D/C: I don't own Ouran High School Host Club.
Hello! It's been a while, hasn't it? I apologize for this incredibly long wait, but I've spent the last few months working on my novel, writing, editing, hitting several writer blocks, cover designing, agent contacting... and I'm still not done. I've also graduated and have been on a job hunt for a while. But I was clearing out my folders yesterday and came across the sixth chapter, so I thought I'd just get at least one chapter out of the way. So here goes! Thank you all for your patience with me. I hope you enjoy reading chapter 7!
Haruhi was giving herself mental kick after mental kick for getting stuck in such a mess. She wished she could just walk away from everything, but that was impossible. Even better, she wished she had the gift of turning back time. Now that would've been a useful gift; it would've helped her avoid the twins altogether, and think of all the things she'd have been able to correct in her life. She and the twins had moved to a private room away from the ears of everyone else in the cafe, and now she sat at a table across from them, carefully trying to avoid eye contact.
"Is he really sitting next to me?" Hikaru asked for what seemed to be the hundredth time. He kept staring at the chair to his side, as if hoping his brother would suddenly materialize before him. "Is Kaoru really here?"
She sighed wearily. "Yes, Kaoru is sitting on the chair right next to you," she answered. She shot a furtive look at Kaoru, who had scooted closer to his brother and draped his arms around his shoulders. "In fact, he's hugging you right now."
Hikaru's eyes widened, and he felt around his shoulders for his brother's arms. Haruhi watched sadly as his hands passed through Kaoru's ghostly ones. However, Hikaru was grinning. He uttered a content sigh and reclined in his chair. Even Kaoru was looking apprehensive now.
"I can feel him," Hikaru murmured. "I can't explain it, but I can feel his arms around me."
"Hikaru..." Kaoru said softly. He glanced at Haruhi, his eyes brimming with tears. "Tell him that I miss him. Tell him how much I wish I could talk to him."
Haruhi strained to stifle a groan. She had been delivering his words to Hikaru for the last hour, and she was getting really tired of it. "He says he misses you," she told Hikaru. "And that he really wishes he could talk to you."
"Kaoru..." Hikaru murmured. "I miss you, too. I wish I could talk to you every single moment. No-one understands me the way you do, Kaoru."
"Tell him that I have yet to find a ghost who understands me like he does."
"What? I'm not saying that!"
Haruhi slammed her fists against the table. "No! Look, I'm not a medium between the two of you! I'm not going to be a messenger delivering your messages," she said, irritated. "This is why I didn't want Hikaru to know about this. I really do not need this sort of headache. Kaoru, we came here hoping that Hikaru will tell us something helpful. You know we're trying to figure out how to make you move on, and we can't-"
"Haruhi, shut up," Kaoru said through gritted teeth.
"No, I won't shut up! Do you want to remain a ghost forever? Because you have two choices now; you either move on or you remain a ghost. And I'm sorry to tell you that if you choose the latter I won't be around to help you. I don't need a ghost following me all the time!" she snapped.
"Haruhi, shut up!" he hissed, shooting a glance at Hikaru.
The expression on Hikaru's face was unreadable; it seemed as if he was still digesting the words that had been spoken in front of him. Haruhi realised that she must've probably said too much, and she clapped a hand to her mouth. Hikaru still thought that Kaoru was alive, so hearing all this from her probably didn't sit well with him. Kaoru glared at her, and she looked down in shame, pretending to be very interested in her fingernails.
"Kaoru has a third choice," Hikaru said quietly. "He has the choice of returning to his body."
Haruhi bit down on her bottom lip. She wanted to tell him that Kaoru didn't really have that choice, but she doubted he'd listen to her anyway. She glanced at Kaoru, and he shook his head, as if warning her against saying anything. He rubbed his brother's back soothingly.
She massaged her temples. "Look, I'm not going to act like a messenger between the two of you. I just can't do that," she muttered.
"Why not?" the twins asked at the same time.
"I just can't, there doesn't have to be a reason," she retorted.
"What do you mean, you can't? You can see Kaoru, you can talk to him, you are not physically incapable of forming speech, so you can do it," Hikaru replied.
"Oh, great, you're a literal person," Haruhi said, rolling her eyes. "Fine. In that case, I don't want to be a messenger."
"There's no reason!"
"There has to be a reason. You've got such a great gift right here and you should use it to help the less unfortunate, otherwise you're just selfish," Hikaru said. "If it were up to me, I would help anyone who came to me. I wouldn't have held back."
"You say that now, but you don't know how it feels," Haruhi said. She was gradually getting more and more irritated, and wanted nothing more than to get out of here. "You don't know how it feels to be the link between a ghost and a living person. You have no idea how much it hurts to relay their expressions of love and their words of goodbye. It's heart-breaking, and it makes me feel upset. It really drains me. And I feel..."
