Chapter 1

Introductions

'The coffee is weak.' The girl thinking this sighed softly, her bright green eyes roaming over the ornate china tea cups set on the table in front of her. Stifling a yawn behind her hand, she looked away from the tea set to look around the rather large music room and at all of its inhabitants. There were mostly young girls, like her, gathered in groups of varying size around the room depending on the handsome boy they were sitting with. All of them blushing and giggling at every little thing, all except for her, Kimiko, who was slowly dying of boredom.

'A Host Club... Really?' Even to her, her own thoughts sounded overly irritated, sarcastic, and a bit arrogant. However, Kimiko didn't particularly care, letting her thoughts continue in the same cynical tone.

'They're like peacocks, trying to impress the girls with their bleach white smiles instead of shimmering feathers. Then, there's these two…," Her eyes flicked to the twin boys that sat across from her that, even she couldn't deny, were quite handsome. Yet the way they hung over one another, and the way they spoke to one another, like lovers forbidden to ever meet, was a bit much. It was like being in a day time soap opera; only worse. 'It's easy enough to see this is just a game to them. You can see it in their eyes whenever the girls practically faint with delight, whenever they fall over one another: they look bored. At least I'm not the only one.'

Carefully picking up her tea cup filled with coffee, she took a delicate sip of the weak beverage, trying not to grimace or show her disappointment over the drink's taste. Kimiko liked her coffee dark, strong, bold, and bitter. 'Maybe I got a cup from a bad batch.'

Her thoughts of bad coffee were interrupted by a particularly loud set of girlish squeals, and she couldn't help grimacing as those squeals joined with the other high-pitched squeals reverberating around the music room. Several girls that were sitting with a blonde Host began swooning even louder over something he said. When she glanced over, he was staring affectionately into the eyes of a red head beside him, causing the girl to tremble with emotion. 'He must be French…' She sighed, again, not bothering to keep it quiet this time and rolled her eyes in exasperation. 'This is ridiculous. These girls really enjoy this? It's so ostentatious… I wonder why in the world the Academy would allow this sort of club to operate. Aside from the obvious,' she thought, glancing back over to the dramatic blonde.

Kimiko rested her cheek in her pale palm, leaning her elbow on the armrest of the expensive, and almost overly ornate, pale red sofa she was sitting on. Briefly catching the eye of the girls she shared the couch with, another sigh escaped her lips. Pointedly ignoring the twins and their fawning, she inspected the girl who had invited, more like dragged, her there to the Host Club. The other girl had short, plain brown hair and wore the exact same uniform she wore, a puffy yellow dress with white accents that signified them both as class members of the elite Ouran Academy.

While her 'friend' was busy being starry eyed over the twin's 'brotherly love' act, she was busy looking around at a nearby clock impatiently, wishing time would go by faster, while trying to appear as interested as possible in the Hosts. Connections were a good thing to have; Kimiko's father had taught her as much, but she just wasn't so sure she wanted any connection at all with people who enjoyed being played for fools by handsome boys with far too much time on their hands.

"My dear princess, you don't seem to be enjoying yourself. Is there anything I could get for you; anything at all?" the tall, thin, blonde host she had been staring at earlier asked her, suddenly popping out of, what in Kimiko's opinion, was nowhere, using a tone that was far too honey filled and melodramatic for her tastes. She quirked an eyebrow in response, lifting her cheek from her small, delicate hand to get a better look at the smiling prince-like boy in front of her while her friend continued fawning over the twin Hosts, seeming to be lost in some strange little world of her own.

"Unless you can get me a glass of red wine, preferably a nice, imported pinot noir, then, I'm afraid, you're rather...useless," she replied blandly, not caring that the blonde's smile was faltering, and he looked like he was about to cry.

"Now, now, Tamaki, there's no need for such dramatic behavior. The young lady was only being sarcastic. Weren't you, miss...?"

Kimiko's green eyes moved to look at the black haired boy appearing beside the distraught Tamaki Suoh. His eyes were nearly as dark as his hair, and she was able to catch a glimpse of them before he pushed his rimless glasses up the bridge of his slender nose with his middle finger. She was well aware that the boy was trying to get her to introduce herself, but she was no fool; he knew exactly who she was, just as she knew exactly who he, and who nearly every other person in the room was. Knowing this, Kimiko smirked arrogantly at the boy she knew to be Kyouya Ootori before introducing herself, like he wanted.

