DISCLAIMER: I do not own Ouran.
When signing a contract, remember these two things:
First rule of life: Always read everything before you sign. The second rule of life: Never trust anything that was written by Ootori Kyoya.
Ranka found the stack of papers under Haruhi's pillow when he was looking for his red earring. They were all statements of accounts that were already a month overdue and also, he frowned as he ruffled through it, a couple of disconnection notice. No wonder Haruhi had been so stressed these past few months. Ever since she got a job in the law firm that Ranka's friend had recently started, she had insisted that she take care of the expenses around the house.
Of course, Ranka admitted guiltily, he had a lot to blame in the financial problem they're experiencing. Now that he thought about it, maybe it wasn't such a good idea to buy that new car, two days after the bar he was working on closed down. But in his defense, it wasn't through a whim that he bought it. No, of course it wasn't. That's an outrageous idea. It was just… well, just… you know, when a person is –
Okay, so maybe it was a tiny whim on his part, but he just lost his job for crying out loud. He was depressed and depressed people sometimes do things without thinking about the consequences of their actions and that salesman was pretty convincing (not to mention really cute too), because, really, who could ever say no to him?
Anyway, the point is, after he lost his job, he had this sudden need to spend his money. After all, he told himself, he does deserve to indulge himself sometimes, doesn't he? He had been working for more that two decades now, what's a few yen here and there? Unfortunately, he might have gone a little bit overboard. It was unfair when you think about it. Just when he has no money to support himself, the statements of his debts started coming in.
Haruhi, bless her, told him not to worry about anything, and even took him in her small apartment. Now she does not only have to work hard for herself, but also for him too. Ranka wished he could do something – anything – to help her. Haruhi's salary, to be honest, is really not enough to keep up with their expenses, and he really hated being a burden to her.
Ranka returned the papers under her pillow. He peeked in one of her drawers, hoping to find any accessory he could wear for his job hunting that night when he caught sight of Haruhi's old high school ID. He slowly took it from beneath a book and stared at her face. For a while, he just stood there, when suddenly something clicked.
It was as if Heaven finally pitied him and gave him the inspiration for a very wonderful idea. He felt like an artist, like Da Vinci when he painted 'Mona Lisa'. No, better. He felt like Mona Lisa.
Of course. Ranka almost wanted to pinch himself. There is a way to help Haruhi. Why didn't he think of it before? His face broke into a grin as he rushed back to his room and began to rummage through his box of old letters.
His number must be in here somewhere…
Haruhi woke up in a bad mood. Her cell phone fell in an open manhole last night, she had lost her house key, she had this weird dream about a laptop wearing glasses who kept running after her, and now her alarm was broken and she's already late. When she got to the kitchen, she saw her father already up and preparing the table for her breakfast. He beamed at her as she plopped down on the chair and began eating.
"Good morning, Haruhi," Ranka singsong.
"It is such a beautiful day, don't you think?"
Ranka settled down across her. "Sometimes, days like these just makes you want to sit back and reminisce about the past." He smiled at her. "Don't you wish you could go back and meet your high school friends once again?"
"Yes," Ranka nodded vigorously, "I agree with you. It would be so much fun to meet them again – " He blinked. "Eh, what did you say?"
Haruhi spared a second to glance at him. "Definitely not," she repeated, before returning to her coffee.
Ranka laughed. "My daughter is not only cute, but has a really funny sense of humor. Haruhi, have any of your friends in that – what do you call it – Host Club recently contacted you?"
"No," she answered. She didn't bother to tell Ranka how she always avoid answering calls from Tamaki and the twins, as they tend to disturb her with all their nonsense. As of the moment (because she just lost her phone last night), she had changed number about 12 times already.
"Really? Gosh, they really are insensitive about simple people like us, aren't they? It's probably that blond idiot who prevents them from calling you." He took a sip of his coffee and smiled at her. "Anyway, I have a surprise for you."
She immediately looked up. "You didn't just buy another car, did you?" Her forehead creased in worry.
Ranka blinked. "No."
"A new TV set, then? Or another one of those ovens?" She paused. "Not a new curling iron, I hope."
"No." Haruhi sighed in relief. "My surprise is that I have found the solution to your problem," he said proudly.
She paused again. "Oh. What problem?"
"You now, our growing list of debts and – "
"Dad, I told you not to go snooping in my things," she said frowning. "You don't have to worry about it. Everything is under control. In fact, I have just accepted a new case yesterday, and this client works from a really big company so –"
"Oh, so he'll be paying you real money this time?" Ranka asked mildly. "Not like the other one you've handled where they paid you with vegetables and chicken eggs?"