She stopped. She saw Kaoru and Hikaru staring at her now with sad expressions.
"You feel what, Haruhi?" Kaoru whispered.
"I feel... jealous," she said with a heavy sigh. She lowered her gaze and knotted her hands in her lap. "I feel jealous of all these people who get to talk to their loved ones, while I never get to talk to my mother. I would've loved to talk to her, just one last time, but she's never come to visit me. She moved on without so much as a goodbye. I guess that makes me sound like a bitter and cruel person, but I can't help it."
She felt two pairs of arms wrapping around her. One pair was strong, while the other was faint, just barely there. She felt tears welling in her eyes a second time that day, but she forced them back. She didn't want to appear vulnerable again. But she didn't push them away either. She actually felt safe sitting there between the two of them, never mind that one was a ghost.
"I won't ask you for anything," Hikaru said when he finally let her go, though Kaoru remained clinging to her.
"No?" Haruhi found that difficult to believe.
"No," Hikaru replied, smiling. "I didn't see where you were coming from, and I shouldn't have imposed on you like that. If you feel like telling me something, I would really appreciate it, but I don't want you to feel compelled, all right?"
"All right..." she said uncertainly.
He chuckled. "I'm not a bad person, Haruhi."
"I didn't say that," she said heatedly. "And you're not making me feel guilty about it either! I'm leaving."
She got up and left the room without even a second look. She could feel their eyes watching her, boring into her, beseeching her to come back and help them out. But she couldn't pay attention to them. She had acted as a messenger before, and it was painful every single time; the twins weren't any different. Why should they be any different? They could be different, but that didn't change anything. They would still be a hassle to her; after all, they were twins! Twins! And a pair of damn rich twins at that. She couldn't deal with that. She had to focus on her studies so she'd keep up her scholarship. She just couldn't afford to lose it.
She reached the main door and placed her hand on the cool metal handle. She hesitated momentarily, but then she pushed it open and left.
Kaoru couldn't believe Haruhi left.
For a while after she walked out, he had stared fixedly at the door, knowing almost certainly that Haruhi would return. But several minutes passed and there was still no sign of her. He glanced at his brother, who was staring at the door as well. He looked as if he was compelling Haruhi to return to the room with the power of his mind. Even though he had said that it was okay if she didn't act as a messenger, Kaoru knew that his brother really wanted her to be one.
Hikaru sighed and rested his head against his folded arms on the table. He was quiet for a moment, then Kaoru heard sniffling. Alarmed, he hurried around to look at his brother and saw that he was crying.
Kaoru's heart broke at the sight. "Hikaru..."
He wanted to hug him. He wanted to wrap his arms around Hikaru and hold him. He couldn't stand seeing his brother cry. It was painful, especially since he knew that Hikaru was probably crying over him. He also felt rather conflicted; as much as he was angry at Haruhi for walking away, he was also quite understanding of the reason behind her refusal to help them. He knew he would be jealous too.
Hikaru lifted his head slowly. "Kaoru, are you there?" he whispered, and Kaoru wanted to say yes. He wanted to, but he knew his brother wouldn't hear him even if he did, so he just bit his lip and fought back bitter tears. "Kaoru, if you're still here... then I want you to know that I'll do whatever it takes to bring you back."
Kaoru was silent. It hurt him to hear this. Hikaru didn't know that there was no way he could be brought back. Or maybe he knew, but he was forcing himself to believe otherwise.
Hikaru took in a deep breath. "I will bring you back, and things will go back to normal," he continued. "I know everyone thinks that you're gone, but they're all wrong. I'll show them that they're wrong."
Kaoru had to get out of here. He couldn't stand to listen to his brother anymore. As much as he missed him, he needed to block out all these false hopes. He drifted towards the door and reached for the door handle, then chuckled when he remembered that no doors can block him. He cast one last look at his brother before passing through the door, only to come face to face with Haruhi.
He stared at her, at the look of furious determination on her face. "H-haruhi!" he spluttered. "What are you doing here?"
"I'll be your messenger, but only because I want you to move on as soon as possible," she said quickly. Her eyes were flashing, her face was pink and her chest was heaving rapidly. "I just have one condition. I want to tell Hikaru that you're dead."
"Because I can't do this if Hikaru isn't fully aware of... wait what? Okay?" she said, staring at him. "Really?"
"Yeah, I thought it might be better if he didn't know, but I can't stand it either, so... okay," he said.
"Let's do this."
A/N: Done! I'll try to update sooner next time, but I can't promise anything. I'm really incredibly busy these days and can't afford to spend time on anything but work. Either way, I hope you enjoyed this chapter!
- S. N. B.