I know, I know, I have other stories that I ought to be working on, but this thing wouldn't leave me alone. Now that it's done, I can finally concentrate on something else. Besides, I've really fallen in love with Ouran, and Kyoya/Kaoru has quickly become my favorite pairing, so I'm happy to finally get it written.
Warnings: None really, unless you don't like shonen-ai, Kyoya/Kaoru or have some problem with the mention of Hika/Haru. Very minor angst.
Disclaimer: Don't own it. It's for fun. Enjoy. ^_^.
Reflections and Shadows
Kaoru blinked at his twin in befuddlement. Hikaru was just standing there, directly in front of him, grinning his mischievous 'little devil' grin as though he hadn't a care in the world.
"Hikaru, what are you doing?" Kaoru asked, reaching for his brother, only to find that Hikaru mimicked the action exactly. Kaoru pulled back before they could touch, and Hikaru did the same. Annoyed, Kaoru made an ugly face. Looking amused, Hikaru made it right back.
"That's enough, Hikaru," Kaoru said angrily, dropping his arms and silly faces in favor of a sour glare. "This isn't funny, so stop playing around."
Hikaru didn't say a word, but his smirk widened perceptively. Cocking his hips to one side, he planted his left fist on his hip and used his right to toss his bangs up, grinning like a madman.
And, to his own surprise, Kaoru found himself mimicking the movements exactly.
"The hell-?" he gasped. Hikaru shifted his pose again, and Kaoru's body followed along, despite his every desperate command to stop. It was as though Kaoru had been possessed by his brother, forced to mimic his every move – he rolled his hips when Hikaru did, tossed his head and winked roguishly in the same instant that Hikaru moved. The only thing about their bodies that wasn't perfectly synchronized was the looks on their faces – Hikaru smirked and chuckled and grinned like the expression was going out of style, completely obviously to the disbelief and horror that painted Kaoru's features.
In the back of his mind, Kaoru recognized this pattern, these gestures and thrusts that he was being forced through. It was the same routine that Hikaru always went through whenever he was overly satisfied with his latest fashion creation. He would put it on, show it off to whoever would listen, and then spend at least an hour indulging in the abject narcissism of posing in front of a full-length…mirror…
The realization hit Kaoru so hard, he felt as though he had been slapped. At that same moment, Hikaru reached out again and Kaoru did as well, barely muffling a cry of horror when his fingers finally touched cold, hard, clear glass.
"Hi-Hikaru!" he choked, pressing as hard as his body would let him, trying to break through the barrier that separated them. "Hikaru, it's me! It's Kaoru! Help me!"
But Hikaru couldn't hear him, nor did he seem to notice the tears that ran down his reflection's cheeks. Out of nowhere, Haruhi appeared at his side, stepping from the nothingness around them to wrap her arms around Hikaru's waist and rest her head on his shoulder.
The moment that Hikaru looked down at her, Kaoru was suddenly free from the spell that had held him in thrall. He threw himself at the glass and began pounding at it, begging for one of them to see him, to notice him, shouting, "Hikaru! Haruhi! Get me out of here, please! Hikaru!"
Haruhi turned to the mirror and smiled, not at Kaoru, but at her own non-existent reflection. She had extensions in her hair and make-up on her face, and she was wearing the dress that the twins had given her for her last birthday. The beautiful dress that they had designed Hikaru and Kaoru together, and made just for her, for their best friend.
"Haruhi…Haruhi, please," Kaoru begged, reaching for her, pressing against the glass with all of his might. "Can't you see me? I'm right here…I'm right here! Haruhi, please!"
But she couldn't see him any more than his brother could. Hikaru slipped an arm around her waist and whispered something in her ear, something that made her laugh. Kaoru couldn't resist the horrid fear that they were laughing at him, even though he knew that was impossible. Hikaru and Haruhi would never treat him that way, not ever.
His arm still wrapped around her petite little waist, Hikaru turned Haruhi around and began to lead her away, back into the empty nothingness from which they had both come.
