This is a sequel to my first story on fanfiction, After the Clock Strikes Twelve, but you don't have to read that to understand what's going on. Just know that some parts and quotes in this story are from the manga chapters 40 and 55, but it also goes along with the last two episodes of the anime. I've combined the two together, so if you haven't seen or read the other and get confused about something while reading, it was probably from there. Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoy!
Disclaimer: I do not own Ouran High School Host Club.
AND THE CLOCK ONLY ECHOES
"I want to become a lawyer."
When Haruhi Fujioka pictured herself as a lawyer, she saw an image unconsciously parallel to her mother. She imagined herself with shoulder-length brown hair, tied neatly in a ponytail; a modest but formal outfit, cuffs folded over the wrists and suit fresh from fabric softeners; and wide, auburn eyes, quietly blazing with focused determination and justice, much reminiscent of another lawyer wandering in heaven right now.
When Haruhi pictured herself as a lawyer, she knew she would only fight for cases she believed was right. She was a bad liar and could never speak so casually unless it was the truth anyway, and if anything, the prospect of fighting for her beliefs and voicing her strong opinions to protect someone who was wronged made the girl all the more gallant and convincing in the courtroom. That aspect was most likely the main asset that helped her through college, through law school, and throughout her whole career.
That was probably how she got to where she was today.
"Just like you, I'm also chasing after my mother's shadow."
She reminded herself to trim her hair shorter when the wind whipped her vision with brown locks of hair. Slightly discomforted, the lawyer brushed a strand behind her ear and resisted shivering against the cold climate of her location. As Haruhi waited for the traffic light to turn green, she noted to look up the weather forecast the next time she traveled to any place outside of Japan. The twenty-seven year old still did not care much about her looks, but she could admit it was slightly embarrassing to have others walk pass her, snug in long coats and scarves, while she stood in the middle of the street with a skirt and high heels, and not even a stocking.
But at least their reactions were not as extreme as some others she knew. While blonde-haired and blue-eyed walkers glanced oddly at the brunette, back in Japan, five pairs of eyes had gawked at her attire each time she dressed for her job. They were rich bastards who constantly annoyed her back in her high school years, and still continued to do so now at her new compliance to wear anything dressy.
If they saw her now, blazer and skirt, Hitachiin designer heels and long hair clipped away from her face, their reactions would not be much different.
Honey would cheer and exclaim about how cute she looked, with Mori nodding alongside.
Hikaru and Kaoru's lips would grin lewdly and suggest the girl wear some other clothes in their fashion line besides the high heels, ones that would suspiciously expose some places that "weren't meant to be covered anyway, Haaa-ruhi!".
Kyouya would drolly remark how vastly different her formal and feminine attire was in contrast to her old, cross-dressing habit back in Ouran. A hint of a smirk hid behind the glare of his glasses, and Haruhi found that smirk to be more irksome than the twins'. He sure did seem to leave out the fact that her 'crossdressing habit' was a result of being forced to disguise herself as a boy in that ludicrous host club.
And, if he ever saw, she was sure Tamaki would have—
This was one of Haruhi's bad habits.
As someone who entered the professional world, she had gotten rid of some of the bad habits that could interfere with her career. She stopped drinking coffee and pulling all-nighters midway through college because she knew chronic sleeplessness only deterred her from focusing on schoolwork. In interviews and dealing with her clients, she disciplined herself to be less blunt and more aware of the other's feelings. She also stopped biting her nails whenever she got nervous, leaving her cuticles fresh from any gross nibbles or strips of dead skin cells.
And every single day, she restrained herself from thinking "Tamaki would have".
Haruhi learned a long time ago that "woulds" were only "woulds". They never become "is", "are", or any other to be verbs. When she was sixteen, she discovered the difference between "would" and "could".
"Coulds" showed possibility that this will happen. "Woulds" were only wishful thinking.
Tamaki would come back.
Tamaki could never come back.
