Really long chapter again… sorry!
Hi everyone! Yay Chapter six is up and hopefully it was safely updated the first and only time!! I'm happy that I'm still entertaining you all. You know, I love entertaining people with my work, no matter what people say!! Ok, I really don't have much to say right now… it's like 2:30 in the morning when I'm writing this intro, so before I fall asleep on my keyboard, let's start Chapter six, shall we?
Chapter Six, I summon thee!
Last Time: Living under Kaoru's roof is more complicated than Haruhi had first thought as she finds the young father in a difficult position between the expectations of a father and brother, and the responsibilities of raising twin sons. Kaoru does his best to be superman, but he tries to keep everything he feels within himself to remain strong for those around him. Yet how much longer can he keep going. Human beings have their limits.
We're at chapter six, do we still need to be reminded that I don't own anything, but the words and storyline?
PLEASE REVIEW I love reviews and what you guys think. If you have any ideas for the storyline I'm always open for more. Oh… please don't flame. Constructively criticize, but don't flame.
Here we go!!! Second star to the right and off to Never- My Fanfiction!!
Chapter Six: The Player Who Did Not Lose
The young man paced around the room in evident panic. He stood in what seemed like a casual town hospital waiting room in the town closest to his home. Not many people paid any attention to him. Other men and women walking passed the young man without even giving him a second glance. No one knew him. In fact, no one had ever spoken to him, let alone seen the twenty year old. The man was a foreigner who spoke with an accent. He had a difficult time pronouncing the words with silent letters and with the 'l' sound. Overall, he kept to himself. He was never seen walking around town unless he was shopping, and, more often than not, searching for work.
No one who lived in the small rural town in France actually knew who he was or why he had moved to such a tiny place in the middle of practically nowhere. Ignorance had produced nothing but gossip over the mysterious young man's motive. For young girls, he was the handsome mystery man with gentle eyes, but a mischievous grin. For the juvenile boys, he was a very dangerous rival, his strongest weapon: his good looks and polite personality. In the case of the older men of the town, this man impressed and confused them. The boy worked hard in any job that was given to him, but avoided casual conversation. The older women also had an opinion of him, he was good looking and polite enough, but was too secretive to actually be taken seriously.
Of all the groups of people living in town, the older women had their experience with men, and could only deduce one thing about the boy. He was taken. He had someone he was protecting, for if he didn't, he wouldn't have been searching so diligently for a job and working just as hard in the work he was able to find. At the boy's age, men were still bouncing back and forth between fun and responsibility, but for some reason, this boy was different. This young man had a purpose and he wasn't letting anything get in the way.
Nothing. Women. Liquor. Power. All he seemed to want was work, money, and food.
And suddenly… after the young man had been there for more or less six months, he was in the town clinic, pacing back and forth, muttering words in a language, not many of the townspeople could recognize or even understand.
The young man had been in the clinic since 8:30 in the morning. He had been pacing for nearly six hours, give or take the few minutes he spent sitting with his hands on his knees that would not stop fidgeting. It was obvious he was uncomfortable and impatient for his hands flew through his red hair, which was cut and styled in a very interesting way not found anywhere in Europe. He continued to mumble his words in his foreign language only stopping to bite his knuckles on occasion.
Outside the clinic, the gossip and rumors were growing… in the right direction. The reason behind his workaholic nature seemed to be because of a girl he cared about very much. His lack of interest in fun such as drink and women had been due to the female on his mind, who turned out to be expecting a child. Said girl was now in labor, which explained why the boy was still there after nearly six hours.
Now the gossip was being fueled by negative rumors due to the fact the boy was not in the room with his laboring lover. He had been placed outside in the waiting room and was denied entry whenever he asked the secretary in his accented French. The only reason behind this denial was due to the fact that the boy and his female companion were not married. Along with this, because he spoke a completely different language and so did the girl who was about to give birth, the only explanation behind the boy being forced to wait outside in the waiting room was that this young man and his 'girlfriend' had run off somewhere from a foreign country to hide an accidental pregnancy. In such a small town, such gossip spread like wildfire and the idea of this young man who worked so hard everyday for his pregnant partner but was denied the right to witness his child's birth was the story of the year.
Information continued to spread. The boy's name was not French, it was Japanese, Hitachiin or something like that. His 'girlfriend's' last name was also foreign and different from the man's. According to the rumors, her name was Ohtori- Del Rosario Ohtori to be exact. The two were expecting their first child, but due to customs, Hitachiin wasn't allowed to be in the room unless he and Ms. Ohtori were married. That was why the man still paced and he continued to pace for another two hours.
The day was February thirteenth, the day before Valentine's Day. Instead of spending his time looking for a present for the love of his life, Kaoru Hitachiin was stuck in the waiting room pacing. He didn't want to leave, he didn't want to just sit there, but no one was listening to him when he tried to see Maria.
By request, and with help on Tamaki's part, Maria had been given a private physician who came by the house frequently to check on the progress of the young woman's pregnancy. Maria had fallen into labor four days late, but when Kaoru tried to call the private doctor, the man seemed unable to be contacted. Without thinking, the Hitachiin took Maria to the nearest clinic from their home, and since arriving hadn't seen the girl since.
"Mademoiselle, is there any chance that I can see Maria now, please?" Kaoru queried in French for the umpteenth time that day. "I beg of you. I know my relationship with her isn't necessarily legal... but-"
The woman, who was the secretary of the clinic shook her head without even looking up. "I'm sorry, but you are not authorized to be in there."
After asking for the umpteenth time, Kaoru restrained his anger for the umpteenth time. He couldn't help but narrow his eyes at the woman behind the desk in the waiting room before turning his back on her and pacing once again. With a hiss, he began to curse in Japanese, wondering what he could have possibly done wrong to have been forced to leave Maria alone at the worst of times. He had promised to be by her side no matter what, but things weren't turning out the way anyone had planned.
Overall, Kaoru was terrified. He was afraid as to why the private doctor had not answered his phone, he was afraid for how Maria was taking the pain of bringing children into the world, and he was afraid that he was going to snap before any of this was over. He wanted to see Maria. It had been more than eight hours. There had to be some progress.
Abruptly Kaoru froze, his hands about to run through his hair in frustration. Something new and foreign had sounded out from within the depths of the small clinic. It echoed into the waiting room over the ticking of the wall clock on one side of the room and the television with bad reception that buzzed on the opposite side. Kaoru stopped all his actions, even halting his breath to listen. Eyes widening in recognition of the new tone, he spun around and rushed to the receptionist again.
His ears weren't deceiving him. He had heard a baby crying.
"Mademoiselle, Mademoiselle." Kaoru did his best to control the excitement that filled him. "You heard it didn't you? Oh, you must have heard it! The baby. Maria's had her baby. Can I go in now, please?"
He was smiling, he was disoriented, he was relieved. Kaoru bit his bottom lip the joy already getting to his head. At the moment, he didn't care if the child hadn't been his, all he did care about was that the wait was over and he could see Maria again. He wanted to yell. He wanted to jump around. He even wanted to cry. So many emotions came crashing into the poor Hitachiin he was left confused with only two thoughts in mind: See Maria, see the baby.
The secretary looked into the young man's handsome face. Though she had seen him many times before at the market or at a number of different jobs, this was first time she had seen him smiling. For a moment she felt a bit of compassion for the foreigner and with a sigh, she stood up and before strolling into the rest of the clinic behind her, she answered. "We will see. Excuse me."
This time, Kaoru didn't pace. The crying had died down, but it didn't stop the rapid beating of his heart. Kaoru looked around impatiently. What was taking the woman so long? He wanted to see Maria.
The woman did not come back after a minute or so, and Kaoru did his best to wait. For a few seconds he dared to call Tamaki long distance, just remembering the blonde's words about calling him when the Maria's baby was born. Tamaki did not pick up so Kaoru left the blonde a quick text, "The baby's here."
With these three words, the secretary entered the waiting room again. A gentle smile lit her features as she stated, "Don't worry, Ms. Ohtori will be fine. The doctor is stopping a slight hemorrhage, but everything is going well."
Aside from the comforting words, Kaoru couldn't help but feel fearful for a moment at the word 'hemorrhage'. Silently, he prayed that the doctor would stop the bleeding quickly. Suddenly the secretary spoke again, "Would you like to see them?"
When the receptionist said the word 'them', Kaoru's mind swiftly fell on Maria and the baby. For a moment, he wondered whether it was reasonable to see the young mother while the doctor was working on stopping internal bleeding, but eight hours had made the Hitachiin impatient and he nodded his head sheepishly. The receptionist continued to smile and left the room once more, leaving Kaoru to bite his knuckles in thought. He was still nervous out of anticipation. What would the child look like? Who would she or he resemble? If the infant looked like Hikaru, Kaoru might as well just go crazy. If the infant looked like Maria, Kaoru wouldn't complain. Turning his back towards the door the secretary had just entered, Kaoru ran his hands through his hair. He had suffered eight hours of nerves and could feel the ten years of life that had been used up by this long period of stress. He suddenly felt frustrated thinking about the baby. He had just experienced the moment all expectant fathers were prone to experience in the end of a nine month wait… but the ironic thing here was that he wasn't the father.
The Hitachiin straightened and shook his head, as if he could get such negative thoughts out of his mind. "Who cares?" He muttered in Japanese to himself. "Who cares who his or her father is? I'm here aren't I? I love Maria so I can love her children just the same. It's not very different from marrying a divorced woman with a couple kids. Damn it, what am I thinking?" The guilt and the regret were coming back, making him dread his thoughts that were trying to make this moment worthwhile. He shook his head again and growled into his hands.
"Monsieur Hitachiin." Said man looked up rapidly and spun around. Once his eyes registered what he saw before him, he pulled back in surprise.
"What!?" He was still speaking in Japanese, but at the moment he didn't realize it. In the woman's arms were not just one but two small bundles of joy. Each baby was wrapped in an identical light blue blanket, but what made them different was the fact that one bundle was covered in yellow ducklings and the other was covered in white lambs. Kaoru stared at the bundles for a long moment, his mouth agape. He was speechless and was in too much shock to move towards them. The woman smiled and strolled over to the new 'father'.
Kaoru remained mute, his eyes flying over the twins trying to register what had just happened. Before he could do anything, the lady was placing the babies in his arms. Seconds came and went in silence, as the young man stood cautiously not knowing what to do. He looked at the infants he held in shock, staring at a pair of identical twins, both with thick black hair like their mother. After what seemed to be several minutes, his mind finally calmed itself. Still watching Maria's sons, the edges of his lips lifted and…
"Well… one of you wasn't enough, huh?" The Hitachiin found himself muttering. "I'm sorry to say… the twin thing's been taken on your father's side… but that's ok." He chuckled and slowly realized his eyes had filled with tears.
"Your sons look very much like you." Though the woman had meant her words to be a compliment, Kaoru felt his body stiffen.
Glancing up at the receptionist, Kaoru gently changed the subject questioning, "Has their mother seen them yet?"
The woman shook her head, "They were removed right after the birth to the pediatrician; twins don't normally come four days late. The doctor still had to stop their mother's bleeding."
"Oh, I see. When… can we see her?" The receptionist found the father frowning in reply.
"I'm not quite sure. I will check for you, Sir." With this, the female left the room for the third time.
While she was gone, Kaoru sat down and continued to look at the new Hitachiin twins in silence. He wanted to talk to Maria and tell her how much he was so proud of her. She had been so strong to bring two babies into the world instead of just one. Alone with the twins, the Hitachiin carefully balanced both babies on one arm and on his lap, and ran his hand gently over their foreheads. The infants felt warm under his touch and moved ever so slightly in reaction to the grip. Even then, the twenty year old was still trying to wrap his mind around it. Maria was a mother… he was… well… this meant he was their father… in some respects.