She twitched, "Dad, they were just poor farmers. And I already knew they wouldn't have that much money to pay me. I just wanted to help them that's why I accepted their case."
"I know," he nodded before grinning. "But from now on, you don't have to worry about eggs, or vegetables or… or animal poop. Because guess what?"
"I found you a job," he beamed.
"I know," she said baffled. "I already do have a job."
"Not this job. A new one!"
She stared at him. "You want me to work part-time?"
"No. I mean – "
A loud knock on the door interrupted Ranka. He glanced at the wall clock and shrieked.
"He's here?" Ranka panicked. "But I haven't put any make-up yet!"
Haruhi stood up. "Who are you expecting?"
"Haruhi, could you please get to the door for me? I'm just going to grab a powder," he called as he ran to his room.
Haruhi raised an eyebrow and slowly walked up to the front door. She opened it and blinked when she who their guest was.
A tall, handsome, young man in a black, expensive suit stared down at her. She stared back at the face that she has not seen for the past five years of her life. The man pushed his glasses up.
It was Ootori Kyoya.
"Kyoya-senpai?" She blinked. "What are you doing here?"
He raised an eyebrow at her. "Interesting question. You need my help, don't you?"
"Eh?" She frowned.
"Kyo-ya – kun!" Ranka suddenly appeared behind Haruhi, an ecstatic smile on his face. "You're here. I didn't expect you until lunch. Oh, come in. Come in." He stepped aside and let Kyoya enter. "It's really wonderful to see you again."
"The pleasure's all mine," Kyoya said, smiling at him. "I was surprised to receive your call but needless to say, it was flattering to know you still remember me. You do look more fabulous than the last time I saw you."
Ranka let out a giggle as he led Kyoya into their living room. "Of course I still remember you, silly boy. Who could ever forget about someone like you? To tell you the truth, I was afraid you wouldn't accept the tiny favor I asked. You're the only one who can help us, Kyoya-kun."
Kyoya adjusted his glasses. "Ranka-san, you know I couldn't ever refuse you," Kyoya answered pleasantly.
Haruhi watched as her father and Kyoya disappeared from her view, their voices fading in her ears. She clutched at the doorknob for support, feeling all her strength leaving her.
Favor. Help. Kyoya.
Her blood suddenly ran cold.
Somehow, those words in just one conversation brought an inevitable deadly fear in her entire being. She swallowed hard as she heard Ranka calling her.
She had a bad feeling about this.
"Um, Kyoya-senpai," Haruhi hesitatingly began as soon as the three of them were settled down. "Why are you here?"
"Because of Ranka-san, of course."
"Right. And my father asked you to come because –?"
"Haruhi, it isn't polite to barge our guest with too much questions," Ranka interrupted. "I'm going to make us drinks. Kyoya-kun, what would you like?"
"A coffee would be nice. Thank you very much."
Ranka smiled at him before he left, humming quietly to himself. There was an awkward silence in the room as Kyoya and Haruhi were finally left alone.
"So," Haruhi began, "about my –"
"I don't really have too much time Haruhi, so let's make this quick," Kyoya suddenly said briskly, adjusting his glasses. He faced her, all business-like. Haruhi frowned. Kyoya sure is different when there are no other people to impress.
"As I have said to your father when I returned his call, there are no vacancies in our company right now. However, just last week, my secretary gave in her resignation and –"
"W-wait a minute." Haruhi's heart pounded. "Secretary? What is going on?"
"And," Kyoya continued evenly, "I am desperately in need of one. Of course I am fully aware that you are over qualified for this job I'm offering, but I assure you, the compensations are worth it."
She felt her head spinning as he continued to speak, but she couldn't hear anything more. This was too much. She needed a minute to think, to gather her thoughts, because for a moment there, it just sounded like Kyoya wanted her to be his… secretary.
This is just a dream, she told herself, no, a nightmare. And in the count of three, I am going to wake-up, alone in my room, lying on my bed, still being chased by that stupid laptop. One… two… thr –
"All you have to do," Kyoya's voice droned on loudly in her ears. She opened her eyes reluctantly. She hadn't even finished counting, darn it. "Is to sign this contract." He took a folder from his briefcase and handed it to her. "You can read them for as long as you like, but I would need it before you can formally start working for me as my new personal assistant."
