AUTHOR'S NOTE: Inserting a gender-bender OC into a gender-bender canon story. Oopsies. Bugger it all, take me to court.
Ouran High School Host Club © Hatori Bisco.
He was just standing there. No bag or books or anything at all. Just standing there by the front gate with his back to her, eyes completely fixated on the pink clock tower. Why?
Haruhi asked again. "What are you doing?"
A still silence. A soft breeze brushed by.
She tried again. "Hello? Excuse me?"
The thought of just leaving the boy alone occurred to her when suddenly, the boy blinked, seeming to come out of his daze. Moving slowly, he turned around and looked at Haruhi as if considering whether or not he should speak to her.
Haruhi shifted uncomfortably. More silence.
Then the boy smiled and waved at her. A gesture that would have been quite normal and polite if they had been standing on different sides of the road, but they weren't. They were standing a metre apart. A smile and a wave wasn't customary. Words would have been customary.
Hesitating, Haruhi bowed, "Hi, my name is Haruhi Fukioka. It's—uh—nice to meet you?"
The brunette waited expectantly for the boy to introduce himself, however, he merely nodded.
Then more silence. That awkward and infuriating silence.
Her mind was suddenly crazed with cracks. —
The boy was tapping the face of his wristwatch. She looked down at her own.
"Oh, crap! Uh—you—BYE!" Finding herself incapable of forming coherrent words, she slipped through the gate and rushed off to class. She glanced back at him for only a moment, just to catch a glimpse of the strange boy waving her goodbye.
And there was that weirdo again, just standing there. Only this time, he was the front of the classroom. Eyes darting about the room like he'd never seen anything like it. A new student.
"Welcome to Ouran Academy," said the teacher.
A nod. And there it was again. That undeniable, maddening and impossible awkward silence.
Thirty-three eyes bored into the newcomer, waiting for him to do something, anything. He stared back.
Then, one of the twins chose that moment to peg a blue eraser at him. It connected with the boy's forehead, bounced off, and dropped to the floor. The strange boy blinked, looked down at the offending object and blinked again.
The teacher coughed. "Uh, how about you introduce yourself?"
A nod. Haruhi watched the boy as he stood at the front scribbling on a large notepad, wondering if the boy had any clue of what was being said to him. But, apparently he did for he held up his notepad to reveal scrawny words written across a brand new page.
'Hi. Arihiro's name is Arihiro Hobunoda. It's nice to meet you all.'
There wasn't really much else to do but stare. He referred to himself in the third-person. The awkward silence continued to linger; someone was bound to snap and resort to cannibalism.
Arihiro flipped a page.
'Arihiro is mute. This notepad is Arihiro's way of communicating with others. Please take care of me.'
Another flip of the page.
'Sorry if this causes any inconvenience.'
Finally the silence was broken.
"Don't worry—" grinned Kaoru.
"—we'll take good care of you." finished Hikaru. The twins exchanged an evil glance. Arihiro fidgeted. He certainly didn't like those looks.
"In that case, Hikaru-kun and Kaoru-kun will be taking care of Hobunoda-kun." Arihiro continued to fidget as the teacher, clapped a hand on his shoulder. "Why don't you take a seat behind Fujioka-kun? This is a free study period, you can use the time to get to know everybody. I had better head back to my office now."
Arihiro nodded and made his way to the empty seat behind the girl he had met this morning. He didn't get very far though. His foot caught a table leg. His forehead connected with the floor. It was 9:00AM and his forehead seemed to be connected with a lot of things in this school.
He's pretty clumsy, thought Haruhi.
"Are you okay?" she asked.
Still on his knees, Arihiro bent over and used the ground as a desk for writing his next message. 'To Fujioka-kun: Arihiro is fine, thank you.'
