"Megumi-chan!" Honey yelled as soon as he saw the dark-haired girl exiting out of the washroom. His sharp brown eyes did not miss her pale but determined face. She was shaking slightly when he placed a hand on her arm. His face grew worried. "Are you all right?"
"Yes, I am." She answered steadily. Her amber eyes focused on the brown-haired young man for the first time that night. She smiled wryly. "I'm sure you hate me a lot too."
He shook his head. The others started to walk towards the elevator. They lagged behind with deliberate slow steps. Honey's voice was quiet and pensive. "We don't really hate you. But we can't let you destroy what we have."
"He's very important to all of you, right?" Megumi asked as she stopped in front of the elevator. The boys stared at her, waiting. Mori was about to enter when he looked at Honey and Megumi questioningly. A nod later and he entered the elevator too.
"We'll take the stairs!" Honey announced cheerfully.
The doors slammed shut. They stared at their reflections on the smooth metal doors of the elevator. A petite dark-haired woman stood side by side with a brown-haired man whose height reached her shoulder. She smiled at him as she took his offered arm.
"You haven't answered my question, Honey-san." The dark-haired junior said softly. They exited the restaurant and walked leisurely towards the main entrance of the hospital.
"That's right," he retorted "Tamaki and Haruhi are both important to us. We will appreciate it if you will understand that. Tamaki cannot possibly fall in love with you. He's already in love with someone else."
"Hmm," she murmured, thinking about that.
It was very cold. But she felt that the expensive coat she was wearing was not enough to protect her from it. Her body was still shaking. Cheeks flushed prettily, she turned to the short college freshman.
"Kanoya-san, I'm sure that you are a good woman." Honey said seriously. Their gazes locked together. "We will be glad to be your friend if you'll forget about your feelings. I know that a maiden's heart is fragile but it will heal. It's much better to prevent it from breaking any more."
Her tears gleamed in the soft lights. She gave him a brave and beautiful smile. He smiled back. "You're a good friend, Honey-san. I-I will think about it."
Honey ran forward and hugged her impulsively. She squeaked when she felt a pair of strong warm arms envelope her slight frame. They stayed locked in that moment. Her tears fell in spite of her efforts to stop them. When he let her go, he was grinning.
"Everything will be fine, Megumi-chan!" The loli-shota said cheerfully. Pink coloured his cheeks. His smile was blinding.
She desperately wanted to believe him.
They were climbing the stairs when Honey's cell-phone began to ring. He fumbled with the inside of his pocket before pulling it out. "Takashi?"
"The baby's almost here."
Megumi's eyes widened. Honey turned to her and waved enthusiastically. "Let's go!"
Ryoji saw his niece and Honey walking towards the stairs. He raised an eyebrow when the two hugged. But he couldn't dwell on them when there were more important things that needed his attention.
He forced himself to focus on what the woman in front of him was saying.
Kousaka Yuu used to be his next-door neighbour. She was so much younger than him. When he found out that she was also studying law, he was pleased. They were friends but they drifted apart over the years.
It was only tonight that he found out that she was representing the Suoh family's legal interests. That didn't sit well with him.
"Can't we discuss this someplace warm?" he suggested. His tone was frosty. The young woman did not seem perturbed.
She merely smiled. It bared all her teeth. "I'm sorry but I don't have much time."
"What are you doing here?" Ryoji decided to take the direct approach. He had a bad feeling about her sudden appearance in his life. There was nothing to lose in asking her anyway. "Do you have urgent business with me? Or did you decide that you suddenly missed me?"
She scoffed at his last statement. "How is your little girl?"
"She's all right but she's quite busy right now." The red-headed father answered casually. He was aware that her appearance involved Haruhi in some way. His hand clenched. He would not fail his family in this. It was up to him to protect his daughter.
"Haruhi's a smart girl," Kousaka remarked in the same casual tone. She slipped her cell-phone into her pocket. "I think she got it from her mother. Kotoko-san was a great lawyer, isn't she?"