It took a fall in the river by herself, meager consolation from disheartened host club members, and a long time of skipping breakfast for her to figure that out. Tamaki drove on with Éclair and disappeared in the horizon, and soon, disappeared out of their lives.
But this was old news, so of course Haruhi had already gotten over it. She accepted the clear fact that the idiot could never just reappear again and have things back to the way they were. It was okay. She knew this. She knew this every day.
So why on earth was she suddenly thinking about him at this moment? Why did she feel so uncomfortable taking each step across a crosswalk? Why did her stomach wrench every time she saw blonde hair, even though there were hundreds of those hues passing by her now? Why did she have to take deep breaths before she stepped on the airplane for this trip, and why was she so conscious about the sceneries that rolled by the windows as she flew?
Maybe it wasn't because of the chilly temperature or because she was underdressed. Maybe it was because she was a little closer to that possibility of him, that could instead of would, as she walked through the streets of Paris.
But that was ridiculous. France was the second largest country in Europe, and Paris was the country's largest city. He could be anywhere. Who was she to imagine that she might miraculously spot him walking through one of the traffic lights? No, no, there she was, wishful thinking again, imagining him showing up. This was exactly why she had strived to rid of all expectations of him – any thoughts over that boy were far too distracting and hopeless to mull over anyway. Especially when she was supposed to be focusing on her upcoming case.
A week ago, her international law firm was in desperate need for a new lawyer to work on the Beaumont vs. Grantaine case. The lawyer who was originally working for Beaumont got in a car accident and the doctors estimated him to be hospitalized for at least a week. The more experienced attorneys were already involved with preparing for their own cases and the ones that weren't did not speak enough French. And so, Haruhi, though only a lawyer of two years, seemed promising enough to be hired.
This change in plans was some food for thought for her employees – a lawyer, one with not nearly enough experience as the previous one, tackling a big case with only a week to prepare? Could she do it? Wasn't she scared?
She was a little nervous, yes. But she had visited the other lawyer in the hospital to take his notes on the case, and also did some extensive research on her own. Haruhi reviewed over the papers during the airplane ride and recited the facts and possible arguments to herself as she stepped inside the courtroom after meeting her client, Ms. Beaumont.
They briefly discussed the case and their stories, and she was positive she made the right choice accepting this job. Ms. Beaumont had her name first in the waiting list for an organ donor until she found out she was not notified when the kidney became available – instead, another woman by the name Grantaine had received the organ, even though she was hundreds of numbers down the list. There were investigations, and soon it was discovered that a man had arranged this mismatch to help Ms. Grantaine.
His name was René Grantaine.
What a horrible man, she thought to herself, frowning at the court papers as they sat in their desks and waited for the man and his lawyer to arrive in court. There were hundreds of people waiting on that list who needed those organs too, and he had the audacity to cheat and put another person ahead. Haruhi could definitely see herself going against this, and she knew her mother would never allow the man to get off so freely either.
But judging by both their last names and her research, René Grantaine was the son of Ms. Grantaine. He must have done this to save his mother after he found out his organ could not work for her – a rare case for two people related, but proved the situation was all the more difficult for him – and for that, she did feel sympathetic. After all, she knew the feeling a child had when their mother was dying. Still, his act was inexcusable. This man was wealthy enough to make these sorts of arrangements, and people could not just freely throw their money around so irresponsibly, especially when it was unfair to the other people's lives that were waiting on that list.
No matter what, Haruhi promised to herself, and to her mother in heaven, she had to make sure to win this case.
And yet, René Grantaine… that name was unsettling to her. It wasn't because she despised him for his crime already. Something about it was nerve-wracking, in a way she couldn't quite put her finger on. The name was not uncommon, but it still felt familiar to her, like she had heard it rolled off a tongue by another person somewhere…
Haruhi heard the doors open, and her opponents walked in the courtroom, greeting the judge along their way. She watched the lawyer straighten his tie, looking on at two other figures accompanying him. A woman with strawberry blonde hair strolled in, and though she twirled the opera glasses around her fingers confidently, her red lips were curled down in a grim line.