"You could have just nodded…"
At this, Arihiro nodded and started to get up when—SMACK! This time everyone sweat dropped, save for the twins who just chortled. In his attempt to get back on his feet, he had stepped on his loose tie, causing him to connect with the floor, again. The two-letter word, 'Ow.' was scrawled in the middle on a fresh page of his notebook. Once again, he was kneeling on the ground. Looking up, he stared at Haruhi's face, astonished.
'What do I have to eat to have eyes as big as yours? Pretty.' Arihiro held both sides of his notebook up to Haruhi, as the twins seemed to start panicking.
Kaoru gripped the sides of his desk, biting his lip. This is bad. Can he tell that Haruhi is a girl? He cast an anxious glance at his elder brother who seemed to be thinking the same. It might be necessary for the four of them to have a little chat; the new student, Kaoru, Hikaru and a baseball bat studded with rusty nails. It would be quite nice.
Of course, it was a false alarm. 'Arihiro's sorry. Shouldn't be calling a guy pretty, huh?"
Getting up, Arihiro reached his seat without any further bloodshed—not too much anyway.
However, that was when the interrogation began. His legs—just his legs—were being tied to his seat. Everything turned dark. Soft giggles surrounded him. Sweat ran down his face. He squeezed his eyes shut when someone shined a lamp at his face.
"Hey, Arihiro-kun, where did you transfer from?"
He hesitated. Just give the what they want.
'Arihiro was home schooled. In America.'
"Arihiro-kun, how old are you?
'Arihiro is fifteen years old.'
"Hey, Arihiro-kun, how much do you weigh?"
Haruhi raised an eyebrow. 'Arihiro weighs 47.45kg.'
"Ne, Arihiro-kun, what are you're hobbies?"
'Oh. I don't wanna tell you that.' Lots of confused looks from that one.
Arihiro flailed as much as he could with his legs strapped to the legs of the chair as someone spun him around.
The Hitachiin Brothers, of course.
"Since we'll be taking care of you—" said one of them, mischief leaking out from every word.
"—you're gonna love it here, at Ouran," finished the other. Their faces cracked into two, dark, malevolent grins.
Never in his life had Arihiro worried so much about what could possibly happen in the future.
As the Host Club began to clean up after a normal day of Club Activities, Hikaru and Kaoru were scheming.
"Hey, Haruhi didn't that new transfer student call you pretty?" said Hikaru. His voice unusually loud, catching the attention of the other Host Club members. One idiot in particular.
"Yeah, that guy," said Kaoru, following the same pattern as Hikaru, his voice a tad bit too loud.
"What about it?" asked Haruhi, her jaw clenching as she made every fibre of her being ignore a certain blonde idiot behind her, listening intensely to the conversation.
"Daddy, will not allow it!" cried Tamaki, jumping from his position behind the couch. "Un-authorized fraternizing with Haruhi is prohibited!"
"What do you mean by 'un-authorized fraternizing'?" said Haruhi, in a dull tone.
"Well, he was flirting with you… So daddy's worried—and—and—" Tamaki cowered and twiddled his thumbs—Haruhi never seemed to agree with anything he said. Suddenly Tamaki pointed at Kyouya, "Mummy, I want a full report on this Hobnobber!"
"Understood," replied Kyouya pulling a file out of nowhere.
Haruhi brow furrowed. "Hobnobber?"
"Hey, Takashi. What's a Hobnobber?" Honey frowned in confusion. Mori merely shrugged.
"By Hobnobber, he probably means—" The twins faced each other, raising their arms to interlace their fingers. "—the person who hobnobs with Haruhi. Hobnob: to associate on very friendly terms."
Kyouya clicked his pen, scribbling as he read aloud from the file. A file not unlike the file he had on Toru Suzushina (Anime, Episode 02). "Arihiro Hobunoda is the only son of Kentaro Hobunoda, the founder of computer manufacturing company.
Family Prestige: Impressive
Strong Points: Piano
Bad Aspect: Stupidity
A selling point would be his lack of knowledge in several areas—such as the use of chopsticks and umbrellas. In other words, he is a—"
Interrupting Kyouya, Hikaru and Kaoru took turns in continuing his sentence.