"She wants to be like her," he said warily. His senses were on high alert now. "That's why she strived hard to enter Ouran."
"I think your daughter's on her senior year in high school," she continued lightly. Her air and manner was reminiscent of an investigator trying very hard to cover her motives. "She might be able to enter Ouran University if she works hard."
Ryoji decided to intimidate. He'd always believed that a good offence was a good defence. "That's true. It's a pity that you weren't able to qualify for that excellent school."
That hit home.
He saw her expression become guarded and wary. It disappeared behind a composed professional mask. Kousaka smiled at him. The red-headed okama smiled back with all of his sharp teeth bared.
"Since we are old acquaintances, I came to tell you this only once. That girl is not suited for Ouran. And it would be better for her not to get involved further with the suoh family. For that reason too, I think it would be better for her to leave Ouran High School." Kousaka said coldly. Her steely gaze held him in place. "You understand that much right, Ryoji-san?"
"What do you want from us?" he asked quietly.
"It doesn't concern you," she replied coolly. The lawyer removed her cell-phone from her pocket and checked it. She returned her gaze on the stunned bisexual calmly. "But it will definitely put our plans in jeopardy."
"Are you saying that Haruhi should remove herself from Tamaki's life?" Ryoji demanded.
Kousaka smiled thinly. "Yes. You should heed my warning, Ryoji-san, for old time's sake. Goodbye."
He stared as she turned around. The stylish black coat fluttered in the cold breeze as she walked away. Staring at her retreating figure brought some realizations. He raised his forgotten cigarette to his lips with a shaky hand.
The hit calmed him somewhat.
He suddenly grinned. "The game's just getting started, Kousaka-san. Give me all you've got."
The Host Club jumped up when the door opened. The guys stared when they realized that Haruhi was lying on a gurney. She was wheeled towards the direction of the emergency room with Tamaki in tow.
"She's going to give birth!" The blond exclaimed, half-panicking and half-ecstatic. "The doctor says she's almost stage two!"
"What does that mean?" Hikaru demanded. They followed him without actually running in the hospital's halls.
"It means that she's going to have to start pushing," the expectant father replied as he entered the emergency room. His friends stopped in front of the door with awed faces.
Hikaru reached for Kaoru's hand and squeezed it. They exchanged wordless communication that passed between them. It was the first time that the reality of the situation hit them.
Mori smiled and sat down on one of the chairs. He tilted his head towards his left as though he heard a noise. Sure enough, Honey and Megumi arrived. "She's in."
"I'm glad!" Honey yelled as he hugged his elder cousin. "Haruhi's going to have a baby!"
Megumi checked her watch. It was almost five am in the morning. The labor took her previously unknown cousin a whole night to give birth. She yawned. "I'm glad."
"You look tired," Kaoru observed.
That was true. There were dark circles under her eyes and she was rather pale. But she shook her head. "I'm all right. Thank you for the coffee."
Kasanoda took her arm and guided her towards the row of chairs. They sat down. Faintly flushed, she smiled at him. "Thank so much, Kasanoda-kun."
"I wonder how she's doing," Hikaru murmured to himself.
"She'll be all right," Kaoru remarked calmly. He hugged his twin. "I can't believe that we're all here. We're going to have a little princess of our own!"
"A little prince," Honey chirped. "Just like that book… It sounds good."
Kasanoda nodded wisely. "An heir to the Ouran High School Host Club is going to be born."
Hikaru laughed aloud. "You guys should see your faces. What's so special about a stinky little bundle?"
More laughter erupted.
Mori smiled placidly. The Host Club was finally at peace.
"We'll be stupid all over again." Kyouya said over the din.
The guys stopped teasing and laughing. Their smiled widened further when they realized that their family was finally complete. Nobody stopped him when he entered the emergency room with huge purposeful steps.
Somehow the presence of their fearsome shadow king put them all into ease.
Haruhi gripped his hand tightly. His fingers felt like they were going to break. Not for the first time was he glad that he was wearing a mask. At least she wasn't going to see him wincing at the small pain. Compared to what she was going through, it was a minor inconvenience.