"I'm Kimiko Aratoshi, though you already knew that, didn't you, Ootori-senpai?" she replied, her voice full of mocking sarcasm as she smiled a falsely bright smile.

"You're right, Aratoshi-san," the black haired boy chuckled into his hand with feigned politeness. "I knew who you were beforehand. After all, it's not often that we get transfer students from America."

"While that may be true, I'm not your average transfer student, now, am I?"

"No member of the Aratoshi family could ever be referred to as average. You are the only heir to your family's company, if I'm not mistaken."

Her petite form tensed a bit and her eyes narrowed ever so slightly at the mention of her position. "You're not mistaken, Ootori-senpai."

"Please, call me Kyouya, Aratoshi-san," Kyouya replied, continuing to smile that scarily charming smile at her. Kimiko's smile only grew, but, to those who were used to being in the company of wealthy aristocracy, it wasn't hard to see that the smile was nothing but a mask; a mask that was born and bred into her since well before she was even old enough to know when she was smiling.

"In that case, call me Kimiko, Kyouya-senpai."

"As you wish, Kimiko-chan." If she hadn't had fifteen years to practice the fake, Barbie doll-like smile she had thickly plastered onto her face, she was sure that her eyebrow would have twitched uncontrollably at being called 'Kimiko-chan'. Having been raised in America, she wasn't used to the use of honorifics; though, she knew well enough what each and everyone of them meant. She was still Japanese, after all, and, her breeding and background required she know the ins and outs of her own heritage.

"Since you're new to the school, how about I give you a private tour after club activities, today," Kyouya offered kindly.

"As lovely as that sounds, Kyouya-kun," she replied, with a bit too much emphasis, purposely, on the honorific. "I'm afraid I'll have to decline the offer. I have an appointment that I just can't miss."

"I see. Maybe some other time then."

"Maybe."

"Ah, Aratoshi-san, what do you think of the Host club?" her friend turned to ask Kimiko in a voice much too squeaky for her liking.

"Well, Tatsuya-san, I'm afraid I don't find their antics near as entertaining as the rest of you. So if you'll excuse me," Kimiko began to rise, ignoring the look of surprise and hurt on her new friend's face. She had known the girl for less than a week, and she knew the girl had been told to befriend her, like most of the school had been told to do, because of her family name. And while she understood the importance of creating relationships with certain members of the upper class while attending the prestigious school, she really didn't care about political gain at the moment; she just wanted to be left alone.

"Oh no, Usa-chan!"

Kimiko started, turning towards the boyish shout only to see a stuffed rabbit flying towards the table she was about to move away from. The china cups on the table were still full and, seeing the expression on the little boy's face as his stuffed toy flew right towards the tea set, Kimiko moved to snatch the stuffed rabbit out of the air before it could knock coffee everywhere and ruin not only the table, but the toy itself. She managed to catch the rabbit before it could cause a terrible mess and sighed in relief until she realized that she had accidentally bumped the table a little roughly with her leg. Looking down slowly, she cringed as the table rocked, and the amber liquid in the glasses sloshed onto the table cloth just before the table gave out altogether. An incredibly loud creak was instantly followed by the sound of shattering glass as the entire tea set broke into thousands of pieces upon the table's impact with the ground.

"Aratoshi-san!" Tatsuya cried out, leaping from the couch to stand at the Kimiko's side. "Are you alright?"

Kimiko blinked at the mess, not failing to hear the murmurs around her about how she had saved Honey-senpai's 'Usa-chan'. 'Honey-senpai? They couldn't possibly mean that that little boy is the Haninozuka heir, Mitsukuni, could they?' she thought to herself, gazing down at the blonde little boy in curiosity. There was another boy beside him who was tall, unlike him, with short cropped black hair and a tan face, which she hadn't once seen form any type of expression.

"Mitsukuni, you should really be more careful with Usa-chan," the tall boy warned the younger looking blonde.

Kimiko couldn't help but to let out a confused, "huh?" and tilt her head to the side. Her confusion was short lived, however, when the young looking blonde, that she now realized was in fact a few years older than her, was beaming brightly up at her. She could have sworn that there were even little flowers dancing around his head as he called out to his stuffed toy in her arms and ran towards her.