Maybe what made it so hard was as the man gazed at the twins silently, his mind was trying to tell him one thing while his chest was telling him another. Within his chest, he could feel emotion swelling up from his core making his face feel hot and his head light. For some reason his chest was constricting and he wanted to cry and laugh all at once. Yet aside from the emotion, aside from the urge to laugh and cry, his mind was filled with dreadful thoughts that would not go away. The boys looked more like their mother. The boys had their mother's hair. The boys had their mother's lips. But…
One of the babies suddenly opened his eyes. The little one blinked and frowned but did not react. His gaze fell on his 'Papa' and would not break away.
Kaoru returned the look seeing, to his mind's misfortune, gold.
The boys had their father's eyes.
The Hitachiin bit his bottom lip before sighing. Wasn't this day supposed to be a happy occasion? He was supposed to be celebrating the birth of the twin boys but his mind kept bringing up the other aspects of the situation. The twins did not move or cry, but instead stared or slept silently. After what seemed to be five minutes of trying to clear his mind, the young man exhaled through gritted teeth and forced any further contemplation far into the recesses of his brain. As if to officially place his thoughts there temporarily, he came to grin before kissing the two infants softly on the forehead. He found himself whispering, "You two are going to be quite a handful. Two of you against your mother and I… I hope neither of you decide to be as troublesome as we were before you." Kaoru chuckled, realizing how easy it was to feel so much happier again merely by looking at the boys. "Your mother and I will never… never stop loving you."
For another ten minutes or so the receptionist returned accompanied by what looked like the clinic's nurse. The redhead glanced up expectantly, but the nurse spoke first, "Monsieur, we will need to take your sons for a moment." Leaning over, the nurse touched the two and continued, "We want to make sure these little ones stay warm."
Though the Hitachiin didn't feel like doing as the nurse had called for, he obliged and handed the boys to the nurse before she walked away into the back room. The receptionist was left behind, but her next words brought joy to the young man. "Monsieur, you may come with me to see your partner now."
Kaoru was on his feet in a second, the smile on his face growing wider. He had so much to say, so many things to express to the girl he loved that he couldn't wait to see Maria. Leading the way, the receptionist added, "She's a little tired, but the doctors say that the bleeding has stopped and she will be fine with some rest. I will admit… she was very strong to bring two babies into the world."
"Yeah she was." Kaoru replied, distantly thinking about the woman he was about to see. "Thank goodness everything turned out well."
The receptionist looked back at the father who followed her into the clinic. The smile that brightened his handsome features was of true elation and she was happy to have been the person to bring him good news about his young lover and his children. Bringing him to one of the few rooms in the clinic, she slowly opened the door and revealed the new mother lying in a lone bed in the middle of the room.
There was a second's hesitation as Kaoru's eyes fell on Maria's still form, which was connected to a palpitation monitor. He couldn't help but swallow a lump in his throat before entering the Ohtori's room. Quickly forgetting the receptionist, Kaoru took a small stool that stood in the corner of the room and sat down, taking one of Maria's hands in his own. The grin on his face had turned into a worried frown as he gazed at Maria, who did not appear to be conscious. For the first time, Kaoru felt fear for another person's life other than his twin's, who –at the moment- was completely oblivious of what was happening on the other side of the world. Aside from this, Kaoru didn't care. He found himself praying that Maria would wake up and put his mind at ease.
And as if to answer his prayers, the nineteen year old mother of twins awoke, her black eyes coming in and out of focus. Gaze traveling all over the room until finding Kaoru, who held her hand, Maria's first action was a smile before speaking nearly inaudibly. "Hey."
Kaoru felt his eyes fill with tears again, but he rapidly rubbed them away and laughed lightly. "Hey. Look at you."
"Look at you." Maria repeated weakly before giving Kaoru's hand a gentle squeeze. "You're tearing up… Heh… I didn't know you'd be this emotional."
The redhead shrugged, "I think we've got this mixed up. Aren't you the one who's supposed to be suffering from the careening roller coaster of instable hormones?"
It seemed that Maria had not just given birth to twins for the two had easily fallen into a casual conversation, already joking aside from how weak Maria felt. The Ohtori didn't seem to mind, as she kept her eyes on the Hitachiin and her lips in a constant grin. "Well… You're not the one… who just gave birth to twins… maybe your feeling the things… my body's too weak to feel."
"Tired?" Kaoru reacted protectively.
With a faint giggle Maria replied, "A little." Her free hand moved slowly to her head and she rubbed it slowly. "My… head… hurts… but this pain- it's not as bad… as earlier."
Her partner looked away sadly for a moment but returned his gaze, "I'm sorry I couldn't be with you during the birth. I did my best… but no matter how much mischief I unleashed they wouldn't let me see you. They even threatened to kick me out."
Maria continued to giggle, " 'Unleashed', huh? Kaoru… it's ok… What's important … is that you're here… with me… in the end…" For a moment, the young woman's eyes tiredly fell closed, but they opened once more. "No matter… what happened… in the past…"
"I'll always be with you." Kaoru finished before the topic could be brought up. His chest constricted as he said this and he wanted to cry again. The young man moved forward in his seat and gave the woman a gentle kiss on the lips. Maria sighed happily in return. "I… don't care what happened before. We'll raise the twins together. I know you'll be an amazing mother."
A moment came and went, but it took a second for Maria to react to his statement. Her free hand was rubbing her head again, yet she was still smiling. "Twins… two precious babies…"
"Two adorable baby boys. They look like you, but they do have the Hitachiin eyes." Kaoru patted Maria's hand with his own, "It's so ironic… but thinking about it, I know I have so many lessons to teach them. They're so beautiful. They are so… remarkable… I mean… I never thought I could feel this way. I thought that maybe- maybe I would never… Maria?"
The girl's grip had loosened in Kaoru's hold, yet her other arm was still running over her forehead. Standing, Kaoru reached down to touch the Ohtori's forehead with his free hand. Her temperature seemed normal, maybe a little cooler than usual, but nothing seemed to be wrong. Maria's face said differently as the remaining color in her cheeks was draining from her face. "Hey, are you alright?"
"Kaoru…" For some reason Maria's gaze had fallen distant.
Eyes widening, Kaoru shook his head. "Maria? Wait hold on... something's wrong. I'll get the doctor." Kaoru tried to turn, but Maria held on to his arm in earnest. His troubled stare met her weak one.
"Please… don't regret… this. Trust me…" Kaoru felt his heart skip a beat when Maria's expression suddenly contorted with discomfort, her eyes narrowing and her hold on her skull tightening, "Y-You'll… be a great… a great father… I've… never doubted that."
"Maria…" Shaking his head, Kaoru pulled gently from Maria's grip. "We- We'll be good parents- the two of us... We'll raise them together… Maria?"
"My head… it hurts…" Before the Hitachiin could fully pull from the Ohtori's hold, the girl's grip loosened completely, her hand abruptly falling out of Kaoru's palm, her eyes closing shut, and her head rolling onto its side.
Maybe he had stood there only a millisecond… or maybe it had been a few seconds while Kaoru's mind had just registered what had happened. The monitor on the other side of the bed was still sounding off Maria's heartbeat, rhythm inconsistent and slow. Within these few seconds, he didn't realize he was speaking, "Maria… Maria!?"
Maria's heart was still beating… but she wasn't waking up.
Spinning around, Kaoru didn't feel his feet rushing his form out of the room. He didn't feel his voice calling out loudly- desperately in all the languages that came to his mind, Japanese, French, English, Spanish. "Help! Someone- anyone! Help!!" He didn't see the nurse who was running his direction. He didn't hear was she was saying. His words just came flying out, "Maria. Oh my God! She's not waking up. Help her… Help her!!"
The few nurses and doctors who worked at the clinic were pushing passed him now. They were rushing into Maria's room, orders being yelled out and people hurrying here and there. He was left to stand at the other end of the hall, gazing into Maria's room as the doctors and nurses were trying their best find out what was wrong. After a few minutes, the receptionist had taken his arm and was pulling him in direction of the exit. Instinctively, he shook his head, "No! No! No! Wait… I can't- Maria, Maria!!"
Hours came and went, but Kaoru was kept outside once more, pacing and praying.
The next time he heard a voice, it was from the middle-aged doctor who was shaking his head as he spoke. "Hitachiin… I… I am sorry to say…"
The young man did not hear those last words. He merely stared at the man in front of him before moving by him into the clinic aside from the calls from the receptionist and nurses he passed by. When he made it to Maria's doorway, he stopped, gazing at Maria's lifeless form.
The Nurses avoided his eyes as they left the room. One wheeled out the defibrillator that had failed to return Maria's life to her. For the longest time, Kaoru shook his head, his lips parting into words of denial.
The Hitachiin backed into the opposite wall and slid down into the fetal position. Not fully aware of what he was doing, he placed his face in his arms and sat in his place, continuing to mutter.
Everything. Everything had been taken away from him. No matter what he did, he kept losing those closest to him.
And yet, even with such ideas swimming through his chaotic mind, the tears did not fall.
Who knows how long the poor boy had remained in the hallway of the small hospital mourning over the loss of the mother of his children. The doctor ordered that the boy not be disturbed, but because time did not stop –even for the Hitachiin-, eventually the man had to bring the boy back to reality.
Kaoru did not fight. He did not cry. He did not yell or scream. The staff of the clinic were surprised to see the young man's eyes dry, but darkened by the sorrow that had not been expressed. The young man politely asked to see his 'sons'- to hold them and luckily, this time, no one tried to stop him.
The day had been February thirteen when Kohaku and Keisuke were born. After eight hours of labor, their mother, Maria Angelina Del Rosario Ohtori, gave birth to them in a little town nestled in the midst of rural France.
The day had been February thirteen when their mother died. Maria Angelina Del Rosario Ohtori, the woman Kaoru had loved, passed away due to a blood clot that had ceased all blood flow to the brain.
Four years later, February thirteen has come again… and though it brings both joy and sorrow, life continues on for Kohaku and Keisuke, and their 'father', Kaoru.
It was the morning of the twins' birthday when Kaoru came to wake up tears rolling down the sides of his face and onto his pillow. Since the night before, the twenty-four year old had been finding himself easily moved by nearly anything, somewhat similar to someone with instable emotions. The day was February thirteen, four years following Kohaku and Keisuke's birth and Maria's death, and for the fourth time in a row, Kaoru had relived the last moment he had spent with Maria that very night.
In truth, Kaoru had expected it. He knew the memory was going to unearth itself and expected to wake up in cold sweat nearly in tears. He had even dared to stay awake all night, but due to five days of busy work and emotional strife, even his body couldn't take anymore sleepless nights and he had found himself collapsing onto his pillow the evening before the twins' special day. Now, what surprised him as he awoke were the damp spots at the sides of his face, where tears had fallen as he dreamed once more. The father sat up slowly and rubbed his face with his palms drying the wet trails the tears had been taking. Why was today different? Why cry when the passed three years he rarely found himself in tears?
Kaoru sighed and found his voice caught in his throat. His head was aching and he felt dizzy, which was unfortunate for the Hitachiin who would have to wrestle with a pair of excited four year olds for the entire day. His hands still against his face Kaoru tried his best to regain his composure, yet no matter what he did his eyes remained wet. A faint growl exited the man's lips before he forced himself out of his bed and onto the floor. Stretching, Kaoru yawned before stumbling out of his room. He wasn't ready to face the day and with Maria's last moments still fresh in his mind, Kaoru wanted some time to think. Kaoru quietly strolled towards the twins' room and peered inside. The alarm clock at one end of their room brightly expressed that it was half passed seven, around the time everyone should have started waking up for such a big day.