The emergency room was clean and sparkly under the sterile white fluorescent light. They were surrounded by medical professionals. Tamaki was sure that Kyouya got only the best for them.
He was very grateful to his friend.
Kyouya should be here, he thought ruefully. He's gone through a lot with her.
The double doors opened to reveal the dark-haired shadow king. His violet eyes were wide with shock. His best friend crossed the room in three strides and was at Haruhi's side immediately. The doctors did not even blink at his sudden appearance.
"Tamaki," Kyouya said formally.
"Kyouya," Tamaki nodded in acknowledgement.
The young men jumped. Each of them took her hand and allowed her to draw strength from their presence. She was almost delirious with pain. The contractions were getting stronger. Her body was preparing itself to release the newborn baby into the world.
"We're here," the blond man whispered softly as he wiped her sweaty forehead. Glazed hazel eyes focused on him. A small smile lit up his eyes. "Yes, hold on to us my darling."
"Tamaki-senpai," Haruhi murmured before moving her gaze to rest on Kyouya's masked face. "Kyouya-senpai."
She closed her eyes and breathed deeply. The pain was getting harder and harder to bear even though she had anaesthesia injected into her bloodstream. The normal birthing process was more primal and primitive. It required a lot of effort from expectant mothers.
Haruhi had long ago decided to not complain during labor. But she couldn't help it. If screaming was the only way to relieve the intense pain then she was going to do it. The doctor smiled at her cheerfully.
"Don't scream, Fujioka-san." He suggested lightly. "It's not good to waste your energy like that. Just breathe deeply through your nose. If it hurts, grip their hands. You're fully dilated so any time now your baby's going to come out…"
The contractions started. She tried her best not to let out a sound. The dark-haired girl couldn't help but think that if she was dog, she would bite their hands so hard until they had holes on them. The thought made her crack a smile.
When it passed, Tamaki pressed a cool cloth on to her forehead. His violet eyes were sparkling with excitement and delight. "You're doing great, Haruhi!"
She lay back gasping. The ebb and flow of pain was too much, even with anaesthesia. "Y-You…" she managed to choke out "should suffer for this…"
"He would, don't worry." Kyouya retorted cheerfully. He adjusted his glasses with his free hand. Tamaki looked freaked out. "We'll bring him to hell."
"With pleasure," Haruhi gritted her teeth at another onslaught of pain. She was informed that at stage two, it was normal for the contractions to come at shorter intervals with slightly longer durations. "You should suffer as much as I do, Tamaki!"
"That's it, Fujioka-san," her doctor said encouragingly. "Take a deep breath and push."
"It hurts," she replied absently. Her lover and fiancée covered her hands with their own. It was reassuring. She breathed deeply and pushed.
"We're almost there," the young doctor continued on with a smile "we can almost see the baby's head!"
Haruhi wanted to kick him for being so damn cheerful. She realized that they had strapped her legs up. Her lower body was helpless. Another deep breath and push came from her.
"Think about nine months worth of effort," Kyouya said gently "and your reward is almost here. Work harder, Haruhi!"
"It's all about work for you," she retorted, pained. "I'm doing my damn best!"
"I love you, my dear," Tamaki whispered as he wiped her forehead and mimicked her deep breaths. Her boyfriend stared at her steadily.
She glared at him fiercely. "I like that but it's not helping at all. If you love me, you'll be the one giving birth!"
His cheeks turned bright red. Kyouya suppressed a smile. The blond chuckled in spite of himself. "If I could, I definitely would."
The doctor cleared his throat. "The baby's almost here! Everyone, get ready! Here it comes…"
Tamaki and Kyouya exchanged quick glances. They tightened their hold on her hands. An electric shock passed through the three of them. For the briefest moment, they felt like they were connected by a single unbreakable bond that stemmed from the same shared joy and sorrow.
