-12/?

Haruhi was a person who never strayed far away from her goals. Once she set a path for herself, she will resolutely follow it until its end. Some people call it a case of OCD, some would call it determination. But for Haruhi it was simple.

It was pure dedication.

She was four-years-old when she first decided that she wanted to become a teacher. Her kindergarten teacher was a sweet, kind soul who never gave the children under her any grief and was always there for them.

And Haruhi thought that it would be wonderful to become a person like her.

There were times when she nearly gave up on her dream--even her parents thought that it wasn't worth all the pain Haruhi experienced, but she was determined to become one. And so at twenty-three, she became the youngest teacher ever to qualify as an instructor in the very prestigious Ouran Institute.

To work in Ouran, so they say, would be equivalent to having a professor's tenure in a university--job security for life. Each year, thousands would apply and only one is lucky or smart enough to be given a post. Though most of the time it was only for a teaching assistant job, the pay is three times more than normal plus all the benefits not to mention a world-class health plan.

Yet it wasn't those that attracted Haruhi to working there. She saw the types of kids learning in there. They were rich, pampered, and spoiled. Though they were given the best money could buy, including first-class education from some of the most brilliant teachers in and out of the country, they all took it for granted. They were the kind who thought that their position in the upper echelons of society was more than an excuse enough for their appalling behaviour.

Haruhi met one such kid during her university years and it changed her. Possibly forever and made her even more unwavering in her decision to be a teacher and work at Ouran.

When she was hired, the Human Resources Department of the Institute couldn't believe that someone like her existed. She graduated from Tokyo U with the highest distinction and a 4.0 GPA. Not only that, but she managed to perfect the applications test that would rival the hardest board exams. It was only for a temporary Maths Teacher position (the regular one being on maternity leave) yet the tests covered a wide range of subjects including, but not limited to, science, English, politics, and literature.

Haruhi, knowing full well what she was getting herself into and had prepared as such, managed to pass them all with the highest marks. The Institute was so amazed that they offered her a permanent position after using the temporary post as a trial run.

She was amazed, however, when she first met her class. They were unlike what the rumours made them out to be, and were actually quite well-mannered, polite, and intelligent enough. They didn't act like she was below them, being of lower birth and status, and instead gave her the respect that her position as their teacher demanded.

It became a daily occurrence for her to find her lockers or desk filled with love letters from male and female students alike. She was after all, one of the youngest teachers there and was deemed to be cute by so many. She also acted like their friend, and was never condescending on her students. Some would even turn to her for tutoring in subjects she didn't specialize in.

But now, Haruhi was more than willing to throw all of that hard work away and resign from the school.

All because of a student named Ootori Kyoya.

She always thought that he was the calm, cool, collected type that students and teachers alike worshipped. He was handsome to a fault, and exhibits mannerisms and behaviour that would make even the most hardened of women blush and giggle like a hormonal schoolgirl. He was also the top in every one of his classes and President of the Student Union.

He was perfect. And everyone idolized him.

And Haruhi didn't like that. Sure, she could be more supportive, and help nurture rare prodigies such as him. But when said prodigy had taken it upon himself to stalk and molest a substitute Maths teacher five years his senior, he had fallen quite far in her eyes.

Haruhi at first thought that it was just a mere crush, subsequently making her a bit flattered on the fact that the unflappable Ootori (who was known to break a lot of hearts due to his complete refusal of so many advances that they thought he was asexual) would deem her worthy of his advances and promptly dismissed it when she received the first subtle hint of the Ootori's feelings for her.

He didn't outwardly try to grope her or anything but he did ask her out for some coffee. Something in his tone though warned Haruhi that it wasn't just for coffee he was after so she refused. Then he became bolder until it reached to the point where he was slamming her against the classroom wall and molesting her.

If she were honest with herself though, could you really call it rape when the subject is willing?

Haruhi shook her head, trying to get the image of him doing that to her again and again out of her head. It was insane; she should really have her brain checked out for lesions or abnormalities. Maybe it was a neurological anomaly. She might be diseased. She was really going to call her GP.

How else could she explain her recurring dreams (or nightmares) of him accosting her and instead of fighting it, she's beginning to enjoy it?

Haruhi rubbed her forehead in frustration. This thinking was getting her nowhere--she was back where she started. She still can't figure out why she would drape herself all over him like that. She felt like some nubile maiden of a bodice-ripper Mills and Boon-style. The only thing missing would be her swooning all over him and crying, "Ravish me!"

Though actions speak louder then words and if Haruhi's memory served her right, she wasn't exactly protesting much that time.

Even her own mind was revolting against her! What has become of this world?

Haruhi slammed her forehead in her desk, making the other teachers around her jump. She heard somebody place something on her table and looking up, she saw Suoh Tamaki, a fellow teacher of the Institute, placing down a mug of hot coffee.

