Author's Note: I just counted. It's been just about seven months since the last chapter. I have nothing to say other than 'oops'. Instead of my feeble excuses about real-life and writer's block, how about that chapter you've been waiting for? 8D


"It's amazing how well he speaks English, don't you think?"

"Sure."

"When he said he had a brother that went to school here, I didn't expect his double to come walking over. Identical twins... pretty amazing. I wonder how people tell them apart?"

"Dunno."

"But the other one doesn't seem to like me very much..."

"Guess not."

"I think we got off on the wrong foot."

"Yeah."

"Chiyoko, are you even paying attention?"

"Not really."

Chiyoko's eyes were glued to the sparkling, faceted, teardrop-shaped pieces of glass dangling from the chandelier overhead. She had mostly zoned out after the first five minutes of being left alone with Jason. He kept going on and on about how interesting Kaoru was and how he wanted to get to know him better, to the point where it was sounding extremely repetitive.

Jason wrinkled his nose, opening his mouth to retort to his companion's obvious disinterest, when the twins finally returned to the table. Chiyoko was relieved not to be stuck in the American's company by herself any longer. The brothers looked to be in a mutually better mood, and seemed significantly less likely to strangle one another than they had a few minutes ago.

Hikaru slipped into the seat Kaoru had previously occupied next to Jason. Kaoru had resigned himself to playing along with the charade, sitting down next to Chiyoko. No one but Haruhi had ever been able to really tell them apart, so there was no reason for them to believe the switch wouldn't go over flawlessly.

"Sorry about that," Hikaru said, turning his eyes to his brother with a small smile. "We've taken care of things, though. Hikaru and I talked it out."

The older twin's English almost flawlessly matched his twin's as he spoke, and their companions didn't appear to think anything had changed. Jason smiled winningly at the boy next to him, who resisted the urge to knock some of his perfect teeth out.

"No, no. Please don't worry about it," the American boy said. "Chiyoko and I have been talking about how wonderful you two have been."

Chiyoko had finally started paying attention to the conversation again once the identical boys had returned, but she openly scoffed at the completely bullshit way that Jason was trying to cozy up to Kaoru. Didn't he understand that sort of crap was the reason why the twins had bickered in the first place? Her eyes shifted to exchange an unimpressed look with the redhead next to her. Given Hikaru's previous attitude, she expected him to appear equally as miffed by Jason's obvious line.

When her sharp hazel eyes met his, the boy's confidence faltered somewhat. He looked at her in a way that almost seemed confused. That was when Chiyoko noticed something was wrong. Had something happened in the bathroom?

The girl crossed her arms over her chest, leaning back into her chair to scrutinize the three boys sitting with her around the table.

"For guys, you two sure take a long time to pee," Chiyoko commented dryly. "Hey, Jason. Why don't you tell Hikaru here everything you were saying about his wonderful little brother."

Did she know? Was she trying to tell Hikaru something or just generally trying to stir up trouble again? It was difficult to tell with her. As a model, Chiyoko learned how to control her body language very well. Her face never gave away much, and this was no exception.

"Ah, well..." Jason scratched the back of his head. "I was just telling her that I was surprised that someone was so fluent in English."

The American boy turned to Kaoru—or who he thought was Kaoru—with a charming smile. Hikaru smiled back, but only the real Kaoru could see that it appeared strained. Now that Kaoru could view him from a third-party perspective, he could understand what Hikaru meant by the looks he was giving him, as they were now being given to his twin.

Hikaru lowered his eyes in what was supposed to be an act of modest shyness. Kaoru could tell he was quickly choosing his words.

"Eh... I am not that fluent," he said in English, then slipped back into Japanese. "Your Japanese is good, as well."

Flattery might encourage the American to speak in their native tongue a bit more, which would make the charade easier. Either way, Hikaru knew enough English to be passable.

He glanced at Kaoru out of the corner of his eye. His brother hadn't said anything yet, but he mentally prayed he'd play along. They always used to enjoy switching around every now and then just to confuse people. Now, however, Hikaru hoped this game would prove his point about the hints in Jason's body language.

Sitting so close to him now, it was almost overwhelming to Hikaru, seeing the way Jason was looking at him. But then, he knew what signs to look for. Surely he'd try to get 'Kaoru' alone as soon as possible, too.

"Lunch is over soon, right?" Jason said, glancing at the clock on the wall, then at the redhead next to him. "We should go get ready for class."

Kaoru stiffened slightly across the table. Hikaru noticed.

Bingo, you horny American.

Hikaru felt triumphant. He knew that Kaoru had figured out exactly what he'd seen in that seemingly innocent statement. There were a good fifteen minutes left before lunch was over, and there was really no point in 'getting ready' for anything. Still, Hikaru wouldn't be satisfied until he completely blew the lid off this guy's intentions.

"You're right," Hikaru said brightly, then cast a glance across the table at his brother. "Hikaru, see you in English class, yeah?"

Kaoru's eyes widened a little. He clearly didn't know what the hell Hikaru was thinking, taking it this far. But what choice did he have, other than to go along with it? When Hikaru set a plan in motion, nothing would stop him until he saw it through.

"Yeah," Kaoru said, offering Hikaru a smile that he hoped didn't give away any of his anxiety. "See you then, Kaoru."

Hikaru smiled back, in that reassuring way that promised that everything would be fine. Kaoru's heart lifted a little. The older twin stood up to accompany Jason out of the refectory, but he paused, bowing his head slightly to Chiyoko.

"Sorry we got off on the wrong foot, Nakazumi-san. Hikaru tells me you are pretty cool to hang out with. I look forward to experiencing it first hand on better terms."

Hikaru realized, too late, that he had called her by her last name. Kaoru had not been introduced to the girl with an accompanying surname yet. Chiyoko looked up at him, and he felt a rising sense of panic inside his chest.