Haruhi clenched her hands. She was not in pain. She was pain. For a second, she saw nothing but white. There was a great trembling that rushed through her entire body with muscles straining and her head rising off the mattress; a huge amount of effort went into a hard push and a large gulp of breath propelled her baby into the world.
A loud and reckless cry echoed through the silent emergency room. The doctors, nurses and midwife clapped at the entry of a newborn human being into the world.
She leaned sideways to rest her head onto Tamaki's warm and solid body. Her body felt weak and drained. She could barely keep her eyes open. Every inch of her was hurting.
The dark-haired girl wanted nothing more than to lie down and sleep. That sounded too good. She momentarily forgot that she had just given birth. Her mind was scattered and unfocused from the enormous effort that she just exerted so she did not notice Tamaki and Kyouya helping her to lie down comfortably.
What brought her back was the crying.
Haruhi cracked her eyes open to see Tamaki cutting the cord that bound her baby to her body. She could see his blond head bowed as he sliced the fragile connection. His strong back, long arms and warm body straightening up to give the scissors back brought a rush of love. Then he turned to her with the most heartbreakingly beautiful smile.
Kyouya pressed a kiss on her forehead. She smiled at the warm touch; she stared up at the glad and relieved blue eyes that stared at her. "Good work," he said softly. "You did very well."
"Haruhi, she's here." Tamaki said in a quiet but happy whisper. He was carrying a bundle of pink blankets on his arms very carefully. (It occurred to her that they were busy giving her new baby a quick bath while they were talking.) She saw his ecstatic face and sparkling eyes. "She's really here…"
Then she realized that she was looking into the face of love.
"She?" Haruhi mumbled, struggling to keep her eyes open. It seemed to require a great effort from her. A girl…
"It's a little girl, my dear." The father of her child said tenderly. His throat tightened; his eyes filled up. Love was a word that did not have enough meaning until this moment.
Tamaki gave her a bittersweet and heartbreaking loving smile. He seemed to glow the longer she stared at him. She wondered vaguely if it was his hair or the bright light. Nevertheless it was a beautiful sight that stole her breath.
That was the last thing she saw before she drifted off to sleep.
Tamaki and Kyouya exited the emergency doors together. They were met with hugs and handshakes. The founders of the Host Club were showered with attention. For the first time, the men appreciated their friendship.
"She's okay," Tamaki said for the nth time. "Haruhi needs rest!"
"Is it a girl? Or a boy?" Honey asked, jumping up and down. "Does it look like you?"
"What will you name her?" Hikaru pressed.
"What did you guys do?" Kaoru prodded.
Tamaki noticed Megumi standing next to Kasanoda. The two shared expressions of relief and happiness. He smiled widely when he realized that Kasanoda was holding her hand tightly. He gently broke away from the group and approached them.
"I'm sorry Megumi-san," he said quietly. "But my place is with her."
She nodded slowly. "I know. I love you, Tamaki-san, but I won't let it hold you back…"
He stepped forward and hugged her very tightly. Tears of relief misted his vision. She stiffened before giving in. When he let her go, she was crying again. He tried to calm her down but she waved him away. It only increased his respect for her.
"It's time that I grew up anyway," she said lightly "I cannot chase after boys anymore."
It will be a hard journey and they both knew it.
Tamaki smiled gratefully. "I hope you'll be friends with her."
"She's my cousin," Megumi even giggled. She will move on for their sakes. He wouldn't see her cry for him anymore; she wouldn't call for him any longer. "I think we'll get along."
Tamaki turned to his friends who were all listening in. He bowed very low to them. "I'm sorry."
Hikaru hit him at the back of the head. Outraged, the blond leader of the Host Club straightened up. "You're such an idiot milord!"
"We don't care really," Kaoru said, laughing "because we don't break so easily!"
Kyouya cleared his throat. They turned to him, curious and interested. He held out a hand to Tamaki.
His best friend took it.
They shook hands in front of the whole club. Cheering erupted. Kyouya lowered his voice. "Congratulations."
Tamaki realized that it was the chance that he was waiting for. He had to know the truth. And Kyouya was going to give it to him.