Kyoya's personal assistant. God, that thought sounds even scarier than that news report of a mass murderer breaking out of jail. She opened the folder with slightly shaking hands. She let her gaze travel through it, her eyes getting narrower with every line. "Senpai. Isn't this different from the usual contract of employment?"
"Well." Kyoya's eyeglass became clouded. "Since this is a special case, I had to change… some of conditions in there."
Haruhi frowned at him before she returned her attention to the paper on hand. Her eyes jumped to the fine print at the bottom of the page.
Failure to comply with any of the said conditions above gives the employer the right to –
"I'm back," Ranka announced as he settled a tray of mugs on the table in front them. He saw Haruhi reading the contract. "What is that?"
She tried to hide it from his view. "Nothing."
"Don't be shy. Let papa see it," Ranka said as he reached out for the paper before Haruhi could keep it away from him. Haruhi inwardly groaned. She was kind of hoping she could knock Kyoya's coffee all over it, or better yet, accidentally throw it out of the window and wait for the neighbor's dog to pick it up. Well. You never know.
"Memorandum of Agreement," Ranka read aloud, "between Ootori Kyoya (hence will be referred to as Employer) and Fujioka Haruhi (hence will be referred to as Employee)." He looked at Kyoya. "But why do you need this for?"
"Everyone in our company are required to sign the contract," Kyoya explained. "It is for both our protection, just in case one of us fail to meet the said requirements. I'm afraid even Haruhi is not exempted from it. However, I can change it if you want."
"But why would you need protection from my daughter? She isn't going to sabotage your company, Kyoya-kun," Ranka said with a laugh. He looked at Haruhi. "Aren't you, Haruhi?"
There was a short silence.
"Of course," Haruhi finally said, nodding. Ranka beamed at her.
"I have no doubt that your daughter wouldn't do anything like that," Kyoya replied in a tone that Haruhi felt sent a subtle message of 'Just let me see her try'. "And I personally don't want to do this either, but rules are rules."
"Look at it this way, Ranka-san. As you know, every partnership would need a certain bond to keep them together, wouldn't it? In our situation," Kyoya gestured at the contract on Ranka's hand, "it would be that one."
Ranka fell silent for a moment. "Like," he said slowly, "like a marriage contract?"
Haruhi's head suddenly turned at him. Where the hell did that idea came from? She twitched.
"Yes. Exactly. Just like a marriage contract," Kyoya agreed pleasantly.
Haruhi quickly glared at him. Suck-up, she thought darkly.
Ranka's face brightened. "Oh! Well, what are we waiting for?" And before anybody could react, he suddenly grabbed the pen that lying on the table and quickly signed his name with flourish. Then, he did the same with the other papers after it. "There. Done," he said triumphantly.
Haruhi stared at the contract, the ink of Ranka's signature gleaming under the sunlight. Her dad signed the contract. Without reading it. Without asking her.
The small apartment suddenly became eerily quiet. Ranka had the strangest feeling the room was getting darker, and the chilly air blew right past him. He looked around to see where the dark aura was coming from.
Maybe I should call for an exorcist later, Ranka decided as he peeked under the couch, because Haruhi simply could not concentrate in this awful environment.
Kyoya finally broke the silence. "Well," he said calmly, taking the folder and leaving a copy of the contract on the table. "I guess that would have to be it. I'll see you tomorrow in my office, Haruhi." He got up and left. Ranka heard the door close after him.
There was a low, heavy breathing sound that filled the room.
Ranka slowly looked at Haruhi whose face was shadowed by her hair. Strange. My daughter is being surrounded by a dark aura, he thought. What could possibly be wrong–?
Haruhi stepped towards him. Ranka instinctively took a step back.
"You signed the contract," she said softly. Ranka suddenly felt like many cold, sharp arrows to the heart were piercing him. "Did I tell you to sign it?"
He gulped. "H-Haru-"
"Did I?" she repeated softly.
Ranka winced. "No," he whimpered. She moved closer to him again and Ranka sucked in his breath (wondered if it's going to be his last), as Haruhi lifted her face to look at him. Her eyes flashed darkly.
"We are going to talk later," she said hoarsely. Ranka nodded mutely. Haruhi turned, grabbed the contract on the table and left, shutting the door loudly. Ranka fainted and fell on the floor.
"Senpai," she called loudly. Kyoya, who was just getting in the car, paused when he heard her voice. She finally reached him. "Senpai, this is a mistake. You can't hold this against me," she said, waving the contract in front him. "I did not sign the contract. My father did."