"Thank you! You're Kimi-chan, right? It's so nice to meet you! And you saved Usa-chan! Thank you so much!" With no warning, the older, cute student was suddenly wrapping his arms affectionately around her neck; and that's where everything went very, very wrong. She abruptly pushed the blonde off of her, dropping the rabbit, which was still in her hands, to the ground before, unconsciously, sweeping her hand out in a sharp slap, so quickly even she couldn't stop herself.

The entire room gasped, shocked, except for Kyouya, of course; he just pushed his glasses up and held his little black book in front of himself, watching the brown haired girl as she slapped his senior club mate across the face. Her green eyes widened as her hand swept over Honey's cheek, and she realized what she was doing. But it was too late to do anything about it.

She blinked rapidly as the stunned blonde turned to look at her, dumbfounded as everyone else was by her reaction. His friend, the black haired boy she now realized was most likely Takashi Morinozuka, had moved to stop her hand, but even he couldn't reach her in time to stop her from slapping his cousin. Instead, he frowned at her from behind Haninozuka.

"Are you alright, Mitsukuni?" he asked quietly, his soft voice echoing around the eerily silent room. Kimiko's jaw clenched painfully, and she could feel her chest tightening. With the stinging sensation of tears in her eyes, she didn't wait for anyone to come back to reality. Instead, she turned around and ran from the room, leaving everyone staring after her in complete and utter shock.

"Well, that was…unexpected," Kyouya said to himself as all the guests and the members of the Host Club crowded around Honey. "Then again, this proves that she is nothing like her profile makes her out to be..."

She refused to talk to anyone the following day in classes. She kept her head down, and her eyes focused straight ahead of her. She shared a class with three members of the Host Club, however, and it was hard to avoid the heated glare of the two twins that she had been sitting with the prior day. The other Host Club member, Haruhi Fujioka, just seemed rather indifferent about the entire thing and focused on class work, while trying to keep the twins in line with a few hearty smacks to their heads whenever they began to act up.

It was when lunch finally came around that she had her chance to escape, and, instead of going to the cafeteria, she fled to the gardens outside to avoid the glares, gazes, and murmurs that circulated around her. A while later as she sat in the maze of hedges located in Ouran Academy's beautiful gardens, a pair of arms wrapped around her neck in a less than comfortable way. Her body stiffened, and she fought the urge to react, as she had so badly wanted to, as her body knew it should, to protect itself by slamming her elbow into her attacker's gut.

"What do you want?" she growled sharply, glancing over her shoulder at the brown haired boy that had put his arms around her.

"Tsk, tsk, is that anyway to talk to your fiancée, Kimiko?" he asked in a bored tone, with a smile that was not warm or even tepid; it was emotionless and empty.

She stood up from the hand carved marble bench she had been sitting on, letting the arms that had grasped her fall from their place. "You're not my fiancée, Katsuro," she stated scathingly, beginning to walk away from the handsome, yet somehow, crude looking boy. "Remember your place. Touch me again and-" She was forced to stop speaking her mind as her wrist was ruthlessly crushed in his powerful grasp. Ignoring the pain, she didn't cry out or show any emotion as she was spun around and pinned against Katsuro's chest, his hands making themselves much too comfortable on her body. His face leaned closer to her, and he rested his chin on her neck.

"Then why don't you fight back, huh? You're such a good, obedient little girl, Aratoshi. You can't push me away, can you? You always do as your family asks of you," Katsuro whispered mockingly in her ear. Knocking his arms from her body, Kimiko thrust a palm at his chest only to cry out as her fingers were enveloped by Katsuro's larger, and much stronger hand, and her entire arm was wrenched painfully behind her back. She couldn't break free of the grasp that held her as she was spun around, and was forcefully pinned against the larger boy's chest once more.

"Let me go you filthy low life," she demanded, her voice beginning to shake slightly.

He laughed harshly, letting his free hand graze her body's curves. "Get used to it, Aratoshi, you belong to me now."

"I will never belong to you, you bastard. Now let me go."

