Title: Red Japanese Rose

Author: Lotus

Rating: PG-13

Fandom: Ouran High School Host Club

Pairing: Tamaki/Haruhi

Summary: Tamaki's jealousy over a potential rival for Haruhi's affection makes him examine his own feelings for her.


The afternoon sunlight slanted down through the tall windows in a sparkling beam, directly across the sofa where he sat. The light turned his red hair, pulled up in a partial ponytail, into a flaming beacon. Several girls taking tea at surrounding tables were watching the scowling redhead with only token subtlety, giggling and whispering to each other. Through some sort of secret girl-network, whenever Kasanoda made an appearance at the Host Club, throngs of females descended upon the music room.

Tamaki had to admit Kasanoda made for a striking figure, sitting so straight, fists on spread knees like a feudal lord waiting to give orders to his samurai. And, truly, after his anguished appeal for apprenticeship to Mori-san, Tamaki couldn't begrudge Kasanoda the friendship of the Host Club.

It was just... Did Kasanoda have to request Haruhi every time he visited?

Tamaki watched Haruhi navigate the crowded room with efficient grace, carrying a full tea tray. She set the tray down in front of Kasanoda, and his scowl disappeared, replaced by a smile so pure that his face was transformed into something very nearly handsome. A chorus of sighs wafted around the room from the watching girls. Tamaki's chest ached. Frowning, he rubbed at the strange pain as Haruhi sat on the couch - too close! too close! - next to Kasanoda and began pouring tea.

"Are you feeling unwell?"

With a startled yelp, Tamaki spun around and pressed his back against the pillar he had been peeking around. Kyoya stood calmly by the window, writing in his planner.

"Yes," Tamaki confessed, splaying his fingers over his heart. "There's a queer pain..."

"In your chest," Kyoya finished without looking up.

"Yes!" Tamaki agreed.

"When you see Haruhi with Kasanoda," Kyoya said.

"Exactly! How did you know?" Tamaki took a step forward, clutching at Kyoya's arm. Perhaps with his family's involvement in the medical field, Kyoya had some sort of knowledge about his condition. "Is it serious?"

Kyoya closed the planner in one hand and looked up, sunlight glinting off his glasses. He sighed. It was a sigh Tamaki recognized well by now. Kyoya believed Tamaki was being incredibly dense about something. But how could Kyoya know what this pain was? He wasn't a medical student.

"How serious it is depends upon you," Kyoya said.

"But, how can a patient determine the seriousness of his own illness?" Tamaki asked.

"You're not actually ill. You're-" Kyoya closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. Tamaki thought he heard him counting softly. Lowering his hand, Kyoya opened his eyes. "Tamaki, this isn't as simple as my suggesting you play the piano for extra refreshment points. You have to determine your own course of action in this matter."

Tamaki blinked at Kyoya while he thought about what he'd said. Making his decision, Tamaki held his hands up to the light pouring through the window.

"If Haruhi wants me to play piano for her, then I shall play," he announced grandly. "I shall play every day, on the hour without fail." He paused to reconsider. "Well, except when she's sleeping. And not at school. Ah, poor Haruhi! Must she live without music in her humble abode?" Tamaki wrung his hands. "Her commoner dwelling is far too small for a piano. Oh, why didn't I learn a more compact instrument?"

Tamaki became aware of an odd noise. Focusing on Kyoya, he realized his friend was grinding his teeth and breathing quite heavily through his nose. And... oh, dear. Was his eye twitching?

"You idiot," Kyoya gritted through clenched teeth.

Tamaki thought Kyoya was going to hit him with the planner he held under his arm, but instead he reached out and gripped Tamaki's chin. None too gently, Kyoya turned Tamaki's head so he was facing the parlor.

"When you look at Haruhi," Kyoya said in his ear. "What do you feel?"

"Happy," Tamaki answered immediately, smiling.

Kyoya released him and leaned his shoulder against the pillar Tamaki was standing next to.

"And?" Kyoya prompted.

"I want to protect her," Tamaki continued, raising his fists. "And cherish her." His fists opened, and he hugged himself. "And... and..." he drifted off, at a slight loss.

"It's what comes after that last 'and' that's causing your queer pain," Kyoya said quietly, tapping Tamaki's chest with two fingers.

"I-" Tamaki frowned, looking at his friend in puzzlement. "I don't understand."

"It's called heartache," Kyoya said.

Squeezing Tamaki's shoulder, Kyoya pushed off the pillar and walked away. Tamaki watched Haruhi, who suddenly laughed at something Kasanoda said, the light sound ringing across the room like a delicate golden bell.

"Haruhi!" Two male voices called out in unison.

The twins descended on his precious Haruhi, Hikaru hanging over the back of the sofa, Kaoru perching on the arm. Tamaki's frown deepened. Lecherous monkeys! They draped themselves all over her, way too familiar, even if they were in the same class. Was it his imagination, or was Hikaru flirting with Haruhi more than usual, his flushed face inches from hers as he whispered in her ear? The pain in Tamaki's chest sharpened and twisted, making him gasp.

