"Fine Line"

"There is nothing more dreadful than the habit of doubt. Doubt separates people. It is a poison that disintegrates friendships and breaks up pleasant relations. It is a thorn that irritates and hurts; it is a sword that kills" - Buddha

Chapter 38: Fine Line Between Love and Lust

Ootori watched out of the corner of his eye as Marui approached Kumiko, whose face blared red as usual when he got close enough. Seeing them turn to head to a private table of their own, Ootori turned back to his customer, as there was nothing else that he can do now.

He smiled and whispered shyly to the girl whilst refilling her glass, making sure not a single drop was wasted.

An hour later, her time slot with him came to an end and he bid her goodbye, having accompanied her into the elevator and all the way out onto the streets. Turning to head back, he saw Niou leaving the building doors as well, also accompanying his customer out.

Ootori decided to wait for the other silver-haired man, seeing as he had nothing else to do upstairs and so Niou would not have to wait for the elevator to arrive.

"Thanks, Ootori." Niou said as he stepped through the elevator doors before pressing the close button.

"You're welcome." Ootori smiled.

They were silent for most of the trip back up of this majestically tall building. The only sounds were that of the elevator gears whirring away in a muted, smooth echo.

"Niou-san, did you know that Ishimaru-san nominated Marui-san as her host?" Ootori began quietly, staring off to his side; his reflection looked back at him somberly from the elevator walls.

Niou leant against the cold wall, a lazy slouch accentuating his posture. "Yea. Hard not to know with Gakuto going about talking about it." He did not understand what the hype was about- then again, Gakuto had a knack for gossip around the club. He just seemed to like spreading any new happenings around, in addition to Atobe. He eyed the demure man across from him. "Why?"

Ootori shook his head, silver strands brushing across his skin. "Nothing just…."

Niou raised an eyebrow and waited for him to continue.

"I think Ishimaru-san likes Marui-san." He recalled the time that girl, Ruriko, kissed Marui in front of Kumiko. And then Kumiko's reaction after. Those were definitely tears that streaked her cheeks, and not water remains from when she washed her face.

A short silence between them. And then…

Niou could not help the short chortle that bubbled up from within. "She does!"

Ootori frowned at him, worry etched into his features. "But you know about our club rules!"

Niou waved a hand, brushing off the matter. "Marui can deal with it on his own. You don't have to worry about it."

"It's not about Marui-san!" Ootori bit his lip as Niou looked at him in slight surprise. It was a rare occurrence that Ootori would raise his voice.

The elevator dinged and the doors slid open. Niou stepped out and Ootori followed close behind. Abruptly, the long-haired silver head stopped in his tracks, forcing the other younger host to stop as well.

"This is something we deal with often, Ootori. You should know that by now after all the time you spent working here." None of that usual mirth was contained in Niou's voice. The blue-eyed man recalled all the times and various confessions he received from customers, and all the many different women and girls who confessed to other hosts as well- all left with their hearts broken. "You faced several of this yourself."

Ootori tried to say something, anything, which can possibly reveal the conflict he was feeling to Niou and hopefully obtain some sort of help from him. "I know but…Ishimaru-san is so….." He trailed off. He didn't want to sound like he had affections for the girl; and he really didn't. Even if he did, it was against club rules for host-customer relationship to go anything beyond what was necessary. He knows that even with a man like Niou, who actually blesses the customers with their requests for…other more shady and sexual activities and accepts their lavish gifts (something which he does not do- it is against his honor), his feelings never traversed out of the area of host-customer business; never had there been any cases of host-customer relations blooming into love.

He expected that the one Marui and Kumiko held would be the same. He did not doubt it.

Kumiko would be left with a broken heart.

And that was what bothered him. For some reason, he felt that if Kumiko got her heart broken, she would never get back up.

She wasn't as strong as the other women and girls.

Ootori sighed and shook his head, clearing his thoughts. "You're right."

