Here's chapter two! It's slightly longer than the previous one, only because I had to fit in quite a few different points-of-view in this! Hope things make slightly more sense with this.
Chapter Two: Where Are They Now?
"Otousan, will you stop that?" snapped the brunette, exasperatedly, as she both watched and heard the man prance around the apartment, humming aloud.
"But I'm so happy, Haruhi..." protested the cross-dresser, coming to a halt by his seated daughter. "Is that a crime?"
Fujioka Haruhi shook her head.
"No. But can you perhaps be 'happy' elsewhere?" she queried, ignoring her father's gasp of mock-hurt. "I'm trying to study."
"You're no fun," mumbled her father, as he sat down opposite her at the low table. "No fun at all..."
"I'm sorry," deadpanned his daughter, not sounding one bit as though she meant it. As she returned her focus to the various books that cluttered the table before her, her father took the opportunity to observe her. Carefully.
Appearance-wise, the girl hadn't changed one bit, except for becoming somewhat...curvy in places she had lacked curves before. Personality-wise...well, she was still – somewhat – the same---
---but it was clear that she wasn't happy.
And seeing this each time he looked at his daughter pained Fujioka Ryoji, for he'd give his little girl the world – if he could – if that was what she wanted.
But the world wasn't what she wanted, and no one knew the whereabouts of...what she didwant.
"Stop staring, Otousan," murmured Haruhi, her brown eyes meeting his briefly, before she looked away. Ryoji smiled sadly; she avoided looking people in the eye quite a lot these days.
"Are you happy?"
"Very. Absolutely thrilled. And I'd be even more so if you would go away and let me study in-"
"That's not what I meant and you know it. Haruhi."
"Why do you ask?"
"Because it's a father's duty to know these things."
"Shouldn't a father be able to tell these things without having to question his daughter?"
"Yes, he should. And he can clearly see that his daughter is not happy...but would like her to admit it herself."
"Otousan," started Haruhi, exasperatedly, "I don't know what-" Ryoji raised a hand, silencing her.
"Just answer the question, Haruhi. Please."
Haruhi was quiet. But Ryoji didn't prod her anymore.
It was as she fingered the strands of her ever-so-slightly longer brown hair that tickled her neck that he knew she had an answer for him.
"I'm in Law school..."
"Yes, you are."
"I have a part-time job..."
"Speaking of which, must you work on Saturdays as well?"
"Yes. At least for a while, for them to see that I am serious about my work. Besides, their recommendations will go a long way in the future. That particular firm is one of the-"
"-Forget I asked."
"I get plenty of food, and I have a place to live in...oh, and I suppose I've got you..."
"...Yes...you...do..." muttered Ryoji, knowing that his daughter hadn't meant to offend him with that last part.
"Doesn't that mean that I'm happy?"
Ryoji remained silent for half a moment.
"I suppose that does mean you should be happy..." he agreed. "But are you?"
"I..." Haruhi paused. She peeked at her father through her longish brown bangs and noticed the concerned expression on his face. "Of course I am, Otousan," she said, as lightly as she could. "I don't know why on earth you think I'm not."
"Because you don't look it..."
"Otousan, just because I don't dance around the apartment with a smile on my face doesn't mean that I'm not happy," continued Haruhi. "Now, if you don't mind...I'd like to get my studying done."
She looked thoughtful. "I think I'll go to my room though." Ryoji could only watch as she gathered up the heavy books in her arms, before standing up and stalking towards her room, sliding the door shut behind her once she entered it.
She was not happy, not at all, and almost everyone who knew her well could tell that.
She hardly ever went out, unless it was to do the grocery shopping or to head off to her classes. And he got the distinct impression that the only reason why she dragged herself out of bed in the morning was because of her dream of following in her mother's footsteps.
The only time he did see her taking care of her appearance was her once-in-two-months visit to her hairdresser, where she got her hair trimmed into the short hairstyle she had worn it in while in school – although it didn't look boyish on her anymore.
For some reason, she seemed to be near-obsessed with keeping her hair short.
When was the last time he had seen the twenty-year old smile?
He was almost certain that he hadn't seen her smiling honestly – as opposed to smiling to put other people's worries at ease – since that event.
And that was two years ago.
A half bitter-half sad smile formed on his lips.
Aa...I always knew that you would wreak havoc in her life...you big idiot...
"What should we do today?"
"...Do you want to go somewhere?" Hitachiin Kaoru shook his head at his brother's suggestion.
"Not that I don't want to but-"
"-there's no place that we can go," finished Hikaru, as he put down his pen and stared blankly at the piece of paper he had been doodling on.
"No place that won't bring back memories," mumbled Kaoru, in agreement. A somewhat tense silence filled the room the twenty year old twins were in.
"It wasn't our fault," mumbled Hikaru, softly. And yet, his statement broke the silence, seeming to echo around the room for a moment or two.