"Later, little Hitachiin," she said, waving half-heartedly.

The older twin almost faltered, surprised that she didn't call him out on it. Hikaru didn't know whether she had figured it out or not. He didn't know whether to be relieved or if he should be more worried.

"Hey." Hikaru hadn't noticed he'd been staring until Jason touched his arm, interrupting his thoughts. "Ready?"

Hikaru instantly recovered, nodding. He couldn't drop the act yet. He was a twin on a mission.

"Yeah. Let's go," he said, falling into step with Jason as they exited the dining hall together.

Kaoru and Chiyoko watched them leave. It wasn't until after he lost sight of his brother that Kaoru realized he had absolutely no idea how to keep up his end of the charade. He shifted his eyes to the girl, who said nothing at first. She rested an elbow on the table, propping her chin in her hand as she met his gaze.

There was a long silence between them, and Kaoru began to think this had been a very, very bad idea. Then—

"What are you two trying to pull? It's not nice to pick on dumb Americans like that."

Kaoru stared at her a moment before he started laughing. It was a mixture of embarrassment at being caught so quickly, yet relief that he was not obligated to any pretending.

"You really can tell?"

Chiyoko looked insulted at first, but eventually sighed, closing her eyes.

"Kind of... your brother called me by my last name. I realize that there is the possibility he told you what it was while you two talked things out," she paused to give him a look that made Kaoru slightly uncomfortable. But how could she have really known what they were doing in the bathroom? "It was the look you gave me when Blevins was making goo-goo eyes at your brother. Like you hadn't seen it before."

Kaoru was somewhat in awe of her, but also a bit scared. She was perceptive. He couldn't help but wonder what else she had deduced from all of this.

"I guess... I just didn't notice," Kaoru admitted, looking ashamed.

"Hikaru was really jealous, you know. He wouldn't come right out and say it, but it was obvious," she said, leaning forward conspiratorially as though sharing a secret. "To us, you looked like you were enjoying the attention. He looked like he was about to explode."

"I see," Kaoru said, fighting the urge to blush.

"It'd be interesting to see how Jason reacts if he finds out you're not the one with him, don't you think?"

-x-x-x-

As they walked down the corridor, Hikaru couldn't help but be irritated at the way Jason walked so closely to him. He may have been someone who had little to no concept of personal space, but it had always been on his terms, with Kaoru as the only exception. Besides, knowing what this guy must have been thinking only added fuel to the fire.

"Your brother seems all right when you two aren't fighting," Jason spoke conversationally.

Hikaru watched him out of the corner of his eye, suspicious.

"Yeah, Hikaru is great."

They stopped walking. Hikaru looked up at Jason with a puzzled expression.

"But to be honest, I'm glad we're alone again."

Hikaru's eyes widened a bit. Was he making his move?

"...What do you mean?" Hikaru hated how nervous his words sounded to his ears.

Jason's smile bordered on predatory, and before the older twin's mind fully caught up to the situation, the American had backed him against a wall with both hands on either side of his head.

"I mean..." Jason leaned in very closely. "I wanna skip out on the next class with you."

Before Hikaru could form an appropriate response to discourage him, Jason's lips had met his neck. Hikaru's heart leapt into his throat, not quite prepared for the American to be so forward, even if he had been certain it would eventually become an issue. A breathless squeak visited his ears as Jason's teeth scraped over the sensitive skin, and the older twin was horrified to realize the sound had come from him.

Hikaru hadn't had time to come up with a plan before the situation was thrust upon him. All he could think of was Kaoru, and how he was so grateful that his little brother didn't have to put up with a vulgar, horny American.

"N-No, don't!" Hikaru's fingers clenched into the front of Jason's uniform as he tried to push him away.

Being a Japanese boy, Hikaru wasn't quite as tall or muscular as Jason, and it didn't move him by much. Though, it really would have taken a complete idiot not to grasp the disapproval in his resistance. Unfortunately, Hikaru didn't know the extent of Jason's idiocy, but hoped for the best.

Thankfully, it was enough to make him pause and look at the redhead in confusion. However, he was using his weight to keep the twin who he thought was Kaoru pinned to the wall. They stared at one another silently, until Jason smirked.

"I get it," he said quietly, stroking Hikaru's cheek. "There's no need to be shy with me. Though that blush makes me want to eat you up."

Hikaru felt disgusted. Was he seriously blushing? More like brimming with anger. Oh yes, he was angry. Livid, in fact. He had half a mind to let adrenaline take over his body and tear the foreigner a new asshole, rip off his dick, and shove it down his throat.

Once again, Hikaru had gotten himself into a position where he had to take one for the team, it seemed, and he was thankful it wasn't his precious Kaoru. Taking a deep breath, he tried to calm himself down. He needed to calm down.

Even in his current state, he was aware that if he gave himself away now... then there was nothing stopping this crude American from going to their mother with something to use against them. Scorned men could just as easily be as vindictive as scorned women. Subtlety was key. He figured he had a very small window of opportunity to gently let Jason down.

"Jason..." He tried a different tack. "Not here."

It had seemed like a good thing to say at the time. Maybe he was only digging himself deeper by putting it like that. If he could just get Jason to talk instead of act, there was still a chance he could come up with a story establishing how 'Kaoru' was flattered, but not interested. Oh yes, and heterosexual. Jason didn't have to know otherwise.

But Jason's predatory smile that followed gave Hikaru a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach.

"C'mon... no one's going to know. No one else is around right now. I like you, Kaoru," he purred, leaning in extremely close. "We can find somewhere that's private, though, if you like. I'll make you feel good, I promise."