He should try and forget about this…it wasn't really his business. And he hardly knew Kumiko anyways…perhaps he is wrong about her weak spirit.

And he recited one last prayer in his head before stepping into the club room that he is.

Niou rolled his eyes at Ootori as he passed. "You're too nice for you own good, piyo~"

Ootori just smiled and proceeded to his other duties.

"And then he dropped the whole tray! Can you believe it?" Marui exclaimed, shaking his head in dismay. "He got a hell of a lecture from Sanada after that."

My eyebrows tiled and my lips slanted as I listened. "Poor Kuwahara-san…it wasn't his fault."

"That's what I thought too but there wasn't anything we could do. Sanada scares the crap out of all of us."

Marui just kept talking and talking about the hosts, the clubs, the other clubs, food, drinks, Jackal, Atobe's mole and every other topic that exists under the heavens except for anything that pertains to us.

He'll expertly slide the topic somewhere else if I even try to ask him something about him; like what did he feel about Club Prism.

He won't even let me ask who's his favorite movie artist.

I figured it was because of what occurred between us and I expected this reservation from him when I came tonight. But I had no idea how steep it had suddenly gotten since my last visit.

It was horrid. I was at a loss of what to do.

So far I had just been going with the flow, letting chatter about whatever he wanted and do whatever he felt like doing. Go to the bar, head into the game room, play pool…anything. But the whole time my mind was elsewhere, trying to rack up some sort of idea or plan. Apparently, I am not the best at coming up with ideas or preparing beforehand it seems.

"Marui, about that ni-" He let out an overly exuberant cheer. "Oooh! I forgot! Jackal came up with a new cake recipe the other week. You should go and try it!"

I sighed internally as I followed after him to where Jackal was.

Attempt number 8: failed.

As time dragged on and the time my session with him was to end approached, my heart dimmed further and further. It seems like I wasn't going to get my chance tonight.

Doubt grew stronger in my heart; I probably will not get any chances or success on other nights either, if tonight was anything to go by.

On my last attempt to bring up the topic, I thought I saw Marui's eyes flash with annoyance…perhaps even anger. He must be getting sick of my persistence. I forced down the wry smile that wanted to break out on my face, when I thought of the irony of the situation. When I initially met and was getting to know him, I found him really persistent as well….it seems like our roles has switched.

How long has it been since I first met him? 3 months? 4 months? Perhaps even 6 months?

I've lost count.

My eyes drifted to the clock.

10 minutes.

10 minutes left before my session with him tonight was up. I will have to come another night…

A brisk sigh left Marui's lips from his seat across from me. Without warning, he got up and pulled me up along with me. "M-Marui?" He led me away from the main lounge and into one of the more secluded halls.

His pace was tense, and I had to jog a little to keep up with his strides.

We entered one of the miscellaneous room that was empty; soft couches of high quality were placed around, several glass tables and a bar along with a mini fridge.

Marui walked forward into the centre of the room, whilst I stood awkwardly nearby the door, leaning against the wall.

I did not understand why he brought me here, and judging by his stiff posture, it probably wasn't good. Panic simmered around within me as I waited for Marui to...say or do whatever he needed to.

He sighed suddenly, shoulders drooping down. He looked like a man who was tired, tired of life. Running a hair through his already messy read hair, he gave me a sideward glance. I looked down.


My heart sinked at his formal tone.

He seemed to have noticed my upset expression, for he sighed yet again before facing me fully. "Kumiko-chan…"

I hesitantly forced my eyes up to meet his gaze.

"Stop coming back to Club Prism."

My heart stopped and my body froze.

S-stop coming…back?

But why?

I opened my mouth in an attempt to voice my question and confusion, but no words would come out.

Marui's eyes softened when he saw my goldfish-out-of-the-bowl state, and he seemed to hesitate for a moment. But then his eyes closed and he shook his head. Reopening them, his gaze has hardened.

"Just…don't come back," his voice faltered, revealing what his eyes usually expressive eyes would not.

