Chapter 19: The Great Plan
Beads of sweat began to form on the bodyguard's forehead. The clear droplets trailed down his cheek, dripping down his skin and dampening the collar of his white shirt. His chest heaved erratically and each rise and fall made his puff of breath turn into a guttural and nervous gasp. He's afraid, I deduced, and awkwardly so. Tachibana-san stood a head taller than my father and yet, even then, he couldn't stop his much more muscled body from twitching nervously, uneasily - a sure sign that the he wanted nothing more than to flee.
With a sudden rush my father launched his attack. His deft hand reached out, grasping the taller man forcefully by his tie. Tachibana tried to manoeuvre away, skilfully twisting to the left in a bid for escape. But this move proved to be a miscalculated flaw. Instead of being freed it further backed him into a corner. Grabbing the opportunity as soon as it presented itself, expertly manicured hands slammed against the wall. My parent's toned arms served as a blockade, trapping his target and keeping him in place.
"Tachibana-kun, listen to me"
The tone was threatening, almost scathing. The bodyguard merely shook his head, not willing to hear any logic or reason. With a sigh of frustration, my father moved forward caging the other man further. The soft pads of his fingers caressed the curve of his captive's cheek. His other hand reached out to remove the sunglasses that kept the bodyguard's eyes hidden from view of the world. It was the first time that I've seen my colleague without his glasses and, to tell the truth, I was pleasantly surprised. Tachibana's eyes shone a crystalline blue hue, a clear sign that he had a drop of foreign blood in his veins. He was already quite handsome with his chiselled jaw line and aristocratic nose. But his eyes were his most alluring feature.
The azure depths were mesmerizing.
"Look at me!" My father commanded.
Tachibana kept his gaze away, opting to look to the side to avoid my father's intense gaze.
"Stop acting like a child!"
My parent forcefully pulled at Tachibana's jaw, forcing the other man to look down.
"It won't work. Just forget about this utter idiocy, Ranka-san. It won't-"
"It will work!" Father cut him off irritably "We won't know unless we try. You've known Kyouya-kun longer than Haruhi and I. Don't tell me that you've never thought about it. That you've never dreamed about doing such a thing because if you say so then you're the biggest liar that I've ever met in my life!"
Rough hands were now curled into fists. Tachibana's shoulders shook visibly as if he fought an internal battle that was about to tear him apart. Briefly, he shut his eyes close. A pained look flashed on his features. Then his azure gaze narrowed. The blue tinge burned with an unfathomable rage.
"I've known Kyouya-sama ever since he was a child!" He snapped, his voice roughening with emotion "He is like a son to me. A son I never had. But this is madness!" The palms of his hands harshly shoved against my father's chest, finally freeing himself from his predator's clutches. "Are you even aware about the consequences? Of what could happen if we blindly do what you wish? You're jeopardizing my job, a job that I held on to for twenty-six years. You're gambling your daughter's position." An accusing finger pointed harshly towards me. "Do you even know what you are talking about? You don't know what you are asking for!"
The brevity of what could happen was thrown into the air like a grave warning. But even so my father replied carefully, patiently. Brown brows rose high as he bravely clashed against his opponent's stand.
"I do know" My parent said with a confident flick of his hair, his voice almost a whisper. "I'm partially aware of it. I have an idea about what could happen if Kyouya-kun would lash out against us and if he reacts not as we would hope. But, even so, I want to believe in him. In the good he has inside because I know he deserves this more than anything. And I know you want this too"
Tachibana narrowed his eyes. The lie slipped from his lips. "I don't. I've never..."
"Don't deny it!" Father's tone heightened "Don't you dare!" He stepped forward sizing up his opponent with a sneer. "Look at me in the eye and tell me the truth!"
For a moment they glared at each other, a silent war waging between two individuals too prideful to admit defeat. Seconds ticked by as both stood stubbornly their ground. Not giving up. Not giving in. But in the end something had to give. And I knew that my father won him over when Tachibana let out a long-suffering sigh.
The bodyguard ran his hands through his hair. Several times he had repeated this movement and once or twice he'd pull tightly at the brown silken strands. Frustration and an unknown emotion shone in his eyes. His Adams' apple bobbed up and down as he selectively chose his words.
"What you are planning is not easy. It is doable but the consequences will be dire"
"Ah, but it will be worth it in the end. Wouldn't it?"
Tachibana merely shut his eyes close. Agitation ran crawling in his nerves but in the end he relented.
Stepping forward, my father gently grazed his fingers against his favourite body guard's cheek. The simple touch was assuring, comforting. Then he folded Tachibana's glasses and slipped it back into the body guard's breast pocket.
"Just have a little faith and you'll see" The smile that lingered on his lips showed foolish yet admirable courage "Everything will be alright. I promise"
The journey to the Ootori Third Mansion was spent in awkward deafening silence and for the first time Tachibana-san sat beside me. Normally, the bodyguard could be located in front of the limousine sitting in his place just beside the chauffer. But today he opted to keep me company. Even so, he acted oddly inattentive. His fingers twitched with anxious spasms. His bright blue eyes glazed as he watched the scenery pass by. The dark sunglasses that he usually wore were still tucked in his suit's pocket, all but forgotten.