Yes meant no, and no meant yes. That was apparently the mentality that American boys typically seemed to have. The twin wriggling against him in order to free himself only seemed to set off further aggression. The nips against Hikaru's neck turned into a full-blown kiss on the lips, complete with tongue.

Hikaru had told him no, and now Jason's tongue was in his mouth? Figure that one out. How many guys did Hikaru have to kiss on his brother's behalf? Honestly.

"Force doesn't feel good!" Hikaru gasped as he managed to break out of the lip-lock, looking thoroughly scandalized.

Finally, Jason appeared to take the hint. The American boy backed off, looking pretty insulted and a little angry himself. Rejection sucked no matter what the circumstances were, but like most of the students at Ouran, Jason was spoiled and used to having things his way.

"Fine, you little prude," Jason hissed in English. "I'm not giving up, though. You Japanese need to lighten up a little and have some fun."

Hikaru pretended to understand the flurry of English that had been hurled at him as he straightened his tie and brushed off the front of his uniform. He did, however, pick up the way he referred to his nationality and grasped enough to figure out Jason must have been bitching about his dismissal. As though Japan itself had something to do with it.

"Real life isn't yaoi anime," Hikaru said firmly, glaring at the other boy.

Jason had clearly watched too much of it. They stared at one another for a few moments. Eventually Jason scoffed and turned.

"Whatever. I'll see you after school," the American said, leaving Hikaru where he stood without another word.

"Bye," Hikaru muttered to Jason's retreating back.

Jamming his hands into his pockets, Hikaru stalked off to Kaoru's next class. It was supposed to be with Jason, but he appeared to have skipped like he originally suggested. In fact, no one saw the American in classes for the rest of the day.

That suited Hikaru just fine. It was better for that blonde bastard's health, anyway. Hikaru had pulled off a brilliant performance without any bloodshed, which, in his opinion, deserved a fucking award.

The rest of the afternoon's classes went by with no problems. Even the ones that Hikaru shared with Kaoru were pulled off without a sweat, despite the initial, curious glances from his brother and Chiyoko when he showed up without the American in tow. Hikaru had merely shrugged and shook his head a little.

Hikaru was relieved to see that, in spite of their initial tension, Kaoru and Chiyoko had not, in fact, torn one another limb from limb in his absence. At least one of the new transfers appeared to be non-violent. Once classes were over, Chiyoko properly thanked both twins for escorting her around the school for the day.

"See you tomorrow," she said, the corner of her mouth quirking as she looked between Hikaru and Kaoru.

One really had to wonder what she must have thought about them by that point.

"Thanks for the math notes," Kaoru said earnestly, offering a smile. "I'll look over them."

"See you, Nakazumi." Hikaru held up a hand in farewell.

Once they had parted ways from the girl, the two of them turned as one to make their way towards the third music room. Hikaru dreaded the inevitable question, except Kaoru knew that he already knew what he wanted to know.

"So are you gonna tell me what happened?" Kaoru gently pressed, peering at Hikaru out of the corner of his eye as they walked down the corridors of Ouran Academy.

The older twin only shrugged at first, a gesture which he knew Kaoru oftentimes found annoying. He tended to do it when he didn't really want to discuss the subject matter. In this case, Hikaru definitely didn't want to talk about his time spent with Jason.

Hikaru didn't miss the irritated pursing of his brother's lips. The younger twin nudged his brother's arm and they eventually stopped walking. Kaoru looked at Hikaru expectantly. Hikaru sighed, knowing full well that he couldn't just leave Kaoru completely in the dark about it. He at least owed him some sort of explanation, even if he was reluctant to tell him the whole story.

"He said something about skipping classes. He didn't show up for the rest of the day."

"And?"

Kaoru waited patiently for the rest, but when Hikaru didn't answer, he looked concerned. Hikaru averted his eyes, instead looking towards the double doors that led to the third music room at the end of the hall.

"Hey... do me a favor," Hikaru murmured absently. "Keep being me for the rest of the afternoon. I'm just not up to being seme right now."

"Hikaru..."

"Just do it. Please."

It was an unusual request, considering Hikaru's aggressive nature. Something really terrible must have happened in order to shake Hikaru up to the point of not having any motivation to assume his role.

"Okay," Kaoru agreed, but he looked concerned. "But what really happened?"

"Kaoru, what's a 'prude'?" Hikaru asked suddenly, ignoring his question.

The younger twin stared at his brother. Hikaru may not have answered him directly, but that response had given him an idea.

"Seriously?!" Kaoru burst forth laughing. "He seriously called you a prude?"

Hikaru didn't share his amusement, instead looking even more confused about the context of the unfamiliar word. It was definitely not something they had covered in conversational English classes.

"No, he called you a prude," Hikaru grumbled.

Eventually Kaoru managed to stifle his laughter, because it clearly wasn't helping Hikaru's mood any. Clearing his throat, Kaoru took pity on his brother's confusion and answered him.

"It means you're... unwilling to engage in sexual contact with someone. I guess that answers my question about what happened. Just what exactly did he do?"

Kaoru was still amused by the whole thing, but this was going to lead to a problem. If they pushed the guy away too soon, their mother would become suspicious. But they couldn't pull off pretending to be each other forever. As well as they knew one another, it was a risky game Hikaru had started. One of them was bound to slip up, especially if Jason insisted on forcing Hikaru to practice his English.

"Something that I'm glad he didn't try with you, or he'd be missing some vital man parts," Hikaru hissed under his breath.

He didn't elaborate. In fact, he was trying very hard to forget the experience as much as possible. As they slid into their usual seats in the third music room, Hikaru was glad that it was so close to the time for the host club to open. It saved him from having to go into too many details right now.

Kaoru resigned himself to Hikaru's vague response, knowing that even if his brother had wanted to, now was not the time to explain things any further. For now, he could only speculate what had occurred between Hikaru and the American.

