One Last Chance
By: Manna


She can't go to see him stand at the front of the church, not when the weather resolutely refuses to match her mood; the quiet heat and blue skies only make her feel worse. It is, however, a season he has always enjoyed more than anyone else, and she hates to admit that to herself as the white puffy clouds above her almost form a lumpy, grotesque heart. She just can't force herself to be as cheerful as the weather; the two of them, she and Tamaki-senpai, are so very different…maybe too different.

She doesn't want to see him looking so handsome, dressed in his very best clothes, clothes that she could spend her whole life saving to buy and could never, ever afford. It would be impossible for her to really appreciate the way he looks; after all, it's not as if he's dressed that way for her.

She can't bear to see the flowers, the beautiful lilies, white and yellow, arrangements of cream-colored roses whose petal tips blush a rather tasteful shade of pink, and baby's breath that shyly peeks out from behind the rest of the color explosion. They're too happy, happy when she's not. Smiling, smiling at him and at her and at everyone in the room.

She'll have to smile fake smiles to reassure herself and others that she, Haruhi Fujioka, is absolutely fine. Something like this should not bother her, not as much as it does.

She'll be lying in that little-white-lie kind of way; throughout the entire service, she'll end up fighting back tears. Surrounding her will be people who may or may not want to be there, who may or may not give a damn. They'll try to smile too, but it'll be obvious that the majority of them do not care. Obligation, you see.

She makes it as far as the train station before she spins on her heel and walks back home to her empty apartment; her father, surprisingly, is already at the ceremony, probably waiting impatiently for it to start, and he'll glance at his watch at any moment, wondering where his little girl is and why-oh-why isn't she there yet because things are just about to begin and people expect to see her there because everyone else is there that should be.

Guilt fills her, and she can't even sit down for all the pacing she's doing.

No…she's being selfish and she knows it. If Tamaki-senpai looks out over the crowd gathered there in that church and he doesn't see her…

She chuckles a little, imagining his exaggerated theatrical approach to most things—he will be absolutely heartbroken if she doesn't show up—and she grabs her purse, slinging it over her shoulder, almost surprised that it matches her dress. Special occasions require her to look nice, so she does. She wonders if her senpai will appreciate her choice in clothes. She's running so late that hurrying doesn't really matter. She'll miss most of the important stuff, anyway—things her ears don't want to hear, things her eyes don't want to see, and things her heart doesn't want to accept.

So she teeters along in her heels and tries to smile even though she knows she's losing him, even though someone else has already taken him away from her. He can't leave her! She won't let him! But what can she do, now? Maybe she'll tell him that he can't possibly leave her side, but who is she kidding? It's not as if it'll change anything.

She feels so alone, so very alone. It doesn't seem to bother the others like it bothers her. She doesn't understand why that is; the Host Club has always been known for charging in and fixing situations that have gone wrong. But what about this? What about this stupid fucking situation? It's all wrong, completely wrong, there isn't anything right about it, but…but they just sit there and let it happen. Every single last one of them.

So she's alone…again. But that's okay. Really, it is. She'll show all of them that she won't let it slow her down, let her falter. She can't tell Tamaki-senpai that she's letting it get to her, but if she could, if…if she could, he would probably hug her uncomfortably tight and ruffle her hair and coo at her in a manner that might have annoyed her at one time, but wouldn't so much as phase her now. "Oh, Haruhi," he'd say. "You do care!"

She doesn't even realize that she's crying until the people walking all around her come to a screeching halt. She's so short she can't see what exactly is going on, but she notices the lights of a police cruiser and fights her way to the front. Honestly, she has places to go and people to see, so what could possibly be going o—

She falters, her heel hitting the sidewalk wrong. She catches herself at the expense of the black lace at the hem of her dress and stares in awe at the cars lined down the street. Police escorts are at the front of the line, and they're driving alongside, too, their sirens silent but their lights bright, demanding authority. What a procession! She can't even see the last vehicle in line.

"Damn rich bastards," she murmurs to herself, but then she notices that the first car isn't really a car at all.

It's a hearse.

And the velvet flag with its satin trim is not proudly displayed by just the hearse, but by every car as far back as she can see.

"No!" she shouts, says, sobs, whispers, thinks. "No…"

She's too late. Her chance to beg him to stay—her last chance to tell him goodbye is gone. Her fingers reach out, but the long black vehicle is gone, and she stares after it, completely lost. She almost falls, but she can't let herself. She can't let this affect her so much.

It will break his heart.

A soft, almost unnoticeable click shakes her from her thoughts, and she looks up. It's a limousine, sleek and long and…and white—such a contrast to the pitch-black of the hearse just a few car lengths ahead—sporting a golden grill and matching hubcaps. The door is held open, and it doesn't even matter to her who is holding it. She tries not to stare at the fluttering flag on the hood of the automobile.

What greets her are the somber, almost dead expressions of the others. She hasn't given them enough credit. They care. They're hiding it just like she has been. An invitation isn't needed; she runs to them, runs and runs and runs those twelve long steps in her dress shoes even though one of her heels is broken.

The door closes unceremoniously behind her, and the smell of lilies and roses hits her so hard it almost makes her choke.

She stares out the window at the people who are stuck in traffic, not trusting herself to speak. She notices the way they curse and sigh and check their watches. Don't they know? Don't they know that a wonderful man is dead, that they should be following the procession, too?

No… No, she supposes they don't. How could they possibly understand?

One glance at the others, and she doesn't even bother to stifle her tears. Honey-senpai squeezes Usa-chan close to him; his beloved toy soaks up his pain, and Mori-senpai looks straight ahead, saying nothing, but she knows he's grieving in his own way. The tall man's hand is wrapped tightly around a handkerchief.

The twins hold hands and cry; it isn't their play-crying this time, though, and she wonders why it breaks her heart so much to see them hiding their sorrow, their loss. They don't make even the smallest of sounds.

And Kyouya-senpai… He's looking out the window. He says nothing. His hands are folded neatly in his lap. But she knows—she fucking knows—that he's crying.

She blinks and looks at them all again. There aren't any tears, any sobs, any heart-twisting moans or sighs, but… They're all crying. She reaches her hand up to her face and finds her skin smooth and surprisingly dry.

So she looks back out the window, at the people kicking up a fuss at being stuck in traffic because of an endless line of mourners, of people crying and grieving and wanting nothing more than that one person back in their lives that they will never see again. She finds them easier to ignore, now.

They don't live in her world.

And while she's watching them check the time, while they're stepping all over each other to see just how many cars are lined up in the procession, she feels something. None of the friends in the back of the white limousine move. No one's gaze catches that of another in their little group. But she knows what she's feeling.

Ten arms—stretching, reaching, struggling—to hold her, and five hearts—pining, aching, needing—her to hold them.


Author Notes:

This was done for Ouran-Contest over on LiveJournal. The theme was "last".

This was almost completely inspired by "Just a Dream" (Carrie Underwood). I tried to write it so that you (the reader) thought Tamaki was getting married to someone that wasn't Haruhi, but in reality, death stole him away from her, not another woman. She was late to a funeral (not a wedding).

About funeral processions: in Japan, most people are cremated. "Those rich bastards", though, probably own burial plots and are therefore buried in a casket. (However, I know nothing about funeral processions there. I'm sorry if it's completely wrong, makes no sense, or offends anyone.) As for ages? Well, I never did decide that.