"Here," he said softly, his violet eyes twinkling merrily. "You look like you need it."

Haruhi gave him a grateful smile and straightened in her seat. She cupped the mug in her hands, savouring the warmth they gave to her clammy palms before taking a sip. She smiled. It was just as she liked it: half a teaspoon of sugar, and a dash of milk.

"Thanks a lot," she said, smiling at him though it didn't quite reach her eyes.

"Anytime, Haruhi," said Tamaki, sipping at his own coffee (milk and sugar with a dash of coffee). "So, what's up?"

"Huh?" asked Haruhi dumbly. "The ceiling?"

Tamaki rolled his eyes playfully at her. "You are so old. Don't ya know wuz happ'nin' in this town, yo?"

Haruhi laughed outright, her mirth leaking out from her eyes. "You make a horrible black man. Please stop it or I will call the police on you."

Tamaki raised an eyebrow. "Oh? Pray tell me what is my offence, dear officer."

"Illegal and badly made impersonation of a black person," Haruhi replied perfunctorily. This was their usual exchange. Tamaki was a few years older than Haruhi and the latter never made him forget it. It was a private joke between them that others could never understand. It consisted of Tamaki, Haruhi, a confiscated X-rated video tape and somebody asking Haruhi if she had a proof of her age. "They should really arrest you for it. It is an insult to their culture."

Tamaki smiled. "Well, at least I got you laughing."

Haruhi softened. "Yeah, thanks. I really needed that."

The blond man pouted at her. "You mean that my comedic flair is more appealing than my special coffee blend?!" he cried theatrically much to the chagrin and amusement of their colleagues. "I. Am. Offended! You vile rascal!"

"Okay, now you're just overacting."

Tamaki pulled the empty chair from the next desk and sat down in front of her.

"So, spill. This is the first time in a long while that I've seen you really frustrated." He finished he coffee and set it on her desk. "What happened?"

Haruhi frowned and drank the remains of her beverage as well. "I don't really know. I'm just so confused and I don't know which way to go about it."

The older man sensed that his friend wasn't telling it all but dismissed it as too personal to talk about in such a public space: teachers are known as notorious gossips after all.

Tamaki just nodded at her. "I won't say that I understand exactly what you're saying. But let me tell you this: are you free on Saturday night?"

The girl frowned. "What are you on about? I want advice, not a date…"

"No, this isn't exactly a date," Tamaki replied smoothly. "This is a pick-me-up kind of date that friends take other friends. You really need it at this time, and maybe then you'll tell me what's really bothering you." His expression softened as he stared at her. "It must be something pretty bad that you're banging your head against the furniture. You've been out of sorts the past few days as well."

Haruhi grimaced. If this idiot noticed, then everybody noticed. She knew that she wasn't acting herself the past few days and have been quite distant. She acted the same during her class, thought quite robotic. Ootori hadn't tried anything funny with her since he pulled that stupid stunt almost five days ago, but it left her still quite flushed.

But maybe she really needed this. Tamaki had been asking her out since the first time they met when she was introduced to the faculty. She dismissed him as the spoiled son of the superintendent who only gained his place at the Institute due to his connections. Though her opinion of him changed a bit when she learned that he had actually achieved his post through his own hard work, insisting that he take the same test as every other teacher applicant and passing with scores just a little bit lower than Haruhi's when she had taken hers.

He was still a moron of sorts in her eyes, but a friend she knew she would treasure.

Maybe it was time that she entered the dating scene at last and see her options. Surely dating her colleague would be more acceptable than dating a student, right?

"But wouldn't we get in trouble for this?" she hedged. "In-faculty dating is frowned upon. I might lose my job and everything, even if we insist that this was just between friends."

Tamaki shook his head in reassurance. "No, I don't think so. It's frowned upon but not forbidden. In any case, should the Institute deem that our relationship, if we even ever have one, was disrupting our work, they'll just transfer one of us to different departments, but not really sack us. You know that the school places high regard on your abilities, Haruhi. They wouldn't let go of such a talented teacher so easily. It's suicide for them."

Haruhi stood from her seat. "You're a great friend, Tamaki," she said softly, grasping his hand in hers. "Maybe I will take you up on that pick-me-up-not-really-a-date-thing."

The smile Tamaki bestowed upon her could have blinded the sun. He stood up as well. "Okay. I'll call you later on so we can arrange." He squeezed her hand one last time before heading back to his own desk. "I need to finish up some more lesson plans before next period. Where are you going?"

Haruhi opened the door before looking back at him and saying, "Cafeteria. I missed lunch and I'm starving. I wonder if they have any more of the rocket salad with the balsamic dressing."

"I think they still have that. See you later, Haruhi."

"See you."