Luckily for him, Kohaku and Keisuke were still in a deep slumber, all thanks to Tamaki keeping them up late into the night playing commoner's games while Haruhi had spent time with Kaoru himself. Whatever Tamaki had done to tire the boys out had worked and even as Kaoru strolled into the boys' room, neither stirred. Taking advantage of the moment, the Hitachiin crawled onto his sons' bed and settled himself in the small space between the birthday celebrants. Once again, Kohaku had turned himself upside down in his sleep and Kaoru picked the boy up and placed him in the correct position. Keisuke had already snuggled closer to Kaoru's body, only aware of the warmth that came from the young man. Smiling endearingly, Kaoru wrapped his arms around the two boys as the pair continued to sleep.
"You two…" Kaoru muttered amused. He shook his head and then closed his eyes, running his hands over the boys' heads before falling into a semi-conscious state, his mind on his thoughts while his body had returned to rest.
Nearly an hour later, Kaoru's eyes flew open at the sound of shuffling feet right outside the room. After his eyes were able to refocus, he found himself looking at his houseguest staring from behind the door to the room. Once she realized he was awake she grinned gently before slipping into the room silently. "Good Morning." Haruhi greeted in an audible whisper.
"Morning." Kaoru replied. "Slept well?"
"Shouldn't that be my line?" Haruhi returned, "Yesterday was pretty tiring for you."
Kaoru couldn't help but chuckle at her statement. "Now, now…" He felt his eyes ready to overflow again. "I don't know what you did to me Haruhi, but ever since yesterday I've been finding myself constantly at the verge of tears. Heck, I've always been the talented one who was able to bring fake tears to my eyes in high school, but it's never been like this."
The woman's smile faltered, "I apologize. I didn't expect-"
"It's ok… I actually feel like a weight has been lifted. It still hurts but it is good to feel this kind of pain." Kaoru explained and held the twins at his sides closer.
Haruhi watched him as he did this and finally nodded. "So… what are you doing?" She queried innocently.
The Hitachiin kept grinning and spoke a little louder, "Oh nothing really, just enjoying the quiet a little while longer. I need to warn you, none of us will be getting any rest until these two go to bed tonight." Suddenly he brought the two boys deeper into his hold, their faces slamming into his sides uncomfortably. There came a pair of groans in return as Kohaku and Keisuke were roughly brought into the world of the conscious. "Haruhi, I doubt that you've seen these two at their worst, but they're nothing close to Hikaru and I… Boys, Hijos, it's time to wake up."
It shocked both the Fujioka and Hitachiin when the younger of the two mumbled, "But I'm still sleepy…"
Coming closer towards the bed, Haruhi did her best to help, "Keisuke… Kohaku… you really should wake up. Don't you know what day it is?"
Kohaku yawned and was the first to open his sleep-ridden eyes, "…It's…" There was second of silence as the thoughts began to register. Suddenly out of nowhere, the older twin jumped up, his eyes wide with realization. Kaoru pulled back calmly as the four year old began to yell, "IT'S OUR BIRTHDAY!! PAPA, IT'S OUR BIRTHDAY!!"
As the adults laughed in reply to this sudden wake up call, Kohaku crawled over his father's lap to Keisuke's side of the bed. Without empathy towards his sleeping brother, Kohaku hopped on top of Keisuke calling, "KEI, KEI, WAKE UP!! IT'S OUR BIRTHDAY!!! OUR BIRTHDAY!! YOU GOT TO WAKE UP NOW!!! WAKE UP WAKE UP!"
"Owwwww." Was the only reaction Keisuke gave before turning his head into Kaoru's body in an attempt to overlook his brother's yells. "Kohaku, I'm sleeping."
"BUT YOU NEED TO WAKE UP NOW KEI!! IT'S TIME TO WAKE UP; WE HAVE OUR BIRTHDAY PARTY AT KYOUYA-OJI-SAN'S HOUSE!!" Kohaku climbed further on top of his twin, straddling the poor Keisuke who remained slightly submerged in the folds of his father's nightshirt. Kohaku leaned over and blew into his brother's ear before shouting into it. "OY KEISUKE!!!!!!!"
With this harsh awakening, Kaoru grabbed the older twin and pulled Kohaku off Keisuke, clicking his tongue. "Kohaku, that's rude. You don't do that, hijo."
Kohaku struggled against his father's grip, "But Papa, Kei isn't waking up!! He has to wake up now or he won't be able to go to the party." Ignoring Kaoru's strong hold, Kohaku spoke out loudly again, "KEEEEIIIISUKE!!! WE'RE FOUR YEARS OLD NOW!!! WAKE UP!!!"
This time, Keisuke cried out, "Stop it… Papa… Kohaku's being mean…"
"But Keisuke, your brother wants to spend his time with you on your birthday." Kaoru replied. He gazed up at Haruhi who observed quietly. The Hitachiin motioned her closer and spoke, "Haruhi would you like to try and wake this little one up. It seems Kohaku and I aren't making any progress."
Haruhi shrugged, "Well, I don't know if I'll be able to help." She didn't understand why the man insisted that she try to wake his son up, but hesitantly, Haruhi did as she was told. Lowering herself so that she was eye level with the stubborn boy she gently nudged Keisuke, "Hey little guy, today's a big day. Let's get up and have some fun."
Keisuke shook his head and turned away. Haruhi kept nudging him, "Come on Keisuke. Think about it. You'll be getting presents and cake and you'll get to see all your friends…" No matter how much she cooed, Keisuke did not get up, resisting all attempts to get him out of bed. Glancing up, Haruhi glared at Kaoru who was chuckling uncontrollably for some reason. He avoided her gaze and turned to holding Kohaku back who was trying to climb onto his brother again to help his Aunt wake the child up. With a sigh, Haruhi got serious, slightly irked by the way Kaoru was laughing to himself. "Keisuke… Think about all the fun you will be having. Think of the cake-"
Abruptly the small boy moved his head in her direction and gave Haruhi the darkest glare imaginable, eyes no longer gold, but black(Y/M: OMG Keisuke's a vampire! Sorry, Twilight fans!) from lack of sleep (Y/M: Oh, never mind. :P). Instead of Keisuke's normal adorable voice, the child spoke with a harsh hiss, "I… don't like cake…!"
The sudden change in the boy's demeanor made Haruhi pull back and nearly fall off the bed in surprise. Her eyes wide with shock she found herself squeaking, "W-What in the world?" The glare the boy had just give her had looked very much like the glare of a Shadow King she knew, especially after being woken up at an undesirable time. The boy was small and cute, which gave his scowl nearly double the power and also related him to the small blonde Lolita whom she also was companions with.
In return, Kaoru exploded into a fit of laughter. He overlooked the fact that the woman beside him who had failed to wake up the second twin was staring at him incredulously. With a finishing chuckle, Kaoru wiped some stray tears from his eyes as if it had all been some funny joke. "Look…Look at that face of yours. Hahahaha!" The Hitachiin couldn't help but chuckle again. "You really… you really…"
"I what!?" Haruhi questioned. "Did you see that glare he gave me? I didn't do anything!"
"No… no… I know you didn't…. Hahaha…. I mean… Keisuke… Hahaha… wake up for Papa now… hahaha! My Goodness, Haruhi that's priceless." Kaoru just couldn't stop laughing which made Haruhi feel like she had fallen for some lousy prank. She narrowed her eyes and Kaoru beamed back, lifting Keisuke off the bed and nonchalantly placing the boy onto the floor. Once Keisuke was standing safely on one side of the bed, Kaoru patted the twin on the backside gently in direction of the bathroom while saying, "Kei go wash your face in the bathroom. Kohaku make sure your brother makes it there."
The older twin nodded and slipped off his mattress as well. He took his twin's hand and half-led half-dragged a grumpy Keisuke to said washroom. Their father finally elaborated on his sudden fit of giggles. "I'm so sorry, Haruhi. I… just. Well let's just say, Keisuke isn't a morning person…" Kaoru's look fell distant as he recalled something as he spoke, "…Like his mother and his Kyouya-Oji-san. Looks like not even you can interrupt an Ohtori's slumber without being snapped at. I was so sure that you would have been able to get Keisuke up, but I guess I was wrong."
Haruhi frowned, "That was low Kaoru. You should have told me, Keisuke was like that. I didn't know a four year old could give a person such a look. He looked like he was going to kill me. Gosh, he looked just like Kyouya!"
"Kyouya… and Maria." Kaoru explained, jumping off the bed. Haruhi opened her mouth to say something, but realized how suddenly open the twenty-four year old Hitachiin was acting. His persona had changed dramatically as if a physical weight had really been lifted from his shoulders. The young man kept on, speaking about the deceased woman quite calmly, "You should have seen her, Haruhi. I don't know who was worse, Maria or Kyouya in the morning. There was this one time, when Maria was about five months pregnant with the boys. Oh my God, she was having the worst mood swings. When I tried to wake her up, I think she scared fifteen years from my lifespan. Ah, the Ohtori morning demons."
At this last statement, there was a small scream from outside the room in direction of the bathroom. The two adults gave each other a glance before exiting the room and heading for the source of the scream. On the way there, another scream accompanied the first before Kaoru opened the bathroom door revealing the pair of Hitachiin twins soaking wet. Puddles of water lay sporadically in the large bathroom the boys stood in. Each twin held a cup in their hands, both in the position of spilling water on the other. Kaoru sighed without reaction and placed his hands on his hips disapprovingly. Before the father could speak, his sons were already going down the line of excuses.
The Morning Demon, Keisuke was wide awake by now and he pointed at his brother, "Papa, Haku spilled water on me!"
Kohaku scowled in his twin's direction, "Hey I was trying to wake you up!" He pointed at Keisuke and added, "But Papa, he spilled water on me too."
Rolling his eyes, Kaoru ignored these accusations and walked into the room carefully. He avoided the puddles of water from an apparent water fight that had gone on for a few seconds before he had appeared. The young man overlooked what either child was saying, grabbing both their pajama tops and pulling them off. He only shook his head, "Enough of that. You two needed to take a bath before the party anyway. Take your clothes off."
"But Papa!" Both boys called out unanimously.
"Kohaku, Keisuke the tub, now. You have a long day." Kaoru ended further discussion with the order. A grin still lit his face, but the boys still did as they were told, removing their pajamas before getting into the bath tub at the end of the room.
The Hitachiin rubbed the back of his neck and piled the shed clothes into the corner of the bathroom to be picked up later. He turned to look at the brunette who had followed him. He gave her an indifferent shrug and spoke, "I'm sorry again Haruhi, but I told you, we're- I'm not going to be resting until these two finally go to bed tonight." Pausing, Kaoru turned the taps of the tub, squirted a bit of bubble bath into the water, and began to fill the tub. He continued, "You can go downstairs and see to it that Rebekah's awake. She still has to finish the cake before we leave for Kyouya's."
Haruhi took a moment to stare at the redhead before nodding. "You got it." With this, she left and did as she was told.
His words echoed within my mind, "I don't know what you did to me Haruhi, but ever since yesterday I've been finding myself constantly at the verge of tears. Heck, I've always been talented at bringing fake tears to my eyes since in high school, but it's never been like this." Thinking about it, I have to admit, not even I knew the answer to his inquiry. What did I do to him?