Haruhi widened her eyes and suddenly realized who that woman was.
She expected Ms. Grantaine to show up as well, but this woman was—
If she's here, then that means—her heart pounded heavily against her chest—that means, René is—
An all too familiar man dressed in a suit stepped into the room. His blonde hair was the same as the others she had seen when she had walked through the streets of Paris, but those solemn, azure eyes could only be his. His hair was gelled down and lost the messy curls he used to flaunt, and his face had aged from the child-like innocence she remembered being annoyed and yet amazed by so many years ago.
His eyes soon met hers and he halted. Haruhi stared back, remembering the last time she saw him, crossing that bridge across the sunset, yelling at the top of her lungs for him to come back to Ouran. She noticed the blonde's eyes widen slightly as his jaw muscles jumped. When he opened his mouth, he unconsciously took a step forward, an arm reaching towards her, until he realized what he was doing and stopped himself. The man could only make a vague sound in his throat before pressing his lips together firmly, turning his eyes away from the girl, and taking a seat next to his wife Éclair.
"Yes. It was my name when I was in France. René Tamaki Richard Grantaine."
He was René.
She remembered. He mentioned the name he had in France when he told her about his life there. She tried to forget everything about that once he left her and the host club for good.
And through the rest of the time spent before the trial started, all Haruhi could do once she lay eyes on that foolish, foolish man was whisper: "Senpai…"
How? How could he have been so stupid enough to do something like this? How could they suddenly reunite again, but be up against each other in court?
"All rise before Judge Hammel."
But this was no time for any soft whispers or reminiscing, as both the judge and the court finally seated, and Haruhi had to stand for her oral argument against René Tamaki Richard Grantaine.
Otherwise known as: Tamaki Suoh.
The hardest part in the trial was figuring out what to say to him afterwards.
Surprisingly, it was not any part of the trial where she presented her arguments and spoke before the judge. Haruhi knew a good amount of French from her French conversation classes with the twins in high school, so communicating and showing the facts in a different language did not turn out to be too difficult for her.
Her arguments were also agreeable once she addressed the point that he had cheated, unfairly taking away the opportunities for hundreds of other people to have their organs and stay alive along with Ms. Beaumont. Though the Grantaine's lawyer pulled a few tricks here and there in his counterargument, a case like this was easy for Haruhi to argue for, especially for something she strongly believed in.
She knew exactly what to say during the trial, and yet could not figure even a simple greeting to René, or Tamaki, after she won. When the verdict was final, the clock stroke at twelve in the afternoon and the trial was over.
Though a person usually went to jail for a crime like this, the punishment was less heavy for Tamaki and the judge charged him with a fine instead. Haruhi grimaced a little over this – with his wealth and Éclair's already merged, they could easily pay the money as if it never happened. But she was glad that he didn't have to be locked up behind bars and that she had succeeded in winning the case anyway. Her client seemed contented by this as well, as Ms. Beaumont thanked her as they stood before the front doors.
Haruhi shook hands with the other lawyer, and Éclair only gave her a curtly look before leaving. She did not seem to had uttered many words to her husband, as she had left him in the courtroom lagging behind. Haruhi watched him start walking towards the exit doors, where she was standing.
Haruhi knew she had to say something to him. She didn't know what to say, but she had to at least try, because it could very well be the last time she could ever speak to him again. And yet, even a greeting was so difficult for the twenty-seven year old to produce. What could she even say to someone she had not seen in eleven years? What could she say to someone she had just won over in court?
He was approaching closer to her, and her mind raced for the first word she could say. At a time like this, she clumsily asked herself 'would' questions, forgetting the whole difference between would and could and how woulds never sufficed to what actually happened. This was not the time to go over grammar lessons now – in a few seconds they would stop in front of each other, and in a few seconds she would have to say something.