--

Haruhi savoured her salad, the mild tangy sweetness of the balsamic vinegar fusing with the sharp taste of the Dijon mustard made her mouth tingle while the peppery kick of the rocket leaves bit into her tongue. Her expertise on international cuisine only extended on the Chinese or Indian takeouts she subsisted on (and on the different varieties of instant ramen when money came in short supply) but since coming to the extravagant school where she was given an huge discount on her meals (unknowingly bestowed upon her by Tamaki when he learned of her financial status), her palate had acquired quite a sense of taste.

"Enjoying your meal?" a sardonic yet amused voice asked her from behind and Haruhi jumped ten feet into the air.

"Ootori-san!" Haruhi exclaimed, a bit of rocket dangling from her lips.

Ootori's lip quirked at the sight. He reached out and took the piece of leaf from her mouth and popping it into his own. The teacher just stared on.

"Hmm…rocket and balsamic dressing. Quite tangy," he said, taking the seat beside her.

"W-What are you doing here?" she asked dumbly, not quite believing that he had the gall to do this while in public.

"Eating," he replied matter-of-factly, cutting into his roast duck on a bed of chilled asparagus, potato, and mushroom mash with some sort of dark sauce Haruhi couldn't identify. It was one of the more expensive menu, and Haruhi never cared enough to spend too much money on such extravagance like that.

"B-But…it's past lunch hour," she flustered. "Shouldn't you be in class?"

"I did some extra work for the Student Council during my lunch break and I was excused from my French classes as a result," he said as if explaining to a three-year-old.

"So hardworking," Haruhi muttered, the sarcasm not being lost on the Ootori.

Smirking evilly, he said, "Yes, and you have first-hand experience of that, Ha-ru-hi." He said her name sensuously, every syllable dripping like the darkest of melted chocolates--sinful and addictive. It sent her already flayed nerves into overdrive and her blood pumped through her veins, invoking a healthy flush to her cold cheeks.

"Stop that!" she said irritably, trying to stave off her embarrassment instead. "I am your teacher and you will respect me as such."

"Oh?" He dropped his fork and knife on his plate and turned to her to give her an interested look. "That wasn't certainly the horn that you were tooting when we were in the classroom…alone." His tone never lost its rich dark tones, what Haruhi would then forever call his bedroom voice.

If possible, Haruhi flushed even further and Ootori chuckled.

"T-That was completely…that was nothing!" she said, flustered, remembering to keep her voice down. Though the cafeteria was empty save a few of the staff here and there, it was still easy to eavesdrop on their conversation. "It was a one-time thing!" Then she got an idea.

"For your information, the…thing…that happened between us is in the past," she said strongly, trying to inject some confidence into her voice. "You took me by surprise, that's all. Anyway, I'm dating--or about to date--somebody else."

Instead of smirking, like she thought he would do, his face adopted a stormy expression.

"With who?" he demanded, his voice losing its previous timbre to be replaced by one of forced calm.

"It's none of your business," Haruhi snapped. "Who I date with is none of your concern." She stood up from her seat so fast the chair nearly toppled over. "You are just my student, please never forget that."

To her eternal surprise and indignation, his hand shot out and clasped her wrist. With a forceful yank down, his mouth hovered just on her ear.

"Yes, I will make it my business to know who you do and do not date," he whispered, his breath fanning her reddening ear and neck. "Remember, Haruhi, I got to you first."

And with that, he let go of her and left the room quickly, his food barely even touched. Haruhi stood rooted to her spot, asking herself what the hell has just happened.

Despite her total naiveté for most social skills, she knew that the Ootori's attraction to her was more than just a passing crush of the school bully on the class beauty.

He was really pursuing her, wasn't he?

Haruhi sank to her seat, her shaking knees finally giving way.

She was so going to lose her job.

--

To Be Continued

--

A/N: I just got a review that said that this story reminded them of another story, a SasuNaru one, posted on this site. I looked it up in fear of plagiarism, and found out that my first chapter mirrors the first chapter of the story, I Love Teaching by write handed and can be found in the Naruto section. As I completely detest any form of plagiarism (being a victim of one I completely emphatize; I'm still waiting for the perpetrator to grow some balls and face me), I thought of deleting this story. However, I read the story through and found that even if our first chapter are similar, I hope that the likeness ends there. This one has a completely different plot, which will take its turn on the next chapter. I wanted to write it in here, but it was getting too long and I wanted to sleep and just post this up. It's rather uneventful but I wanted some more character build-up before anything interesting happens in the story so nobody can accuse me of pushing the characters together too soon and too fast. Anyway, I'm going to rewrite the first chapter, but that may take a while as I have other projects to focus on. I also have university coming up in a few weeks, and I also took two distant-learning course. As such, my time has even been more limited. I just love working myself to death. What's a few bout of ulcers, eh? XD

Unbetaed.

Disclaimer: I wasn't invited to the Fujioka-Ootori nuptials. Apparently, there was a height requirement and I failed the mark. Freaking size-ists!