"Yes, I know your father signed the contract. And your point is?"
She was slightly taken aback. "Well… that's it. I did not sign this. I never asked for this job. The contract doesn't mean anything."
Kyoya adjusted his glasses. "Haruhi, could you read clause number 3 please."
Haruhi blinked, feeling rather wrong-footed. She glanced down and began to read:
Clause 3: Any member of the employee's family, including relatives up to the third-degree, may sign the contract as long as within the presence of the said employee, and the contract, therefore, shall be considered valid.
Haruhi's suddenly found it difficult to breath.
"So I guess, that means that the contract does mean something, Haruhi," Kyoya said blankly.
"B-But this is illegal," she protested. "I mean, this is the first time I've ever seen anything like this –"
"Are we going to talk about this again?" Kyoya asked, bored. "I already told you I changed a couple of things in there, so it is a tiny different from the usual Contract of Employment."
"Tiny? You changed the whole contract," she practically shrilled. "You can't do this."
"Yes I can. May I point your attention to, ah, clause 17."
She clutched at the contract in her hand. "Senpai, please don't do this to me."
"Do what? Help you? In case you haven't noticed, Haruhi, this little stopover to your house could have caused me a lot of millions. I should be in my office, signing papers that would bring a lot of money to the company. But instead, here I am in your apartment, offering you a job that many others would have to grovel for." Kyoya stared at her. "You do realize that I have to pull a lot of strings to get you in the company. Any sign of irregularity could bring the media feeding at our doorstep."
Haruhi took a deep breath. "Yes, I appreciate the – the favor that you are doing but I already have a job. I'm a lawyer and I've already signed a contract with the law firm I'm working for, so yours wouldn't count. We can go to any court if you like and – "
"A job in a law firm?" Kyoya's mouth twitched upward. "Ah, yes, the job that you used to have."
"Yes," she said in relief, glad that he had finally understood, "and I am very happy with – " She paused. "Did you just say… the job that I used to have?"
"I did, didn't I?"
Oh God. Please no. He didn't just – he couldn't – "Senpai, what did you do?"
"I already talked to your previous employer and they agreed to let you go." Kyoya raised an eyebrow. "It wasn't that hard, actually. I just had to… persuade them a little bit. I've already paid for the loss of your contract with them, so if you still don't want to accept my offer, you might want to add me to the list of people you are in debt with."
Haruhi gaped at him helplessly. She just couldn't believe this man. Her dream of becoming a lawyer suddenly faded into nothing just because of a stupid paper that her father had signed. And all of it was the fault of the man standing in front her. Ootori Kyoya is the most sadistic, arrogant rich bastard that she has ever known. She honestly wouldn't mind going to jail if it meant taking the life of someone like him. The world will be a better place.
"And before you accuse me of being a sadistic, arrogant rich bastard," Kyoya deadpanned, causing Haruhi to twitch, "I am doing this to help you. I know you Haruhi, and I know that you wouldn't accept my help. Beggars can't be choosers and in your case, it's literally speaking, so if you don't want to take this offer I'm giving you because of your pride, then just think of your father. He obviously thought he was doing the right thing when he called me. Do you want to make him feel useless in this house again?"
"I never let him feel that way," she retorted hotly.
"But that is exactly what he is feeling. Of course he wouldn't share it with you. He doesn't want to be a burden to you any longer. And yes, I know you don't consider him a burden," he added when she started to open her mouth to speak, "but I'm simply telling you what he had told me."
She breathed heavily, glaring at him. She did not know whether to believe him or not. If she thought about this situation practically, Kyoya's offer is definitely tempting, but is it the right thing to do? Before she could decide, Kyoya turned and got in the limo. He rolled down the window as the driver started the engine.
"I'll be waiting for you tomorrow at 10."
"I never said yes." She frowned.
Kyoya smiled at her. "Read the contract," he instructed as the car pulled out and Haruhi stepped aside, "so you know what to do when you start working for me. And don't forget the fine print. But as a lawyer, you should know that." Then he was gone.
Of course she was going to read the fine print, she thought indignantly. She could have finished reading it if her father just did not grabbed the contract from her and signed it. She glanced down and jumped to the line at the bottom of the page. She began reading:
FINE PRINT: Failure to comply with any of the said conditions above gives the employer the right to sue the undersigned of the contract, and to demand moral damages of five hundred million yen.
