A/N: ugh. this chapter is crap. but at least it's something. i've sat down and tried to write this over, and over, but i've been going about it all wrong. well, here it is, and it's at least passable. i hate to lower my standards for you but it'll be another years' wait if i don't sit down and make myself write this.

Disclaimer: I do not own Ouran High School Host Club. At all. Promise.

Chapter Twenty


The beauty of the Host Club never ceased to amaze Haruhi.

Though she was largely impervious to it's effects, the physical featuring of the members was, undoubtedly, impressive. Tamaki's fair hair and skin always sparkling with beauty, Kyoya, forever impervious and coolly collected, the twins, mirror-images of each others golden and warm complexions. And Hunny, sweet and lovable, cherubic and kind.

But then there was Mori.

Haruhi had thought about this one day, put her mind to it and considered what she found so handsome in Mori. He was tall and lean and muscled, enough to pick her up without effort. His dark hair spiked up effortlessly, like it had started out smooth every morning but been rumpled by hands running through it over and over. Gray eyes, silent mouth, chiseled nose. Not bad-looking unto themselves, but none of them strikingly, imposingly handsome in the fashion of Tamaki or the twins. There was just something electric in him, something that sparked with every sparse word he spoke.

"So, what do you find so handsome in Mori?" Haku asked, relevantly, tucking her hair behind her ears.

"I don't know," Haruhi said idly, toying with her teacup. The Third Music Room was all but empty, with only the last battery of clients being wooed by smiling, happy Hosts. Haruhi had debt to pay still, after all, and as the Host Club insisted that she stay with them every day, she had decided to work it off the easiest way she knew how. She entertained the clients as they waited with old Host Club repartee, minus the romancing. Momoka had seen her and not shied away nor gotten angry, as many of her old requests did when they saw her in the Ouran dress. She had sat down and embraced her, called her a brave girl and told Haruhi she missed her. She and Haruhi had gotten to be great friends in the meantime.

And in the times when the couches set aside for waiting clients were empty, either on slow days or the last round of clients, she and Haku would sit and fondly chat as Haruhi wrote equations down for Maths in her round, concise print.

"I don't know," Haruhi said slowly, thinking about the last time she'd seen Mori, of what he'd told her in those moments after her hurt. She still hadn't told anyone, not Haku or Momoka or even Hunny, about when he'd held her and said I love you. It just seemed to close to be shared, to possibly be criticised, for anyone to own that knowledge but her and Mori. "It's just...there's something in him that appeals to me. It's not all physical attributes, either. Though they certainly don't hurt." She reached up and brushed her hair out of her large brown eyes, considering. "He's so solid and real, true when everyone else isn't, you know?"

"I do," Haku said, smiling, and set her tea down to call out a good-bye to Hunny's departing client. Since Haruhi had gotten back on good terms with the Host Club, he'd started coming back to make money for a contented Kyoya, mostly just to break the boredom of day-to-day life in the Haninozuka manor. "But, you know, looks are good for some things."

There was a slick tone in her voice that Haruhi did not like. She glanced over at her warily.

"Oh yeah? What's that?"

"Sex," Haku said shamelessly, Haruhi's lips slid into a line of discomfort. "Have you?"

"Have I what?" Haruhi hedged after a moment of silence, trying to avoid the inevitable. Haku leaned closer, her breath on Haruhi's ear.

"Slept with him. Or anyone."

"Well--I--yes. I've slept with Mori."

Haku's eyes widened, she obviously had not been expecting his answer, because she replied at a high decibel.

"You slut!" Haku half-yelled in disbeleif and astonishment, she had zero malice in her voice but the word still stung. "I can't believe you would sleep with Mori!"

The Third Music Room went quiet. Hunny, who had been walking to get a bottle of water from the small kitchen off the music room, froze, his gigantic eyes slowly zeroing in on Haruhi. Even with all of the blank surprise and incredulity in his eyes, he was quiet. It was Tamaki who broke the eerie quiet.