The older twin rested his head against his brother's shoulder, slouching down a bit in his seat to visually imply a sense of vulnerability the way Kaoru always did during their acts. To their fangirls, the act was the same as it had always been. One twin was acting more confident, the other acting gentler, more easily embarrassed. None of them could tell the difference.

In fact, most of the hosts couldn't really tell the difference either, with one exception. Hikaru caught Haruhi's eye for a moment across the room and ignored her perplexed look. Fortunately, the little tanuki had enough sense to keep her mouth shut about it.

Hikaru set his tea cup down and leaned against his twin, looking pitifully up at Kaoru as though he was about to burst into tears. The younger twin was not the only one who could fake it.

"...Hikaru? Haruhi was looking at you again," he sighed, tracing the tip of his index finger over Kaoru's jacket in a lazy circle. "...Do you like him better than you like me?"

It was loud enough for Haruhi to overhear, and she merely shook her head, purposefully looking away. Whether she liked it or not, she was such a convenient plot device for their impromptu scripts.

Kaoru had barely opened his mouth to answer the question when a collective gasp from a group of several girls sitting at a table across the room cut him off. Even their designated guests tore their eyes away from the twins momentarily to see what had caused such a fuss.

The younger twin nearly dropped the cup he was holding when he saw Jason Blevins introducing himself to the girls surrounding him and Tamaki. Hikaru's stiffened posture beside him told him without looking that he had seen it, too.

That idiot!

It was clear to the twins why the American had been brought to the club in the first place. The host club king had sought out the foreigner after hearing rumors about his beauty and heritage. If he knew enough Japanese to converse with their guests, then he was a perfect candidate to become a host. Already the girls were flocking to him, giggling and swooning when he offered each individual guest a gentle kiss on the hand or a smile.

Hikaru had been hoping Jason had merely been saying he'd see him after school, but the sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach told him he should have entertained the possibility of him showing up at the host club. He wouldn't, however, have known quite where to find the twins, if it wasn't for...

Note to self: Kill Tono. Slowly. Painfully.

Hikaru's fingers curled into Kaoru's jacket as he felt his anger beginning to rise. The humiliated blush that stained his cheeks only convinced their guests of his uke act further as he hid his face against Kaoru's shoulder. This wasn't happening. This wasn't allowed to happen.

One of the girls seated at the twins' table happened to catch a glimpse of the real Hikaru's tension, and clasped her hands together.

"Oh, no! Their love is being threatened by the appearance of this handsome foreigner!"

The girls within earshot seemed to collectively gasp as one. Kaoru blinked, nearly forgetting for a moment that he was posing as his brother, but caught himself before he spoke.

"Don't be silly, ladies. Kaoru is the only one for me, isn't that right?" he purred, tickling beneath his brother's chin with his index finger. "Haruhi or this handsome stranger, it doesn't matter."

Hikaru, trying to recover from his initial frustration at the sight of Jason in the room, swallowed hard as his chin lifted with Kaoru's touch.

"Y-Yes, Hikaru..."

Where the girls only saw a convincing display of emotion when Hikaru finally opened his eyes, there was a terrified look as he stared at his twin. He was supposed to be the older brother and protect Kaoru, but he'd been barely able to defend himself. If Jason had managed to corner him in a less conspicuous place, he may have decided to go much farther than he had.

The thought alone made Hikaru nauseated. He didn't want to acknowledge that eventually Kaoru would have to be Kaoru again, and he might end up in a worse position than Hikaru had seen.

Kaoru's lips came very close to his brother's like always, but this time there was no kiss. The two had learned their lesson well from the last time they had slipped up while everyone was watching them.

"Don't worry, Kaoru. No one could ever take me away from you." Kaoru's voice sounded just as earnest as it always did when they were acting, yet this time there was something more to it.

The younger twin was trying to soothe his brother before he blew up and they were discovered. Perhaps if they stuck together and played their cards right, he would leave and life could go on.

"Never," Hikaru breathed.

Unfortunately for the twins, as soon as Jason had introduced himself to the girls, he politely excused himself and made a beeline for their table. Hikaru stiffened as he felt the unholy presence of the American approaching.

"You two look cozy," Jason commented with a smile. "Do you mind if I join you?"

The younger twin had to hide his anger at the casual manner in which Jason had interrupted their conversation. Not only was it rude, it seemed as though he was pretending nothing had happened between him and Hikaru. Perhaps the American didn't want the older twin finding out. If only he knew the truth...

Kaoru stared up at Jason, momentarily at a loss. He figured he had better speak up before Hikaru to avoid any suspicious behavior.

"Of course."

Inwardly, he kicked himself for his answer. But what else could he say? 'No way, you fucking pervert, get the hell out of our club'? Not only would the girls be upset but Jason would undoubtedly be pissed off, as well.

Hikaru had since straightened in his seat and separated from Kaoru. He, too, stared up at Jason silently, now embarrassed for what might have been the first time ever, to be seen with his twin like this. Even their mother finding the scandalous photo hadn't made him feel self-conscious, really, just... anxious. He uselessly tried to will the color out of his face, feeling his cheeks stubbornly get hotter.

His eyes shifted to Kaoru nervously, silently thanking him for speaking up, yet liking the answer no more than his twin. He didn't want to have to be the one to do it, he was likely to create some decidedly bad publicity for the club by starting an all out brawl with a foreigner right here and now if he started acting on impulse. Instead, Hikaru focused on breathing, something that proved to take more concentration than usual.

"Nice to meet you ladies." Jason's smile was sickeningly sweet now that the twins knew just how perverted he really was when he was alone with who he thought was Kaoru.

