A/N: I've been looking through my computer recently, and found this little piece. I don't understand why I didn't post this ages ago, but never mind. Please enjoy!
The two sat in a companionable silence, and on this occasion, Tamaki was glad of it. They were seated on an old, threadbare sofa that he had once assumed to be the best that the commoner coffee vendors could afford, but she had laughed and said it was meant to be that way to give a 'retro' feel to the place.
Tamaki, after a whole year of college, had finally worked out what she had meant by that, and had grown to love the coffee house with it's squishy settees, small tables, soft lighting. It also played light jazz as well, that seemed to suit the deep, rich, delicate aromas of far too many flavours of coffee. Who knew, that day when Haruhi had first brought instant coffee to the club that there would be so many varieties? Or that it would be so addictive? The girl beside him, who had taken care of him since the start, had taken him here within their first week, and he had grown to love the place as she did; and every time, he couldn't help but think back to Haruhi and the Host Club and smile.
The girl beside him watched him with a slightly amused smile playing about her lips as she watched him stare into his coffee as he always did when their idle chat failed. Her name was Arisan Kari; not that it was well known. Not like the boy next to her- everyone had heard of Suoh Tamaki, or at least of his family's business. When she'd first seen his name on her class list she'd been surprised, but she supposed even rich kids had to go to college, though they probably wouldn't have any problem paying tuition. She'd expected him to be a snob, too, but had instead found him wandering the campus in a panic ten minutes before their very first lecture, helplessly lost, and dropping countless books and papers over the floor. Kari had always been soft-hearted, and, although she had to laugh a little, had helped him. She'd been helping him since, feeling a little sorry for this rich kid not too used to the real world and a little lost in it. He had told her often about what lay before the fabled gates of Ouran High, and she had laughed at his tales. She hadn't failed too notice how he seemed to become even more vibrant when he spoke of his old friends, his old club; and now they were scattered to the winds. Three just finishing up high school, two at some sort of martial-art specialist place, and one doing a medicine course on the other side of the country. He seemed to miss those friends, and even seemed a little scared about making new ones, but she'd gently let him; and he learnt that making new friends did not mean forgetting old ones, as he'd feared. He was a bit silly, like that.
Actually, he was a total idiot; but he had a large heart, and a ready and beautiful smile. He was one of these people who genuinely cared, who were genuinely kind and gentle; and as their friendship grew he had earnt a permanent place in Kari's heart. Their friendship had become more, and she knew she was lucky to have had the last six months to call him hers. But, all good things had to come to an end.
Tamaki, for his part, loved Kari too; she helped him so much, he could depend on her, she was always there and ready to listen when he needed her too, and to give sensible advise. Tamaki was usually in sore need of someone sensible. More then that, she seemed to have a calming presence. She made him feel secure and relaxed. It was as comfortable a relationship as this old settee. He was glad to have met and befriended her. Today, they were celebrating their exam results at the end of the first year. They'd been invited to a party that evening, of course, but for now it was lunchtime, and they were content to sit in a lazy silence, and drink in coffee and the atmosphere. It was so different to the Host Club, an atmosphere that had been constantly changing an unpredictable, heart pounding, exciting, hectic; not like this calming and sleepy place…
He turned his head towards her, and saw her sweet, soft smile that always made him smile too. "Yes?"
She was still smiling as she spoke next. "I think it's time we ended it… Our relationship."
Tamaki blinked in confusion. "Why? Kari, have I hurt you?"
"Of course not!" She said, shaking her head, vigorously. "That's half the problem! Look…" She suddenly moved a little closer, looking right in his eyes. "Right now. Ending it. Does it hurt? Honestly?"
"Yes." He said, quietly. "I'd miss you if we didn't talk everyday, or share notes in class, or come here…"
"And none of those things are couple-y things, Tamaki. You didn't think of kissing, or hugging, or holding hands…" She replied, gently.
"It's not me." She explained. "Is it? I'm not the one who's going to make your heart pound, or the one who you can't let go of, the one who makes you blush…"
Right on cue, Tamaki was reddening. She laughed a little.
"See? It's cute, but it's not for me."
"Kari…" He answered slowly, still confused. "What are you saying?"
She paused for a moment, swallowed, and then said "That you don't love me, Tamaki." She held up her hands to silence whatever protests he was about to voice. "It's alright. You don't have to love me, I've got plenty of time to find someone who does. And you've done nothing wrong. You've been wonderful to me, for me. Which is why you'd never end this yourself. So I'll so it. We won't hold each other back. Okay?"