"But we shouldn't have been so harsh on him..." commented Kaoru, from his place perched on the window-seat. "We should have understood that he would never, ever do anything to hurt her. Or to hurt us."
Hikaru was silent for a brief moment.
"He was old enough to understand that spontaneity of that sort would only cause problems," he said, quietly. "He should have gotten used to thinking things through before going ahead and acting on his impulses."
"Hikaru, how was he to have known that-"
"-Firstly, no one in their right mind would've given him his driver's license. And secondly..." here, Hikaru clenched his hands into fists. "And secondly...we warned him. We warned him that he shouldn't drive."
"Hikaru, you have to admit that our warnings weren't very...serious," he said. "Partly because some of us were mad that...she appeared to...like him, to...love him. And besides, we did joke around about the fact that no driver would be safe with him behind the wheel of a car."
But the angered expression on Hikaru's face didn't fade. It hadn't faded over the last two years after all...so why would it change now?
"He should have been more careful. Should have...looked after her better..."
"Hikaru..." There was a sad expression on Kaoru's face. "He'd have given her the world if she asked it of him..."
But his brother wasn't listening to him.
"There was so much blood, Kaoru..." he said, softly, his eyes glazed. "There was blood everywhere – her blood – and her eyes were closed. I thought...I thought she-"
"-She survived didn't she, Hikaru? Even the scars she had on her back, and stomach, are healing, according to Ranka-san," cut in Kaoru, earnestly.
"And he wasn't...hurt at all..."
"It smashed into her side of the car, Hikaru, it wasn't intentional. If he could have exchanged places, you know that he would have."
"It wasn't just me. You were yelling at him too." He watched as his younger brother lowered his head slowly.
"Yes," he whispered. "I was." There was a slight pause. "And that is something that I will regret for...a long time."
Despite his bitterness and anger, Hikaru's heart went out to his brother.
"He yelled at him too..." he muttered. "Out of all of us, wasn't he the one who should have...taken his side?"
Kaoru shook his head.
"I suppose his newly discovered feelings for her made him forget how well he knew his best-friend..."
The silence that fell between them seemed to go on for hours, even though it was really only a few minutes. The ticking of the large clock in the room was clearly heard.
"No. Don't," said Hikaru, frowning, as he stood up from his chair.
"Come on. We have to leave this place. There's no point sitting around at home like this. Let's just go out. Anywhere." Kaoru watched as his brother stalked out of the room, not closing the door behind him as he anticipated him to join him.
He glanced out of the window he was seated beside, taking note of the bright sunlight that engulfed the world outside...much like the way his personality had done...before.
Hikaru's still mad at you.
But I'm sorry for everything that I said that day.
The others...well, I wouldn't know about them
We've drifted apart Without our 'anchor'...we've become nothing more than strangers to each other.
So, can't you just...
...come back, tono.
"... ... ..."
"Can I...come inside?"
"You don't have to ask that," reprimanded Morinozuka Takashi gently, as he stepped aside to allow his cousin to enter the house. They stood in the main hallway of the residential dojo, in silence, for a moment or two, before the tallest of the twenty-two year old pair cleared his throat. "Come," he said, as he led the way down the hallway, stopping before the opened doors of a free room that was usually used by the family when entertaining friends or other relatives.
"Arigato," mumbled the fair-haired boy as he sat down at one of the tables.
"I'll see if I can get us some tea and cake..."
A few minutes later, Takashi returned and placed the silver tray down on the table before seating himself opposite his cousin. He poured out the tea and served the smaller boy some cake.
And watched as he pushed the piece of cake around his plate.
"How is Yasuchika doing?"
"Good. He doesn't seem to hate me as much now."
There was an awkward pause.
"Takashi, I-" Haninozuka Mitsukuni looked up at his cousin, large brown eyes meeting smaller grey. "-Do you ever...think about it, Takashi?"
Takashi closed his eyes. He had been hoping that he wouldn't bring it up.
"Mitsukuni," he started, "I-"
"-No, I...need to know, Takashi!" Takashi opened his eyes and observed his cousin thoughtfully. The two of them were still as close as they had been before – throughout their whole lives, in fact – and, yes, they were still engrossed with their respective kendo and martial arts skills.
Appearance-wise, he supposed that they had changed over the last few years. He knew that he had gained an inch in height, and had a slightly more toned body as a result of his training. And his cousin...yes, the fair-haired male was still short in comparison to him, but he had grown significantly taller, to become of average height, and was not scrawny as he was before – even though he still received whispers and squeals of 'cute!' from time to time.
One thing they had in common, however, was that both of them held a sad light in their eyes whenever they were positive that no one was watching them.
"Yes," he said, quietly. "I do." Mitsukuni stared at him with those sad brown eyes of his.
"I...keep on picturing his face..." the voice broke. "And it hurts."
"I know," whispered Takashi.
"I should have been there."
"I don't think it would have made a difference," mumbled Takashi, as the memories began their attempts at trying to escape the block he had put them behind.