His azure eyes did not meet hers yet, but soon they would. And she had to talk to him, even if it was out of courtesy.
Would it be weird to say hello?
Would it be awkward to hope he's doing well in France?
… Would it be wrong to tell him how much she missed him?
He was right in front of her now, and then somehow, she couldn't find it to meet his eyes. She cast her own down at her shoes, swallowed down the 'senpai' she was accidentally about to use, and then managed to stifle out his name.
A slight breeze passed by her, and when she looked up he was gone. Confused, the lawyer turned around and only saw his back exiting the door and growing smaller in the distance. She stared onwards at his figure that soon disappeared, much like that time when he drove on across the bridge and faded into the horizon.
And this time, he never looked back.
"While I may not be his lover, I know that I am not nothing to him."
Haruhi believed her sixteen-year old self might have cried at this moment. She might have cried if she was back in high school, when she was still emotionally immature and had the childish impression the host club was always going to be together.
Haruhi Fujioka, now a promising and succeeding lawyer, was twenty-seven years old. This adult Haruhi did not cry anymore. She knew that things like this happened. Tamaki had changed, and she had changed too. Two completely different people were leading their own lives now, and could never be together again.
She could say that if he had never left the host club, if he had been with her through her college years and her career and vice versa, they would have matured as grown ups together and probably would have been able to keep up with each other even with their different lives.
But that was a "would have", and would haves never happened. Haruhi already knew this, and that was why, when she wiped her eyes, it was only because they were tired.
Her law firm had a lot to talk about when she came back. Beaumont vs. Grantaine was a case to be remembered – a man from a powerful family, using his wealth to illegally mismatch an organ donor list to save his mother, but harming several other lives as well. A lawyer of only two years experience going up against those powerful people and winning. This achievement helped her career and her status as a remarkable lawyer, but Haruhi Fujioka was humble. She didn't remember much about the main parts of the case anyways. Whenever she thought about the trial, she remembered the little details instead.
She remembered when Éclair walked into the courtroom and twirled those opera glasses, and realized that maybe that woman really didn't hold those glasses as confidently as she had thought so before. She remembered Tamaki was about to say her name when he walked in and saw her, and the only flash of his old self she spotted was when his eyes widened into the shocked expression after seeing her again. She remembered he stopped for a few seconds when she spoke his name, and when he walked away from her, she remembered his pace became a little bit slower. Just a little bit.
But most of all, Haruhi remembered the clock striking twelve when their trial was over, reminiscent of another time several years ago when their carriage crashed and so did their fairy tale. The clock's hollow clangs reverberated through her head, and it seemed to be the only part of the trial that lingered in her mind.
It was the first time she had won a case so big, but it was not the first time she had lost a friend.
Haruhi never saw Tamaki Suoh again, but no matter how much she drowned herself with other sounds and memories, the clock never, ever stopped echoing.
Author's Note: Thank you for reading! I have always toyed with the idea of what would happen if Tamaki had left the host club in episode 26. I wanted to write a story about Haruhi and Tamaki meeting each other again years later, and the idea that they would be against each other in court was very intriguing to me. I pondered a long while about what sort of illegal act Tamaki could commit that would still be in-character, who would win the case, and how they would interact after seeing the other again. In the end I decided that their lives are too different now for them to be able to be close friends, especially since their college years and adult life were spent apart from each other with no contact at all. But I believe that even though they try to forget or continue onto their lives, they'll still hold those strong feelings for each other, even if they're only memories.
Of course, there are some that will disagree. That's why I'm curious as to what people will think of this story. A review about what you liked or didn't like would be much appreciated, I'm always happy to know about other people's opinions!
P.S. I'm sorry for the misaccuracies in this story; I know absolutely nothing about law and organ transplants. If this case had been the focus in this fanfic and not about Tamaki and Haruhi meeting each other, I would've never been able to make it through!