"No…No, come back! Don't leave me here, please!" Kaoru cried, pounding on the glass with his bare fists. Ugly red splotches began to appear across the otherwise pristine surface, but Kaoru neither noticed nor cared. "Hikaru, Haruhi, please! Don't leave me here! Hikaru! Hikaru!"
Kaoru burst awake, suddenly aware of the voice that had been calling his name and the large, warm hands that still rested on his shoulders. Kyoya was crouched over him, missing his glasses and still looking only half-awake, focused, for the moment at least, on hauling Kaoru out of his dream and back into the real world.
Reality came back all at once as Kaoru finally remembered what had happened. It was winter break. The Host Club, at Tamaki's insistence, had journeyed to the Hokkaido region, to a combination hot springs and ski resort owned by the Morinozuka family.
Tonight, the second night of the trip, a freak thunderstorm had blown in from the south. Hikaru had slipped out of the twin's room at the first crash of thunder, determined to find and comfort Haruhi. With nowhere else to go and no one to hold him back, Kaoru had come here, to Kyoya's room. Kyoya's bed.
Kaoru realized, to his embarrassment, that he was crying. He sat up and rubbed at the tears furiously, only to have them replaced by new, thicker streams within seconds.
A strong hand moved into the small of his back, its partner pushing past Kaoru's arms to cup his chin. Kyoya pulled the smaller boy close and kissed him, soothing the terror away the only he knew how.
Kaoru relaxed, melting into his sempai's embrace, and sighed into the kiss. A comforting feeling of déjà vu folded around him like a blanket, further soothing his frazzled nerves. He knew this; this was familiar to him…
He had been crying the first time that Kyoya had kissed him, as well.
Contrary to the popular belief spread by his submissive Host Club act, Kaoru was not prone to tears. In fact, he rarely cried at all and would never dream of honestly shedding tears in public.
That was why he had hidden himself after Hikaru and Haruhi had announced their intention to become a couple to the rest of the Host Club. Everyone had been expecting it, except for Tono, and Hikaru had made Kaoru help him practice for the announcement, so it didn't come as any surprise. But seeing the two of them, his brother and his best friend, standing hand-in-hand and gazing deeply into each others' eyes as though they were the only two people in the world…It had hurt him, right down in the depths of his heart.
Kaoru had excused himself, slipping down the hall to an abandoned reading room, and had a good cry. It was a long time before anyone came looking for him, and the fact that it was Kyoya, of all people, had surprised him. In a good way.
Though, of course, it hadn't been nearly as surprising or as pleasant as the moment that the Shadow King had pulled him into a light embrace and captured his lips to soothe his worries away until he hadn't a care in the world…
Kaoru broke out of his thoughts and pulled a little away, looking into Kyoya's dark eyes with a sigh. "I'm sorry."
"I'm always crying when you kiss me," Kaoru laughed humorlessly, a few big tears splashing onto Kyoya's shoulder. "And I'm getting you all wet."
The corners of Kyoya's lips twitched up just slightly, his eyes flashing in the light of the next bolt of lightning. The image should have been frightening, like a vampire about to go in for the kill, but then he took Kaoru's hand and kissed it softly, and suddenly there was nothing to fear.
"I don't mind," he said simply, his lips brushing across the soft skin. "I don't mind at all."
It was an awkward thing to say, even when spoken by the confident Shadow King, and it wasn't romantic in the least. But it was honest and, coming from someone with as shady a nickname as 'Shadow King,' that meant more than anything.
Kaoru smiled and laughed again, most honestly this time, and kissed Kyoya gratefully. When they pulled away this time, Kyoya was brandishing a black silk handkerchief, indicating that Kaoru should clean himself up. The younger boy took the cloth and turned away, pretending to blow his nose on the cloth as noisily as he could, just to see if he couldn't make his sempai twitch.
Kyoya did not react, which, honestly, was to be expected. He rolled his shoulders, muffling a very slight yawn, and slipped his glasses. A glance at the glowing green clock on the bedside table revealed that it was a little after three in the morning. To be disturbed at this time of night by anyone else would have likely sent him into the rage of the Low Blood Pressure Evil Lord. However…
He turned, watching Kaoru's bare back as the redhead cleaned the remnants of the dream away from his face. There was something special about Hitachiin Kaoru, something that set him apart from even the rest of the Host Club, something that made him different than even his twin, something that Kyoya couldn't quite put his finger on.
