A/N: Last chapter. Thank you to all who've read and reviewed, it's been my pleasure! Hmm, what to do next... Anyways, tell me your thoughts on this, I love suggestions. Thanks
All characters © Hatori Bisco
It was a quiet lunch break at Ouran for freshman Fujioka Haruhi, and that was just the way she liked it. No prodding Host Club boys to give her a throbbing headache, no querulous rich bastards to criticize her measly "commoner's lunch." Just herself, this bench, and the whisper of fall leaves as they danced around her feet in a graceful ballet.
And her cellphone.
Haruhi put down her bento and sighing, reached into her pocket to see who could be calling her during school hours. She frowned after flipping open the phone and observing the caller ID printed in little black letters.
"Is there a reason you are calling me now, Kyouya-senpai?" the female member of the Host Club asked without even bothering to greet him. It was as if she was unable to escape their clutches, all because of a stupid, garish 8,000,000 yen vase that no one would want to buy anyway.
"How rude," a frosty voice replied on the other end. "A simple hello would suffice, O Haruhi who is indebted to us eight million yen."
"Good afternoon, Kyouya-senpai," Haruhi said flatly, slumping in the bench. "On what auspicious occasion do I owe the pleasure?"
A chuckle. "That's more like it, but next time you can exclude the sarcasm." Kyouya paused on his end. "Haruhi," he began. "I actually have a proposition for you."
"A proposition?" Haruhi's voice became interested.
"Yes," he replied urbanely. "The weather forecast for this afternoon looks a bit rainy, with possible thunderstorms. I'm willing to dismiss you from club activities this afternoon, if you desire."
Of course the data-master would have known about her fear of lightning. "But at what cost, Kyouya-senpai?" Haruhi asked dryly, with a roll of her eyes.
Kyouya's lips twisted into a smile that pulled up the right side of his mouth. "You're getting to know me all too well, Haruhi."
"I'm just afraid of the consequences of missing an afternoon. I will have to decline your proposition, senpai," she replied into the phone, with an authoritative note to her voice.
"But, are you prepared to face the other consequences?"
Haruhi bit her lip unconsciously, gazing skywards. Indeed, there were thick, tenebrous clouds rolling overhead. A little lightning was not going to stop her; she had to face it sooner or later. "I'll be there after school."
"Alright," Kyouya sighed. "Good day, Haruhi." He snapped his tiny cell phone shut and shook his head. Underclassmen were so predictable.
"Haruhi-kun, what's the matter?" Kurakano Momoka asked her host suddenly stiffened.
"Ah, it's nothing, Kurakano-san," Haruhi answered, giving the girl a dazzling smile. However, her fingers clutched her teacup tightly, anticipating the next rumble of thunder. Tamaki eyed her fretfully from across the room, well aware the reason of her concern.
Kurakano, the freshman class's Vice-Class Rep, gazed mournfully out of the sash windows, where the rain was sheeting down noisily. "Dreadful weather, isn't it?" she remarked.
"What a shame," another one of Haruhi's designators agreed sadly. Thunder growled from the sky outside again, only louder. Haruhi felt a bead of sweat snake its way down the back of her neck. She swallowed convulsively and took a few deep breaths.
"Are you sure you're not ill, Haruhi-kun? You look all clammy," a guest noted. Haruhi opened her mouth to protest, but found herself behind a mop of golden-blonde hair before she could.
"Actually, Haruhi's not feeling that well," Tamaki truncated loudly, resting a hand on her shoulder. "If you don't mind, will you please come back tomorrow?"
The girls found themselves unable to resist those deep blue eyes and nodded with blushes tinting their cheeks.
"Feel better, Haruhi-kun!" they chorused as Tamaki led Haruhi into the next room and shut the door. Once there, Haruhi plucked Tamaki's hand from her shoulder and folded her arms.
"You didn't have to do that, senpai," she miffed. "I can take care of myself."
"Idiot!" Tamaki frowned. "It's going to lighting any minute now. What were you going to do?" His eyes softened after a minute.
"I don't want you to be afraid."
At this Haruhi had nothing to say. Wordlessly, Tamaki reached into his pocket and produced a CD player and headset that looked oddly familiar.
"It's Hikaru's," he said, thrusting the object into her hands. It'll help you block out the noise, and there are some extra quilts in the closet if you want."
He gave her a silent, unreadable look and left, turning on the lights as he did. Haruhi was left standing in his silence, holding the music player. She found the power switch and, after a moment, placed the headphones over her ears.
"Tono, if you pace any more you'll wear a hole through the floor."
"I can't help it!" Tamaki exploded to Kaoru, who had an equal concern written on his features. Hikaru was even more sullen, golden eyes brooding as another ear-shattering crack of lightning lit up the sky. "What if our daughter is scared and trembling like a little lost puppy right now?"
"Well, it was her decision to stay," Kyouya said pointedly, adjusting his glasses.
"But I still feel bad for her," Honey-senpai piped up. Mori added an "ah," in agreement. "Do you think we should check up on Haru-chan?"
"We can't until all of our guests leave," Kyouya responded, gesturing to the handful of girls that were still left. It had been quite a while since the storm had picked up, and Tamaki was extremely close to pulling tufts of his hair out by the handfuls.
Thankfully it was not long before the guests departed, and the six hosts were soon left alone in the music room with the rain drumming against the window. The twins and Tamaki hastily made their way to the door to the next room, Mori, Honey, and Kyouya following suit.
"Haruhi? It's okay, Daddy's here," Tamaki crooned through the door. Silence answered him.
"H-Haruhi?" He placed a tentative hand on the door and pushed. "…Oh…"
Wrapped snugly in a thick mauve quilt so that only her head protruded, Haruhi lay curled up on the settee, sleeping. The large headphones covered her ears like earmuffs, the soft tinkling of music just barely audible through the insulation. Her hair was slightly mussed and her lips were parted. Black shoes had been kicked off and lay upturned on the floor as Haruhi slept, her unaware of the six hosts that crowded around her.
For a while no one said anything. "So cute," Tamaki whispered in a choked voice after he could manage something coherent. The twins blushed discreetly, having never seen their classmate so asleep and vulnerable before.
"Aw, Haru-chan's sleeping!" Honey exclaimed.
"Should we wake her?"
Kyouya pushed thick dark hair from his brow. "No," he replied to the twins. "At least not until the storm lets up."
"What's this, Kyouya? Being generous?" Tamaki asked, surprised and slightly sarcastic.
"Dream on, idiot amongst idiots," Kyouya replied with a glasses-push. "I only mean that it would be more troublesome for us if we woke her up while there was still lightning."
Tamaki rolled his eyes. "That's more like it," he sighed.
"Now that there's nothing more to see, let's all go into the other room," he ordered quietly. The others complied and shuffled out, each sparing one last glance at the sleeping host.
After everyone had exited, only Tamaki remained.
"Fujioka Haruhi," he murmured, not aware that he had spoken aloud. He stared at her face, free of the worry-lines that continuously plagued it. Reaching over, Tamaki gently pulled the soft mauve quilt up so that it covered her shoulder once more, for it had fallen down. She didn't stir and only breathed evenly.
He cast his eyes upon her face for a moment longer before he too left the room.