"—Idiot," finished Kyouya, snapping the file shut. "End of report."
"Once again, you guys have no mercy for men," muttered Haruhi.
"Eh? He doesn't know how to use chopsticks? Or umbrellas?" questioned Honey. Mori grunted.
Tamaki, still processing the information, muttered to himself, "Arihiro Hobnobber…?"
The twins looked at Kyouya, boredom evident on their expressions, "Kyouya-senpai. What do you mean by 'selling point'? You're not thinking of getting him to become a host are you?"
"I thought he might be helpful but then again, maybe he's too stupid," said Kyouya not looking up from his clipboard.
"Ahhh—" started one of the twins.
"—That would have been interesting," finished the other.
"Maybe after some—ahem—intense training, and if everyone except Tamaki approves then…" drawled Kyouya.
Haruhi cocked an eyebrow. Everyone besides Tamaki-sempai?
"FATHER WILL NOT ALLOW THIS. THIS IS MUTINY. FATHER WILL—" Tamaki froze and looked at the door.
At that moment, as if on queue, the door opened slightly just enough for a notepad to fit through. 'Does anyone know how to get out of the school building?'
"Arihiro-kun? Is that you?" asked Haruhi, stepping towards the door.
"WAAH! IT'S THE HOBNOBBER!" screamed Tamaki, as he pulled Haruhi away from the door, shoved the notepad back out the door and slammed it shut.
"Tamaki-senpai! What are you doing?" asked Haruhi.
Uh-oh. It was the annoyed tone.
Tamaki shook like a leaf, scared that his action would jeopardize their non-existent 'father–daughter' relationship. "I–I–I–I was protecting my precious daughter from the Hobnobber?" stuttered Tamaki, unsure of whether he had managed to step around a land mine.
Haruhi sighed—Tamaki, in turn, cringed—and opened the door to find Arihiro sitting on the floor, his forehead tinted red where it had met with the door. 'Ow…'
Without notice, two pairs of hands grabbed him by the ankles and dragged him into the room, snapping the door shut. Flopping him onto the couch, the twins grandly announced, "Introducing, Arihiro Hobunoda!"
"Eh? It's the Hobnobber?" said Honey, looking at Arihiro curiously.
Arihiro pouted. 'Hobunoda, not Hobnobber!'
"Welcome to the Host Club, Arihiro Hobunoda," said Kyouya, sliding his glasses further back onto the bridge of his nose. Arihiro listened as he was introduced to the seven hosts, including Haruhi, one question in particular, hovering in his mind.
'What's a Host Club?'
Tamaki cleared his throat, finding his moment to shine, "Ahem, Ouran Academy is defined by one, prestigious families, and two, wealth, and prosperous people who have much time on their hands. Therefore the Ouran Host Club is about these handsome guys that have time giving hospitality to these lovely ladies who have time and profit off them. It is an elegant game unique to this super-rich school."
Ignoring the blank look Arihiro gave him, Tamaki pointed at him demanding his utmost attention, "Hobnobber!"
"If you continue your fraternizing with my daughter," threatened Tamaki. "The Host Club will pulverize you!"
Arihiro blinked, Tamaki didn't move from his 'Threatening the Hobnobber' stance. 'Is Fujioka-kun your daughter?'
"Of course, Haruhi is my daughter!" declared Tamaki, realization then literally hit him in the head as the twins thwacked him in the face.
'So then Haruhi-kun is a girl? That's what Kyouya told Arihiro.' His lips curved up into a faint smile. Despite the fact that he had specifically stated that he had been told by Kyouya about Haruhi's situation, panic arouse within the Host Club, excluding Mori and Kyouya, of course. Honey attempted to convince Arihiro that he was wrong but to no avail—Honey was almost in tears from lying. The twins settled with pummeling Tamaki for his blunder. Haruhi seemed to be the only one who had read the second part of the message.