My lilting voice caught his attention. Cautiously, he turned towards me. Blue eyes gazing solemnly as he did so.
"I want to apologize about how my father treated you this morning"
Guilt engulfed me as I remembered my parent's course of action just twenty or so minutes before. By some sort of miracle, my father was able to render Kyouya-sempai's most loyal guard into a scared whimpering fool. Yet even with what had happened, Tachibana-san only nodded in understanding. The action abated the shame I had felt through the whole debacle.
"Its fine." He replied casually with a shrug "Fujioka-san had a point."
I knew he was referring to my parent. To the crazy Okama who cornered him just moments before. I bit my lip as I remembered the 'plan' that my father imparted to me before the bodyguard and I left for work.
"We don't need to do it" I told my superior tentatively "We don't have to do what my father wants. To tell the truth I think it's much safer for us not to push through"
I thought that the he would easily agree with my argument but Tachibana-san merely shook his head. Chestnut brown locks of hair swung with the movement.
"Your father was right." He admitted wryly.
I knotted my brow, disbelieving him.
"It might be a mad thought, Fujioka-san, but I've always wondered what it would be like to act like this" Tachibana merely said, his lips lifting into a wistful smile. "To be able to act against my master's wishes, to do as I please without worrying about the consequences of my actions... Such are lovely fantasies. Yet even if the idea had graced me a hundred times before, I never had the courage to do so."
For a moment he was quiet then he looked at me in the eye. A cruel laugh escaped his mouth.
"I guess was just a coward"
"No" I spoke up quite suddenly. "You're just sensible. Kyouya-sempai is known to have a volatile temper after all"
And it was true. Although the Third Ootori Heir used a mask of cool sophistication as a shield, beneath it all was a simmering explosive wrath that could burn everything and everyone in his path.
Tachibana's blue eyes softened and a small smile lifted the corners of his mouth.
"Perhaps but having no courage only breeds regret."
"Tachibana-san..." I whispered, not knowing what to say.
Our conversation broke off as the limousine's speed dropped until the vehicle halted into a complete stop. A quick look through the windows showed me that we have finally arrived at our destination. The imposing Ootori Third Mansion stood proudly in our midst. The building's white-painted walls seemed to gleam under the summer sun. The floor to ceiling windows showed us a bit of the expensive furniture inside the house. The garden that surrounded it made the home too picturesque and too perfect. Even now it doesn't fail to intimidate me with its massive wealth. The mansion's main entry way was open and inviting and there, waiting patiently beside the double French doors, were two men that I had begun to think of both as friends and work mates.
With a sudden loud click, the door at the side of the limousine swung open. Tachibana-san ventured to exit the limousine first. Then he stepped aside, letting me through.
"Welcome back Fujioka-san and Tachibana-san" The two other body guards greeted cheerfully. I spared them both a warm welcoming smile. Horita bowed a bit to me but Aijima curiously eyed Tachibana's face.
"Sir" He pointed out "You're not wearing your-".
He stopped himself short and bit his own tongue, unsure if he should continue on. For a moment, Tachibana's blue eyes narrowed into a questioning gaze. Aijima looked away, avoiding his superior's pointed stare. It was then that the older bodyguard blinked. An epiphany unfolded and he immediately took out his folded dark glasses out of his shirt pocket and put the spectacles on.
"Is something wrong, Tachibana-san?" Horita asked tentatively, concern seeping into his tone. One gloved hand scratched at his bald head. The initial lack of sun glasses covering Tachibana's face obviously unnerved him. "We were worried about you and Fujioka-san. Your arrival was delayed by about twenty minutes and-"
"What caused our lateness is not important right now" Tachibana insisted.
"But sir!" The two men exclaimed before exchanging puzzled looks.
"Tell me. Where is Kyouya-sama right now?" Tachibana pushed on, completely ignoring their initial question
"In his private rooms" Aijima readily answered. He glanced at his silver wrist watch and continued on. "Kyouya-sama woke up at exactly nine o' clock in the morning. He will spend about ten minutes prepping up and will be at the office in approximately fifteen minutes time"
Acknowledging the facts, our superior nodded to himself.
"Good. That gives us some leeway before he arrives. Fujioka-san..." He spared me a knowing look. "I think it is time for us to involve these two in our scheme"
My eyes widened and my jaw dropped and then shut close after that. 'Is he thinking what I'm thinking?' the thought spurned in my head, 'Are we really, really going to push through with it?' The curious looks that Horita and Aijima were sending my way made me unsure.
"But Tachibana-san I don't think that-"
I stopped when my superior faced me with a nervous small smile.
I know you've always wanted to do this.