Whatever this 'something' was, Kyoya had to wonder where and when Kaoru had acquired it, as he was certain that it had not existed for very long. There had been no trace of it when the two of them had begun this 'relationship' in that secluded reading room. Indeed, Kyoya had felt little, if anything, for the younger boy that day he had reached out to him. He had done so simply because his father had been dropping hints that a connection with the Hitachiin family could be profitable, and Kaoru just happened to show a moment of weakness for the Shadow King to take advantage of. To be fair, the relationship had proven fulfilling for Kaoru as well, and that fared well for the Host Club – keep Kaoru happy kept the ever-popular Brotherly Love act fresh in spite of Hikaru's budding behind-the-scenes relationship with Haruhi.
This…relationship...of theirs boiled down to nothing but a simple convenience that resulted in a decent return for all involved parties, and that was really all there was to it.
Except that, Kyoya realized now, that had all be a convenient lie.
If there was truly nothing to be gained from this but profit, then Kyoya's hear would not have fallen into the pit of his stomach when Kaoru had called out those names in his sleep. If their relationship had been nothing but a clever business strategy, he would not have had to fight the urge to recoil when he realized what the nightmare had pertained to, and the pained look in Kaoru's soft amber eyes would not have been enough to draw his comfort back.
There was more here than Kyoya had anticipated, more than profit or connections or family gain. There was something special about Hitachiin Kaoru, something that Kyoya desired more than he was willing to admit.
And there was jealousy.
Cold, burning, aching jealousy, which rose from the depths of Kyoya's shadow-black heart to lash out at Hitachiin Hikaru and Fujioka Haruhi
There was no way that Kyoya could deny how important Haruhi and Hikaru were to Kaoru. Hikaru, after all, was his beloved brother, and Haruhi was the girl who had coaxed the reclusive twins out of their private world, bringing them into the light where they could grow and become whatever they wanted.
Behind them, the best that Kyoya could hope for was third place. Always third place.
Hikaru. Haruhi. Kyoya.
Always the third best. Always only a third as precious as the other two, even in the eyes of the one that he wished to hold most precious of all.
That Kaoru would cry into the night for them, but not for Kyoya, even when it was Kyoya who was at his side…it burned. And Kyoya cursed himself for the pathetic weakness.
A crash of thunder rang through the building, shaking it to its foundations and jarring Kyoya from his thoughts. Kaoru had turned to return the handkerchief and was now staring at him curiously. His amber eyes had dilated in the darkness of the room, making the 'little devil' look deceptively innocent. Indeed, Kyoya found himself thinking in a rare moment of whimsy, he looked more like an angel. An angel who was just waiting to be swallowed by the darkness as of the Shadow King…
"Kyoya-sempai?" Kaoru asked softly, keeping his voice low so as not to disturb anyone else in the house. "Is something wrong?"
Kyoya mentally slapped himself, turning away from Kaoru sharply and pushing his glasses further up his nose to hide his eyes. "No. Nothing."
"You're lying," Kaoru noted neutrally. "Something is bothering you."
Kyoya cursed himself again. He should be better at lying than that, he was an Ootori. He was just lucky that this incident was not a crucial one…
"Is it…because of me? Am I bothering you, sempai?"
Kyoya stiffened and almost insisted that the other stop being so ridiculous. But then the room was suddenly lit by a bolt of lightning and the building trembled with the force of the thunder that followed after, and the words caught in Kyoya's throat. That's right – the only reason that Kaoru was here was because Hikaru and Haruhi had left him alone. That was the only reason. Kyoya was simply the most convenient person to go to at the time.
Kaoru waited in silence for a few long minutes before he finally sighed. "I…I see…"
The bedclothes shifted and the mattress squeaked as Kaoru pushed out of bed and onto his feet. "I'll just…go back to my room then. Leave you alone. I'm sorry to bother you…"
"Kaoru," Kyoya spoke before he could stop himself. "Let me ask you something."