"Shut up you noisy idiots!"
Ryoji was smiling too.
"Oh," Tamaki sighed. He was standing in front of the glass window in the hospital's nursery ward. Looking down at his newborn daughter summoned all feelings of paternal pride.
It was still like a dream to him. The confrontation, the unexpected birth and their reconciliation… He couldn't believe that so many things could happen in one night. His hands hadn't stopped shaking yet.
His violet eyes softened as he stared at the small fragile bundle that was fast asleep. When the nurse carefully handed his child to him, he really wanted to cry. At eighteen he was already a father.
The blond host wondered what his father felt when he was born. A quick phone call to France brought congratulations from his parents. His father was so proud of him. A corner of his lips twitched. He couldn't help but think about his father. Did Yuzuru feel the same rush of warmth? Did his father feel fear?
From now on he was responsible for a single human life. He and Haruhi created a child. They were going to be a family.
Tamaki didn't want to think about the complicated situation anymore. At that moment he had a steady resolve to do his best and to succeed to provide a good future for his child. He wasn't going to let his grandmother rule his life. If he was going to work hard for his future then so be it.
Nobody was more important than his new family. He wasn't going to let them down. This little baby girl, this infant, was the most precious thing in the entire world. As her father he wasn't about to let anything happen to her. He will care and love her as much as he cared and loved her mother.
"Crying again?" Kyouya's voice broke his reverie.
"I'm not crying." Tamaki calmly wiped his tears away. He smiled at his best friend's reflection. "We never had any secrets before, Kyouya."
The dark-haired Ohtori smiled wryly. He adjusted his glasses. "Are you still mad over the whole thing?"
"I'm not," the blond shook his head. "You have your reasons. What I would appreciate is if you'll explain them to me."
Kyouya was silent for a long time. He cleared his throat and started calmly. "Nine months ago you signed a contract and left for France. We found out about her pregnancy two months later and you were already gone. You told me to look after her so I did."
"Did you really have to propose to her?" Tamaki asked slowly.
"I had to. Like you, I was forced by my family to go after her. My father holds the young woman who stood up to him in high esteem. I was aware that you weren't free from the Suoh clan yet so I made up my mind. If it took you four years to gather enough wealth to marry her, so be it. If it took you four years to impress your clan, so be it." The shadow king's voice was soft. He felt a pang of pain in his heart but he continued on.
"I was willing to put my name on the line for you. I was going to safeguard her until the right time," Kyouya smiled at the irony. "My father urged me to steal her from you so I gave him a show. But I was going to defy him in the end when I was sure that Haruhi will be safe with you and I will be safe from him. How stupid can you get?"
"Very stupid," Tamaki agreed.
The best friends caught each other's eyes. They started laughing. It was an uncontrollable laughter that bubbled up from their hearts and souls. The beautiful sounds made the nurses look up with smiles.
"What will you name her?" Kyouya asked after a while. His gaze settled on the baby. "Don't name her anything stupid, okay?"
Tamaki leaned on his best friend's shoulder and sighed. "No, the choices aren't stupid… Kyouya, I'm sorry for my actions."
"You'd better be," the shadow king smirked. "You're paying for everything."
The blond host club king shrugged. His violet eyes were earnest. "What shall we do now?"
"I have a plan."
The ominous glint from Kyouya's glasses was the most reassuring thing he'd ever seen.
She saw flowers when she opened her eyes.
The morning light blinded her for a moment before her gaze focused on the large and full vase of flowers sitting on top of the bedside table. They were a beautiful bunch of roses of every colour.
Wincing with slight pain, Haruhi sat up. She gasped. The private hospital room that she occupied was filled with bouquets of flowers, balloons and stuffed animals. It was chaotic to say the least.
She wondered what she should do with all the stuff that she received from her best friends. A grunt caught her attention. She realized that Tamaki was sleeping with his head on her bed. His back was covered with a light blanket.
Tamaki was woken up by her stare. He gave her a long slow smile that made her heart melt. "Good morning," he said in a husky voice.