He was over to her in an instant, grabbing her by the shoulders and shaking her--Haruhi spared a glance down at the now-mortified Haku, who looked apologetic.

Tamaki was practically in tears. The twins were there in an instant, gearing up to cover the hurt in their eyes with mockery.

"Why? Why would you throw your virginity away before marriage? And Mori! How dare he deflower our little girl!"

The twins were sing-songing some crude thing, Hunny was watching her with abandonment in his eyes, and Tamaki was probably going to stain the yellow dress forever with the river of tears he was now producing, and you wouldn't understand how Haruhi could begin to explain this, but it was perfect.

It was. Perfect. Back to normal. They were at the point where they were friends again, where Tamaki would weep over everything, no matter how tiny, that Haruhi did that didn't fit his image of her. The twins were dancing around, their song just getting more suggestive every circuit they made of Tamaki and Haruhi. With apologies Kyoya was shepherding the girls outside of the Music Room. She was embarassed more than she could ever imagine.

But it was perfect.


The car ride home was not easy. Hunny had avoided her as they packed up their things and left the Third Music Room for some unfortunate maid, but now they sat side-by-side in a large car that had never been smaller. The driver had picked up on the tension, even, rolling up the divider between the back and front seats to give them opaque privacy.

"Haru-chan," he said softly, looking up at her. "We need to talk."

No, she wanted to say. We don't. Hunny might have been disgusted and disturbed at the thought of his cousin and one of his best friends making love, but there was no reason they had to discuss it, cut it deeper into her ego.

"Okay," she said instead. "Let's talk. What do you want to talk about."

"It's not about the ... thing today," Hunny said quickly, Haruhi was surprised but far from not-releived. "Well, not all the way." He took a deep breath, scooted over to Haruhi and put a hand on her knee, sweetness and fright written over his features.

"Takashi is my best friend," he said quietly, looking up at her, forcing her to meet his own gaze. "He is my cousin and I've known him since the day I was born. He's been there as long as I can remember." He swallowed, a fat tear ran down his face. "I'm terrified to let him go."

"Oh, Hunny," Haruhi said, wanting to be the bigger person in this situation, wanting to hug him and say it was all right, everything all right. But he brushed her off, moving on.

"You're a good girl, Haru-chan. No one deserves him more than you."

"Thank you."

"I'm not finished. But what you said, forever ago, I can't un-remember it. About not being able to love anyone from the Host Club. About not being good for them, that you would only bring them unhappiness. I...want you to be with Takashi, I want you to be happy with him. But I don't want it so much to not notice if you don't love him."

Haruhi swallowed, remembering those thoughts when she had first started kissing him, when she had let him fold her into his arms in a more-than-friendly way. Just this one selfish thing. Just this one thing for me, with no thought to anyone else. She couldn't be who she'd been a year ago, in her opinion a better person. One who didn't have to break other people to stay whole.

"Just tell me Haru. Tell me you love him."

"I don't want to," she said, her breath catching on a sob she hadn't noticed until then. Hunny's expression morphed, confusion and anger and pain. "I don't want to love him."

His face settled on bewildered.


"I do love him, Hunny, I do. I can't not love him. But I shouldn't. I don't make him happy, I'm not what he deserves. But I love him." She choked without tears, shoulders sloping, hand on her mouth.

"I've never seen him happier," Hunny said softly, his short arms settling around her pulling her into his tiny frame. She took a breath, rested her head on his shoulder. "Don't worry, Haru. You're just what he's always wanted."

"Really?" she asked, and hated herself for loving to hear it.

"Totally. I was worried that Tama would get you before he did and he would never get over it."

"I love him. He loves me."

Haruhi smiled through her shame at this emotional exposure, hoping the charm of speaking words out loud would make them true.

Again, sorry for the wait for this chapter and for the fantastic crap it turned out as. A thousand apologies.