"…why?" My voice barely came out above a whisper, and it felt like it was lost to the suddenly very oppressive room.

My hands suddenly became sweaty and clammy as anguish washed over me and Marui just stood there looking at me as if I was supposed to understand.

Kumiko was a nice girl, and I truly enjoyed the times I spent with her.

So why?

Why did she have to suddenly say she liked me?

It just made things so awkward!

It used to be fun; fun hanging with her, talking to her, making her laugh, making her blush and stammer…

It wasn't fun anymore.

She was supposed to be different from the other customers. To me, she was supposed to be different from the other women and girls that came here.

But then she said that that night.

And then she became like the rest of them. And I thought of Ruriko.

She was becoming like Ruriko.

…I rejected Ruriko too.

Yet she came back. Like what Kumiko is doing now.

It made being a host not fun anymore.

Looking at them and leading them on; it totally killed the pleasures of being a host.

I was supposed to make them happy, make them feel loved and wanted. But I had to make all the women who came here happy.

I could not be exclusive.

Being exclusive will make it hard to do my job. I surely could not charm another woman if all I had in my mind was the thought of another girl.

And I supposed that was why the Club Prism rule was in place. In fact, this rule is levied in probably all the host clubs in the country.

So why did they not get it? Did they ever read the rules and regulations brochures? Do they even bother?

I doubted it.

But I thought that Kumiko of all people would have, being the cautious and wary girl that she is.

My body remained stock-still, but my lips quivered as I waited Marui's response.

Moments of silence passed and yet he said nothing.

So I repeated myself, but my voice still hadn't fully returned.


The steely gaze has dissipated from Marui's eyes, and he looked at everywhere and anywhere but at me.

"It's…hard to explain." He spared me a glance. "Just don't come back. It makes things easier. For both of us."

For…both of us?

For both of us?

Did he not mean for him?

H-how can it ever be easier for me to not come back here?

Thoughts of him will stalk me, memories of him will haunt me and I will only miss him!

And suddenly, I realized just how much I have grown attached to this unbelievable man.

The idea of never ever coming back, never ever seeing him again… this idea that has never grazed my thoughts as real until now sent a wave of panic across my mind. I had entertained this thought before, following the days of my confession. But they didn't seem as solid as now, in the face of his demand of me to never come back.

He is the first man that I ever fully opened my heart to, give my heart to.

I didn't just like him.

I loved him.

And then my mind reeled.

I really love my job and life as a host. It brought me great satisfaction and pleasure somehow, whenever I brought a smile to the faces of women: from despairing housewives to crying secretaries…it made me happy that I am able to wipe that frown and tears off their faces.

And it saddened me to have to break their hearts if it came down to it.

But I had to, regardless of what I feel. Because it was wrong to lead them on, and because I will never feel the same way towards them. For through all the times I have spent with them, I have done so with a platonic train of thought.

Kumiko was the same…

…but then, it did not break my heart to say this to her.

It shattered it.

And I don't know why, but it probably had something to do with the fact that I am more attached to this oddball of a girl more than the others.

Under normal circumstances, she might have been my girlfriend already.

But I am a host. And she is a customer.

And rules are made to be obeyed, no matter what Niou says. That, and because Sanada's slap is not worth it for anything.

But that is not the only reason. There will be many more women in the future who will come here, seeking solace and reassurance.

The happiness of hundreds of women….to that of one girl…

It was a huge price to pay.

Our society is cruel. Time has made people cruel and oblivious to the needs of other people, focusing only on the needs of themselves and those immediate to them. To me, hosts and hostess's are people who has given their time to looking after those who society turns a blind eye on.

And there will certainly be more people out there who needs our attention.

I cannot be exclusive, not even to Kumiko.


What is love?

Is this what love feels like? This pain, this anguish that overwhelms when the thought of losing the one dear to you…is this what love is?

I loved my cat. But I had never felt so much pain when it died. And Marui isn't even dead.

And I love my parents. But I never felt this whenever they left me for long periods of time. But then I know they will never leave me.