After I found the younger Hitachiin twin at the airport the other day, I spent much of the night listening and talking to Kaoru in a way, I guess, none of the male ex-hosts could. I might have been a little less emotional than most girls, but I was still slightly more empathetic than the average man… excluding Tamaki of course. Yesterday, Kaoru seemed to have reached the end of his emotional rope. He, like most guys, kept what he felt and thought hidden from others, but knowing his predicament, I don't think that it would have been very healthy for him to have continued on like he did. A single father, a 'CEO' of sorts, and a disowned son, Kaoru had to face it one day, he really wasn't superman.
Kaoru didn't tell me enough about his situation to be fully enlightened, but I could see how he seemed to hate every word that exited his mouth as he cried. He was drilling a hole deep into his heart trying his best to forget the technicalities of his problem and yet bring the boys closer to him. He just wouldn't let it go that he was the not the father of Keisuke and Kohaku, no matter how many times the two called him Papa, Otou-san, and Daddy. I didn't try to make him realize that when I found him at the airport, but the more he spoke from the heart, the more I wanted to tell him off for not recognizing his own desires.
And yet… strangely, though I had not given him any advice whatsoever, he had changed. Kaoru Hitachiin had changed just enough for me to notice. Maybe it was because I was letting him open up without questioning him. Maybe he had just wanted someone to understand without truly understanding his feelings, like the day Tamaki and I had overheard him and Kyouya on the speakerphone, when Kyouya was asking if Kaoru regretted his decisions. Whatever had happened, Kaoru had lowered the defenses he had raised when I had first arrived. He wasn't ready to let everything go just yet, but he was willing to express himself enough to make my job in helping a whole lot easier.
Now, it was Kohaku and Keisuke's birthday and to my surprise (or not), Kaoru was acting just as open and carefree as ever. He joined Rebekah and I downstairs soon after giving the boys a bath and spoke to us kindly and calmly about preparing this and organizing that. The stressed and overworked Kaoru was gone, and the father figure was back, making sure that his sons' special day was perfect. The decorations were already being set up at Kyouya's home and the final things that had to be prepared were the food and birthday celebrants. Within a few productive hours we were finished with the needed arrangements and were jumping into Kaoru's Mini Cooper. As we drove to our destination, I found myself asking, "Kaoru, why did you plan to have the party at Kyouya's house?"
I was sitting shotgun and glanced to my right at Kaoru, whose eyes remained on the road as his hands held tightly to the steering wheel. He sent a quick look in my direction before answering, "It wasn't my idea, Kyouya was the one who offered. The plans were to have the party at our house, Kyouya's, or Tamaki's. The boys were the ones who chose. Kohaku wanted it at Tamaki's house, Keisuke wanted it at Kyouya's estate, so our house fell out of the question."
Abruptly said twins added, "We flipped a coin!"
Rebekah, who had been placed at the center of the backseat between the two boys giggled, before nodding. I looked back to watch them, noticing Kaoru taking a second to glance at the three squished in the seat through the rearview mirror. "They flipped the coin 27 times." The Maid explained.
Kaoru began to chuckle as well, recalling the event, "Ah yes, it had to be fair, Rebekah. Is that right, boys?"
I stared at the twins who each nodded enthusiastically. Each boy was dressed in identical purple turtlenecks, perfect for a romp in the chilly February weather, accompanied by a pair of deep blue denim jeans and twin pairs of green and purple Converse. The only difference between the two, other than the part in their hair, was that Kohaku had Tortuga wrapped around his small shoulders, the boa constrictor peacefully slithering from one side of his shoulders to the other. Said twin with the reptile gracing his shoulders spoke, "This year we'll have our birthday party at Kyouya-Oji-san's."
His brother was quick to follow, "And next year, when we turn five, we'll have our birthday at Tama-Oji-san's."
Their father came to stop at the red light and looked at me elaborating, "Tamaki already has it all planned out." The Hitachiin shook his head bemused and amused all at once before continuing, "Keeps saying something about creating a mini animal kingdom in his backyard for the boys and having a birthday safari, matching safari cosplay and everything. I now understand why you were so irked by the actions of the rich."
The mental image made me laugh in return. I wouldn't have been surprised if Tamaki did decide to bring elephants and zebras to his home just for the twins' birthday. The idea of safari outfits continued to humor me as Kaoru drove on, muttering about how 'unnerving it would be to see Kohakua and Keisuke in those atrocious Safari costumes.'
"Well does Kyouya have any better plans than that?" I queried through my giggles.
"Oh, you know Kyouya wouldn't be found dead with some crazy attraction in his home. I believe it may just be a simple get together, nothing more." Kaoru took a turn and we began driving into a neighborhood of clearly wealthy homes. "The boys don't get to see other children often due to the fact that their Oji-sans and Oba-sans are busy with their businesses and the like. What's more, they aren't old enough to go to preschool so I can't send them anywhere just yet. For their birthday I tried to invite everyone from high school I'm still in contact with- KOHAKU, drop that present right now!"
I nearly jumped up to the car roof when Kaoru suddenly snapped, his eyes on the rearview mirror watching the four year old release one of his birthday gifts wrapped in bright red wrapping paper. Rebekah and Keisuke giggled just a guiltily, giving the one who was caught a sheepish look before glancing away. Kaoru gave a sigh and shook his head, "You two will be getting more gifts soon, I don't want you to be opening the presents I have for you until you get the gifts from your guests first."
The houses were beginning to become spread apart, yards became bigger, houses became more elaborate. The wealthy homes were turning into wealthy estates, much larger than Kaoru's own western-styled building. With this, I kept my eyes on the passing scenery doing my best to pinpoint the Ohtori estate from the mansions that came by.
A few moments later, Kyouya's home did appear shining in its silver modern splendor. Only a couple of cars were parked in the round driveway in front of the large home, which meant we were comfortably early. Kaoru drove silently up to the gate and spoke into the gate's speaker. "Kaoru Hitachiin here." There was a pause and the gates slid open for him to drive through. As Kyouya held control over the branches of his company within the Tokyo area, the shadow king still lived in the family home. I didn't quite understand as to why the Ohtoris welcomed Kaoru and the twins, when I was aware Maria had never been on their good sides. All I could imagine was that Kyouya was respected enough by his father to be taken seriously and given permission to have a children's birthday party held on the grounds of the estate.
Rebekah clapped her hands and cheered, "What luck, we have such nice weather today."
I peered out of the window and saw the sky was overcastted and cloudy, but the sun was still shining through, its rays slightly weakened by the cloud cover. I frowned, but quickly realized that for a German like Rebekah, this did seem like good weather for winter.
Kaoru parked and turned around to gaze into the backseat. The father began his lecture, "Now Kohaku Keisuke, Kyouya-Oji-san is being very generous to have allowed us to have your party at his house, but remember we need to be respectful especially when we are greeting your Fuyumi Oba-san and your Ojii-sama."
I looked away from the backseat and stared at the Hitachiin. It still perplexed me that the Ohtori patriarch and sole Ohtori daughter were accepting of the illegitimate children and their father, but I did note the sudden change in the respectful suffixes. Keisuke shyly spoke up, his brother abruptly holding an equally shy demeanor, "Will our other Oji-sans be there too?"
Shaking his head, Kaoru elaborated, "Kyouya-Oji-san will be the only brother there. Your other Oji-sans are on business. Everyone else will be just your ordinary Oji-sans, like Tama-Oij-san and Mori-Oji-san."
The boys nodded. Even at four they felt the somberness of the moment. I didn't question the fact that Kaoru had taught the boys to act according to atmosphere, so different from the twins a generation before who complained at random moments of time how bored they were.
After this short order, Kaoru exited the car. I followed suit and watched the boys and Rebekah stumble out into the sunny, but still chilly February day. Before I could realize where Kaoru had gone, he was already at the back of the car, removing the gifts he had for the twins and the food that he had expertly placed in the trunk to avoid spills. Rebekah quickly came to help him and I moved to accompany them both, but was stopped when the pair of birthday boys grabbed each of my hands. "Haruhi-Oba-chan!" The two called out adorably. I smiled down at them.
When I looked up again, I saw two young men dressed in black speaking with Kaoru at the trunk of the car. I couldn't hear what they were saying for a moment, but I did see how Rebekah had her arms crossed showing her evident dislike. I strolled closer to the conversation, pulling the boys with me.
"…Hitachiin-sama, we are here to assist you, sir." One of the men explained respectfully. The trunk had been full of boxes with food, gifts, and extra decorations, plus one large birthday cake, but all of them would have been easily taken into the estate on a few trips by two healthy human beings. The pair of twins holding my hands tightened their grips, helping me realize that like Rebekah, they were not used to having servants of any kind helping them with work. What I had already known was that Rebekah wasn't even much of a maid. She cleaned and did the laundry, yes, but it wasn't unusual for Kaoru and I to help her with the chores. Besides, Kaoru was paying for her high school tuition and other needs, so she wasn't there solely to be the 'maid'.
Rebekah let out a huff of breath, "Oh? Well we got this all handled, guys." She tightened her crossed arms, her muscles flexing through the cloth of her coat. "We don't need any help thanks."
The two men gave each other looks before continuing, "Please, we would like to make it easier for you, as ordered by Ohtori-sama, Sir."
Rebekah stood her ground even stepping forward, "I said we got this handled."
Even Kaoru had become accustomed to work and bowed, "It's alright. You may return to what you were doing. We can take these things in by ourselves, thank you."
"You deaf?" The German teen spoke, cracking her knuckles threateningly.
Kaoru turned to Rebekah gently apprehending her, "Rebekah, that's enough. I'll take care of this, thank you."
The maid rolled her eyes and bent down, picking two large boxes onto her shoulders easily and walking towards the boys and I. Kaoru could only gaze at her before moving his gaze in my direction, telling me with his eyes to head to the estate with Rebekah. I did as I was told, taking the boys with me by the hand, knowing full well that Kohaku and Keisuke were looking back at their father as we moved away. The birthday celebrants continued to watch Kaoru reason out with the two strange men who were offering to help out of nowhere until we entered the main building.
Another man, the butler this time, opened the door for us. As he did this, the boys were staring at him closely. Once again, this man offered to help Rebekah with her load, but the proud teen shook her head and stopped him from offering any further. The more the twins seemed to be amazed by what they saw around them the more I saw how Kaoru had raised them. The Hitachiin had brought his sons up in the middle of his world and their mother's. As children, Kohaku and Keisuke did not have to worry about money or the food they were eating, but at the same time, they did not have servants to do everything for them. I remembered Tamaki's words about Kaoru not spoiling the twins, which explained as to why the boys were uncomfortable as we entered.
Within seconds, Kaoru had joined us, followed by the two men who had won the verbal battle outside and were taking the boxes and food inside. Rebekah glared at these men, but kept her mouth shut. Kohaku and Keisuke saw their father come in and released my hands, coming to him as if attracted by an invisible force. He patted each on the head and beamed at them. The five of us waited patiently in the large entryway.
In truth, I had never met any of Kyouya's family members other than his father so I really didn't know what I was waiting for. I knew he had two older brothers and an older sister, but other than that I was even more oblivious than Kohaku and Keisuke. I took up my time waiting by looking around the foyer in interest. Everything was clean, the floors were waxed, and the entire area was covered in modern décor. Even if I hadn't already known that Kyouya lived in such a place, I could swiftly tell. The Shadow King's straight laced, dignified persona was surely expressed by his home.
Much of the floors in Kaoru's home had been wood so the marble tile floor of Kyouya's place caught the twins' interest quickly. The four year old Hitachiin brothers pointed at their reflections in the waxed floor, pulling at their father to look down as well. Kaoru silently obliged and gazed down. Strangely there was an evident question hidden behind his light smile, he was wondering the same thing as I was. Where was Kyouya?
