Disclaimer, warnings, and author's notes...

- I don't own Ouran High School Host Club, nor am I affiliated with any of the talented artists or writers that have made it come to life.
- There will be OOC-ness, yaoi, and mature themes, probably. Wait, no…not 'probably'. I'm actually quite sure of it.
- Anything that is italic (except for emphasis) is either a memory or someone directing their thoughts to another character.

O n e

- Stars -

When I'm truly afraid, I don't retreat to his room. I do that only when I feel the foreboding of another nightmarish sleep. I know that being in the same bed as my brother will guarantee protection against what awaits me in my fitful slumber.

When I forget that I'm followed everywhere with the images that make me never want to sleep again, I go to my own room. And then I wake up, usually long before dawn, and I know that it's too late. I can't go to Hikaru. There's no point, because I know I won't be going back to sleep.

During those nights, I usually do nothing after I've joined reality once again. I simply lay in bed and stare at the plastic glow-in-the-dark stars on my ceiling that I haven't bothered to remove.

I know Hikaru hasn't bothered with his stars, either.

I'm beginning to think that laziness isn't the only reason they're still plastered to my ceiling. As babyish as it is, I'm actually comforted by them. I am especially, on nights like these.

I don't know how much longer I'm going to be haunted. I try not to think about it, because I know I won't be left alone for a long time, if ever. I hate being completely in the dark about this. If I knew the catalyst for these night terrors, the cure for this internal illness may not be so thickly veiled.

I try not to dwell on the possibility that there might not be a cure.

I feel like these nightmares have complete authority over me. I hate that, more than anything. I've always greatly detested being controlled by anyone. That doesn't make me domineering, because that isn't in my nature either. I don't know what my nature is.

I hate that I feel so at mercy to the fright that plagues me nearly every night.

I'm unprepared for the loud screeching of my alarm clock. A yelp involuntarily escapes my lips and I blindly reach for the button to silence the sound. I finally find it, after fumbling awkwardly with everything resting on my beside table.

I curse under my breath and try to regulate my spastic heart rate by calming myself. I knead my left wrist with the thumb on my other shaking hand. Massaging the flesh around the veins and feeling my pulse slowly decrease helps. I'm not sure why. I'm aware that it's odd, but I don't care. It makes me feel better, and I'm willing to do anything if it makes me feel better.

This is a habit I've just recently adopted.

I abandon my wrist and grip my pajama-clad chest tightly. It's hurting again. I'm not sure if it's due to the recent stress caused from my nightmares or complications from my past medical issues, but I'm only mildly concerned. The doctors told Mom I would be okay. And so, I conclude that it must be stress.


He's standing in the doorframe, hair mussed and eyes wide. I hadn't even heard him come in, strangely. Lately, I've been much less aware of the things around me.

"What do you want?" I ask, feigning genuine curiosity.

I know why he's here. He had heard the humiliating screech tear through my throat after I'd been startled to a lucid state this morning. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. I was anything but discrete about it.

"I heard you yell. Are you okay?" he asks me, sounding slightly breathless. There was once a time when I loved this. I loved how protective he was, and still is. It was always just he and I. I depended on him because our parents were rarely around, and in turn, he depended on my depending on him.

Recently, I've been feeling irrational anger toward him. I know that it's my own perversity giving me the nightmares, but I often times place the blame on him. I hate that about myself, along with so many other things.

"I'm fine." I tell him. I don't mean to snap. It just happens to come out that way. I know it isn't right because he's only displaying the usual concern he has for me. I know that none of this is his fault, but I can't help feeling the way I do. Maybe my hostility toward him is a subconscious effort to distance myself from him.

Well, it isn't so subconscious anymore.

I can see his lips tightening over his teeth in an attempt to stop himself from releasing the bitter words his longs so deeply to spit at me. I know of every one of his little mannerisms and habits, even the ones he doesn't share with me. I know him so well.

Do it, Hikaru, I think to myself. Let those words be free. It might ease my guilt just a smidge.

Predictably, he says nothing.

I see his eyes trail down to my shaking hand that's still clutching at my aching chest. I'm only reminded of the pain when he becomes aware of it. It was there, just a dull throb as he first started questioning me. The invisible hand strangling my heart never loosened its grip. I had only momentarily forgotten about it.

But I feel it now. I feel it because he can see it, and that makes it so much more real. I wish I knew why.

He doesn't say anything else because he's angry with me. Anything he says and anything I respond with will probably end up escalating in an argument, and I know he doesn't want that.

I watch him walk away, softly padding to his own room in his socked feet.

I'd never want you to know what you're doing to me.

"You're failing art, Kaoru." he tells me. Even I'm slightly surprised at this news, myself. I've always loved art. Hikaru knows this, I know this, Mr. Vespasien knows this, and everyone in the Host Club knows this. My passion for expressing my thoughts and feelings through sketching isn't a secret to anyone.

And yet, I'm failing art class.

"I'm sorry." I say, even though I don't feel an ounce of remorse. Before the nightmares and my unhealthy obsession with my brother, I'd never really cared much. Now, I don't care at all. Not once in the past few weeks have I found myself gazing into space and thinking of a new project I could begin working on. I no longer listen to Mr. Vespasien or any of my teachers, for that matter. It shouldn't come as a shock to me that I'm failing this class, and probably all of my others.

"Why haven't you been turning your assignments in?" he asks. His cerulean eyes are burning into mine with such intensity that I find myself unable to speak for a few moments.

This is the first time I've been asked to stay after class by a teacher. It isn't just a coincidence that it's Mr. Vespasien. I'm one of his best students, and that isn't me being vain. It's just a fact. I know that he's puzzled at my sudden lack of participation in class, as anyone probably would be.