"Fine," he said, releasing her from his painful hold. "But you'll pay for this later." Kimiko watched him walk away. She had never noticed that there was someone on the third floor of the nearest school building, gazing out the window. She didn't know that they had witnessed the entire scene, and now saw the tears that filled her eyes as she fell to her knees, choking on the sobs that desperately tried to break from her throat.

"It seems there was a lot that wasn't mentioned in that profile," that someone said, turning from the window to sit behind a sleek, white laptop set up on a nearby table.

Stepping out of the sleek black car that had driven her home and staring ruefully up at the modern mansion it had dropped her off in front of, Kimiko, unconsciously, tightened her hold on the bag she carried with her. There was no doubt in her mind that just behind the double doors in front of her waited a woman that barely resembled her at all, tapping her dainty little foot against the imported marble flooring of the entrance hall.

Gathering up her resolve, Kimiko walked towards the mansion, made up almost entirely of dark paned glass, and stepped through the doors that were opened for her as she approached. Just as she expected, a black haired, green eyed woman stood not far from the doors, dressed in a stiff designer dress and wearing too much make up to look natural. It was Sumi Hirosuma, formerly, Sumi Aratoshi. Her mother.

"Good afternoon, Mother," Kimiko greeted with a forced smile.

"Don't take that tone with me, Kimiko. What is this I hear about you being rude to Harashi-kun, this afternoon?"

She inwardly sighed; this was expected, but that didn't mean she wanted to deal with it. "I didn't mean to be rude to him, Mother, but he was being rather forceful and-"

"I don't care how he was acting. You will treat him with respect. You two will be married-,"

"Respect? He's not even an aristocrat! He's the bastard son of a wannabe mafia boss. I'm the daughter of-,"

"I know whose daughter you are, you ungrateful brat! You're my daughter, and you will do as I tell you."

"Just because you've remarried, and your new husband can't take control of the Aratoshi family's business because it's been left to me and not you, doesn't mean I have to do as you say, Mother," Kimiko hissed icily. "I won't marry his oldest nephew just so he can control what was left to me!"

Her mother lashed out at her, and Kimiko didn't fight back or move to avoid the back of her mother's hand. She stumbled backwards from the force of the hit, dropping her bag and slipping on the slick surface of the floor. Her ankle twisted, but there was no real damage outside of a few bruises she knew she would have in a few hours.

"Listen to me, Kimiko. Either do as I say, or I will make your life miserable. That man that called himself my husband, your father, left everything to you and left me with nothing. Nothing! I won't have it! You will obey me, understood?" Kimiko ignored the woman that stood over her and the foot that found its way onto her hand, pressing itself down with enough pressure to make the bones crack and groan in protest.

"Do as I tell you to. It's for the best," her mother said, removing her foot from Kimiko's aching hand.

"How is it for the best?" Kimiko grumbled, refusing to nurse her sore hand or ankle in defeat. "Father worked hard to maintain a good reputation for the company, and you want to hand it over to a bunch of dimwitted, chauvinistic nobodies."

"You are aware that your father's will states that should something happen to you, and you are unable to take control of the corporation then it will pass to me, correct?" Her green eyes widened minutely as she stared at the floor beneath her for a moment before chuckling harshly.

"Are you threatening me, Mother?"

"Of course not, you're my child. I would never harm you. I don't know what to say about your dear step-father, though," her mother replied with a bitter edge to her voice. "Behave, understand?"

She gritted her teeth, but nodded stiffly.

"Good, now do your homework like a good little girl, and I expect you to make today up to Harashi-kun, okay?" her mother asked cheerily before turning and walking away, her heels clicking quietly against the smooth tile.

Staying where she was until her mother was out of sight, Kimiko fought back the tears that threatened to overwhelm her for the second time that day. Her hand was throbbing, her ankle, too, and the sting of her mother's hand had yet to fully fade, but that wasn't what made the tears spring to her eyes. It was the fact that she was powerless to do anything, and she knew it. Her father's company, her company, would end up in the control of worthless jerks that knew nothing about how to run a business. The only thing she could do to try and salvage her family's name was to do as she was told and marry Katsuro, hoping there was someway she could still control the business from the shadows.


~A/N~

Hope everyone enjoys this re-written version of chapter 1. Many thanks to Maximum Vampire for her awesome editing skills, as well as her great ideas and advice!

Please review!