After a few minutes a voice echoed out into the hall. A woman I had never seen before, descended a flight of stairs at one end of the room, greeting us, "Welcome everyone. I apologize for keeping you waiting." There was a sense of poise in each of her steps and looking closely at the woman's face, I could see the traits of the Ohtori in her. Arriving at the ground floor, she gave us a genuinely warm smile, and almost instantly I could sense that Fuyumi Ohtori was very different from her younger brother.
As quickly as she arrived, Kaoru nudged the twins forward. Kohaku and Keisuke, boasting the shyest looks about them, bowed deeply and answered uniformly, "Good Morning, Fuyumi Oba-san. Thank you for having us in your home."
Sadness darkened the woman's face for a millisecond; she shook her and returned to smiling, "Now, now, it's all right. You two don't need to be so somber with me." She came towards us and leaned down to look at the boys in the eyes, "Why don't you give me some happy faces? I hear that it's your birthday today, isn't it?"
Once again Kohaku and Keisuke answered at the same time, "Yes, Fuyumi-Oba-san. We are turning four today."
Because she was much closer, I could see Kyouya's sister a lot more clearly. Especially now that she was standing right beside her nephews, I realized how much of the Ohtori family the boys had inherited in their looks. Their Aunt, like their mother, had wavy, curly locks of black hair, but her body structure was different, taller and slimmer from the image of their mother I had seen. Other than that, the boys were definitely from the Ohtori bloodline, aside from their eyes.
"Well, well, well, I'll have to tell your grandfather just how big you two are getting, now won't I?" Fuyumi spoke playfully. She straightened and flipped her hair out of her face before speaking to the adults and teen in the room. "They are getting very big, Kaoru-san. You are raising them well."
My attention fell on the Hitachiin and I had to bite my tongue from saying something. Kaoru nodded back in acknowledgment, but the rest of his body was shaking indefinitely. He grinned back, "Thank you, Fuyumi-san. Um, forgive me for my asking, but where is your younger brother?"
The Ohtori female clapped her hands trying to lift the atmosphere a bit more, "Oh, Kyouya isn't here at the moment." Kaoru stiffened at these words, but the trembling did not stop. "He's taking care of a quick errand father gave him. He'll be home soon, don't you worry."
I stared at Kaoru trying to guess what was going through his mind. Being at the Ohtori Estate must have been as uncomfortable as speaking with his brother from the way I could feel every ounce of restraint coursing through his form. I allowed myself to shake my head thinking, Yeah, there goes all my progress. Kaoru had been open one moment but was suddenly closed within the next. What could I expect from Kohaku and Keisuke's mother's side of the family? "Well, please make yourself at home. Kyouya had the west parlor and grounds reserved for the celebration, so if you'd follow me." Fuyumi continued trying to change topics. She led us to another part of the building while explaining, "You may use anything in our home for the party, though by the looks of it you seem to have everything under control, don't you Kaoru?"
Kaoru merely grunted as a reply but within seconds he gave her a proper answer, "Yes, Fuyumi-san. Thank you once again."
We soon arrived at a large sitting area of sorts. This parlor, which had once held a few large and elegant pieces of furniture, was now full of small tables and chairs, about four chairs per table. The room was surrounded by large clear windows and at one end opened up into a small private ballroom, which for the occasion was filled with a variety of activities for the birthday boys and their guests. It was clear that the Ohtori Estate had not had a child living within its grounds for many years as the area that the party would take up had been arranged unusually to house young children. The ballroom and the west yard, which was made up of an elaborate array of plants would be the areas for the boys and their companions, while much of the rest of the house remained for the adults. I personally felt quite awkward, my mind daring to think that Tamaki's safari idea would have been a better choice, but this was Kyouya and I had never known the Shadow King to be necessarily Child Friendly.
The rooms were all decorated in a variety of purple decorations. The boys, like their twin Uncle and Father before them, had an interesting style that could not be overlooked even at four. For the passed week, I had listened to both twins tell me how purple had somehow become the favorite color of the year, so this purple party was clearly the result of their current tastes. I couldn't help but feel surprised when Kohaku and Keisuke squealed with delight at the sight of their party area, not really noticing how drab the place really was.
Kaoru cleared his throat and the three Hitachiins bowed unanimously, Kaoru accustomed to moving and speaking at the exact same time as someone else. A mix of voices spoke out, "Thank you for doing this for us."
Fuyumi smiled sadly before shaking her head, "Now, Kaoru lighten up a little will you? Make yourself at home, you're family."
Maybe I was the only person who noticed how Kaoru's hands at his sides clamped into fists at the sound of those words. "We… shall do so, Fuyumi-san."
Luckily Rebekah rapidly moved on, "Well, I'm going to start setting up the food and things, Fuyumi-sama." The Ohtori smiled and nodded in the teen's direction before Rebekah walked off into the main parlor with her load. I stifled a giggle when I heard the German roughly say to the other maids and butlers that had come to assist, "Hey guys, go take a break for a couple hours. I'll take care of this."
Soon after she left, I found the woman looking in my direction. I was shocked at the moment and found myself bowing and apologizing. "Oh, sorry, I haven't introduced myself. I'm-"
"Fujioka, Haruhi, am I correct?" I glanced up as Fuyumi finished my introduction. She was beaming and my sudden discomfort quickly went away, "It's perfectly all right, I know all about you."
Kaoru was swift to help, realizing that I was his responsibility, "She is currently living with me until she finds an apartment of her own."
Nodding the Ohtori sister added, "Yes, Kyouya spoke to me about that. It is nice to meet you. My father and brother are always speaking highly of you."
I found myself blushing, "Really? I mean… thanks. It's nice to meet you too, ma'am."
Fuyumi giggled, "Oh, why don't we just speak casually? Will that be all right with you Haruhi-san?"
"That'll be good, Fuyumi-san."
Kyouya's sister was definitely a different person. She was a lot more truthful with her words and actions, and unlike Kyouya, she did not have an ulterior motive for everything she did. Before we could get further acquainted, another member of the house keeping staff had walked silently to Fuyumi's side. The young man spoke softly enough that neither Kaoru nor I could hear him. There was a moment of quiet before Fuyumi returned to us again. She wasn't hiding her thoughts when her smile disappeared, "Kaoru, father would like to see the boys upstairs and greet them a happy birthday."
Kohaku and Keisuke's 'father' didn't react with surprise. Glancing down at the twins, Kaoru nodded and gave a gentle order, "Go with Fuyumi-Oba-san and pay respects to your Ojii-sama."
I could see that the boys were hesitant to oblige, but without answering, they followed their Aunt back into the main foyer and upstairs.
At the same time, Kaoru was heading in the opposite direction, into the parlor where Rebekah was hard at work laying out the food dishes and cake. Before I could say anything to him, he was already busy doing his own share of the decorating and organizing, no interest in talking to me whatsoever.
Minutes came and went. I couldn't help but glance up at the ceiling wondering what the Ohtori patriarch would want. The three of us continued to work together in silence. This time no one from the house keeping staff offered to help to Rebekah's delight. After what seemed to half an hour, within which we had finished laying out all the food and were finishing decorations, the boys had yet to come downstairs. I could feel worry already coursing through my system for some strange reason, which made me realize that what I was feeling must have been ten times worse for the 'father' who waited downstairs. I didn't know if it was appropriate to bring the Ohtoris up especially now as we were all in their main home. Suddenly something happened that used up the last of my control in speaking with Kaoru.
Rebekah and I jumped at our ends of the room when the sound of breaking glass reached our ears. We spun around and found Kaoru kneeling tenderly over the shattered remains of a large serving plate he was bringing over. I gave Rebekah a quick glance and headed in the redhead's direction. "Kaoru, are you ok?"
Kaoru looked up and smiled. "Yeah, I'm fine. My hands slipped, sorry about that." I squatted down to his level and helped him pick up the large pieces of glass. My eyes on the ground, I noticed his hands as they flew over the ground to pick up the glass. They were shaking quite badly.
"Hey, are you sure you're ok? Your hands… their trembling." At my words, he pulled back his hands supporting my suspicions that something was wrong with him. I peered into his face, he was still smiling.
"It's nothing, just slight anxiety. Feeling a little nervous, that's all. They've been gone a long time, you know?" I did not allow his words to kill my worry and I scowled at him. His smile faltered as he leaned back and away from me sheepishly, "You're not going to kill me are you?" He queried almost playfully.
I shook my head, "Don't try to hide it Kaoru. Something's up, you've been shaking since earlier." The lack of reaction on his part continued to strengthen my own assumptions. "What's up?"
I don't know if Kaoru was aware of what he was doing, but as his grin grew and a relaxed chuckle slipped from his lips, Kaoru entwined his fingers and gripped them together hard so as to stop the shaking. "Come now, Haruhi. Let it be. It's nothing really. Over the passed few years I've developed a little anxiety problem that's all." The Hitachiin released his hands and held them out in front of my gaze, "See? No more shaking. Problem solved!"
Anxiety Problem. Were twenty-four year old men (supposedly at their strongest) supposed to be having bouts of anxiety? I found myself staring passed Kaoru's hands and at his beaming face in shock. Nothing. Nothing would have led me to think the younger Hitachiin twin would develop an anxiety problem. I knew he was stressed, but I had never known stress to be so bad as to affect his physical well being also. The passed week flew by into my mind. The few moments I had seen Kaoru leave his office during the week were suddenly explained. The reason why Kyouya had to come and assist the Hitachiin, during the entire week no matter how busy the Ohtori was at his own company, was due to Kaoru's anxiety. I recalled the moments when Tamaki and I found Kyouya and Kaoru coming downstairs in heated argument, stopping only if the twins were in the room or when Kaoru suddenly fell silent and began to pale.
"That's… That's not funny." I wasn't aware how cold my tone sounded until Kaoru broke his gaze and began to promptly pick up the rest of the glass. As his left hand held the shards of glass, his right reached for another piece. The next time it did so, I grabbed his right wrist ceasing all further action. Through my grip I could feel the entire appendage from his fingertips to shoulder trembling. "Kaoru-"
"Haruhi." This time it was my turn to restrain my need to pull away. Kaoru's expression darkened and he glared at me with a silent rage. "Let go."
"No." I found myself speaking up defiantly. "What the heck are you doing pushing yourself like this? Little Anxiety Problem? I may not be a doctor, but I'm not stupid enough not to know anxiety is something to be worried over."
The Hitachiin's look increased in anger. He could have easily pulled away, but I guess his need to be polite was strong enough to keep his hand in place. Instead it balled up into a fist, "Not now, Haruhi. Not today, please."
"So you're just going to ignore it then!?" Here I was going again. This new piece of information about anxiety had made my surprisingly angry. How dumb could he be? If Kaoru wasn't healthy then how would he take care of the twins?
Kaoru took a deep breath, "Let go, Haruhi."
"I said no."
"Haruhi-!" Out of nowhere, his hand was pulled away, but Kaoru hadn't done it on his own accord. With a flash of brown and a large thud, glass scattering everywhere, Kaoru was tackled abruptly away from me in the opposite direction. When I blinked I found a large dog on top of the Hitachiin, barking loudly. "Agh! An… Antoinette!"
The pet's name made me spin around and for a millisecond I could swear I saw a death glare on Tamaki's face. But as ephemeral as the moment was he was already grinning brightly. Before I could say more, the blonde flew at me. "HARUHI!!!!!!!!! I MISSED YOU SOOOOOO MUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!! IT'S BEEN SO LONG SINCE I LAST SAW MY DAUGHTER'S DARLING FACE!!!!!!"
I stiffened careful of the glass around us. Antoinette remained on top of the red head who was uselessly fighting against the canine. I did my best to push Tamaki away, "We saw each other yesterday, Tamaki. Hey!!"