The American didn't seem to have any issues butting in on the conversation, taking a seat between the two girls, directly across from Hikaru and Kaoru.

"I've already met these two," he continued, nodding at the twins. "Kaoru's been escorting me around the school today. I even got to spend a little alone time with him after classes."

Hikaru's fingers reflexively dug into Kaoru's leg under the table at the words. The tone was just dark enough to send the girls on either side of him into a squealing frenzy again as their eyes locked onto the identical boys, eagerly awaiting their response to such a confession.

This time, Kaoru was the one who felt the urge to kick Jason under the table to shut him up. What the hell was he implying? He didn't want rumors flying around the school that he and this foreigner were dating when there was already so much noise about him and his brother kissing.

"Yes, we were discussing Jason-san's love of anime." Hikaru's eyes betrayed his overly-pleasant tone as he regarded the American, wondering what the fuck he was going to try to pull. The only thing Hikaru could think of was for Jason to make hints to create a stir and annoy who he now believed to be the older twin.

"I was surprised at how easily we were able to get along and speak to each other after I heard how unsociable they were." Jason's eyes lingered on Hikaru, who resisted the urge to squirm under the scrutiny. "I guess we just have good chemistry."

Feeling Kaoru stiffening beside him, Hikaru chanced another glance at his twin, feeling a bit smug at the irritation that he sensed through his brother's poker face. At least he wasn't the only one who was annoyed. He was half-hoping that Kaoru would step up and defend 'his little brother' in this instance, but he had to do his part, as well.

Hikaru was going to milk this, because honestly, he was pissed right now and wanted to feel self-satisfied in his efforts after Jason had managed to catch him so completely off-guard before. His arm curled around Kaoru's, and his free hand was brought up to touch his own cheek. His eyes were demurely downcast, completing the picture of the soft-spoken submissive before even saying anything.

"You seem like such a nice person—" Hikaru nearly gagged on the word 'nice', "—I felt bad having to turn you down." He leaned his head on Kaoru's shoulder again. "You see, I am far too close to my brother to become involved with others..."

He hoped laying it out like that with witnesses would provide a sting. A big one. Hikaru held no sympathy, and very little care for their mother's little schemes right now. He had managed to keep their act clean today, so there was nothing to incriminate them as of yet. Hopefully, nothing else would come up.

Kaoru was finding it more and more difficult to keep up appearances with his brother and Jason obviously going back and forth at each other in the most pleasant way possible so long as they were in the presence of guests. He couldn't help but wonder how this conversation would go if no one else was around.

Jason was still unaware that the twins had switched places. Even with Hikaru's comments, the smile never left the American's handsome face.

"So I've been told," Jason said nonchalantly, looking to the girls on either side of him. "What do you think, ladies? Shall I take him up on this challenge?"

The girls' eyes widened. Was this American really going to try and pull the twins apart?

Kaoru inwardly groaned. If they didn't ward him off today, it was him who was going to have to deal with Jason.

"We'll have to see if I can't change their minds and let me in once in a while." Jason winked at 'Kaoru', no longer seeming to care that there was anyone else there.

"You're not serious?" Kaoru blurted out, causing all eyes to turn to him. He couldn't help himself now that the gall of this guy had sunk in. Yes, he thought Jason was attractive, but he didn't honestly think he could come between them, did he? "I guarantee you, you'll never be able to take Kaoru away from me."

Hikaru was so proud. Kaoru had said pretty much exactly what he would have said, only with more tact and less swearing, maiming, and dismemberment. Clearly, his younger brother was the better actor of the two, because Hikaru's discomfort level was rising.

It may have been fortunate, however, because the flustered expression on his face was character appropriate for Kaoru's part of the act. The girls, and Jason, for that matter, could not have known that he was flushing due to barely contained anger. Unfortunately for Hikaru, Jason probably took the expression as an invitation to intrude, as though he had actually enjoyed the attention.

Hikaru wasn't stupid, and the way Jason was now looking at him seemed awfully self-satisfied. Now the older twin was kicking himself for not making himself clearer in his refusal. Not here should have been not anywhere, not ever. The need to keep up propriety was waning in his mind, and his face moved closer to Kaoru's.

"But..." he said softly, in the best uke voice he could muster, "Hikaru is still a better kisser."

If Jason wanted to take shots, so would he. His eyes moved up to his twin's face, trying to see how Kaoru would take the notion that yet another guy had kissed Hikaru. The last time he had witnessed it, Kaoru had been pretty violent. Kaoru now sat, stone-faced, his eyes locked on Jason. Hikaru could practically see him trying to will away the image of the American laying a lip on his brother.

The girls around them squealed in glee. Most of them had been there the previous day to witness their display with the strawberry pocky. Now they'd been fed the notion that Kaoru had kissed this handsome American, as well.

"Heeee~! I can't look at pocky the same way again," one of the guests sighed happily, remembering the spectacle of the previous afternoon. This seemed to give her an idea, and her eyes glinted as she held up a finger dramatically. "Demonstration!"

The other girls around her immediately understood her line of thought, contributing to the common belief within the host club that yaoi fangirls operated with a hive mind. "Demonstration!" they chorused. "Demonstration!"

The first girl developed an impish grin that could have rivaled any the twins could muster. "Why doesn't Kaoru-kun kiss both of them," she continued, "and we tell them who kisses better?"

The uproar of approval from the other girls left the entire room looking at their table. Hikaru flinched.

Aw, fuck.

"Maybe the next time you let me in, you'll be able to taste the full potential of what I can do." Jason was not even fazed by the comment, let alone the frenzied girls that surrounded him. In fact, he took it as yet another challenge.

It was one that was quickly answered for Hikaru as Kaoru finally lost his patience. The younger twin stood from his seat and slammed both fists against the table, silencing the chattering girls around them as everyone stared at him.

