Coffee and Snowflakes
A winter story from the Host Club
"Haru-chan! Haru-chan! Look what I can do!"
Haruhi Fujioka turned, a bit reluctantly, to watch the blonde-haired boy who was two years her senior swishing his arms and legs back and forth in a drift of glittering winter snow. Mitsukuni Haninozuka beamed up at Haruhi, looking for all the world like a five-year-old child who had just experienced his first snow. Has he really never made snow-angels before? Haruhi wondered. She gave him an obligatory grin, but it swiftly dissipated as soon as she noticed Tamaki Suoh, second-year and chairman's son, lying in the snow beside him.
"Snow-angels, I hear, are a favorite wintry pastime of the common folk!" Tamaki announced, flailing his arms and legs back and forth in the snow. He looked down at his creation in a satisfied way, then held up one finger to Haruhi as he remarked, "Not only do they make splendid folk art, but it's a wonderful way to keep warm without spending one's precious savings on expensive heating!"
"No one makes snow-angels for that reason, Senpai," Haruhi stated.
Tamaki stared back at her, a grin still plastered on his face, until a shadow loomed over him and he found himself gazing up at the thin figure of his best friend, Kyoya Ohtori.
"If you need a reason to try something you have never done before, don't make up bogus information," Kyoya said coldly, not bothering to look away from the calculations he was scribbling in his ledger. "Stop dragging your arms through the soil; there isn't enough snow where you're lying. You're uprooting all the flowers that were planted there for the spring. Any landscaping repairs that have to be made are going to be coming out of your pocket. If you want to play, go play on the sidewalk."
"Snowball battlefield!" Tamaki was smacked in the face with an explosion of frozen white powder as the twins, Hikaru and Kaoru Hitachiin, came running through his snow-angel, trampling the chairman's son underfoot.
"Snowball battlefield!" Hunny echoed, cupping fistfuls of snow into his bunny-shaped mittens and hurling them at Tamaki.
"Hey! How come I'm the only target?" spluttered Tamaki, his mood changing quickly from pathetic to enraged. "Take this! My snowball sans retour!"
All at once, Hikaru Hitachiin saw a speeding orb of doom hurtling towards him, and in one quick motion he threw himself sideways, dodging just in time for Tamaki's snowball sans retour to fly past his cheek and straight into--
"BUN-BUN!" Hunny shrieked.
In a split-second, Tamaki's eyes widened and his breath hitched in his chest. Hikaru glanced behind him and realized with dread the cost of his escape. And Hunny bolted, fast as lightning, to save his most treasured possession.
They were all too late.
Poff! The unsuspecting Bun-Bun, sitting happily in a patch of snow, went flying up in the air from the impact, caught at last by Hunny's outstretched arms.
Tears welled up in the third-year's bright blue eyes, and the sound of heavy footsteps reached Haruhi's ears as Takashi Morinozuka--Hunny's cousin, companion, and general caretaker--came running to his aide.
But Hunny's tear-stained eyes had become deep with fury, and they were fixed on Tamaki.
"You...hit...Bun-Bun," Hunny whispered in a dark tone, and a hush fell over the entire club. Even Haruhi could feel her heart pounding in sudden fear.
"Mitsukuni," said a quiet voice.
All heads turned to look at Mori, the only one who ever called Hunny by his real name and the only member of the host club who would dare speak to Hunny in his "dark" mode.
"Give me the rabbit," Mori said, holding out a hand that was almost bigger than Hunny's head.
"What?" Hunny demanded, skeptically. But before he could say anything else, Mori pulled the pink plush bunny from Hunny's grasp and wrapped it in his own wool scarf, soaking up the remnants of snow and rubbing the soft fabric to dry it off. Once this was done, he knelt in the snow and held the rabbit out to Hunny.
"He isn't hurt," Mori said.
Hunny took the toy in his arms and gazed down at it. "Oh," he replied. Then, suddenly, he smiled. "It's about time for me and Bun-Bun to eat some cake, don'tcha think, Takashi?"
"I think so," Mori affirmed, the hint of a smile on his lips.
Several feet away, Tamaki mopped his brow and let out a sigh of relief.
Haruhi watched as the host club members resumed their pointless frolic, Tamaki and the twins engaging in some sort of game while Hunny chattered away to the silent Mori. She sighed, her breath making a puff of steam in the cold air.