And here…Marui is asking me to leave him. He is asking me to never come back, and that in essence is asking me to never see him again.

I…I can't do that!

I don't think I can!

My eyes stung, and before I knew it, a certain wetness similar to the one I felt so many, many, many nights ago when Ruriko kissed Marui made itself known to me.

When he noticed this, Marui turned to look at me but I couldn't decipher anything about what he was thinking or feeling; not through the haze clouding my eyes anyways.

I doubt I would have been able to understand him even without the haze anyway…

I couldn't read him at all. I never did figure him out.

And yet, I adore him so much.

I…love(?) him…

I saw so many girls break down before, being rejected by the boys of their dreams or dumped by their boyfriends.

My shaky hands rose up slowly, to rub at my eyes.

I always told myself that I will never be like them, so foolish. I never wanted to make a fool of myself, never wanted to be a fool.

A sob escaped me.

But as of right now, I sure as hell am a fool.

It was foolish of me to have fallen for this man.

As a result, I could not prevent the break down that followed. A sure result of any fool's actions.

Kumiko started crying.

And I hoped in my heart that with this she will quickly run, run out of here and never look back. So that I do not have to deal with a crying her.

Because I did not know what to do.

For the first time in my career as a host, I did not know what to do with a sobbing female. This was supposed to be my specialty, and I am supposed to know the cure for it.

But the difference was that this time, I am the cause. I cant possibly be the cause and the cure!

I was already tense and sad, nervous and agitated by all of this. And then she started sobbing more.

"No…no…" The words left her like a mantra, soft murmurs that continued to attack my ears and my whole being.

The gum in my mouth turned stale.

I spat it out carelessly onto the carpeted floor. Atobe will surely be angry when he finds out.

But right now, I was too annoyed, bothered, agitated and edgy to care.

I heard Marui's footsteps through the dull noise that was my crying. And I pressed my hands to my ears, snapping my eyes shut with all my might to try and drown out the sound and sight of him.

Calm, calm, calm, calm—calm!

I tried to calm myself down. I…never felt so disordered before!

That fine line that was my life and myself…it has been chopped up into little bitty dots and scattered to the wind.

And that wind is Marui.

I felt a pressure on my shoulder, and when I realized it was Marui's hand, I panicked even more. And when I heard his voice, I panicked so much more that I started shaking my head.

I was losing it.

Scratch that, I already lost it.

I never been through something like this before, never felt love before, never been rejected before…it was all new and foreign to me.

I might as well have been plucked off from this universe and stuck into another such as Star Wars or Lord of the Rings.

Oh shit…why did I have to think of that stupid movie with that stupid ring which messed with people's heads? That was the exact same movie we watched before that stupid Ruriko kissed that stupid Marui and…

Why? Why did I have to make things so difficult for myself?

Why could I not think for myself and protect myself from this pain?

A part of my heart screamed out for Aya right now. The other part screamed that Yura was right.

I did not even notice the mantra of "No" that left me. Marui sure as hell did.

For through my cacophony, he told me to stop crying and calm down.

And something like anger surged through me. Calm down? How could he tell me to calm down? How can he have the nerve to tell me that? He is the cause of all this!

I only cried louder.

I didn't even care if others heard. They probably didn't for we were too far off.

"Damn it Kumiko! I said calm down!"

And then I tasted that familiar flavor again, and smelled that familiar scent more than before.

Marui pressed his lips to mine, one of his hands around my waist and the other above the nape of my neck, holding me to him.

He was not gentle, neither was he harsh.

He just…held me against him.

And I calmed.

The sobs died out and the tears slowly ran dry.

My eyes slowly opened, surprised at how easily he sent me into panic mode and then made me sober again.

This was a testament in itself, at how much effect he has on me.

I let my eyes slid close once again, allowing myself to relax in his hold and his kiss.

If he truly wanted me to never come back, then at least enjoy this while it lasted.

And it truly did not last for long.