"Kari…" He said again, wanting to cry. But he couldn't argue with her words. "Alright. Alright. But… friends?"
"Of course." She said, still smiling, but her eyes betrayed her, and quite suddenly tears ran down her cheeks. "Sorry," she said, scrubbing them. "I'm sorry. I'll stop in a minute…"
Tamaki hugged her. It didn't matter that they weren't together anymore. She was still his friend, still important to him, and always would be. For the first time, he concentrated on this hug. His heart beat hadn't changed. It just felt normal. Nice, comfortable, warm… natural; and not at all like…
She whispered in his ear, a trace of a laugh or a sob. "You can probably still make it."
He pulled away, tilting his head in confusion. "Make it where?"
She shook her head in exasperation. "To Ouran High School." He stared, and she rolled her eyes. "Oh, come on. I've never met her and I know. The one person who makes your heart pound."
"I…I don't know who you mean." Tamaki stammered.
Kari took hold of his hand one last time and held it to his chest. "Yes, you do. You always have, you fool."
Tamaki did know who she was referring too, but he was still refusing to admit it. He hadn't seen her since his graduation party. He'd called her from time to time, of course, and she always sounded so happy. She was always just fine, always so cheerful, and not irritated like she'd been when he'd been around. He was blushing again, but was certain it was just out of embarrassment. There was nothing else it could it be.
"Haven't you missed her, Tamaki?" Kari had a slightly sad smirk on her face. "Haven't you missed Fujioka Haruhi-san?"
She'd said it. A name he hadn't been able to forget at all. Beneath his hand, he felt his heart rate quicken. Or he was imagining it, because he was expecting it. He stared, slightly scared, slightly out of his depth, finally being forced to face that realisation he'd been trying to avoid. He pulled his hand out from under hers and ran it through his hair in anxiety.
"Go on." She prompted, again. "You know which bus it is?"
"I…can't. I haven't seen her for a year."
Kari wasn't used to seeing him unsure. She had seen it, back at the beginning, but by the end of the first term he had been his confident self. Nothing seemed to throw Tamaki, or daunt him, until this.
"And you miss her, don't you? Just go."
Tamaki slowly finished the coffee in front of him, eyes wide and distant. Kari waited for him to finish. Then he placed the cup down and turned to face her.
"…Thank you." He said, eventually, and kissed her cheek; ever the gentleman. She sighed a little wistfully, but smiled encouragingly at him.
"It's been a pleasure."
Still, he hesitated. "Will you be okay?"
"Tamaki! Just go! Please, go on- and good luck!"
Finally, he left, braking into a run as he swung out of the door and down the autumn streets. Leaves scattered out of the gutter around him, brown and red swirling up around golden hair whipped around by the wind that would send them up to the grey sky. Kari watched him go, and thought to herself that she had never known anyone quite so gloriously oblivious to his own feelings as that prize idiot. She knew that Tamaki had been pushing his feelings for that girl aside for quite some time, hoping ignoring them would make them go away. Kari was glad she had helped wrench the tightly shut flood gates open, and now just hoped Fujioka would throw him a life-line before he drowned. Whatever happened, Kari was determined to help. She would be his friend, even if she couldn't be any more than that.
She pushed those feelings aside, behind flood-gates of her own, and stopped anymore tears leaking out. It would not do to be selfish. She was sure it was for the best, sure that one day she would love someone else, someone who could love her back. In the meantime, she'd just stick to giving that boy the occasional kick up the backside to make sure that he made that girl happy. She wondered if he'd be alright going on his own- she could just see him getting the wrong bus after all- but he had to do this on his own.
Meanwhile, back at Ouran the three remaining members had no idea what fate was currently coming as fast as he could towards them. They were emerging from the doors to the school's main building, for once in serious conversation. Even the twins had come to take their final examinations seriously, and with only one more week left in school, they'd have to do some serious studying that weekend.
Haruhi still hadn't got used to the idea of leaving school. She'd got places at top universities, of course, though they did hinge on her final grades. She was working hard, desperate to do well in their examinations so she could get into the law school she wanted. Still, it was almost over now. Just five more tests, five more days, at this place. It would be weird to leave it. It had been odd enough when Mori and Honey had graduated, let alone when Kyouya-senpai and Tamaki-senpai had left the year before and the club had finally ended. Things just hadn't been the same.
