AUTHOR'S NOTE: I'm alive and Ayuuka's a creep. This chapter hasn't been beta-ed yet; I think Saiai Angel's on holidays. I'm not really sure about making this chapter so Kaoru/Ayuuka centred. Ah well.
Ouran High School Host Club © Hatori Bisco.
"Are you sure there's nothing wrong with Ayuuka's heart, Doctor-san?"
She thrummed her fingers against her lap, miming the melody of Humoresque. How could there possibly be nothing wrong with her heart?
"You've asked me that four times already, Ayuuka-san. And my answer is still the same. There is absolutely nothing wrong with your heart."
Then the throbbing and the racing?
Ayuuka gasped, hugging herself. A revelation, perhaps.
Could it—Could it be? …LOVE? Staring off into the distance—eyes glistening, mouth hanging slightly open—Ayuuka shivered. She needed to get Father's Secretary to buy her more shoujo manga.
"Uh…A-Ayuuka-san?" The doctor gazed at the pianist's strange expression of bliss (?). Maybe there really was something wrong with her. "A-Are you okay?"
Snapping back to reality, not hearing or noticing the doctor's inquiry—of course—Ayuuka straightened in her seat. "Ah! Then are you sure that two girls can't make a baby?"
Sweatdropping, the doctor cleared her throat. "Positive. It's biologically impossible."
The whole 'biologically impossible' thing weighed down on Ayuuka's shoulders, only to be thrown backwards as another idea came to her head. "Ah! Then can you change Ayuuka into a real boy?"
"I'm afraid I don't have the qualifications nor the permission from your father, Ayuuka-san."
"Oh…" And the weight came back. Again, her shoulders slumped, her brow furrowing even further. "But Ayuuka doesn't understand; Father wants Ayuuka to be Arihiro, who was a boy but he doesn't want Ayuuka to be a real boy."
"Well, Hobunoda-sama is—how should I say—whimsical. Ayuuka-san is also very whimsical."
"Oh, thank you," Ayuuka said, looking doubtful, unable to find a better response. Doctor-san thinks Father and Ayuuka are…cool? Him-so-cool, is that even a word?
"Arihiro. Come here."
She blinked once. Twice. Tentatively, she got up. What could Kyouya want with her?
Kyouya nodded at the seat in front of him. Moving slowly, she sat down and began to sweat. Silence. Twisting around, she realised that the other Host Club members were watching from a safe distance, their heads peeking out from behind a sofa.
"You didn't have any designators today," said Kyouya, causing her to turn back around. His voice was devoid of warmth, as always, tenacious, cold and unforgiving.
Ayuuka nodded. While everyone else was busy dealing with customers, she had sat on the carpet by the grand piano, occasionally stroking its leg.
"And do you know why?"
She shook her head.
"Because you suck."
This time her grey eyes widened into saucers, and her bottom lip began to quiver. Again. She was being scolded by Mummy. Again.
"Even Keiko-san, who is supposed to be your girlfriend, didn't designate you."
"Improve by next week or you'll return to full-time lapdog. Won Ton."
Ayuuka flinched at the pet name, shuddering at the memory of her Lapdog days. (Lapdog days that never actually happened.) The idea of quitting the host club to avoid this terrible fate never did and never would occur to her. It wasn't as if she had a debt to pay, like Haruhi. But of course, she was stupid.
"You are free to go now, Won Ton."
Tripping as she got up, Ayuuka stumbled away.
"Kyouya-sempai, as always, he's merciless," said Haruhi, not seeming to believe what just happened.
Scrutinising Ayuuka, Hikaru commented, "It's probably because he's such a weakling."
"Yeah, girls don't like weak guys," agreed Kaoru.
"Foolish, Won Ton. A man must stand up for himself. He must . . ." It was Tamaki speaking and so was automatically tuned out.
"Stay strong, Hiro-chan. We'll help you, don't you worry!"
"Yeah, Kyouya-sempai just said that you suck. What do you have to say to that?"
"WRONG! You supposed to say, 'No, you suck!'"
"Yeah! Now, go say that to Kyouya-sempai."
Say that to Kyouya? No one in their right mind is capable of saying that to Kyouya.
Her hand quivered over her notepad, as the letters were slowly being etched onto the paper.
She hesitated. Her bottom lip trembled. Lifting her head up, she was met with Kyouya's expectant gaze. The flash of his glasses whispered to her, Do it and you die.
Behind her she could hear them cheering her on. "You can do it, Won Ton!"
Won Ton can't do it, Won Ton can't do it.