Kaoru stopped, his bare feet sinking into the deep carpet. Even though they had their backs to each other, the space between them had a looming, abusive presence. "If Hikaru and Haruhi were to open their relationship to you…if they invited you into what they have…would you go with them?"
Kaoru's heart pounded in his ears at the very thought. He could see it all perfectly in his mind's eye – Hikaru and Haruhi reaching for him, shattering the glass that had kept him from them, pulling him out of his mirror world and into their light. HE and Hikaru, guarding Haruhi on either side, working together to lavish their attention on the only girl worthy of being loved by them both. The final picture was something very similar to his earliest Haruhi-centric fantasies. That was how he had always assumed that it would be.
But now…was that still what he wanted?
A small, bright beam, like a miniature lighthouse, flashed across his mind. The momentary burst sent a ripple down through every nerve in his body and, suddenly, he wasn't worried anymore. He knew the truth, the real truth, and it was so potent that he could not have hidden it if he had wanted to. The only thing that he could do now was be honest about it. Totally and completely honest.
"No. I don't think that I would."
Lightning flashed outside the window again, filling the silence that stretched between them ominously.
Kaoru took a deep breath, closing his eyes and unclenching his firsts.
"I think, if I were to do something like that, it would make me happy," he said softly, voice uneven, trembling and completely honest. "But I think that I would miss you too much for it to matter, sempai."
There was another long, painful silence, where the only sound in the room was the shifting squeak of the bed. Then, just as Kaoru was about to give up and leave the room, a warm shadow descended from the darkness and twisted around him like a protective cocoon.
Kyoya wrapped the bed sheet around Kaoru's small, trembling form, hooking his arms over the smaller boy's shoulder and slipping his hands through to touch the bare skin underneath. He nuzzled the sweet-smelling ginger hair and smiled softly when amber eyes turned back his way. "Come back to bed, Kaoru."
It took a moment, but a smile finally made its way across Kaoru's face. "Kyoya-sempai…"
Kyoya cut him off with a kiss, and Kaoru melted once again. Outside, the storm raged on, but neither one found that they cared to pay it any mind.
( - )
Kaoru dreamt the same dream just one more time.
All of the key elements remained in place, as though nothing had changed between this period of sleep and his last. He and Hikaru stood on opposite sides of a pane of glass, repeating each other's motions faithfully. This time, however, there was no fear, no desperation and no sense of being trapped. Kaoru reflected his brother's movements back at him simply because he wanted to.
And this time, when Haruhi appeared at Hikaru's side, Kaoru felt an arm wrap around his waist as well. He looked up, into the cool smirk of the ever-confident Shadow King, and sighed in satisfaction.
He rested his hands on the arm that circled his waist and leaned back into the warm embrace. He turned back to Hikaru and smiled happily. Slipping an arm around Haruhi's shoulders, Hikaru turned and smiled right back.
Finally, with one last affectionate glance and a knowing wink, the brothers stepped away from their mirrors, and finally set foot in the worlds of their own choosing.
When Kyoya woke for the second time, it took him quite a while to realize what brought him around. At first, he thought it might have been the sunlight that was starting to peak through the barely-open blinds. However, just as he was grunting in distaste, the true disturbance – a soft, pleasant sound – reached his ears again.
"Kyoya-sempai…" Kaoru sighed in his sleep, snuggling closer to the older boy. The sunlight alighted on the bright red strands of hair, giving him the appearance of some kind of playful fire spirit, which was only emphasized by the giddy smile that was stretching across his face. "Heh…Kyoya-sempai…"
In spite of himself, Kyoya smiled. Honestly smiled.
Gently, he brushed the vibrant locks away from the sleeping boy's face and planted a soft kiss on Kaoru's forehead.
"Sleep well," he whispered, then reached over and pulled the blinds to. The door was locked, so there wouldn't be any untimely interruptions now matter what Tamaki or Hikaru might get into their fool heads. Now that the storm had passed, there was more than enough time for them to stay here, hidden away by the cool shadows, and just savor the time alone.