It had been even stranger that the blond had made so little contact. She was expecting him to be pestering her everyday, but it just hadn't happened. He called occasionally, yes, but it puzzled her why it wasn't more often. She was almost disap-
"Haruhi-kun?" A shy female voice called out, once the twins had finished harassing Haruhi for the day and had gone home. That was the other thing. Haruhi had never dropped the pretence of being a boy- it would have been too much trouble, and probably emotionally scarring for some of her old designators. So she smiled kindly at the girl, in the way that had inadvertedly melted so many hearts, and answered simply:
"Could I have a picture, please?"
Haruhi nodded, and moved over to one side with her. She was quite used to this request; at the end of every year there were girls from the group that were leaving who wanted photos as mementoes. She had never quite had the heart to say no. She knew photos were important- some of her most treasured possessions were the silly, sentimental pictures; ones of her mother, and the group picture they'd had taken while the club was still complete, with Honey climbing on her and still grinning stupidly; and the one Tamaki had made Kyouya have with her. He had actually, after some convincing, smiled with her, but still managed to looked mildly irritated and long-suffering with his 'best friend'. That picture always made Haruhi laugh, because it was how she would always remember him. Then there was the one with Tamaki himself, his arm wrapped around her, somehow having produced a rose from somewhere and in the middle of offering it to her on his last day at school when the picture had been taken. Haruhi had, just that once, accepted the flower. She had kept it until it had wilted and had to be thrown away, but she had kept hold of the picture. And now, she posed for another one, smiling for the benefit of the girl beside her as her friend fiddled with the ridiculously expensive camera but not really paying attention. When the shutter finally clicked, Haruhi's expression would come out strangely. Smiling, but eyes distant and far away. It looked mysterious, and would bring a lot of joy to the Fujioka-fan girls.
The reason was simple. At the last moment, Haruhi's attention had been drawn away from the camera as she had looked across the school's extensive grounds, through the bars of the fence, and at the bus stop across the street. She continued to stare now as the person she had somehow instinctively spotted weaved through the crowd of people pouring off the bus and began to run for the kerb.
Haruhi didn't know what he thought he was doing here, but she ran too. He ran towards her, and she ran towards him as best she could, stopping and holding onto those bars of the fence. "Senpai!" She shouted.
Tamaki couldn't believe she was here, didn't dare take his eyes off her face as if it would fade away again. "Haruhi!"
"Senpai!" She said again, with a sense of urgency. "Watch out for the cars!"
And, quite suddenly, Tamaki realised he had blundered straight into the middle of the road without checking. He stopped in shock, and some sort of limo, fresh from the car park and now inches from his heels, beeped his horn. Tamaki jumped aside and onto the pavement just in time as the car slammed on the brakes.
Tamaki looked sheepishly at Haruhi for a moment, and then decided just to go for it.
"Haruhi…" He said again, and instinctively took one of her hands, and held it through the bars of the fence.
"I'll come around." She said, but he didn't dare let go, either. "Senpai…? What are you doing here?"
"I…" He swallowed, before his nerves got the best of him. He had it bad, heart pounding, flushing face, weak knees, flipping stomach. He had to wonder how he'd managed to ignore it. And then he finally released those words that had been locked away inside him for so long. "I love you, Haruhi."
He hadn't been expecting that. "…What?"
"I said I know." Haruhi answered, mouth twitching as if she wanted to laugh. "You always were quite blatant, you know."
Tamaki mouthed wordlessly at her, but then dropped her hand like a hot potato as the girls she'd been with finally caught up with Haruhi's mad dash across the grounds.
"Oh, has Tamaki-senpai come back?" One said.
Tamaki was flustered, too flustered and too out of practise to instantly give some sort of princely reply. Besides, at that moment, he just wanted Haruhi. Just Haruhi, and no-one else, so he could finally talk to her and figure out-
"Tono!" Two other figures, dashing up the path, from where they'd forced their driver to stop a little way down the road. Having almost hit Tamaki as he'd blundered across the road, they couldn't really fail but notice him; and they'd then had to impatiently wait until their driver could legally and safely park. Then, here they were, running back up the street, finally skidded to a halt next to him and grinning. Then they seemed to get a hold of themselves and remember not to be too pleased to see their old friend.
"Hey, you're not supposed to be here, you know." Hikaru reprimanded.
"They don't like strangers loitering outside the school gates." Kaoru added, solemnly.