Seeing that I have calmed, Marui parted his lips away from mine. Lavender eyes glimmered in the light with an emotion I could not decipher.

My heart ached.

I wanted Marui so, so much.

I loved him so much.

And it seemed like Marui understood my thoughts and emotions.

And as if he had not caused me enough pain tonight, he just had to open his mouth again.

"You don't love me, Kumiko-chan."

I stared at him in silent surprise.

"You don't even like me."

I parted my lips to rebuke that, but he hushed me with a slender finger, gently pressing it against my lips. I wished that he had silenced me with a kiss instead.

Because that apple and wine flavor that always made me nauseous is very addictive.

"It isn't love that keeps you coming back here to see me, is it?"

I would have spoken, said that it is but he did not give me the chance.

"It is lust."

My eyes widened in confusion, fear, surprise and…reali...za…tion?

Err…Marui OOC much? OTL Depicting a canon character in love is hard…sigh. Since they never actually fall in love unless it is shown officially in the story and with another canon character =w= eheh, Kumiko is OOC too *baaawls*

Btw, anyone can suggest any good Sasori, Sai or Gaara stories to me? =( Preferrably series, and with an OC rather than...pink haired female dog or any other canon character XD; and perhaps good Persona 3 stories involving the FeMC as well? 3 I cant seem to find any good reads lately =(

Night Neko-Jin - ahaha nope, withdrawing is never fun XD feels like a part of your soul is being ripped off from you T_T

TheMadChatterKina- awww, I'm sure you will get your chance to go there one day =] I'm just lucky enough that my chance is now . and thank you for the review! *hugs*

PhoenixRage92- o.O You have a pretty...confident assumption of the action in 5 chapters there haha what made you think 5 chapters? XD and pssh, Niou has always been the villain. He is just subterfugin x.x Another kiss here just for you haha

kur-chan - haha I'm glad you liked it XD Thank you for reviewing 3

Lady Ladington- aww it ain Marui's fault. It is my fault, as God in this current universe, for making him this way XD besides, what fun is love when there are no complicated emotions? =( and I in fact do write KHR haha not a lot though. I have a Hibari one-shot up here, and a HibariOCMukuro series on my laptop...which I never actually uploaded x.x since I have no idea how I want to go about it even though I have the plot in my head X_X and I wanted to finish FL first haha not to mention I think Hibari fans will hate me for that fic, since Hibari goes through a lot of shit in there XD

demonsadist- ahaha I love how you spelled love as lav xD but thank you lol although I didnt see anything so impressive about Marui's reaction but...thank you anyways XD

Hoshi Hanabi- aww I hope you get to go soon! X.x

Cynaide- yea, sorry about the lack of action in the last one. I was rushing to finish as I was leaving for Japan, so it came out quite half-assed, yet again =/

ChiiXD- x_X my story is not worth several nights of sleep, seriously =( dont let it bother you too much x.x it just aint worth it D: And shady people didn stalk me haha XD not when I have so much baggage on me lol (did some really crazy shopping there XD)

Falceto- whaaaaat? He tried to harm you? =( Thats just crazy! X_X what did he try to do? =( Nothing serious I hope x.x I usually hit back really hard if someone tries to harm me...though it was more instinctive than thought lol I accidentally hit my dad today quite hard, when he slapped my shoulder X_X its like second nature or something...OTL And Marui...is pretty confused. Everyone in this fic is confused in one way or another, only that I never did explore their thoughts XD but I as the author know that they are confused, and it is no surprise seeing as they have such a confused author as well...OTL And nooooo, keep your lopng reviews XD I lalalalalaaav them -stealing demonsadist's method- XXD

Slowdanse- ahaha not knowing why is a good thing sometimes XD knowing just kills the fun lol but I'm glad you liked it =D and Jackal+mysterious is...x.x

NiouMasaharu-I know rite? Kumiko is so predictable =( and go learn Japanese XD you must visit a host club at least once in your lifetime, in my opinion anyways XD