She was being ordered to do two things: Tell Kyouya that he sucks, and not tell Kyouya that he sucks. Tell Kyouya that he sucks. Don't tell Kyouya that he sucks. Tell Kyouya he sucks. Don't tell Kyouya that he sucks. Tell Kyou—
Hikaru and Kaoru snorted. Now why on earth had Ayuuka just slap herself in the face with her notebook?
Sniveling, Ayuuka crawled on her hands and knees with a strangely dog-like speed, settling underneath one of the plush couches, curling up into what looked like a fetal-position.
The twins roared with laughter, pulling a blue clipboard out of nowhere. Haruhi looked down at the clipboard that Hikaru and Kaoru were scribbling furiously into. 'It seems that it does not handle pressure well.'
The brunette hesitated before she asked, "…What is this?" She wasn't sure if she wanted to know the answer.
"We've decided to write a log book on Won Ton."
"A log bo—What is he, an animal?"
This time every joined in, speaking in unison. "Yeah."
Haruhi sighed. Poor Arihir—
Ayuuka jumped, slamming her head into the underside of the couch she was under. Everyone looked at the door, except the pianist. She immediately knew who it was. She also immediately knew that if she was dragged off by the person at the door, she would shrivel up and rot like a nine-month old banana.
"Arihiro-kun? Where are you?"
"'Afternoon, Keiko-san," greeted Kyouya-sempai.
A whimper from under the couch. Sickly sweet voice equals to Nanmi Keiko-san. Nanami-san here equals Nanami-san and Ayuuka making a baby even though Kyouya-sempai told Ayuuka that it was biologically impossible. Ayuuka…must…survive.
If she kept still and quiet, Nanami wouldn't notice and would leave. Right. Perfect plan. Suddenly, she felt hands around her ankles, dragging her out from under the sofa.
AH! Caught! Ayuuka's been caught by the Nanami-san!
Then she felt more hands, this time, around her wrists. Familiar sounds of repressed laughter.
"Hey, you two! Let go of my boyfriend!" said Keiko, as she proceeded to tug on Ayuuka's ankles.
"Say, pleaaaase!" taunted the twins, yanking back on the pianist's wrists.
And so, the tug-of-war began as Ayuuka, still under the sofa, made a noise not unlike a bright orange goldfish out of water. God help me…
Sunlight seeped in through the gaps of the blinds shining onto her face. Feeling the brightness burn through her closed lids, she groaned and rolled onto her stomach. Ayuuka lay under the sheets, hands buried under her pillow, hair splayed out softly on top.
"Father's secretary?" she called in a faint voice.
"Could you send a message to Kaoru-kun for Ayuuka?"
Not moving from her comfortable position with the sun warming her back, the pianist watched the man pick up a small peculiar device from her desk and ask, "Yes, and what would you like to tell him?"
"Tell him that Ayuuka's not coming to school today because Ayuuka's tummy feels funny."
"As you wish, Ayuuka-sama," replied Father's secretary.
He looked strange in Ayuuka's eyes—Father's secretary, that is—a large powerfully built man with big rough hands pressing the tiny keys of the tiny device with such speed and precision.
Tap, tap, tap.
She watched him curiously, her head still resting against the pillow. "When will you be going to help Father at work?"
Tap, tap, tap.
"Shortly after I finish messaging Kaoru-sama."
Tap, tap, tap.
When it seemed that he finished, he stood up, carefully placing the phone back on the desk. "Will you be alright on your own?"
Shifting slightly, she nodded. "Yeah. —Ah! Can you drop Ayuuka off somewhere?"
Beep, beep, beep.
He stirred, groaning softly.
Beep, beep, beep.
A cross-legged Ayuuka watched curiously as Kyouya blindly patted his bedside table, failing to find the source of the exasperating beeping.
Beep, beep, beep.
No longer able to take anymore, he sat up growling, his bloodshot eyes shooting daggers, bullets and nuclear bombs at the bedside table that did not have his alarm clock.
Where is it?
Beep, beep, beep.
"Kyouya-sempai?" whispered a high-pitched voice.
Beep, beep, beep.
Kyouya twisted his head around and stared at the idiot sitting on his bed, but what immediately caught his eye was his alarm clock in her hands instead of on the bedside table he had so thoroughly searched.
Beep, beep, bee—
KA–SMASH! Ayuuka's gazed at the plastic bits of the alarm clock's corpse. It had suddenly vanished from her hands and created a dent in the wall—results of the wrath of the Low Blood Pressure Evil Lord. Definitely something not to mess with.
"Kyouya-sempai, Ayuuka needs help with a math question!" she said, holding out her notebook.
Letting out a sigh, he picked up his glasses and took the book off her, "Which one?"
"All of them," she said flatly. "Why are there multiplication signs everywhere?"
