.
"Is that what has you stressed?" Haruhi said, peering over his shoulder―he was looking at small biographies of students, it seemed. "Kyoya-senpai, shouldn't you have been doing this earli-"
"I was!" Kyoya said, glaring at Haruhi; she shivered a little. This was a side of Kyoya rarely seen outside of the occasional early-morning visit to his house. "There is absolutely nobody even remotely capable of even coming close to managing the club well. At all!" He held his forehead in his hands.
"Kyoya-senpai, I've been practicing my accounting, actually..." Noboru said meekly. "I had a feeling that this sort of issue might aris-"
"You? You think you could handle all this?" Kyoya said sharply, and gave a cruel laugh. "You presume too much. Too much."
"I'm sure I could manage, Kyoya-senpai," Noboru continued, feeling uncomfortably intimidated but determined to hold his ground. Haruhi, Tamaki, and the rest of the club watched as the confrontation continued to unfold. "I mean, you were younger than me when you began managing the club, and, well... I'm the top of my class, senpai."
"It's true!" Bonbon added. "He is!"
Kyoya slammed his fists down on the table. His diploma was sent violently rolling away, and everyone jumped back a little.
"Kyoya, are you... all right?" Tamaki said, cautiously coming closer, completely dropping his melodrama of minutes ago. The handkerchief had vanished. "If it's any comfort, I really think Noboru would do a good jo-"
"Shut up!" Kyoya yelled. "You know damn well how I feel, you idiot!" His voice, an enormous, raging thing, filled the entire room. "You'd let somebody like... like Noboru run the club? Well! Well, you know what? If you think you can do it," he said, glaring at Noboru, "be my guest. Be my guest."
With unusual intensity and calm, Kyoya picked up his diploma from the floor and headed for the exit.
"Kyoy-" Tamaki began, but the boy turned around to face all of them, with a stern expression.
"Good afternoon," he said, and left, his laptop still glowing on the table.
The Third Year
"Everyone, we've had a fantastic year together," Haruhi said, standing in front of the seven other members of the Host Club. The twins had decided that she was to make a speech, and after much embarrassed jostling, she finally gave in. "We've made records, this year, and the girls at the school have never been happier, I suppose!"
The hosts laughed, including Noboru, who sat behind the laptop that was once Kyoya's, performing the duties that were once also his. The two new additions―a Wallflower named Katsuo and a King that had the potential to rival Tamaki named Sejiro―laughed as well.
"Now, this year is an important one for all of us," Haruhi said, once the laughter had died down. "As of tomorrow, all of you will be on your own. It'll be a whole new experience for everybody, because it'll be the first year that none of the members of the original club like me or Hikaru-san or Kaoru-san will be around to help. As I said, you'll be on your own.
"Now," she added with a reassuring smile, "we're all very certain that you'll be just fine without us, and will be able to bring your own special touch to the club."
"Like lap dances!" Yuki teased. Everyone laughed, Haruhi included, and Katsuo turned a deep shade of pink.
"Yuki-kun, if Tamaki-senpai heard you saying that..." she sighed.
"He'd say, 'Anything to make the women happy, to the point of being almost vulgar!'" Bonbon said with a grin, and everyone began laughing again.
"Everyone, everyone! One last thing!" Haruhi said, getting over her giggles. "I'd just like to say how proud I am of you. The future of this club rests in your hands, and I'm sure everyone that began it would agree with me in saying it couldn't be in more capable ones!"
"Agreed!" the twins said, and they began to clap.
The next day, nearly all that was left of the old Host Club was gone with the students that had formed it.
Many Years in Passing
Tamaki was discontented.
What discontented him the most was the fact that he knew there wasn't much to complain about in his life.
He was a world-renowned concert pianist, with CD's and awards to his name. He had done tours and CD signings, and spoken at camps to young prodigies of the instrument he loved.
He was marvelously wealthy, even when his father's fortune wasn't taken into account. He had homes in Paris, in New York, and Tokyo.
He had a private jet, which was now currently in repairs, and found him in his current environs―on a first class seat in a plane bound for Tokyo, where he sipped some sort of fruit-flavored cocktail that he couldn't remember the name of. He always went to Tokyo to relax, because while he had grown up in France, everyone he truly cared about lived in Japan.
However, even if he wanted to, there was never an opportunity for him to connect with the people he held dearest.
Kyoya had been the most distant and the most productive, becoming CEO of his father's company, and subsequently overtaking at least three other major medical supply companies, while holding business relations with countless more. He and Tamaki hadn't talked since their final day of school and his angry storming-out of the music room. All and any news of him was received from the newspapers.
The Hitachiins had enjoyed a great amount of success as television personalities and fashion critics. Tamaki saw them on television screens around the world, with their dusky orange hair cut long and over their shoulders, dispensing witty remarks on the hits and misses of the fashion world.
They had written to him once or twice, encouraging him to "write a film score or something, so we can see you at the Oscars and make fun of you." It was all, of course, in good fun, but Tamaki felt he had little to no talent in composing things. "I'll pass," he had written back.
"You're no fun," they replied, and Tamaki felt a little sad that their customary "m'lord" was missing. So it went.
Hunny and Mori had stayed at their dojo to teach, and Tamaki heard little to nothing from them, aside from the odd little New Year card.
Renge was working for her father as head of their marketing department, or for a company that produced dating sims, or both. Either way, Tamaki felt it was wholly appropriate for her. Whatever she was doing, he reasoned, she was doing it extremely well.