"500 million yen," she yelped. "But that's too much! He is the most – "
And then she froze.
The image of her father signing the contract flashed through her mind. Ranka grinning excitedly. Ranka doing what he thought would be a lot of help to her. She did not sign the contract, that was true, but Ranka did.
"Yes, I know your father signed the contract. And your point is?"
Ranka was the undersigned and he is the one that Kyoya can sue if Haruhi backs out from his offer or do something out of contract.
Haruhi inhaled sharply. Looks like she just officially became Kyoya's new assistant.
The Ootori building that Kyoya manages was a big glass and steel office block. Haruhi took a moment to look at it before she walked up the stone steps. She stifled a yawn as she passed through the glass entrance. She had spent the whole night studying the contract but she had not yet found any loophole. It galled her that he could still manage to outwit her, even in the field of what she is supposed to be good at. She frowned. Well, she'll just make sure she'll find one and if that means studying the contract every single, waking moment of her life then –
"Excuse me? Are you looking for someone?"
Haruhi stopped and saw a security guard looking at her curiously. She walked up to him. "Yes, I'm looking for Ootori Kyoya's office," she said as she showed him her ID.
The guard checked it for a moment then typed her name in the computer. "Do you have any appointment with him? Because I cannot see your name under his schedule."
"Well…" She paused. "I'm his new secretary, I guess."
The guard suddenly looked up and stared at her. There was a flash of emotion that crossed his face. Haruhi blinked. He was looking at her in pity.
"Third floor, turn right. His office is at the end."
"Okay, thanks." Haruhi headed for the elevator.
Haruhi glanced back. The guard hesitated then took off his cap, placed it on his heart and looked at her solemnly. He looked like one of those soldiers in a military funeral, Haruhi thought.
Kyoya was already waiting for her outside of the elevator when she stepped out of it. He looked at her inquiringly. "You came."
"Wasn't I supposed to?"
"I thought you had already found a way to get out of the contract," he said blankly, "you know, being the brilliant lawyer that you are."
Haruhi twitched. She had barely stepped in his office for five minutes and he's already mocking her. He must have known that she wouldn't find any loophole. I'll show him.
"Anyway, since you're here we might as well start working." He led her through the hallway. She glanced around and saw rooms with glass windows with a lot of people working inside. "As I have mentioned to you yesterday, my secretary resigned a week ago and she left quite a few paper works that I was hoping you could start working on."
"Why did she resign, senpai?" Haruhi asked curiously.
"I'm not sure. But she did give me medical letters advising her to take a long break. Seems like the stress was too much for her to take." Kyoya adjusted his glasses. "Which is ridiculous because I do not pressure my employees that hard."
Somehow, Haruhi had found that difficult to believe. She was willing to bet that the workload of his secretary was not the reason for her stress. It was probably Kyoya's fault. She nodded to herself. Definitely Kyoya's fault.
Kyoya suddenly stopped walking. Haruhi stiffened. Damn. She forgot he could read minds. Is she going to get fired before she could even begin working?
"Yes, senpai?" Maybe I could still get my separation pay, she thought hopefully.
Kyoya gestured at the desk on the corner where two piles of papers sat. "That would be your desk. My office," he pointed at the room beside her table, "is there."
"Oh." Haruhi nodded.
"I think you know what to do. You'll be answering the phone, you'll be taking care of my visitors, fixing my schedule, do paper works, et chetera, et chetera… And of course, make my coffee. I want a black one, no sugar and be stirred counter clockwise. I will not accept anything else."
He pushed his glasses up. "And one more thing. I do not take favorites, Haruhi. The fact that we were in the same school before doesn't mean I'm going to cut you slack. I want only the best in this company and anything that falls out of my expectation will have to answer to me."
"I understand," she replied. Briefly, she now knew why Kyoya's secretary resigned. She wondered if she should do that too, like, right now while she still have her sanity with her. But she knew she couldn't. "I always give my best in everything that I do."
"Good." He paused. "You know, being my secretary would mean that you have to be with me all the time."
"And I forgot to ask you whether you already have a passport. Because you might also need to come with me abroad."
"Oh, right." Haruhi shook her head. Kyoya sighed.
"Never mind. I'll go ask my men to fix it." He glanced at the tall piles of paper on Haruhi's desk before he turned to her. "So. Shall we get started?" he asked, a wry smile on his face. Haruhi swallowed hard, said a silent prayer before nodding.
So, she thought as she followed him to his office, this is what selling your soul to the devil feels like.
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