"There isn't going to be a next time!" Kaoru hissed. "You listen up good, you pervert. Kaoru is mine and he has no interest in doing anything with you! If you don't believe me, I dare you to try something else. You'll see what happens when you mess with us."

A hush fell over the room after Kaoru's little outburst. He understood their place in the host club, but the thought of the ladies wanting him to kiss multiple men just for their viewing pleasure made Kaoru sick. He knew he had overreacted, but the younger twin was pissed that this guy was so sure he could tear him away from Hikaru.

Jason met Kaoru's eyes, and that was when his smile finally faded. "Maybe you shouldn't speak for your brother. I guess that's normal, though—an older sibling manipulating the younger. You'll see the light eventually, Kaoru," he said without tearing his stare from 'Hikaru'.

The girls shrank back at the sharp increase in tension between the three boys, but they still watched with wide eyes. Their interest was keen on the outcome of this rivalry, and although it seemed now that there wouldn't be a demonstration, the result was almost as satisfying.

Hikaru stared at his brother in awe. Either Kaoru was better at acting like him than he thought, or he had genuinely snapped. Most likely the latter, Hikaru noted, watching his twin's fists clench so tightly the knuckles had turned white. Inwardly, the older twin was torn between smugness at Kaoru's possessive reaction, and guilt at goading the situation to the point of him losing his cool completely.

He sighed. It was time to end this game.

Rising to his feet, Hikaru put a hand on Kaoru's shoulder, giving it a comforting squeeze before he spoke. "I assure you, Jason-san—" he emphasized the mock politeness of the suffix, "—Kaoru is speaking for himself."

Kaoru's eyes widened as he realized what was happening. Hikaru turned to him and offered a smile. "Really, Kaoru," he continued, "I loved that last bit. It was just like something I would have done! You know me too well."

Reaching up his fingers, Hikaru stroked Kaoru's cheek affectionately before turning his eyes to Jason. "I am speaking for myself, however, when I say I'm a better kisser. At least I don't force my tongue into an unwilling victim's mouth." His expression dissolved into one that was a touch more arrogant, a touch more angry, and a touch meaner—he had morphed back into Hikaru in every aspect.

"Hikaru, please don't..." Kaoru took his brother's hand away from his cheek as he whispered to him, pleading for his brother not to taunt the American on top of revealing that he'd been had. The way Jason had reacted to everything else, letting him know the boy he had been trying to seduce was the wrong one might make him simply start all over again once he knew who the real Kaoru was.

Hikaru squeezed Kaoru's hand, shaking his head nearly imperceptibly. He just couldn't sit by while Jason forced himself on other people and say nothing. "If you ever try that with Kaoru, your life will become extremely unpleasant."

It was a typical rich kid thing to throw his weight around, but Hikaru would personally see to it that this asshole disappeared from Japan forever if he did anything to Kaoru, even if he had to pay a hitman to do it.

Jason stared at the twins, his eyes flicking back and forth between them. His expression was strange, like he was half-amused and surprised that they had tricked him so easily. "Is that so? No wonder." His gaze settled on who he now knew to be the real Kaoru. "I'll just have to make sure you're the real thing next time."

The American was taking it all too well. Kaoru felt very uneasy about the smile that had returned to Jason's face, and he unconsciously gripped his brother's hand a bit tighter for comfort.

"This may be Japan, but I believe I said you shouldn't compare real life to yaoi anime," Hikaru spat. "You can't just go around forcing yourself on others."

Jason said nothing, but the cold glare he gave the older twin now spoke volumes. Hikaru met the gaze unflinchingly, finding confidence in the fact that Kaoru could no longer question if the American was really after him. Jason, realizing he would make no further progress, turned and stalked out of the room.

The twins watched him leave, looking far less defeated than Hikaru had intended, and Kaoru groaned. He feared for Hikaru now, mostly because he wasn't sure how far either his brother or Jason would take this. It could end up in a physical brawl, knowing Hikaru, and if that was the case, Kaoru wasn't sure if his twin could handle another boy so much more built than they were. Really, Hikaru and Kaoru were like twigs. They could talk tough, but how well could they really fight?

"You idiot!" Kaoru dropped his brother's hand to fold his arms across his chest. "Why did you do that? You shouldn't piss him off. We don't know what he's capable of."

"Don't you get it yet?" Wild-eyed, Hikaru wheeled around to face his twin, gripping Kaoru's face with both hands and getting nose-to-nose. "You aren't some piece of meat, Kaoru! I can't let him go on about kissing you like you aren't even there! Like you don't have any choice! Besides, I'm the pissed off one, here," Hikaru muttered, releasing his hold on his brother and turning away from Kaoru to stare out the window. "Damn Americans..."

They'd both pretty much forgotten about the stunned girls who were looking back and forth from twin to twin now, trying to piece together what had just happened.

"Um..." One guest tilted her head in curiosity. "So Hikaru-kun was pretending to be Kaoru-kun...?"

"Seems so," another answered, nodding.

"I... I see..." said the first. "B-But their brotherly love is still so beautiful!"

"Yes! I want to see Hikaru-kun be the uke more often!" Others chirped their agreement.

The older twin sighed, closing his eyes in hopes of tuning them out.

Damn fangirls, too.

"I'm sorry, Hikaru," Kaoru murmured, taking a step closer to his twin. "I appreciate you defending me, but I'm worried about you. I don't want to see you get hurt." Kaoru was also ignoring the girls now. His brother was far more important. The younger twin wrapped his arms around Hikaru from behind and hugged him close. "I just don't want to see him hurt you..."

The beauty of their act, in the eyes of many, resided in the fact that the best moments came when they behaved like no one else was there. Even now, when they really were ignoring the existence of all others, their guests did not feel deprived when they got to watch such a touching moment.