Kyouya felt his lip twitch. "That's not a multiplication sign, it's an x."
Deep furrows in her brow. "X?"
Kyouya deliberately ignored her, not wanting to explain what x was. "For the first one you need to…" Several moments later, he asked. "You get it?"
"Not one bit," she pouted. "Ayuuka understands it when Kaoru explains it."
Ayuuka tilted her head up to see veins popping up on Kyouya's face, a mad and crazed look in his eye. She couldn't have pissed him off that mu—
She froze. Kyouya raised his hand, hysteria in his eyes and—
—flicked her in the forehead. "Then get Kaoru to tutor you, you ungrateful underclassman!"
Flopping onto her back, she screamed, though it hadn't hurt the slightest bit. Hands over her forehead, she continued to lay sprawled on her back, studying the ceiling.
"Ayuuka doesn't want to bother Kaoru with tutoring. A deal is a deal, 25% or over, and I didn't make it. Besides, Ayuuka promised Keiko-san to spend more time together. And if Ayuuka were to have Kaoru-Tutoring and break that promise…"—thinking back to the conversation she overheard, Ayuuka clutched the sides of her head in horror—"Keiko might force Ayuuka to get married and make children and then she'll find out that Ayuuka's not a real boy and then Ayuuka will have to get a sex chang—"
Kyouya cut her off, flicking her in the forehead again. "And why does that even matter? The contract with Hayasaki-san expires in a week."
A somewhat mechanical sound rose from her throat. "Ha."—pause—"Ha."—pause—"Ha. About that…" Her eyes focused on anything but the sharp and murderous glint in the Shadow King's eyes. But the pianist felt herself waver in not telling, convinced that Kyouya's homicidal tendencies were emitting a thick, ominous, tell-me-or-I'll-force-you-into-a-shredder wave that would burn off all the hair on her head.
A second passed, beads of sweat forming at her brow.
Another second passed, the air suddenly becoming thin, her collar too tight.
(Damn his intimidating stare.)
—"AHH! Ayuuka signed a contract to extend the contract to 4 weeks! Ayuuka's sorry! Ayuuka's sorry! Ayuuka's sorry!" She squeezed her eyes shut, waiting for the killing blow.
Nothing at all.
"Eh? Kyouya-sempai, you're not gonna hi—"
THWAP! Plastic and bright green connected with her forehead. She let out a muffled scream, resuming a fetal position. Ayuuka recalled Haruhi taking the liberty of explaining what this plastic weapon was. Commoner's referred to the weapon as a 'flyswatter'. Uses? Swatting flies.
What a strange, strange day it was, she thought. Kyouya-sempai hit me with a flyswatter. Why would Kyouya-sempai even have a flyswatter?
"Are you stupid? Until when do you plan on letting people step all over you and do as they please? Stand up for yourself and say no."
"Ayuuka just wanted her to stop crying…" she pursed her lips, cheeks blown out.
Kyouya sighed, heaving himself out of bed, making his way to the closet, pulling out his uniform. "Shouldn't you be getting dressed for school?"
She shook her head. "Father's Secretary thinks Ayuuka should take the day off. Ayuuka's tummy hurts."
A raised eyebrow. "Have you seen a doctor about it?"
"Yup, she says it's Car-poo burn."
"I beg your pardon?"
"She says it's Car-poo burn," Ayuuka said, louder.
A nod. "Anyway, Ayuuka needs to get back home now."
"Ah. Bye." He watched her skip and stumble out the door. Car-poo burn?
"AH! Could you drop me off here?" said Kaoru, breathlessly as he caught sight of a familiar gate.
Noticing his brother opening the car door, Hikaru frowned. "Hey, Kaoru. What are yo
"Sorry Hikaru, you go on first."
"Wha—" Hikaru's protest was cut off by the slam of the car door.
He blinked twice and stared.
A naked four poster bed. A blanket roll under the piano. A pair of shoes dangling from the ceiling fan. Music books camouflaging window panes. Curtains—compete with curtain rings and pole—half-immersed in a toilet bowl. A book shelf stuffed with toe socks. Rainbow toe socks. And—God forbid—a pile of dirt. A pile of dirt on the white tufted carpet at his feet. No plant, no pot. Just a pile of dirt.
What the fu—
Dare he? She had to be somewhere in that—he shook his head. He didn't even want to think of words to describe the scene before his eyes.
Kaoru uncurled his fingers from the doorknob. Inhale, exhale. He no longer fathomed as to why she did anything she did. No reason to do so now. Stepping around the pile of dirt, he tread into her room, the smell of blueberry muffins filling his nostrils.