"How do you know that?" challenged Mitsukuni, taking a small bite of the cake.
"He wasn't listening to anyone..."
The shorter boy snorted darkly.
"From what has happened, I beg to differ," he said, just as darkly. "He certainly seemed to listen to them."
Takashi found that he couldn't quite fault his cousin for sounding bitter when he spoke of them.
"Aa..." he agreed, "but he wasn't listening to anyone who tried to tell him that it wasn't his fault." The dark expression was replaced on his face with a saddened one.
"I should have been there," he whispered again.
I failed him...he thought, brown eyes dimming, after everything he did for me...I wasn't there the one time I could have actually been of use. The one time I could have helped him...I wasn't there...
"You couldn't help it."
You regret not being there, Mitsukuni, thought Takashi, bitterly, but I regret being there. Being there and not being able to do anything more than ask him not to do anything foolish. If I had done something, said something more...perhaps-
"I miss him, Takashi."
"I know..." Because, somehow, I'm sure that we all do too...
"Kyoya-sama, here's your coffee."
"Thank you, Tachibana. If you could just put it down over there..."
"Hai. Is there anything else that I can get you, Kyoya-sama?"
"No, thank you. You may leave." The bespectacled med-school student stood up from where he had been seated before his desk and laptop and moved over towards the coffee table instead. He had only just sat down on the comfortable low couch when Tachibana bowed his head at him and walked out of the room, closing the door quietly behind him.
Picking up his mug of coffee, the successful twenty-one year old held it in his hands for a moment, allowing the warmth of the item to seep through to his hands before raising the mug to his lips. The taste of the black, sugarless liquid helped wake his somewhat drowsy self.
He was in the process of closing his eyes for just a moment when he gave a start, choosing to stare at the mug instead. There was nothing wrong with the coffee – no, it had been made for him as it always was...
...but it was the mug that caught his attention.
It was a dark blue mug with the large yellow rayed suns on both sides – apparently hand-painted with the greatest care. Of course, the yellow paint was chipped, here and there, but that was hardly surprising; he had had the mug for eight years after all.
Dark eyes narrowed behind the slender glasses that he still wore. Eight years ago...he had had his first meeting with the vivacious...
He shook his head firmly, trying to clear it of that particular train of thought, but he should have known that that wouldn't work. When had a simple shake of the head been able to get thoughts of...him out of his mind?
The smile that formed on the dark-haired boy's lips was far from amused. In fact, it wasn't even the usual frighteningly-polite one that he seemed to favour. But he didn't notice it, for his mind was dwelling on other things. Or rather, on other people. One person in particular.
"That idiot..." he murmured aloud, unaware of the fact that he was tightly gripping the mug he had received as a present from...an idiot. "Always being...stupid..."
He frowned at the thoughts that started rising in his head, followed quickly by question after question after question. Where was he now? He sometimes wondered if perhaps he had...left the country, but how would he have managed to do that without someone knowing? Wherever he was...how was he? What was he doing? Who was he with?
Ootori Kyoya wasn't delusional enough to wonder why he had suddenly...disappeared. No, that was the question that the twittering girls, who barely knew the golden-haired man, would ask. True, he may not know what exactly had been going on in said man's mind at that time...but he knew enough of his mentality and enough of what had happened on that day, two years ago...
He had told no one of what he had said to him at the beginning, except for the Hitachiin twins who had already been there when he had arrived, glasses askew.
He had told no one of how he had failed to keep his cool, except for the Hitachiin twins who had been there with him, having 'lost their cool' long before he had arrived – although they seemed content with continuing the verbal dressing down.
He had told no one of the expression of pure hurt that had flashed across the distraught man's face at what was said to him, except for the Hitachiin twins who had probably seen it as well – if their rage hadn't blinded them.
And he had told no one about the regret that continued to grow in him, especially when he looked around him and spotted something; anything; that reminded him of the golden-haired man.
It was surprising how trivial things like a bright and sunny day in the summer could remind him of said man.
It wasn't fair. They had been mad, too mad at the time, to register the fact that she would be alright.
They had been too mad at the fact that he had put her in danger to care about anything else.
Why else would they have demanded he leave her and not dare to return to her side? Why else had they said they took back their faith in him, that he didn't deserve that or her? Why else had they told him that all he ever did was cause trouble for others wherever he went?
Why else did he tell him that he wouldn't mind if he never saw him again or was forced to put up with his selfish acts anymore?
...Where the hell are you, Tamaki?!
The next update might take a few days, but that's because I've got exams looming on the horizon...before a three month summer break - woohoo!! Ahem. Anyway.
I just realized that I make myself sad whenever I work on this story (oh dear, that sounds sad - in a different sense - doesn't it?)...because I don't like the thought of the Hosts all going their separate ways and never going back to what they were. But then again, that's inevitable, isn't it?
Ack, I'm not making sense.
Anyways, hope you enjoyed this chapter too!
See ya soon!