"Enjoying your day off, Haruhi?" a friendly voice asked.
"Kyoya-senpai," Haruhi noted his presence. "Um...actually, I'm kind of surprised that you're doing this. It doesn't seem very profitable to take a day off just because of the snow."
Kyoya laughed, his eyes betraying his amusement at the younger girl's blunt words. "You're right," he said, taking his glasses from his face to rub the fog from the lenses. "This was Tamaki's idea, of course. I would never ordain something so wasteful. But don't commoners like this sort of thing?"
Haruhi ignored his obvious prejudice, used to the rich men's talk by now. "Well, I used to play in the snow when I was little, I guess. I don't really like the winter months all that much, though. It's bothersome to be outside when it's so cold."
Kyoya chuckled. "Is that so?" he mused, glancing up at the dead branches of trees laden with icicles and glistening snow. "The winter months are a necessary evil, Haruhi. Look at the trees. In the spring, those branches will be covered with the beauty of the cherry blossoms. But today, even in the frozen air, they are made beautiful by the snow--wouldn't you say so?"
He smiled gently at Haruhi, who gazed back at him half in wonder, her brown eyes wide and attentive.
"That's an odd thing for you to say, Kyoya," Haruhi stated. I'd expect it if he was hosting, but not on his time off...
"Is that so?" Kyoya repeated softly. It was all he said about the matter, though. The two stood together as a few scattered snowflakes fell from the sky and spiraled down to the ground. Haruhi shivered, shoving her hands deep into the pockets of her plaid winter coat. A chill wind crept through the courtyard and seeped through her clothes.
Kyoya glanced down at her momentarily. "Cold?" he asked. "You ought to have come more prepared for the weather, Haruhi. Don't you take the train in the morning?"
Haruhi felt something warm and heavy around her shoulders, and she realized that Kyoya had taken off his black overcoat and was offering it to her. "Kyoya-senpai, you don't have to--"
"Nevermind that. As I said, you should come more prepared." He finished draping the coat carefully around Haruhi's shoulders, then looked away, his distant gaze fixed on the snow-laden trees. Haruhi snuggled her arms further into the coat while he wasn't looking, grateful for the warmth that it brought.
"Thank you," she murmured.
They stood together silently. Haruhi felt a strange peace of mind, one that so rarely came about while she was with the host club. Kyoya's company seemed agreeable enough, if not a little frightening at times. Haruhi decided that while all the hosts en masse were hard to deal with, she could handle one host at a time.
The smallest breath of warm air passed before Haruhi's face, and suddenly she caught the fragments of a familiar aroma in her nostrils. She turned around questioningly.
Mori held out a steaming mug for Haruhi. "Do you like coffee?" he asked in a solemn way.
Haruhi accepted the gift happily. "Yes. Thanks, Mori." She smiled appreciatively.
"It's instant," Mori said with the trace of a smile.
Haruhi laughed. It might have been because of the reminder of her very first days working for the host club, or simply because of Mori's practical way of being kind. But whatever the reason, it felt good to laugh--like it was warming her from the inside.
"It's perfect," Haruhi told him, taking a sip from her mug.
Mori held out another mug for Kyoya and took the third for himself, content to stand behind Haruhi and view the wintry scenery with her. Haruhi felt the shivery cold leaving her body as she soaked in the warmth of Kyoya's coat and Mori's coffee, and the warmth of the soft, unspoken friendship that lingered in the air around the three of them. I'm lucky, Haruhi thought with a smile.
And though she did not realize it at the time, it may have been the first time in her life that she truly thought so.
"Haru-chan! Kyo! Takashi! Watch what me and Bun-Bun can do!"
The snow was falling steadily now, and Hunny was twirling around tirelessly with his stuffed bunny, opening his mouth wide to catch snowflakes on his tongue. The snowflakes flurried around him, dancing, all shapes and sizes.
"I caught one!" The third-year smiled up at his friends in excitement and elation. "It's just like eating sweets! Try it, Kaoru!"
Hikaru and Kaoru joined Hunny in a game, and Tamaki, worn out from the twins' antics, came over to join the three quietest members of the host club.
"Having a good time, Haruhi?" Tamaki asked breathlessly, smiling. "It's a great day, isn't it?"
Haruhi returned his smile. "Yeah." It is nice.
They watched as the snow tumbled down from the bright winter sky, the cold air made warm around them.