The Suou released me with tearful eyes, "BUT HARUHIIIIII! HOW CAN I NOT MISS YOU? WHAT IF YOU DISAPPEAR AGAIN FOR… FOREVER!?"
"I'm not leaving. You know that."
"Tamaki!!" We turned in Kaoru's direction at the sound of his voice. "Get her off… me!"
Tamaki paused and innocently spoke, "But Kaoru… Antoinette is so fond of you!" For a moment, I could sense that the supposedly simple-minded host king was cruelly prolonging the scene. I nudged the blonde who sighed and clapped his hands, "Antoinette, come."
The dog swiftly did as commanded, jumping off Kaoru who sat up disoriented. Antoinette barked happily and I watched Tamaki embrace his canine companion. While I watched, this gave Kaoru time to pick up the large shards of glass again and stand. I got to my feet as well, but the previous moment together had placed me on the redhead's bad side for he overlooked me and walked towards Rebekah asking her to look for a broom. Before long, Tamaki was at my side. He wrapped his arms around me and chuckled, "Haruhi… now what could you have been doing with that man?"
I wasn't in the mood for his jokes, "Trying to learn about Kaoru's anxiety problem."
Tamaki froze and his chuckle turned into an uncomfortable laugh, "Ah… well… that's why you two were in such a heated staring contest." His voice lowered and he helpfully elaborated, "He takes medicine for that. You really don't need to worry."
"He was shaking."
It was with these last words that Tamaki loosened his hold and spun me around to look directly into his face. "You better keep that quiet. I'm not surprised the pills he's taking aren't working, especially with what happened within the last week. He hasn't cried in a very… long… time."
I stared back with wide eyes, "You know… You really need to warn me when you do that."
The mature Tamaki I was referring to disappeared just as quickly, the blonde running a hand through his golden locks, "Oh, you mean place yourself directly in front of my dazzling gaze? I apologize if I shocked you Haruhi, I do that to people."
Rolling my eyes, I turned and began to walk away, finding something to do. Tamaki's next words expressed both his foolish and mature thoughts, "Come now, Haruhi. Let it go for today. Besides, everyone will be here. You'll have to be patient with all us rich folk again, little commoner."
I did my best to keep that in mind, but soon I found myself forgetting his words.
The boys returned with squeals of delight at the sight of Antoinette and their Tama-Oji-san. Fuyumi was close behind and I made sure to note that she discreetly handed Kaoru what looked like a check. The young father did not look the least bit comfortable receiving what seemed to be an extremely large amount of money. I didn't know how much he had been given, but I eventually heard the man muttering to himself something about 50,000 American dollars. I did my best to push my thoughts to the back of my mind for today and eventually, I finally took Tamaki's words to mind and began to relax. I couldn't help but become comfortable once Kohaku and Keisuke were back, just as excited as ever now that they were finished seeing their grandfather. Kaoru avoided me, yet somehow we were able to remain content no matter what our thoughts were.
And so, within another hour, the guests of Kohaku and Keisuke's birthday party began to arrive.
Mori and Honey were the next guests to arrive, coming in a single black limo accompanied by their wives and children Honey was so excited about telling me. After the young uncles greeted the twins a happy birthday, they were quickly upon me with their Lolita and Wild glory, introducing their adorable school mate to their spouses and offspring. It happened quite quickly, Honey started going on one of his hyper rants about his wife, Lilianne or Lily, who was the female Lolita in her own right, just as blonde and with sparkling blue eyes. She was just as cute as her husband who was taller than her by a few inches, and boasted a polite smile whenever he spoke. I was surprised at how similar he was, remembering quite well the list of martial arts she knew that Honey had told me. Before I could really get my mind around that, their two year old, Mimiru came into view holding Usu-chan in her small arms. Personally, before I met Mimi, I didn't know a child's eyes could be so big and so blue. The little one was shy and only giggled when her father introduced her, overflowing with pride, before she sheepishly hid behind Usu-chan's head. Honey and Lily seemed to love their adorable toddler and were raising her like most rich parents would, but she still had a buzzing discipline about her that seemed to come from the more violent part of her family. Luckily, she was like any toddler and was easily led away by Kohaku and Keisuke who wanted another playmate.
This turned our attentions to Mori, who introduced Aiko to me with as few words as only Mori could. His wife, like Lily, was extremely similar to her husband and she greeted me with a silent bow and a smile. I internally felt lucky for knowing Mori and Honey so well, for if I had never met them, meeting their wives would have been difficult. Mori's son, Takuya, was an exact miniature version of his father, from the boy's cropped jet black hair to his (slightly larger) dark eyes, with the identical air of mysteriousness that Mori had mastered. Yet I couldn't help noticing that little Takuya did not have the dignified boldness his parents possessed. It was a lot simpler to see that he was more of an obedient son than one that could stand as Mori's clone. The boy greeted me in a way very similar to the twins' greetings to their Aunt hours before, but after I gave a smile and Mori wordlessly nudged the boy forward, Takuya presented himself a bit more naturally before following Mimi and accompanying the Hitachiin twins.
As the day went on, I was surprised to find that the kids knew how to entertain themselves in the Ohtori's modern, but bland home. Most of the time, I found Kohaku, Keisuke, Mimi, and Takuya chasing after Antoinette this way and that before disappearing further out into the yard. I only found them reappearing when new playmates arrived, such as the Nekozawas who came shortly after Honey and Mori. I had never known Kaoru to have possessed any relationship with the Nekozawa family, but when the founder of Ouran's Black Magic Club entered the building with his five year old son and four year old daughter, all dressed in black coats, and gave the Hitachiin family a casual greeting, I realized what now connected the younger Hitachiin twin to the Nekozawa.
Young Umehito II and his sister, Katrina, were swift to join the twins without much more than a quick hello in Kaoru's direction. I found Kaoru welcoming Nekozawa just as casually, even going to the lengths of giving the blonde a manly half-hug of sorts. Nekozawa merely smiled and returned the hello before noticing me and giving a friendly wave in my direction. The black magic enthusiast must have grown strong over the passed seven years for he no longer wore the black wig and hood over his face. He must have made amends with the young half of the pair that used to terrorize him with a flashlight for after waving, he turned to Kaoru for further conversation. Hearing a small part of their conversation, I learned the reason why the two were now very close friends. It seemed Nekozawa's four year old, Katrina, had an adorable crush on the older half of the second generation Hitachiin twins. The problem was (though I doubt either father thought it was a problem) that Kohaku was completely oblivious to the girl's feelings. Kohaku wasn't interested in girls just yet.
With six children and eight adults, the twins' special day was turning about to be a decent sized get-together. Nekozawa had married as well, but his wife was at home with their third child, a baby daughter who had come down with a cold. When I thought all the guests had arrived, two more families appeared before the party truly began.
It seemed Kaoru had somehow kept in contact with Renge over the many years, though I really didn't understand why. The queen of the fangirls had gotten older, taken over her father's company, and then got married with the heir to a successful Spanish Bull Ranch in southern Spain. At first it was difficult to imagine, Renge, of all people, marrying a country boy from Spain, as she came into view with her sons, three to be exact, ages ranging from five to three. Yet once her husband entered the small celebration parlor, my surprise dissipated. Ricardo, Renge's husband, was extremely- scratch that- tremendously handsome and had an amazing body to boot. I did my best to control my gaze so not to keep glancing at the Spanish man who greeted everyone with a happy-go-lucky attitude, grabbing Kaoru who was indefinitely smaller than him in a huge embrace, and saying in fluent Spanish, "Hola, Kaoru. Que pasa? Hace frio, eh?" The man quickly released the poor Hitachiin and turned to the twins who had come to say hello, "Ay! Feliz Cumpleaños, chicos! Como estaís? Practicamos español mucho, si?"
"Por supuesto." Kaoru replied with an amused look. "Decimos español todos los días." Ricardo grinned widely before giving Kaoru a rough but friendly pat on the back. The Spaniard had remarkably white teeth and before I knew it, I was staring all over again.
Ricardo joined his wife and their sons. Renge must have been on her way to forming her own host club, for all three boys had most of their father's looks. She seemed quite happy with herself and once she noticed me, she was swift to start a conversation about the last seven years. All I could really get from her long rapid speech was that in the seven years I had been doing nothing but studying, she had begun her plan in publicizing Host Clubs, had married Ricardo, and had had three boys one after the other. For a moment, I felt slightly out of place hearing about all my old school mates already having families, but I had dedicated myself to my career so I really couldn't complain.
Before long, the final couple arrived, childless, but well known. Though he hadn't had children yet, Ritsu Kasanoda and his fiancé were invited to the party and seemed very happy together. His fiancé was a very beautiful and gentle woman, which surprised me especially because I knew she would be becoming a Yakuza wife. What's more, she was 100 percent deaf, and spoke using sign language, which Kasanoda was happy to translate for us. Yukiko did not seem to mind Kasanoda's strong facial features, so I was quite happy to say they looked to be a perfect match.
By the time all the guests had come (except Kyouya, who had yet to come back from the errand of his), the party was in full swing. I found myself constantly submerged in some conversation with my old schoolmates and at times had to repeat several stories and accounts. Everyone seemed happy that I had come back, and I began to truly feel the effects of living on the other side of the world away from family and friends. Most of the old group were either married with kids, or still single, but all had changed a bit. Eventually, I had to stand up from my seat among friends and take a breather from the adult conversation.
Refilling my cup at the punch bowl, I met up with Tamaki and Kaoru, who were having their own dialogue. Tamaki had been uncharacteristically quiet the entire day and when he noticed me, he plainly smiled, but did not come rushing at me like he normally was prone to doing. The red head beside him, nodded in my direction before returning to their conversation. For some reason, they were speaking in French.
"Where do you think he is exactly? I have no idea when to end this thing." Kaoru spoke quietly. "With Yoshio upstairs, I rather not overstay my welcome."
I strained my ears to understand them. It had been a while since I had spoken French let alone listened to it, but luckily they were speaking simply enough that I could comprehend the jist of the conversation.
Tamaki answered back with a gentle smile, "Don't worry about it. I come by here all the time and disrupt the peace. Let it go on as long as you like, Kyouya's father won't mind." I sighed, realizing that it had been the first time I had ever heard Tamaki speak in his first language.
Kaoru frowned slightly and crossed his arms. "Kyouya told me that there would be nothing scheduled on this day. He knows how awkward the boys and I feel when visiting his home. What type of errand takes four and a half damn hours?"
Tamaki could only shrug in return before noticing that I was still standing a short distance away. He continued to smile, "Interested in jumping in, Haruhi?"
I pulled back, quickly embarrassed for eavesdropping. "Um… well actually I haven't spoken in French in a long time." I glanced up and found my gaze on Kaoru who watched me expressionlessly. "I still understand you two though."
"Then you must know who we're talking about, yes?" Tamaki added. "Oka-san really doesn't know how to relax nowadays."
Kaoru had become mute and was still looking at me. I wasn't sure if he was still peeved about earlier, but his body language did not look too happy. "Haruhi," The Hitachiin finally began, "how do you feel seeing everyone again?"
"Huh?" I paused to think about it, "Well, I really am speechless…a lot of things have changed, but that's life, I guess. I'm surprised most of them are married already. Renge has three kids and she's only twenty-four!"
Nodding, Kaoru opened his mouth to speak, but Tamaki overcame him energetically. "All of them are arranged you know?" I gave him a confused look, "Everyone. Mori, Honey, Nekozawa, Renge, and Kasanoda, all their marriages or engagements were arranged."
"What?" I started.