Where is she? He eyed the toe sock filled shelf warily. That was one massive heap of toe socks, massive enough to hide a certain idio—
"AH!" He pitched forward, knocking into the shelf full of toe socks. Veins popped up at his temples, he had tripped on the blanket roll under the piano. Through the rain of rainbow toe socks, he spotted it. The stupid thing he'd tripped on had moved. It continued to wriggle like a grub, and suddenly, a mass of tangled hair spouted out of one end. It looked up, dull grey eyes locking with his own.
"Kaoru?" It said to itself, blinking, still wriggling.
"You…" started Kaoru in a grating voice, buried in a mountain of toe socks.
"Kaoru?" It said again. She wriggled a little more and then stopped. "Ayuuka's stuck."
He stared at her. A roll of blanket with a head on one end. He couldn't even see her neck or shoulders. "Stupid? Are you stupid?" he laughed, thumping the ground.
Her brow furrowed as he continued to laugh. She tried wriggling again, "Help. Kaoru, help."
The sniggers came closer, above her, so close by. Failing to twist her head to look up at his face, she could only see his feet by her head as he rolled her over, tugging against the end of the blanket.
"You're free now." He said, traces of snickering still in his voice.
She blinked, Kaoru towering over her as she laid sprawled on her back, arms spread out, hair out of her face. Ayuuka gazed at him for a moment before reaching up to seize the front of his shirt to pull herself up, feeling warm hands automatically close around her forearms to help. Another one of their comfortable silences.
"Well?" said Kaoru, looking at her expectantly.
"Well, what?" she replied, tilting her head.
"Why are you here instead of at school? Again?"
Ayuuka shrugged. "Ayuuka's tummy felt funny."
"Your tummy? Are you alright?" Kaoru's eyes flitted over her abdomen, his hands closing in—
She squeaked, her arms wrapping around her stomach protectively. "Ayuuka's fine."
Something seemed to click in his head. "You—It wasn't." Kaoru moved in closer to her, backing her up into a wall with no way to escape. He especially surprised her by prying her hands away and lifting her shirt, gazing intently at exposed skin.
"AH! What are you doing?" Ayuuka exclaimed, slapping his hands away, colour flaring up her cheeks.
"I knew it. Carpet burn. Because of us. You should have said something." He had let go of her shirt be he had yet to back off. "That was from the tug-of-war with Keiko-san, wasn't it?"
"It's not that bad," Ayuuka said defensively. Unable to hold his gaze, she took a sudden interest in her shoes—shoes she wasn't wearing.
"You should have gotten angry or said something at least."
"Idiot, don't apologise. We're the ones who are supposed to apologise to you."
"Oh. Sorry…" She muttered sheepishly, hands clasped, eyes still on the ground.
Kaoru ran a hand through his hair; settling into an armchair, mind racing to find a new subject. He'd made her uncomfortable.
"Ah—You missed some work while you were away last time, you know," he said.
He gazed at her, small figure clad in silk pajamas, head down, cheeks puffed out, shifting nervously.
"Haruhi was worried about you," he tried, knowing that that would get her attention.
Ayuuka's head whipped up instantly, "Really?" she asked, clearly pleased.
Kaoru chuckled. "Yeah, we all were. I guess that's why we all came over to check on you."
"Oh." She turned pink, lips turning into small smile as she settled in a chair opposite him. No doubt she was thinking about it. The Host Club bursting into her bedroom, trapping her in the bathroom with nothing to cover herself with. That was a close one. All thanks to Kaoru and Kyouya, no one saw her stark naked, except well, Kaoru. More blood rushed up to tint her cheeks at that thought.
Kaoru cleared his throat. "Oh yeah—you missed some work when you were away the other day."
Grey eyes looked on, wide and horrified as he unzipped his bag and pulled out a generous stack of notebooks.
"T–Thank you," she said as she took them from him, the mortified expression never leaving her face as she eyed the stack warily, as if they would suddenly sprout fangs and start sparkling in the sunlight. Ayuuka shivered, God no, anything but that.
Tentatively she flicked through one, feeling a dizzy spell come on as she skimmed over unfamiliar words and expressions. Biting her lip, Ayuuka shook her head.
Like a bee, homework can smell fear. Mustn't—show—fear.
All the while, Kaoru watched her carefully, noting her expressions. Right. Now was the time. Inhale and exhale. "Hey, Ayuuka?"
"Y–Yeah?" Her horrified expression was still intact.
"How about I tutor you again?"
"Well you made a pretty big improvement in that last test, even if the end grade was still—uh, not so good. If we keep working at it, maybe you'll improve," he explained, cautiously choosing his words.