"If Kyouya-sempai told you, then I guess I don't need to explain," sighed Haruhi. Arihiro nodded. Remembering something peculiar, Haruhi asked, "By the way, Arihiro-kun. What were you doing outside the school gate this morning?"
Giving her a sheepish look, Arihiro wrote, 'Arihiro forgot Arihiro's school bag. So Arihiro was waiting for someone to drop it off. And Arihiro's notebook was in the bag, so sorry Arihiro didn't communicate with you.' Haruhi sweat-dropped. Arhiro tried his best to ignore the commotion behind him. Instead he looked up at Kyouya, expectantly, who was writing something down in his clipboard, but he said nothing.
"Then Kyou-chan, why did you need to tell Hiro-chan?" asked Honey, cocking his head to the side. This caught the twins' attention, momentarily, pausing their pointless brawl with Tamaki.
"Well, I felt bad that I knew Arihiro's secret and he didn't know mine," Kyouya explained. "So I just thought it was best to tell him—to keep it fair." One skeptical thought crossed the minds of Haruhi and the Host Club's: Then why the Hell did he tell the Hobnobber Haruhi's secret!
"You are not to touch, Haruhi!" demanded Tamaki, randomly and then politely asked, "What's your name, again?"
What is your name?—those words seemed to trigger something in his mind but Arihiro ignored it. With a smile plastered on his face, Arihiro scrawled in the corner of his notebook, 'Arihiro doesn't understand what's going on but it's okay. (Tamaki-sempai, your face is all messed up.)'
Tamaki fumed and let out a screech.
Looking around curiously, Arihiro noticed the piano in the corner. Noticing grey eyes light up, Kyouya made a gesture with his head. "Go ahead."
It was another day in the Third Music Room.
Arihiro sat in front of the grand piano, as he touched the keys. This piece wasn't one of his favorites; he had a tendency to play different pieces depending on his mood. The sound of the piano resonated around the room, some customers and their Hosts stopped to look momentarily at Arihiro—eyes closed, a slight crease forming in between his eyebrows as he continued to play.
"Fantasie-Impromptu, by Frédéric Chopin," stated Kyouya to no one in particular. Tamaki watched in awe, fascinated by the fact that despite being so clumsy, this fellow pianist could actually play the piano.
A few of the customers sighed, shoulders relaxing, "Such a beautiful piece."
Haruhi stopped by the twins, holding a tray with tea, "It sounds really nice." Hikaru and Kaoru looked at Haruhi as she spoke. "But, it's not really a piece that makes you think of relaxation, is it?"
"Yeah. It's more intense," agreed Honey as he watched him, tightening his grip on Usa-chan.
"Well done, Kyouya-sempai," murmured Kaoru.
"Even though no one's approved of him becoming a host—" Hikaru stretched.
"—he can play. So Host or not, he's beneficial," said Kaoru, his mind drifting from the strong melody to the boy playing it.
Is it longing, I wonder?
Even though her fingers were concentrated on playing the music, her mind was far from thinking about Fantasie-Impromptu but the frustration from the piece was still present.
His words pounded against her skull painfully.
What is your name?
Nine. They were nine when he died from pneumonia. She understood the reason for her father's decision. Being the only child left, as a daughter, he didn't want her to take over his company. Such an old-fashioned father.
"From now on you live on as Arihiro. Today, it was Ayuuka Hobunoda who died from pneumonia. You'll live in his place and continue the life he can't. No outsiders are to know this."
"Eh?" Her father's decision had sounded so absurd at the time. How often would a father order his daughter to dress up as his deceased son for the rest of her life?
"What is your name?" She could remember feeling him piercing at her through his peripheral vision, waiting for a response, testing her.
She didn't seem to notice that her fingers had stopped touching the keys before the Chopin piece had even ended nor did she see the bemused expressions of the customers and hosts in the Third Music Room. Frozen in her seat, she stared at the black and white keys.
"My name is no longer Ayuuka Hobunoda."