"Good morning," she replied. The dark-haired girl still hadn't gotten over the shock. Her hazel eyes softened when she saw the nametag attached on the first bouquet that she saw. "Thank you for the flowers."
"Everybody sent one," he said conversationally "and the toys are from Honey-senpai. He thought that our baby will love to have company."
Haruhi stopped to stare at him. It sounded so new and so surprising to her ears. She remembered the events from last night. Her hazel eyes widened. "I just gave birth."
"That you did," laughed her boyfriend.
"Is she healthy? Is she pretty?" she asked in a rush. Her heartbeats accelerated when she realized that she hadn't seen her child. He laughed again.
"Why don't you see for yourself?" Tamaki got up to let the nurse in. On the arms of a pretty nurse lay a pink bundle. His violet eyes softened and even welled up as he watched her hold out her arms to receive her newborn daughter. The awed and loving expression on her face made him love them even more.
The nurse exited the room after leaving a few instructions.
Haruhi scooted aside to give Tamaki some space. He sat down right beside her on the bed and wrapped a comforting arm around her shoulders. She didn't move away when he kissed her temple. Instead she focused on the tiny upturned face.
"She's got my hair," she murmured breathlessly. Her whole body was trembling with excitement. She brushed a finger through the smooth little cheek. "She's so beautiful…"
"I'm sorry," Tamaki said gently.
Haruhi smiled. "I know."
Comfortable silence followed.
The two lovers turned to look at each other at the same time. They leaned in for a long and languorous kiss. It was the kiss that bound them together; it felt like it would last forever.
Tamaki broke away as gently and slowly as he could. Her eyes were filled with tears. Brushing her damp hair away from her face, he kissed her forehead too. His voice was smooth and soft. "I love you, Haruhi."
"I love you too," she said softly. They smiled to cherish the moment.
"What shall we name her?" Tamaki asked tenderly. He believed that names contained powers. It was necessary to choose a good name for a child of destiny. "I was thinking of a couple of French names…"
"Be kind to your child," Haruhi chided. She laughed at his stricken expression. That was the look that stole her heart. "Giving her two or more names will give her a headache. We don't want her to suffer! Let's stick to something simple but powerful."
"Hmm… What's your favourite flower?" he asked, rubbing the back of his head.
"Tsubaki," she replied simply.
"It's the camellia flower, right?" Tamaki almost laughed aloud. "Did you know that it's my favourite name- Camille- too? It's so French and so elegant."
She gave him an incredulous look before smiling sweetly. Her hazel eyes were thoughtful. "I read a novel about a talented French woman who held the heart of a king the other day… She was nicknamed Reinette. I think it sounds nice."
"Reinette Tsubaki," Tamaki tried it out. It sounded good to his head. Just as he was named- "someone who will be king"- he felt that his daughter deserved it too. "The Little Queen Camille is an excellent title. She'll be the princess of the Host Club and Queen of our hearts!"
"Aw, don't they look adorable?" Hikaru and Kaoru chorused. "The first family is together!"
"Hello baby!" Honey hopped down from Mori's back to look. He leaned over to take a peek at the newborn darling. Brown eyes stared. "What's your name?"
"We're still thinking about it," Haruhi replied, grinning.
"Oh, she looks like you Haruhi!" Hikaru observed. "That's good. She doesn't need to inherit the face of this idiot."
"Ah," Mori agreed.
"Tsubaki-chan," Honey laughed "you're very special."
Ryoji entered the room with Kyouya, Kasanoda and Megumi. Everyone was surprised to see the affable attitude of the bisexual father towards his long-lost niece. They were conversing naturally. Haruhi smiled and lifted her cheek for her father to kiss.
"Congratulations, baby darling." Ryoji said softly. His heart fluttered at the heart-warming sight of his only child now a young mother. He blinked back tears to banish the illusion that he was seeing Kotoko again. "You're a mother now…"
"Thank you Daddy." Haruhi smiled, blinking back tears. She allowed her father to take her baby out of her arms. The ecstatic look on his face made her heart melt. Ryoji liked being a grandfather already.
