See You Next Wednesday
I know it's been a long time without an update on this story, and for that I am extremely sorry. Life has been so madly busy since I last updated this story (and, really, any of my stories) that I had to take something of an unplanned, rather unwanted, hiatus. Apologies to everyone!
I hope this installment will be worth your wait. It probably won't be, but hopefully you can be content with the ending I give the characters, and appreciate that my writing style has improved (I think...).
Disclaimer: I do not own Ouran.
Their comfortable pattern does not change. Kaoru goes to see her every Wednesday, walking quickly through brightening evenings as the weeks continue by. But now he finds that his heart beats just a little bit faster in anticipation of seeing her again: Haruhi... And whenever he sees her see him waiting for her, he notices how much wider her smile is now; just a degree warmer. Her eyes are happier than they have been, perhaps because, as grudgingly as she accepted it, she has security now. She knows she will be going to university now, and the knowledge is comforting to her. He can tell. The stress that had previously dominated her features has been alleviated a little and so Kaoru doesn't worry as much about her getting tired and having too many jobs: she can drop one of the jobs now and start getting enough sleep again. Not that he stops worrying or caring about her, but it is a relief to him as well as to her.
He watches her move around the familiar café. Her hair is even longer now, almost to her collar. He decides that he likes it, though he thinks anything would suit her lovely face. When she finishes her shift they leave the place together, not touching properly until they are safely outside, where Kaoru pulls her in for a quick, chaste kiss under a street light at the end of the road before they continue on their way back to her flat.
They go out on real dates sometimes. Nothing extravagant: Kaoru knows that Haruhi would dislike him splashing out on expensive restaurants or the formality required for such a venue – that and he hates wearing ties when he's meant to be having fun. Instead they go walking in parks or get out of the city, take a picnic to some secluded place by a river where they can be with each other and only each other. It's better than anything else Kaoru can remember.
They're not shy with each other like others might be in their situation. The transition from friends to a relationship could have been awkward; they remember how it was with Haruhi and Hikaru. Perhaps it is because they are older, that they've thrown off the uniforms of adolescence and now feel like adults. Maybe it's the months of very close friendship, that they talk one-on-one more regularly than they ever did at school. Or possibly it's simply because they both feel a certain rightness to being together that is so comfortable it makes no sense to make it complicated, and timidity seems ridiculous.
Most of their time is spent talking: Haruhi tells him about her jobs and her life, and Kaoru tells her about his and Hikaru's many varied exploits at university. They listen to each other, offer opinions and laugh lots. Sometimes he goes with her to her home and they lie together on her futon for hours. The first time they have sex they laugh a lot because it's Kaoru and it's Haruhi and they never thought they would ever do anything like this with each other.
Mid-May Haruhi starts filling in applications: form after form, all requesting the same information. Haruhi photocopies one and Kaoru sits beside her at the table, filling in half the remaining ones with the same details to help her. They post the various items with high hopes.
Hikaru knows all about them. He's noticed the way Kaoru looks on Wednesdays and any other days he's going to see Haruhi. There's a slight change in his smile, a tiny difference in how he holds himself, unnoticed by any except his twin.
Kaoru talks to him, tells him all about how Haruhi is doing, but not unprompted. He's not stupid. Hikaru asks and he replies. It's rare for Kaoru to say things about Haruhi without prior invitation to do so, and he knows that Hikaru is relieved about this. At least for now.
Back in February, when Kaoru mentioned that first kiss, Hikaru said nothing and the younger twin worried. He did not break the silence between them however, knowing that Hikaru needed it right now; need to wrap himself up in it like a cocoon and deliberate. Finally, after twenty minutes of quiet thought and re-emergence from inside himself, Hikaru spoke:
"Okay," was all he said.
Kaoru blinked. "Okay?"
Hikaru nodded. "Okay."
"You're going to have to elaborate, Hikaru."
The elder twin smiled. "Okay. It's fine. I don't mind."
Kaoru grinned, a lightness in his stomach that made him want to burst out laughing or crying, he didn't know which. "Really?"
Hikaru laughed. "Yeah. I was never right for her, but you are; I can tell. You're happy and that's what I've always wanted for you. I want Haruhi to be happy too."
Kaoru hugged his brother, gratefully and lovingly. "Thank you so much."
Hikaru really has matured since they were sixteen, and Kaoru is unbelievably grateful for that as he kisses Haruhi in parting at the door to her flat after they've posted her forms.
She'll make it, he thinks, as he walks away. I know she will.
Haruhi doesn't need to sit her exams again. Her results are high enough that she can get in wherever she wants to, and she has chosen where she will go already – she's known the place since she was much younger. She waits and waits but the days and weeks don't: mild weather turns warmer and Kaoru and Hikaru finish university for the summer. Kaoru tries not to spend too much time with Haruhi and neglect his brother, and when he's with Haruhi he tries to keep her mind off the long-awaited letter. Instead he amuses her with watching films late into evening (though not too late, as she insists) and taking her for quiet daytrips to the beach and countryside.
Then, one day in August, a pile of letters drops onto the doormat inside Haruhi's front door.
"Can you get that?" she asks Kaoru casually, cracking eggs into a frying pan.
He nods and goes to fetch the bundle, dropping the junk mail automatically into the recycling bin, and comes across one on which he recognises the logo.
"Yes...?" She's washing her hands now, but she turns her head to look at him over her shoulder.
"I think this is it." He waves the letter at her, holding it out for her to take.
"Oh..." Her voice is suddenly quieter, not as casual. She turns off the tap and dries her hands, takes the letter from him slowly. He knows that her heart is pounding hard right now and that she doesn't want anything from him right now, other than his presence.
She stares at the outside of the envelope for a moment, her thoughts indeterminable from her expression, then she rips it open and pulls out the folded letter inside. Her eyes rake back and forth for barely a minute before she smiles in relief and looks up at Kaoru.
"Granted," she says simply, her smile turning into that rare grin Kaoru loves.
"Really?" He's grinning too, happiness bubbling up inside him like it did when Hikaru told him he didn't mind his relationship with Haruhi.
"No Kaoru, I'm joking. Of course really!"
He lets out a laugh and pulls her close to him for a tight celebratory hug.
"I knew you'd get it," he tells her hair.
She lets out a lovely, light laugh, arms around his waist.
"It's only a partial grant, but it's enough. As long as I keep a job while studying, I'm fine," she explains.
He kisses her until the smell of burned eggs reaches them and she detaches herself, scurrying off to rescue them. He finds that he can't stop grinning, and he feels he doesn't all day, all week, all month.Then, suddenly, she's a law student and looks so comfortable in her new position that he can't help but feel happy whenever he sees her smile.
And still, almost every week, when they part, he tells her the same words:
"See you next Wednesday."