"You should have just let it play out," Kaoru chided softly. "I'm sure he's angry now that he knows we tricked him."

Kaoru's concern only managed to make Hikaru believe that his actions had been justified. "I can't have him threatening you if he thinks you're me, either."

The younger twin's little outburst probably pissed off Jason while he was still under the impression that he was his brother. If they had kept up the charade, it was possible that Jason would have gone after Kaoru out of anger, unaware that he had the wrong twin. At least now, Hikaru was fairly certain that whatever grudge that Jason might hold against them now would be directed mostly at himself.

He could actually breathe a bit easier, thinking about it that way. On the other hand, it only changed Kaoru into a different type of target. That would prove to be a problem.

"We faked it once... we can fake it again if we have to," Hikaru muttered, leaning into Kaoru's arms whilst ignoring the adoring sighs of the peanut gallery.

In reality, Hikaru was beginning to worry about how their acting skills would hold up a second time. The two of them could manage the most flawless poker faces when they were playing games, but this time, the personal nature of the game made things a lot more tense than either of them were used to. He couldn't switch with Kaoru often enough to both protect him from getting molested by that perverted American, and switch back in time to keep himself from getting assaulted in another way.

"We should explain things to Tono. He may be an idiot, but if we let him know the basic gist of what's going on, he can at least keep him out of the host club," Kaoru suggested.

"Mm, yeah. Tono or Kyouya-senpai," Hikaru muttered. "But Kyouya-senpai would probably tell us he's some business associate of the Ohtori family, and tell Tono not to touch him, either."

Kaoru sighed at his brother as he fixed their hair back into its original position. Hikaru just couldn't help being himself. Kaoru should have known he'd eventually rub the fact that Jason had been wrong the entire time in the American's face without thinking about the consequences. But the younger twin admired his brother's ability to easily speak his mind, regardless of the trouble they were now in with Jason.

"Let's get out of here, before you kill someone." Kaoru flicked his brother's nose before tugging on Hikaru's arm and practically dragging him out of the music room. Neither of them were in the mood to be hosts anymore, anyway. They would deal with the ramifications of leaving early at another time. "Seriously, Hikaru. What if they are spying on us for mom? What if he tells her some stupid lie because he's angry? I guess he could have done that either way, because you rejected him. I shouldn't have let us switch places. I should have known it would turn out like this. He didn't hurt you, did he?"

Hikaru said nothing as Kaoru fussed over him until his brother started what was probably the only thing about Kaoru's personality that he couldn't stand. The self-blame. Hikaru stopped walking, planting his feet and refusing to let Kaoru drag him another inch. Instead, he grabbed Kaoru's wrist.

"What are you saying, Kaoru?" Hikaru's expression was serious as he took a step closer to his twin. "What would you have done if Jason had you pinned to the wall, propositioning you? What if he kissed you, and didn't take no for an answer when you wanted him to stop?" He nudged Kaoru into that same position against the wall, trying to illustrate his point. It was uncomfortable. He didn't want to picture Kaoru having been in his place. Resting his hands on the wall on either side of his twin's head, he leaned close to Kaoru's ear. "I had to reject him, but how far would you take your self-sacrifice in order to protect me? Would you have rejected him, too?"

Hikaru's voice wavered towards the end of his question. The depths of Kaoru's love for him knew no bounds, to the point where he'd do anything to keep him safe. He could be an idiot, in his own right.

It wasn't clear at first whether or not the message had gotten across, as Kaoru's eyes held no fear at being backed against a wall by his brother. As intimidating as Hikaru could be, Kaoru knew better than anyone that his brother was sensitive when it came to him; an emotional wreck even with something as minor as a scrape on the younger twin's knee.

As Kaoru considered Hikaru's words, his heart ached when he imagined what his twin must have been feeling when the American boy pressed him to the wall like Hikaru was doing to him right now, knowing that he, even as the stronger personality of the two, had been placed in a frightening and awkward position he was lucky to come out of unscathed. Guilt struck him when Kaoru realized something quite terrible. There was a moment of hesitation before he answered his twin, as he debated whether or not the truth was worth Hikaru's reaction. Then Kaoru decided: Hikaru would know. His brother always knew when he was lying.

"I don't know," Kaoru admitted.

Without his older brother there as his pillar of strength, Kaoru had a difficult time establishing his own desires. Hikaru was right. In order to protect him from being hurt, Kaoru would do just about anything. Anything at all.

Sighing, Hikaru placed a kiss on Kaoru's cheek. Being near to him was maddening in the sense that Kaoru may have had a point about Jason telling their mother, and now everyone could be seen as a possible spy. Why did everyone have to be in their business, anyway?

If he wanted to kiss and touch his brother, what right did they have?

Hikaru took a step back, regarding his twin thoughtfully. Kaoru met his gaze questioningly as Hikaru was clearly setting something into motion in his mind. What no one saw, no one could report. It was so simple, he felt retarded for not thinking of that sooner.

Glancing behind his brother, Hikaru noted that his twin was leaning next to a door. It appeared to lead to some sort of storage room. He grabbed Kaoru's hand, the corner of his mouth upturning slightly.

"Let's not call the car just yet." Grasping the knob, Hikaru pushed the door open only long enough to yank his twin inside before kicking it closed behind them. They were cloaked in blackness, and for a moment, all was still except for the quiet sound of their breathing.

"Hikaru?" Kaoru's voice was soft, laced with a touch of uncertainty.

The older twin didn't answer, but sought his brother out in the darkness. The first thing Hikaru's fingers came into contact with was Kaoru's cheek, warm and smooth. With a grin that was invisible to his twin, Hikaru stepped forward, sliding his hand around to the back of Kaoru's neck as he stepped closer. In the absence of light, Kaoru's exhalations sounded much louder than they actually were. They became faster when Hikaru pressed his body against his twin and leaned in for a kiss.