"He's happy," she whispered to Tamaki who nodded. The blond turned to Kyouya who was busily making an inventory of the presents. He noticed Megumi hovering in the background as though waiting for a chance to approach the new mother. With a grin, he kissed Haruhi's cheek and went to talk to his old friends.
Haruhi was completely taken by surprise when she saw another young woman. She half-expected Renge and Mei-chan to visit but she did not expect a stranger. Her eyes roved on the familiar oval face framed by a curtain of dark hair. Amber met hazel.
"Congratulations Fujioka-san," said the stranger. She reluctantly received an exquisitely dressed porcelain doll. "I'm Kanoya Megumi, your boyfriend's friend."
She frowned and thought hard. The name seemed familiar. It took her more than a minute to process the information. Her hazel eyes flashed changing from brown to fierce light green. "Tamaki kissed you in France, didn't he?"
"It was a goodbye kiss," Megumi explained smilingly "and it meant nothing. Tamaki-sama told me afterwards that he was very in love with you."
Haruhi followed the other girl's gaze. The young mother couldn't help but smile when she realized that Megumi was staring at Kasanoda. Tamaki was on another direction. The declaration calmed her somewhat.
Ryoji carried the baby closer to them. His buoyant and light-hearted demeanour made them all smile. "This is your cousin from France, Haruhi! She will be staying with us from now on!"
Her jaw dropped.
Tamaki turned to them, thoroughly shocked.
The bisexual relished their reactions. With a flourish, he announced. "I thought about it all night. Megumi-chan is so much safer with us than in a hotel. As your mother's niece and your cousin, she deserves some hospitality as a guest of the Fujioka home. And she agreed to help out with the baby."
The Host Club laughed when they saw Ryoji and Kyouya exchange smiles. That explained everything. No wonder they got along so well. No one was as devious as the shadow king.
Megumi smiled cheerfully. "I'd love to help out."
"Thank you," Haruhi murmured as she stared at her cousin. She never knew she had one. Staring some more, she realized that they looked somewhat alike. There was no question on their resemblance.
Megumi gave her a small smile before moving away to let Kasanoda talk to her. The redheaded young man smiled uncertainly before offering his congratulations.
"She keeps looking at you," Haruhi observed, sharp as always.
"She does?" The Yakuza heir looked astounded. He forced himself not to turn around to check. She suppressed a smile. "That's impossible!"
She giggled. "Kasanoda-kun, you were the one who sent me a rose on a pot. Thank you very much."
"I thought you'd like to have something that didn't die after three days," Kasanoda said, blushing. "Anyway, I'll go take a look at the flower if it needs some water. Take care of yourself."
Haruhi watched him pick up the small pot with a serious expression. He looked fierce and scary but he was so soft. It would be wonderful if he found someone who liked him for who he was… Her thoughts were interrupted when she heard a soft voice whisper on her ear.
Her hazel eyes met the bright blue orbs behind glasses. The dark-haired man smirked at her shocked expression. "You look rested. That's very good."
He was about to walk away when she grabbed his arm. The shadow king turned slowly to meet her gaze. Her eyes were full of grateful tears. "Thank you so much, Kyouya."
"It was nothing," he said softly, removing her hand. "Fuyumi-neesan sent a gift too. She would like to visit you before you went home."
Haruhi lowered her voice. "What about our engagement?"
"It still holds," Kyouya smiled charmingly. "I will not stop you if you want to walk away but I will not give myself the same privilege."
Her voice caught in her throat when she spoke, "Thank you…"
"Three, two, one…!"
Haruhi was suddenly surrounded by seven best friend, father, and cousin and baby daughter. They all smiled towards the direction of the camera in a nurse's hand. It was a precious moment, an unforgettable memory.
That single picture contained everything. Love and sadness, hardship and relief were reflected in their faces. Their bonds grew stronger and their friendships became deeper. They were the same people but they were different from who they were nine months ago. All of them grew up; all of them matured.