It's called heartache.



"One... two... three..."

Kasanoda leaned against the tree, face pressed into his forearm as he counted. Amid shouts and laughter, the members of the Host Club ran to find hiding places. Well, everyone except Kyoya, who calmly walked over to a bench and sat down, writing in his planner. Tamaki grabbed Haruhi's hand, small and warm in his, and sprinted towards the hedge maze. Dashing along the rows of immaculately trimmed hedges dotted with red roses, Tamaki turned left, right, then right again. He stopped suddenly, and Haruhi bumped into his back.

He turned around to apologize, but when he looked down, she was smothering a laugh behind her hand, so he smiled instead. Leading her by the hand, he backtracked to the last junction and turned left. Ah, there it was! The pagoda! Ducking inside, Tamaki pulled Haruhi with him under the small stone table in front of a half-circle bench. They sat side-by-side, knees raised, shoulders pressed together. It was several degrees cooler in the leaf-latticed shade, and over their soft panting from the sprint, Tamaki heard birds singing and the sound of the water fountain coming from the courtyard.

"Ten!" Kasanoda shouted. "Prepare yourselves!"

"He sounds like a warlord on the field of battle," Tamaki whispered.

"Shh." Haruhi shushed him, laying her index finger lightly across his lips.

Tamaki turned to face her, and her finger slid away from his mouth, leaving a tingling trail. Since it was a warm day, they had taken off their school blazers and ties in the music room, and were wearing their white button-down shirts and black trousers. During their race to hide, Haruhi's collar and come up, and her heart-shaped face was flushed. Her large, brown eyes were bright with laughter. She looked like a pixie, a wood sprite, a fey, ethereal creature. How could he ever had mistaken her for a boy? A stray rose petal was tangled in her tousled brown hair.

Reaching out, Tamaki plucked the petal between his index and middle finger. He trailed the petal, which wasn't half as soft as her creamy skin, down the side of her face, and her flush deepened. Tamaki's heart started to pound, as if he had been doing sprints in gym, and the petal trembled slightly in his fingers as he dragged it over her lips.

"Red Japanese Rose," he whispered.

Haruhi blinked, and her hand came up to touch his arm, but she didn't pull him away. Taking a breath, Tamaki bent down and very lightly pressed his lips to hers through the silky petal. Lifting his head, Tamaki opened his eyes to find Haruhi staring at him, large eyes wide.

"Senpai," Haruhi said.

The breath of the word freed the petal from his fingers and it fluttered down into her lap. Tamaki recognized the look in the brown eyes. He had seen it once before.

When the carriage pulled alongside the car on the bridge, Tamaki could hear the wood creaking and cracking as Haruhi forced the racing horses much faster than the carriage was ever designed to go. The reins slipped out of her hand and the carriage fishtailed against the bridge railing, throwing Haruhi out of the carriage like a white lily tossed up into the air.

As she arced backward over the bridge railing, her eyes stayed locked on his, hand outstretched. Without hesitation, Tamaki stepped up onto the door of the car and launched himself into the air after her. When he dove over the bridge, he reached out for her hand.

He strained, willing himself to reach her, and, finally, their fingertips touched. He clasped her hand and pulled her to him, wrapping his other arm around her waist. For a moment, it seemed they were suspended in the air like a pair of ballroom dancers. He saw the tentative question in her brown eyes. When he smiled, the question vanished and she smiled back. Tucking her head under his chin, he hugged her tightly to him, feeling her heart beating furiously against his as they fell together.

The look Tamaki saw in Haruhi's eyes now, as they sat together in the pagoda, was the same look he'd seen in her eyes as she went over the side of the bridge, when he had caught her in the air-dance embrace.

"Can I trust you?" the look asked. "Will you stay?"

Smiling gently, Tamaki gripped her chin in his fingers and pressed his mouth to hers. Her lips were soft and yielding and tasted like roses. Her arms went around his neck and he drew her in closer, pressing their chests together, so that he could feel her heart.

Yes, his lips shaped the word into the kiss. Evermore.

And then they were falling again, falling in each other's arms.


GLOSSARY:

Rosa rugosa rubra, sometimes called Red Japanese Rose, is a hardy shrub rose that is native to Japan and eastern Siberia. Is a vigorous growing shrub up to 6 feet in height and has gorgeous 4 inch scented flowers which are produced from June to September. It is actually one of the few species roses to re-bloom. Blooms are followed by large orange-red hips, many the size and color of cherry tomatoes. The hips are highly ornamental and persist on the plant well into winter, and may be used to make jelly, rose-hip syrup and even homemade wine. Like all Rugosas, these are widely recognized for their low maintenance, pest and disease resistance, fragrant blooms and extreme hardiness.