As for Haruhi, well...
Last he heard, she qualified for a scholarship at some prestigious law school, and that was that. He could assume from what few emails and cards he got from her and others was that she was happy and doing well for herself.
Tamaki bitterly sipped at his drink and drummed his fingers on the comfortable leather seat. He loved simply being in the same country as these people he cared so dearly about, but found he could never find time to actually be with them. None of them called him, and he felt that if he were to somehow call up any of them, he'd be cast aside as some unwanted annoyance, or someone simply too unimportant for their busy lives.
In his old age (he shuddered at the thought―he was only in his mid-30's, and so was everyone else) he realized how much of an idiot he had been as a teenager, and how annoying his behavior must have been. Especially to Haruhi and Kyoya, the two people he yearned the most to see, and yet were the least close to him in his present state. Rejection seemed all too possible a consequence if he should try to contact them now.
Maybe that was why he was so discontent, he thought. Finding no comfort in the revelation, he finished the drink and fingered a piece of music that he was practicing in the air.
People were still boarding the plane, stowing their bags up top in the nearby business class and reading newspapers. It would be a while before they would leave. Not that he particularly minded; he would probably fall asleep or mindlessly watch the in-flight movie, and he was already getting ready for it by blocking out the passage of time. It was a skill he had learned over the years, inadvertently.
A voice, somewhat young and surprised, hovered over his right year. A voice he knew he had heard before, many times before, and it seemed to be speaking Japanese.
Then, he saw who the voice belonged to, and he could hardly believe his eyes.
There she was, with her wide brown eyes set on her round, boyish face. Her hair was still rather short, and playfully clipped back with mismatched barrettes.
Her face lit up. "So it is you!" she said. "Well, what a―would you look at that... I think I'm seated next to you!"
"Are you kidding?" Tamaki said, and Haruhi shook her head, sitting next to him and storing her bag in front of her. "What are you doing here?"
"Going to visit my dad," she replied. "What are you doing here? I haven't seen you in ages! I see you... haven't changed much!'
"You either!" he said, meaning every word. She was really as beautiful and... Haruhi-ish as he remembered. "I'm here for the relaxation. I , uh, have a house in Tokyo."
"You don't say," Haruhi said, looking unimpressed―of course she wouldn't be.
"Yeah, it's like my vacation home," he said. "But anyways... wow! It's just great to see you, really!"
Haruhi nodded warmly. "Uh-huh, you too! How long has it been, anyways? Since school? Wow, that was so long ago."
"Yeah..." Tamaki replied.
"What have you been doing with yourself?" she said, and continued before he could reply. "I've completely lost contact with everybody. I don't even know what they've all been up to since school."
"Seriously? Well, I'm sure you've seen Hikaru and Kaoru on TV," Tamaki said.
"I don't watch much TV," Haruhi admitted.
"Still! Wow, they got into television, huh?" she said. "Good for them! What sorts of things?"
"Fashion critics," Tamaki said.
"I should have known."
"Oh yeah, they just love doing it."
"Well, what about everybody else?" Haruhi said, as the pilot announced that the plane doors had closed.
Tamaki smiled, and began to talk.
They continued to talk about all and everything―for several hours, in fact―stopping to watch the in-flight film on its second run through and to eat dinner. Tamaki couldn't remember a time when he had ever laughed so much from a conversation. It was just like old times, almost.
She had become, as he had expected, a lawyer. World-class, in fact, and he could hardly stop praising her for it. "If I ever got in trouble," he told her, "I'd want you to be my lawyer, I think."
"I'm flattered, Tamaki-san," she laughed. "But, you're probably right..." she added, with that sarcastic sideways glance of hers. It made him smile.
He was almost sad when the pilot announced that they would be touching down in Tokyo soon, and that he was turning on the seatbelt sign. His habit of letting time pass by quicker than it seemed had gotten the better of him.
He turned to Haruhi, reading a book beside him; this was his chance! A chance to connect with her again, before she was gone for good.
However, he found that she had started writing something on a piece of paper, and handed it to him.
"What's this?" he asked.
"It's my cell phone number," she said. "I'm not going to be doing much in the next week or so, so if you want to do something in the afternoon, I'd love to hear from you."
His face lit up. "You really mean it?"
She nodded. "Of course! I'd like to spend more time with you while I'm in town, Tamaki-san. Time that's not in an airplane, that is."
He took the note and folded it in his vest pocket, grinning. "Do you want mine?" he asked.
"Sure, I don't see why not," she said. Eagerly, he took his napkin and borrowed Haruhi's pen to write down his number, and handed it to her.
"I'll see you later," she said, and put her finger to her lips somewhat playfully. "I'm going to finish reading now, okay?"
"Okay," he said, and beamed.
Tamaki exited the plane a different man, saying nothing more than a casual farewell to Haruhi after he left his seat. He retrieved his baggage, was greeted by his driver, and went directly to his bedroom upon reaching his home.
He then flipped open his cell phone, and began to dial.
It wasn't just the fact that he had spoken to Haruhi that was making him act this way, but the fact that she hadn't rejected his company―she had enjoyed it! She had given him her cell phone number!
She had given him hope.
He had reached an answering machine, but still, he left a message.
"Hikaru? Kaoru? Good news. We're going to visit Haruhi tomorrow."