"Hikaru's too." Tamaki and I were brought to look at Kaoru whose eyes had gone distant for a moment as he had suddenly added to the list of arranged marriages. The Hitachiin looked down, holding his palm up and using the index finger of his other hand to form calculations in his palm. His mind must have fallen into some piece of work again for he sighed distractedly.
Tamaki grabbed him around the shoulders, calling out in Japanese, "Hey hey hey! No working at the party now! I'm telling the twins!"
Kaoru broke out of his trance, the look on his face saying, 'What was I doing?'. He blinked silently for a few seconds before exhaling deeply once more. I caught him muttering under his breath as he straightened, "He did say he'd fly in Monday."
Suddenly, before I could begin tampering with and questioning Kaoru's words, Kohaku and Keisuke came running out of nowhere towards their father. Alarm and worry were burdening their expressions, and Kaoru was swiftly removed from his thoughts at the sight of the two. "Papa, Papa!" both twins called at once.
The young father knelt down protectively, "What, what's wrong, Kohaku, Keisuke?"
Kohaku frowned and explained, "Papa, it's Tortuga!"
"He got lost!" Keisuke added.
"We can't find him…"
Kaoru tiredly shook his head, "Where was the last place you played with him?"
The brothers exchanged looks for contemplation before turning to their father and reciting unanimously, "We were by the big tree at the front, where the car is."
Standing, Kaoru ran a hand through his red locks. "Ok." He started, "Go and check under that tree. There is no sun, so Tortuga is pretty sluggish today. He could be there. But just in case, I'll go tell your Oba-chans and Oji-sans to keep an eye out for Tortuga, understand?"
The two nodded, worry still in their faces, and ran off towards the front yard in search for the family pet. I couldn't help but find it amusing that the boys were as worried of losing their pet boa constrictor as one is worried about a lost puppy. Kaoru glanced back at Tamaki and I, releasing just one more sigh, "I have a bad feeling about this."
"Ugh… the weather's pretty bad today, isn't it?"
I was quiet as I drove down the road towards my home in the wealthy district of Tokyo. The homes were beginning to disperse evenly as the lots began to grow in size, as did the yard space and house sizes. Before I answered the comment, I glanced out my window at the bleak overcast above. It was three o' clock, but nightfall was already setting. "Hm." I replied nonchalantly, thinking nothing of the solemn atmosphere the sky was bringing. "A bleak overcast is the least of your concerns during a month such as February, at least we haven't come across any black ice recently."
There was a sigh in reply, before he worded his agreement, "True." Silence overcame the vehicle for a few minutes, as I kept my eyes on the road, refraining from placing my gaze in his direction. He didn't seem to be paying me much mind either, his eyes observing the passing landscape with a lack of interest.
I wasn't going to admit outwardly, but the sky wasn't the only thing that brought such a depressing air to mind. It was moreover caused by the forlorn expression his face was boasting as he looked out the passenger side window of my Ferrari. I wasn't assisting in the situation either, for I was not one to start a conversation if it was not required. Maybe I could have been a better host, but I wasn't exactly thrilled to be spending the time I had promised Kaoru with the wrong twin.
"Kyouya…" His voice broke the silence, as he sat up and ran a hand through his expertly styled red locks. He stretched with a yawn, "Just wanted to say, thanks again for taking time to pick me up. Knowing you, I must be interrupting some important meeting or something, hm?"
This time, I allowed my eyes wander and fall upon the man beside me. The first thing that came to my attention was that he was fingering his wedding ring absentmindedly as he spoke, slipping it on and off, out of habit, no less. I lifted my gaze and met his golden eyes. The dark creases that had etched their way under his eyes remained the evidence of a man who had survived a number of sleepless nights at the office, peculiarly identical to the creases that weighed down his younger brother's eyes, though Kaoru had earned them due to sleepless nights feeding and diaper changing, singing lullabies and calming nightmares. "You don't need to mention it."
The grin that, by now, I recognized was characteristic of the older twin, lit his face as he nodded in acknowledgment. "You've always been dependable, Kyouya." He slipped his wedding ring back onto his left hand, before continuing, "So… you have any news to share with me about the old group?"
I simply shook my head, "I don't take it in my best interest to be the person who has to that, Hikaru." I ignored the frown that appeared on his face for a split second before his business tact returned, "I rarely find anything worth sharing that you do not already know."
"Ah, I see." He glanced away and out the window again. The man was made uncomfortable by my presence and he found himself no longer interested in conversation. The Hitachiin began to watch the road again and we allowed the dialogue to die.
The minutes came and went as we approached nearer to the estate. Hikaru was intelligent enough to keep his mouth shut the remaining part of the trip so as to not place himself in just another awkward position. It never ceased to surprise me that somehow, Maria had decided to sleep with the difficult twin, when Kaoru could have sufficed. It was difficult for me to accept it; that the man who sat beside me in the vehicle was so ignorant of everything around him. I retrained a frustrated breath on my part, taking a second to readjust my glasses just as my home came into view.
At the sight, Hikaru had sat up straight as well, hand instinctively flying to fix the tie of his suit professionally. It appeared to me that both Hitachiin twins had a fear of my family, more specifically my father. I chuckled inwardly and avoided his gaze as I drove up to the gate. Should I tell him that his appearance is the least of his worries? Maybe I should have warned Kaoru, or at the least Haruhi?
It took seconds for security to recognize the Ferrari before the gate effortlessly slid open. Hikaru was unusually grave in appearance now for his expression had stiffened at the sight of my home. I gave myself permission to grin coolly. "It seems to me that you are about to attend a funeral? Shall I make my father aware of this?"
The Hitachiin glanced in my direction and made an effort to relax. He broke out into his grin again and released a long sigh. "Well if you say so."
"Correction: I never said anything." I shook my head and pulled up behind Kaoru's blue Mini Cooper. Hikaru made no signs of recognition. "Here we are."
We exited the Ferrari quietly, I, smoothing out the wrinkles in my coat, Hikaru, once again, playing with his tie. The suit had become normal attire for him, as it had with me, and at the moment, he wore a sleek looking gray suit accented with a pink shirt and silk pink tie. He had dressed for the occasion of Valentine's Day most likely, but I controlled the urge to point that out. I stood beside the driver's seat and drummed my fingers on the top of the Ferrari. He caught sight of my actions and quickly let go his tie. Never in my entire life had I expected to find a Hitachiin twin more anal than myself.
"Shall we go inside?" I queried without moving. I could not hear the sounds of the birthday party in the west wing, which was perfect. In truth, Hikaru was going to be a special guest on this special day, like it or not, and I would just have to see how Kaoru would handle it.
Hikaru nodded and was the first to make a move. He took a few steps in direction of the estate holding up his business tact with full force, but abruptly stopped. I raised my head to acknowledge the unusual action. "Yes?"
The man turned and gave me a doubtful look, reminding me of Kaoru, who had a habit of the doing the exact same thing whenever he had to come to my house to converse with father. Something was on the other CEO's mind. "Kyouya, may I ask you something." I bobbed my head in silence. "Haruhi… she-"
"Go ask her yourself." I cut him short, not possessing enough tact to hold the coldness out of my voice. Maybe it was due to the fact it was Kohaku and Keisuke's birthday, and the anniversary of Maria's death that made me feel extremely irked to have Hikaru bring Haruhi up. What about Kaoru? Would you ever ask about your brother?
Hikaru watched me with careful eyes and nodded without complaint. He had learned enough from being the owner of a company to know not to argue with fellow CEOs. He began to walk again and after a moment to release any remaining notion of anger, I followed behind.
Suddenly just as Hikaru passed by the large dormant tree in our front yard, he let out an abrupt yell. "Holy Shit!"
I found myself rushing to his side, just as he was pulling back from whatever had caused him to yell. He nearly crashed into me, but I was able to sidestep his panicked approach. Narrowing my eyes, I walked passed the hyperventilating Hitachiin and placed myself in his position. "What in the world are you…?" My eyes fell downward onto the dark figure of Tortuga, coiled and evidently sleeping. The cold blooded boa had no energy with the lack of sunlight, and would definitely be of no threat to either of us. I gave Hikaru a skeptical glance before leaning down to pick him up.
"What the hell are you doing?" The older twin blurted out in shock. "Don't pick it up."
"And why…" I answered indifferently before getting to my feet again, "…shouldn't I?"
I held Tortuga in my hands gently, the snake slithering into the sleeve of my coat to the only source of warmth he could find. I gazed into the darkness of my sleeve, "Well if you're here, they mustn't be close behind."
The Hitachiin inched over. His eyes were wide with shock at how calmly I had picked up the random boa constrictor that had been lying in his path. I extended my snake-clad arm towards him and inwardly enjoyed the sight of the man jump back. How did Maria come to sleep with you again?
"Kyouya, what the hell is that? Why are you holding it? Why do you have snakes on your estate?" Hikaru rapidly queried. "Who's close behind?"
Stiffening, I turned my back to him just as he repeated my final words. Before either of us could continue, a pair of voices floated into the air within hearing range. Perfect timing.
"Hurry, Kei, Tortuga might freeze to death!" One small voice called out. Hikaru froze at the sound as if he had heard a ghost.
"Wait, wait, Haku! My shoe got untied!" A second voice added, Hikaru was staring at me in utter confusion.
"Forget your shoe. Tortuga might die! You want him to die?"
"No! Haku that's not nice to say."
Without a longer wait, the second set of Hitachiin twins came running around the corner from the west wing. At the sight of the identical brothers, wearing identical outfits, I found myself smiling at the sight. Who knew how Hikaru was reacting behind me from afar?
Both boys came to an abrupt halt, nearly knocking each other over at the sight of me. For a second, my presence had to register before happiness lit their small features. They screamed with extreme joy and ran to me, not seeing their 'Uncle' a short distance away. At the same time, they greeted me, "Kyouya-Oji-san! You finally came! We thought you forgot!"
I leaned down, "Now, what an odd thing to say? Do you think, of all people, I would forget that today is? I was the one who planned your party at my house, remember?" Two raven-haired heads nodded in agreement to my final statement, before they exploded in a fit of giggles. I continued to smile, knowing full well how unusual I looked to Hikaru. Holding out my arm, I pulled up my sleeve. "Look who I found?"
"Tortuga!!" Kohaku screamed in pure elation. He reached up and took the snake from my arm before placing the boa named Turtle onto his shoulders.
"You saved him, Kyouya-Oji-san!" Keisuke added as he got closer to Kohaku and the snake.
Straightening, I smiled wider, "I couldn't let him freeze now, now could I?"
The twins shook their heads, attention falling onto the snake who was attempting to search for a warm place. He found it within the neck of Kohaku's turtle neck and slid into the boy's top, Kohaku giggling in return. With their focus on their pet, I moved my own gaze onto the other Hitachiin behind me, who, for some reason had gone pale at the sight before him. I guess it must have been due to resurrected memories. The look I gave Hikaru, forced him to step forward slowly, as if he was standing on a sheet of thin ice. "Who…?" The words failed him.
"My nephews." I replied confidently, challenging him with my words. "Looks strangely familiar doesn't it?"
He returned to reality with my words and shrugged as if it didn't affect him. His face lit up with a mischievous grin, "You could say that. Nephews, hm? Well, it's been a while since I've seen two of kind…" His words made no sense, though I believe he meant well. There was a millisecond pause between words before he rushed forward, like a man on a mission. "Well, look at you two, a pair of handsome devils if I ever did see one."
His voice, it echoed into the air and lingered for a moment. Instead of turning, the boys stood still before gradually moving their heads in direction of the stranger. Amber gazes meeting with the older Hitachiin's, Kohaku and Keisuke found themselves staring at such a familiar, yet unrecognizable man before them. I watched as their eyes grew larger in a mix of fear and surprise before both parted their lips and… screamed. "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!"