"I'm not a stranger! I merely came back to see if Haruhi managed to survive a year alone with you two and-"
"Haruhi's fine." The twins grinned devilishly, glad to once again have their favourite person to tease back at their mercy, and yet, having to be very careful not to give away her gender. It'd be a shame to give the game away now, when they were so close to finishing anyway. "We've been taking very good care of him since you left…"
"What's that meant to mean?! You vile beasts, if you have laid a single one of your slippery fingers on Haruhi, I will- Eh?!" Tamaki stumbled back a little way as Haruhi jumped easily down between him and the twins, having scaled the fence. "H-Haruhi…"
"It was easier then going round to the gate." Haruhi shrugged, totally unfazed as always. She turned to the twins, who were muttering to each other about her impressive and somewhat surprising fence-climbing skills. "You two, stop teasing him." She commanded, hands on hips, and then she turned to Tamaki. He flinched a little at her slightly annoyed expression. "Senpai, why have you not been in closer contact since you left?"
Suddenly, Tamaki noticed the tiniest hint of hurt in her eyes and immediately felt racked with guilt that he was the cause of it. He wasn't quite sure how to behave. This was nothing like any of the romance stories he'd heard, nothing like how it had been with Kari. He didn't even remember asking her out; it had just sort of happened, and today she had told him it wasn't meant to have to begin with. So here he was, standing in front of the one girl he did actually care about and the one he seemed totally unable to charm. "Well… when I did, you seemed so happy… I thought you wouldn't want me bothering you."
Haruhi sighed in exasperation. "I was happy because you phoned me, idiot." She said, matter-of-factly.
"…Haruhi…" Tamaki said, in disbelief and felt the first twists of happiness uncoil themselves in his shifting stomach. "Then, do you…?"
Haruhi rolled her eyes. "You're way too oblivious, Tamaki-senpai. I was just waiting for you to finally admit it."
"Then, then, you do…?"
"Yes. I love you." She said, simply as if she were informing him that he had got her birthdate right.
"Eh?!" The twins yelped, joined by the crowd of fangirls that had swelled once the assembled hosts had been noticed. Haruhi raised an eyebrow at them.
"What?" She said, apparently not realising the shock she had unleashed, apparently not knowing that she was the last person they'd expected to have any sort of feelings in that area and even less to just admit them so casually.
"Haruhi…" Kaoru was protesting weakly. He'd known Tono's feelings, of course, the only ones who hadn't seemed to realise was Haruhi and Tamaki himself. Yet, here it all was, finally unfolding before them. "Are you sure…?"
"Yes." She glared a little, but then shrugged. "It's a little bothersome, but I guess it's not something we can control, right? And it's not so bad, when it makes you happy."
"Haruhi…" Tamaki had finally got his voice back, her three simple words finally ceasing their echoing around his brain, and allowing him to blink and see her standing there in that boy's uniform, exactly how he remembered her, and exactly as he had fallen in love with her. She turned to face him again, not even smiling, serious and straight-forward as ever, and he just wanted to laugh in delight, laugh at her cuteness. But he didn't. Instead, he did what he had always secretly longed to do and pulled her close, never wanting to let go, and at last, she let him kiss her. It was unbelievable, amazing, and just so, so beautiful. Tamaki knew Haruhi had his heart, had held it for a long time, but with whatever he had left he was thanking Kari, and thanking God for giving him this, for letting her love him back, for letting him love someone so wonderful. He pulled away, and she was smiling.
She opened her eyes, still somehow in his arms, and blinked a little. For once in her life, Haruhi seemed surprised.
Tamaki suddenly felt a little awkward. "…Heh." He chuckled, eventually.
"Mmm." She agreed.
"Tono… when you're finished…" The twins hissed at them, in a mixture of shock and amusement. They'd known the eventual break-out of this relationship was inevitable, even hoped that it would so their two friends would be happy, but this was hardly the time or place.
Haruhi and Tamaki slowly turned their heads and became very, very aware of the crowd of girls currently screaming in glee or fainting in shock, all but finished off by the moe. The new couple looked somewhat sheepishly at them, and Haruhi hastily untangled herself.
"Um…" She began, uncertainly, and seemed all but ready to begin explaining themselves, but Hikaru had grabbed her arm, and Kaoru had hold of Tamaki, and they began steering the two towards the relative safety of their car.
"'If you have laid a single one of your slippery fingers on Haruhi…'" Kaoru was mimicking, while Hikaru was complaining loudly that Tamaki certainly knew how to pick his moment, showing up like this and making out with Haruhi in front of the rest of the school.
Tamaki didn't care. He couldn't care anymore. Haruhi was acting no differently to how she always had, as if nothing had happened, annoyed that Hikaru was practically pulling her arm off, but now Tamaki knew. He knew what she felt, she had said it herself. He finally knew what he felt himself; what he felt for her and what he felt right that instant, as the twins told their driver his address.
Tamaki, for all the trouble he had caused, felt absolutely, totally, completely and utterly, over the moon.