Though neither of them had a definite timeframe in mind when they had promised to make time for this earlier that day, the opportunity was too attractive for Hikaru to pass up, and when he jumped into an idea with both feet, it didn't take much for Kaoru to willingly follow. That much was clear when Kaoru's arms wrapped tightly around his neck to pull him even closer, his lips yielding to Hikaru's searching tongue. It was as if they picked up right where they had left off in the bathroom; Hikaru was already hard again, and he wanted to be sure Kaoru knew it.

Hikaru's hands slid down Kaoru's back and cupped his ass, tugging him forward so there wasn't a shadow of a doubt that the younger twin would feel just how hard he was. Kaoru's resulting whimper encouraged Hikaru to push his hips forward, where he found that his brother was just as hard. Though the older twin half-expected Kaoru to tell him this was too risky like before, Hikaru was stubbornly determined to make absolutely certain that Kaoru didn't try to stop him again.

Kaoru was half-leaning against a short stack of boxes, and his brother didn't think twice about lifting him up enough to sit on it, where his knees instinctively parted for Hikaru to come closer. The height was ideal for creating some delicious friction, and a part of Hikaru wanted to take the time to tug down their pants so they could feel skin on skin. Kaoru quickly shoved the idea out of the older twin's mind for the time being when he desperately ground against him, making Hikaru groan in pleasure.

"Well, that's a relief," Hikaru muttered facetiously, between his labored breaths. "For a minute there I wasn't sure if you were into this."

"Asshole," Kaoru retorted sharply, but his gentle fingers combing through his brother's hair made it obvious that he didn't mean it. "I love you, Hikaru."

"I love you, too." Hikaru smiled against his mouth.

Identical mouths, fervently kissing, just like their identical fingers were tangling in identical hair. But that could not be seen at the moment. They didn't have to be twins in the dark. Here, in this moment, they were just lovers, and it was an exhilarating feeling.

Though Kaoru was the more cautious of the two of them, even he was unable to resist the lure of his brother's hungry kisses—Hikaru was way too good at kissing—each touch felt more vibrant when he couldn't see what his twin was doing. But he could feel him—Oh God—he could feel the hardness against his own and it spread waves of heat through his body if he pressed back just so.

Somewhere in the midst of things, Hikaru had removed his brother's tie and jacket, and now fumbled in the darkness with the buttons on his shirt. It would have probably been easier to focus on the process if Kaoru wasn't sucking and biting on his neck, but he somehow got the fastenings undone. His fingers splayed for a moment across the exposed portion of Kaoru's chest before his mouth followed them, nipping softly and quickly soothing the abused skin with his tongue.

Kaoru shivered in delight, not only from the sensation's of Hikaru's hot mouth as he traveled lower, but the possessiveness in each of his brother's actions. He had fantasized about his brother reciprocating the desire he had for him, but the reality of it had been even better than Kaoru could have imagined. The younger twin gasped as he realized what Hikaru was about to do when he had dropped to his knees, one hand resting between Kaoru's legs.

He heard Hikaru's low chuckle; the older twin knew that Kaoru had caught on. Kaoru felt the button on his trousers pop open and Hikaru's palm rubbing firmly against the bulge in his underwear. The younger twin stifled a cry—it was both titillating and frustrating to have Hikaru so close to where he wanted him to touch the most, but it was obvious that his brother's playful nature was going to make the process drag out for a while.

Unfortunately for Hikaru, not getting straight to the point made time for doubts to form in Kaoru's mind. He remembered they were still at school, where the host club was still in session, so there were students—and possibly Jason Blevins—still around. They weren't certain no one had seen them come in here. It was almost as risky as the bathroom at lunchtime.

It almost physically hurt to rest his hand on the top of Hikaru's head to make him pause his movement. "No, Hikaru..."

"...What?" That one word held such incredulity that Kaoru didn't even need to see the look on Hikaru's face when he said it to know exactly what he thought about stopping.

"I... I'm sorry, Hikaru," Kaoru said breathlessly; it was clear that he was having trouble convincing himself that he didn't want what his body obviously did. "I want to. God, I want to... it's just..."

Hikaru sighed, and Kaoru bit his lip as he felt his brother carefully closing the button and zipper on his pants again. The older twin stood, wrapping his arms around Kaoru. The embrace was no longer desperate but comforting; Hikaru understood that his brother hated having to stop as much as he did. "It's okay."

"I'm sorry," Kaoru repeated, resting his head on Hikaru's shoulder. "It's not worth someone finding us. Then we really would be separated, and I don't think I could—"

"Shh," Hikaru murmured, rubbing Kaoru's back in slow circles to calm him down. It appeared to be working, he noted, when his brother's tense muscles seemed to relax under his touch. "It'll be okay."

"Promise?"

"Yeah. We'll find a way to make this work. We have to," Hikaru spoke quietly into his brother's ear.

Kaoru sighed softly, leaning into Hikaru's warmth for support now rather than lust; the silence between them comforting.

The moment was shattered by a sharp knocking at the door—and a familiar voice on the other side of it.

"Candygram! Do either of you have a song preference?"

They guiltily threw themselves apart—each twin's panic was almost tangible to the other. There wasn't time to make Kaoru's uniform presentable again; his shirt was still undone, and who knew where his tie had gone to. With no hope for a solution, Hikaru, on instinct, moved in between Kaoru and the door, terrified, as he waited for it to open.


Disclaimer: Ouran and all of its characters belong to Bisco Hatori. Nakazumi Chiyoko and Jason Blevins belong to Kaerzye.