Hikaru yelped and jumped away as if he had just set off a bomb. He looked to me in alarm, "What did I do!?"
Shaking my head, even I was puzzled by their sudden outburst. For some reason or another, the young boys seemed to be horrified by the sight of Kaoru's twin as if they weren't twins themselves. I really didn't know what to do and I could only stand in shock for the longest time. Hikaru made a movement towards the two, but Kohaku and Keisuke only pulled back. They held onto each other and stared at the older Hitachiin cautiously.
The thought came to mind swiftly at their reaction. If they did not accept their biological father now, they might as well never come in terms with his existence.
"Kyouya, what the hell?" Hikaru hissed and looked in my direction. "What's wrong with them? They look like they've just seen some kind of… monster or something."
I felt my lips part to agree, but I shut my mouth before I could answer. Instead I came to the twins carefully, "Now, now, boys. What's wrong?"
To my misfortune, their eyes were still focused on Hikaru's face and they ignored me. I backed away and decided to change the plan of the day. Grabbing Hikaru by the forearm, I ordered, "Come with m-"
"Shit." I came to a stop, before I could even take a step forward, at the sound of Kaoru's worried tone. I released his brother and gave a frustrated groan. Hikaru could only stare in further confusion.
It happened quickly, like a blow to the head. I remained in my place and pushed my glasses to the bridge of my nose, waiting for the inevitable. I could only curse my lack of luck that Kaoru had indescribably good hearing when his sons were concerned. Clenching my fists, I was aware that I had been caught red handed with the man that Kaoru did not want the twins to see.
The second half of the first generation Hitachiin twins ran into view before any further words could be exchanged. I stood in place like a criminal willingly turning himself into his fate with the authorities. His eyes were instinctively targeted lower for Kohaku and Keisuke who, at the moment they felt his presence, tackled his thighs. Panic dripped from every word that came from his mouth, as Hikaru and I watched him. "Kohaku, Keisuke, what's the matter, hijos? Why did you scream?" The twins grabbed the front of his shirt and pulled Kaoru down to a squat, who had yet to notice our presences. Even in the midst of disorientation, the siblings were able to remain in sync.
"Papa, Papa, that man, that man stole your face!" The two declared with a mix of fear and realization. A pair of fingers pointed in Hikaru's direction who had lost all color in his face for the second time within the last ten minutes.
Kaoru glanced between the two faces without looking up trying to comprehend what the boys had just said. His mind was in so much shock at the words that they weren't registering into the young man's head. I closed my eyes when I heard another pair of footsteps become audible, Haruhi and Tamaki were going to make their appearances soon. Finally, one of the adult Hitachiin twins spoke, " 'Papa…?' "
The father looked up, a look of pure dread plastered on his face. He met his older twin's eyes before getting to his feet and suddenly pushing Kohaku and Keisuke behind him. There was no use hiding them anymore.
They stared at each other for the longest time, Kaoru's gaze never faltering as he looked into the face of his twin, who only looked back. By the time Haruhi and Tamaki had reached the scene, Kaoru was openly shaking his head, mouthing the word "No."
I saw Haruhi glance from one man to the other and then to me. She glared, but I glanced away unfazed.
Silence enveloped us all for several more minutes, the only sounds that could be heard were the twins whimpering behind Kaoru. It the young parent who chose to break the long stare so as to look to the birthday celebrants. I did my best to overlook the fact that Haruhi had continued to glare at me from her place some distance away. The only thing that took her attention off my form was Kaoru's voice that had decided to return to him momentarily, "Hikaru… what… what are you doing here?" Sluggishly, Kaoru brought his golden gaze upon his twin.
At once, Hikaru reacted to the question carelessly, his grin returning, "I… I was just about to ask you the exact same question, Kaoru." Hands flying to his tie, Hikaru began to loosen the knot he had worked so hard to tighten some time before. He effortlessly released the silk accessory and slid it off, placing it haphazardly in his suit pocket. "I guess... with you here, I can relax a little, is that right?"
Amber meeting amber once more, Kaoru frowned, "Hikaru, you told me you'd fly in Monday." The parent's hands fell on the heads of the black-haired twins beside him, who watched their relative warily.
"And you told me you had plans that you couldn't reschedule." Hikaru swiftly retorted, causing Kaoru to bite his lip uncomfortably. "Besides, I do recall that I said, 'I'd try,' to come in Monday. Unfortunately, the flight from France to Japan was on a Sunday, and if I had missed it, you wouldn't have gotten to see me until late Wednesday evening."
For a moment, Kaoru looked away, as if mentally cursing his luck. His eyes found mine and with his next statement, I knew he was referring more to me than his sibling, "Why… didn't you call me?"
I held my tongue long enough for Hikaru to answer, "Like I said, you told me that you had 'plans'."
"But if you were still coming in, it would've been best to call me beforehand. At least to make me aware that you were in the country." Kaoru's voice had begun to rise, but he quickly stopped himself before the volume change had become evident.
Hikaru suddenly began to walk towards Kaoru before speaking up, "Well, the scheduled trip wasn't what was expected. Hell, I wasn't expecting to see you until tomorrow either. What were you doing here again?" No one seemed to move after the older Hitachiin who had narrowed the distance between him and his brother. Hikaru was now barely a foot away from Kaoru and the boys, but he had come to halt as if an invisible wall stood between them, the Brotherly Love package from years passed had long gone out of commission.
Kaoru parted his lips to answer, but with the face-thief closing in, Kohaku and Keisuke had tugged him back by the back-hem of his top causing their guardian to nearly stumble over. He regained his balance before loosening the twins' grips on his shirt. The second pair of Hitachiin twins shook their heads at their 'father's' actions and pouted in confusion. Opening his mouth again, Kaoru elaborated, "A children's birthday party."
This reply had not been foreseen by the married brother, whose eyes came to widen for a second. " 'Birthday Party?' " Chuckling, as though Kaoru had made a joke, Hikaru ran a hand through his hair uneasily. "That was your plan for the day… a 'Children's birthday party'? Whose party would be, first, held at Kyouya's place, and second, be more important than picking up your twin brother."
The older twin's selfish characteristic and the fact that he had made his identity known as Kaoru's 'twin', brought Kaoru to clench his fists. My gaze flew to Haruhi, who appeared to be debating whether to stop the two or not. Tamaki was watching helplessly, and I could tell that he was having his own mental battle between breaking the two up with an imbecilic interruption or remaining unusually quiet. Before either could make up their mind and Kaoru could come up with an answer that wouldn't destroy the life he had worked so hard to build these passed four years and six months, two small voices added themselves to the would-be argument.
"Kohaku, Keisuke!" Even Kaoru's stern call went unnoticed by the four year olds who had decided to move away from their parent's shadow.
Skeptically lifting an eyebrow, Hikaru grunted, "Yours? " He received a uniform nod from both boys. With a stranger around, the two had become identity-less, speaking like a single person, no signs of their differing personalities in sight. "Well-"
"…and you're not invited!" The two interrupted him.
The Hitachiin stared at the pair for a second of thought. To Kohaku and Keisuke's misfortune, Hikaru's grin had yet to leave his face. Leaning forward, breaking the invisible boundary between him and his younger brother, Hikaru came face to face with his identical twin, the closest distance they had ever stood in, in years, "Well…" He repeated calmly, "wouldn't that be your… 'Papa's' decision?"
Kaoru had neither pulled back or leaned in. Instead he froze. I had the strongest notion to punch Hikaru for wording his question in such a way; a threat disguised as a simple inquiry with more disastrous power than Hikaru could imagine. There was no way Kaoru could deny his brother now…
Kohaku and Keisuke turned and gazed up at the twin they had called Papa for four years of their short life.
Releasing his fists, heaving a long sigh, and gazing directly into his sibling's bright golden eyes, Kaoru halfheartedly nodded. He threw on a mask of a smile and declared, "The more the merrier… right, Hikaru?"
This only made Hikaru's face brighten further. For the first time in nearly five years, he took Kaoru under the chin, like he had done for the entertainment of fangirls everywhere, and held the other man in place. With the helpless look upon Kaoru's face that would have brought screams from a number of frivolous teenage girls interested in the taboo of committed incest between identical brothers, Hikaru playfully breathed a, "Perfect!" Before releasing his twin and simply leaving the dejected parent for the direction of Haruhi and Tamaki.
I watched him go without words. Haruhi and Tamaki had been caught by surprise themselves, and even the 'natural' could not come up with something to say to the Hitachiin, who strolled to them and escorted them away, breaking into a casual conversation as if he had not just spoken to his brother and seen two boys that he had not known existed until today.
It was Kohaku and Keisuke's cries that brought me to look at Kaoru again.
"Papa, why'd you let him come!?" Kohaku loudly complained, pouting. "He stole your face!"
"I don't like him." Keisuke mumbled, shaking his head and tugging at the man's shirt again. "Why'd you let Kyouya-Oji-san bring him over?"
His eyes fell on me, blank of all emotion. I could only guess what he could have been thinking. I did not break the gaze and returned the look just as emotionlessly.
"I…" He began before returning his attention on the two upset four year olds at his feet, "don't know… I just don't know."
With this, he completely ignored my presence and took the two by the hands, leading them away.
I watched him go, hearing the boys' voices long after they had disappeared at the bend of the path that led to the west side of the house.
"Papa… who was that man… anyway? Why'd he have your face?"
"Because… Kohaku… he was like you."
"What you mean, Papa?"
"That man… is my older twin brother like you are to Keisuke."
"But Papa, we never saw him before though."
"He's been gone a long time, Keisuke. He lives very far away… He can't come visit very often."
"Because he's busy doing grown-up things?"
"Yeah… you can say that, Keisuke."
"That's not a -excuse. Papa, you told us twins got to stick together-!"
"Shhhh, enough now… I know what I said… Just be nice to him for Papa, ok? Be nice to your Hikaru-Oji-san."
His voice dissipated into the atmosphere and I heard no more.
Instead of following them, I headed for the door to the house for a conversation with father…
DONE! Ok, sorry everyone for the long wait and the abrupt ending to this chapter! Work, summer assignments, and trips all over Europe, not much time for fanfic writing. My chapters seem to be getting longer and longer… sorry! I was having a difficult time trying to avoid writing obnoxiously out of character with Hikaru now in the picture. The way his personality matured over seven years is a bit more blurred than the other characters in the story. I really had a hard time with this one. I'm exhausted… mentally!
Well, I guess you know what you should be doing next! Clicky the little button saying REVIEW TO STORY!! Please leave me a pretty comment.
Thanks for reading!! Kohaku and Keisuke give you all imaginary cookies because Keisuke doesn't like cake!
Next Time: Hikaru has made a sudden appearance into the lives of his 'nephews', Kohaku and Keisuke, but the boys aren't ready to give this new relative a warm welcome. Biological father or not, the second generation Hitachiin twins aren't going to let the face-thief go unscathed, no matter what their 'Papa' tells them.
Also, Hikaru in a sense has crashed the party, not only in Kohaku and Keisuke's eyes, but Kaoru's as well. How will Kaoru deal with the twins and his brother's constant clashes? How will Haruhi react when she witnesses just how broken the bond between the Hitachiin twins truly is?
"Four years!? You've been raising them for the last damn four years without telling me!?"
"Look, you have your problems, I have mine! There wasn't any need to get you involved!"
" 'Any need!?' Damn it, Kaoru, there wasn't any need to take the time and tell those two I even existed!?"
"Hikaru, there wasn't any need to get you in trouble with father by adding my mistake to your list of responsibilities!"
"Kaoru, they don't even know who I am!"
Cue the lights and Dramatic music…. STAY TUNED!!