Ayuuka froze, grey eyes still wide, only there was a different emotion behind them—surprise and shock. Finally, she spoke. "Really?" she asked, unable to contain her excitement.
"Yeah." Kaoru masked his amusement with a cough so unconvincing it couldn't fool anyone. But this was Ayuuka, she never counted in things like these.
The doubt was starting to sink in.
Ayuuka seemed to bounce up and down, twirling, not quite sure what to do to express her delight. He eyed her warily, his incoming-pain senses tingling. Then without notice, the image of a flying squirrel leaping at him entered his mind. It was just for a split second, her arms around him, squeezing him tightly, her body pressed against his, warmth spreading everywhere, and then—
Nothing. Then nothing. He whirled around, she was no where in sight suddenly. Where the he—
"Kaoru?" It was coming from under the grand piano.
Moving cautiously, he stepped around the suspicious pile of dirt and looked. "There you are."
Not good. She had her serious face on. "We have a problem, Kaoru," said Ayuuka in a tone so excessively grave and grim, Kaoru wanted to laugh. She acted as if she hadn't just thrown her arms around him, hugged him, then ran and hid under the piano. Kaoru started to doubt whether or not it even happened, but her cheeks were flushed and so were his.
"What's the problem?" he asked.
"Nanami-san said she doesn't want you to tutor Ayuuka anymore."
"The two-week girlfriend? Why?"
"She said Ayuuka spends too much time with you. What should I do?"
"Do whatever you want. Stand up for yourself. You don't have to do as everyone asks of you—you're allowed to say no. It's your life isn't it?" He had noticed this; she tended to do whatever she was told to do—no matter who, no matter what.
"—Just do what you want to do."
"What Ayuuka wants?" she said, dumbly.
Ayuuka frowned. She just wanted to do whatever she was asked. Things were always better that way. But she couldn't this time. It was like being told to tell Kyouya he suckedand also be told not to tell Kyouya he sucked. It just wasn't possible.
Noticing her troubled expression, he changed the topic again, deciding to get back to the work she missed. He grabbed a notebook off the chair he'd been sitting on, and crawled under the piano next to her.
"Here, let me explain this stuff to you."
But what was supposed to be a little explanation turned into a full-blown tutoring session and Kaoru was tired. Relishing in the cool air of the air conditioner while sprawled comfortably on the sofa, he rested his eyes, a light piano melody lulling him into lethargy.
Ayuuka turned around to look at Kaoru, on realising that he'd fallen asleep, she scampered over to watch. Her jaw dropped, eyes glistening.
Typical shoujo manga scene.
She stared at his sleeping form. She couldn't resist. Slowly bringing her face over his, nice and close, she poked his cheek, quickly ducking—just in case he woke up.
But he didn't.
But he didn't. The ultimate queue to take it further. But first—Ayuuka pulled out a black permanent marker. Slow and steady, she moved closer and—
—gave him a beauty mark right next to his left eye. Just for good measure.
Ducking again, she waited.
He didn't wake up.
Right. It was safe then.
That meant she could take it even further.
Kaoru had woken up many times to see many strange things in his life.
But this—this by far was the strangest.
He woke up to the sound of someone crying, their tears splattering all over his face.
"What are you doing?"
He stared at the blubbering Ayuuka, her face so close he could see the tears clinging to her eyelashes, and the snot dripping from her nose. Kaoru blinked, noticing a pair of orange safety scissors in one of her hands, dangerously close to his face—and her other hand? Nowhere to be seen but—in his hair?
"A–A–Ayuuka's sorry. Kaoru's hair was so pretty and Ayuuka was being stupid again, playing with it and making piggy tails and–and–and then it got stuck and–and–and now Ayuuka has to chop her hand off and–and–and Ayuuka's hand will be stuck in your hair FOREVER!" bawled Ayuuka.
He couldn't help it.
He laughed. Hard.
"It's not f-funny, Kaoru," she blubbered.
Still sniggering, he sat up and took the safety scissors from her and set them down. "Alright let's move to the bathroom."
A difficult, slow and awkward feat, but achievable. In front of the mirror in the bathroom he began to gently tug at his hair, loosen the tangles to free her hand. He noticed a black spot next to his left eye but shrugged it off—must be a spot on the mirror. He also noticed Ayuuka goggling at him with an odd expression on her face. One that he couldn't read, that was something new.
"When are you going to go to school?"
"Huh?" Kaoru froze, glanced at his watch and screamed, "WHAT?"
He was just supposed to drop in to visit her before school and then head back but—
Panicking, Kaoru's hand dipped into his pocket and pulled out his phone.
Fifteen missed calls—all Hikaru.