Everyone who ever saw it said that it was full of happiness. It was the most beautiful photograph ever taken of the Ouran High School Host Club.
What the picture didn't hold was what happened later.
Haruhi and Tamaki became parents to a baby girl they named Reinette Tsubaki Suoh. (And that was after they stuck to their original choice when they were presented with a long list of suggestions from friends and family.) But that did not mean they were officially a couple.
Marriage is out of the question. They didn't want to force the future. What they needed was the present. All that mattered was their happy relationship and their daughter.
Kyouya stayed as their best friend. He often acted as the little girl's second father. The shadow king safeguarded his friendship with Tamaki against all odds.
Hikaru stayed single. Kaoru continued his relationship with Renge much to everyone's surprise. The twins were comfortable with the fact that they were young men now and they have accepted that they can also have relationships. They doted on Haruhi's daughter without restraint.
Honey and Mori continued on to study in college. They offered lots of help to the Host Club by training up new candidates to fill in for them. The pair never forgot to extend a helping hand to their best friends. By and by, the magic of the duo became a legend in Ouran High School.
Kasanoda became a first-class host. He's less scary and more charming. His devastating appeal as a Yakuza heir added to his value. Every girl in school is infatuated with him. (What we don't know was if he will continue to stare at someone from afar. The Host Club believed that he should make a move.)
Megumi lived with Ryoji, Haruhi and Tsubaki after a while. She continued to attend Ouran and helped her cousin out. Her future remained undecided but that was how she liked it. Although surrounded by girls, Ryoji was happy. He worked hard to give them a good life while he could.
Tamaki's parents had a deeper and more loving relationship. Anne-Sophie gradually fought off the cancer. Yuzuru was still working on acquiring more influence and power to protect his loved ones from the wrath of the Suoh clan. He certainly didn't want his child and grandchild to be disowned without a fight.
As for the Suoh clan, they still believed that they were the greatest family. But they didn't know of the existence of a child born out of wedlock yet.
The future of the Ouran High School Host Club was not something for others to decide. They will shape their destinies with the same determination, stubbornness and hopeful faces.
Spring will come soon.
They couldn't wait to see what the future held for them.
Dear loyal and beloved readers,
Hi! Thank you for reading until the end. We've finally reached the end of our long and arduous journey together! Whew! That was a long story, wasn't it? I really liked writing it so I hope that you liked reading it too.
Baby is done but that doesn't mean it's over. I'm actually planning a sequel and it's on the works. Of course, I'm sure that sequels don't really match up to the original but I will do my best. It's a different story but it will definitely continue with the adventures of our beloved hosts. I'm sure some of you are excited to know what happened when they got the baby, who married who, what happened in university, etc. It will answer all of the questions and block all the loopholes! The sequel will take place right after this so please stay tuned.
I'm not very good with endings so I might change this in the future. Who knows? I've read enough crappy endings *coughHarryPottercough* so I don't want to give the same thing to other people. But for now, I'll hope you'll bear with me. I would've loved to continue Baby but it's best to leave it here.
The space below would be inadequate in naming all of the good and wonderful and encouraging people who helped and read the story. You know who you are! I would have loved filling up the space with all of your names but I know that a private message would be better. Thank you though for sticking with the story and never giving up on it. Thank you for cheering your favourite characters on, providing valuable insight and giving me the occasional flame. Thank you for your kindness and your generosity with your time and words. My thanks aren't enough really because you guys deserve so much. I love you guys and that's why I worked so hard. Hope you'll understand why I'm not naming names right now… Just wait for the PM and that will tell you everything!
I'll end my long letter with a hug and a kiss. Baby is a great story and I hope it will be counted as a classic in the Ouran fandom. For now I can sleep with the knowledge that we've done our best.
Love and kisses,
June 06, 2009; 2:30PM
P.S. If anyone would be so kind, can the artists/would-be artists draw fan-art? I would love to make a mini-LJ for the story and the fandom itself. Please and thank you. (Send it through email, okay?)