"I've been feeling stressed. I guess it's been distracting me from my school work." I tell him. I don't have the energy to come up with a believable lie, so I tell him the partial truth. The words feel foreign in my mouth because everything that leaves my lips is usually a lie. I wouldn't be ashamed of that, either, if it weren't for Hikaru.

"Is there anything you'd like to talk about? Are there any problems going on at home?" I almost laugh when I hear this. I knew he'd ask about that.

"No, but thank you for your concern. If I ever need to talk to someone, I know I can go to you." I tell him. Both he and I don't believe that. I'm just being polite.

"Yes. Thanks for speaking with me, Kaoru. Please do what you can to reduce your stress. I'd hate to see your grade in this class plummet anymore than it already has."

I feel an unexpected explosion of animosity for my art teacher. It's so easy for him to say that. I can't do anything to reduce the stress and I'm not planning on working to improve my grade. I don't care. Mr. Vespasien's flippant attitude regarding my sudden change of behavior is infuriating.

I leave the stuffy classroom in a hurry, not wanting to be in the insufferable man's presence anymore.

I don't know why I'm surprised when I see that he's waiting for me outside the door. I should've expected it. He's probably wondering what that private meeting between my art teacher and I was about, naturally. And we always go to the Host Club together. Of course he'd wait for me.

But for some reason, his presence startles me. I feel my heart accelerate and the sight of his lithe form leaning against the wall, like I'm shocked to see my twin waiting for me.

"What was that about?" he asks. I should have prepared myself for that question before I decided to leave the classroom. Of course he'd ask that. It was foolish of me to think otherwise.

"He was concerned about my grades." I answer. I'm still not in the mood to fabricate a lie, even for Hikaru.

He stares at me expectantly, waiting for me to elaborate. I won't, because I know that will incriminate me further. I'm fully aware that I haven't been acting like myself lately, but I've stopped caring about constantly putting on a believable show for everyone.

I know he's glaring behind me even though I can't see it. I can feel it as I walk to the music room. I shudder involuntarily at the sensation of his gaze on me.

"What about your grades? Why would he need to discuss that with you, Kaoru? That's the only class you actually enjoy."

The confusion in his words is so thick, it's almost tangible.

"I haven't been feeling inspired lately. Nothing I sketch seems to have…feeling anymore. I've just been throwing my assignments out. It's no use keeping it if it's trash." I mumble bitterly. This is probably the first time I've told Hikaru the truth about something since my nightmares started.

"That's stupid. I've seen your work. I don't fancy the idea of inflating your ego, but maybe you need to hear this. Everything I've seen that you've drawn has left me in awe. I can't imagine anything of yours being trash--"

I interrupt him.

"I've never shown you anything that I was ashamed of, Hikaru, and I never will." I mean this in more ways than one. I'm not just talking about my sketches, and even though I know Hikaru isn't aware of the different meanings of my statement, I feel I need to tell him this. Maybe it's that I'm hoping that if I voice some small truth, a weight will be lifted from my shoulders.

That's just wishful thinking, of course. If anything, I'm feeling worse.

He doesn't say anything, and that's the worst part. He doesn't realize how much of my soul I poured into that last sentence.

We're both silent as we trek to the music room to endure another day of monotonous Host Club activities.

The moment I feel his hand on my shoulder, any semblance of calm I've accumulated through the day is destroyed. I can almost literally see the last pieces of my sanity crumbling at my feet.

"Kaoru, I was so afraid this morning." he says mellifluously. He lowers himself to my ear, almost touching the flesh. "I thought you were hurt."

He nips softly at my bottom lip and I can't help but release the lascivious whimper that's been fighting to leave my mouth.

The crowd of girls that's suddenly formed around us feels suffocating to me. They sigh dreamily at his antics.

"You looked so frightened. Did you have a nightmare?" He's squeezing my shoulder comfortingly, like I've already confirmed his suspicions. I involuntarily tense at his words, which gives him the answer he needs. I hate the little self restraint I possess.

His hands are at my hips, thumbs massaging the flesh stretched tightly over the tender flesh and joints. I don't know why I like this almost more than his saccharine kisses, but I do. Maybe it's because I know his hands are so close to where I want…no, need them to be.

"What was it about?" he whispers softly, his rich voice oozing into my ear. I feel his hand, the one not on my shoulder, cupping the base of my neck. And I feel that constricting sensation in my chest again. "Let me help--"

"Quit it, H-Hikaru." I breathe, unable to find my voice. Our idiot fans don't stop ogling and sighing dramatically like this is the hottest thing they've ever seen, so I know my demand to my brother didn't reach their ears.

I know Hikaru heard it, though, because I feel weight on the back of my neck lessen slightly. He says nothing for a few moments, as if he's stupefied. I'm about to demand that he stop this again because the pain in my chest is beginning to be quite difficult to ignore, but he speaks before I can.

"What's been up with you lately?" he asks. I can tell he's trying to sound irate at the fact that I haven't confided in him about anything, but there's a detectable undertone of concern in his voice.

"This is hardly the place to discuss that." I reply sharply. I roll my shoulders, hoping he'll get the message that I don't want him touching me anymore. He does, fortunately. There's a chorus of disappointed groans from our fans as he steps away from me. They're all oblivious to the small argument we just had, but the rest of the Host Club isn't.

Mori doesn't care, of course, and Hunny appears to have not seen anything. His cake has all of his attention, as usual. Kyoya and Haruhi both look mildly worried that something monumental has just happened, or will happen. Even Tamaki, usually quite oblivious, seems to have picked up on the fact that something between Hikaru and I deviated from the norm. I know that they'll be watching closer than normal now, and that instills a shock of fear through me.

I can't find it in myself to act anymore. I can't be the co-star for this brotherly love act anymore.

There isn't a way out of this problem.

There's no point in looking for a nonexistent solution.

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