Those were the words that my father threw at him. It echoed in my thoughts, bringing to light the brilliant and actual truth. That perhaps my parent was right after all. That maybe this wasn't a mad thought. That although Tachibana Seizaburo felt unnerved and even afraid, beneath that fear was also a bit of strength, the type that was consisted of love - an unwavering respect for his master, for a ward that he had also somehow considered as an unofficial son. So I strengthened my resolve and made an important decision.
Taking in a deep breath, I began to speak.
"We need to talk"
Aijima-san and Horita-san already had their brows raised, a baffling question obvious in their eyes. Yet, even so, they moved closer as their own curiosity urged them on. I spoke in low hushed tones, the carefully laid plan that my father had though up tumbling out of my lips. The simple widening of their eyes told me of their reaction. Both of their heads swiveled at the same time towards their superior. Their gazes were questioning, asking, with a shadow of uncertainty hiding underneath.
"Fujioka-san, That's..." the horror in Aijima's voice told me exactly what he wanted to say.
"Mad?" I laughed nervously "Yes, absolutely"
"But it can be done" Tachibana stepped in, confidence entering his tone "But only if we act together"
"So, will you join us?" My voice wavered for a final time.
The unsure yet excited grins that they showed us told me everything that I needed to know because in the end we knew that it would all be worth it.
Even if it meant we had to face the lethal wrath of the Low Blood Pressure Evil Overlord.
Time had the unlikely habit of moving agonizingly slow when it should be the other way around. I should be used to it, really, but I guess the laws of nature just had to go against the flow.
The bodyguards and I proceeded to the private office ten minutes after I had imparted to Horita-san and Aijima-san the finer details of 'the operation'. To tell the truth, being patient for the final moment to arrive was excruciatingly harder than the planning itself. In just a few scarce minutes, Tachibana Seizaburo was able to work up a viable tactic for the four of us to execute with least amount of failure. His wit astounded me. And so did his natural talent for planning ahead. The long hours of waiting were the only gigantic hurdle that we had.
So I buried myself in my work, finishing every little detail that my cool type sempai ordered me to do. Being busy, after all, was something that I was used to. Documents were double checked and organized. Letters were written down and sealed in envelopes, ready to be sent through the post. Then, just as I had finished all my tasks, the wait had finally ceased. The clock hanging at the side of the wall showed that the time for it was finally nearing. Excitement zinged through every vein spreading like wildfire through my skin. Looking up, I glanced at the metal encased clock hanging at the side wall. I struck a wide smile and bit the pen that I held in my hand.
Five twenty-eight. Just a few minutes more...
"You did an adequate job" Kyouya-sempai nodded his head. A malicious spark glinted in his eyes as he gestured towards the humongous set of thank you letters that I had made. One thousand and fifty pieces all in all.
My brow twitched instantly.
Adequate? Only adequate? I gritted my teeth to stop the biting sarcasm that fought to come out of my mouth. Why that filthy rich bastard!
I breathed through my nostrils as I glared at the stacks of letters sitting on his desk. They were tokens of appreciation, a little thank you note for those who had attended the Annual Rose Ball. Since the Ootori Zaibatsu was the one who hosted it, the responsibility of creating these also fell into our hands. Well, only on my hands for that matter. Kyouya-sempai merely signed them off and I was the one who had to handwrite every single word. Yes, all one thousand and fifty pieces of them. Just the thought of it made my fingers tingle and ache.
Pushing back my pride I merely stood up and quietly nodded my head. I had to be more focused. I had a mission after all.
My lack of a reaction piqued Kyouya-sempai's interest. Clearly, he was just pushing my buttons, clamouring for a teasing sarcasm or a biting remark. But I wasn't reacting as expected. His finger pushed his glasses further up the bridge of his nose and he pursed his lips.
"You look distracted, Haruhi. Did I work you too hard?"
Concern showed in his tone. I knew that he want to inquire about my wellbeing and yet I didn't answer. Instead, I spared another fleeting look towards the clock. Looking to the side, I saw Tachibana begin to walk in a hurried pace.
Two minutes to go.
Kyouya-sempai raised his brow. His dark onyx eyes scrutinized every part of me. I knew it was rude and improper for me not to explain my silence but once again my gaze gravitated towards the timepiece hanging on the wall. Looking to the side, he followed my line of vision. The clock's hand ticked. The sound seemed to reverberate through the room. The Ootori heir narrowed his dark piercing stare, distaste obvious in his expression.
One minute to go.
"If you really itching to leave this place then go home" Kyouya seethed, slow boiling anger simmering beneath his skin. He was a man used to getting what he wanted, a man who commanded attention whenever he went. And he surely didn't want to keep talking to a person who wanted nothing else than to leave his house. I knew that he felt insulted.
But still, I didn't answer.
And from the corner of my eye, just behind Kyouya's shoulder, I saw Tachibana-san take out a plain white handkerchief from his pants' pocket. Beside him, the widely grinning Ajima deftly gave him a small bottle filled with a clear liquid. Behind them, the bald-headed Horita gave me an affirmative nod.
For a fleeting moment I looked into the Ootori Heir's dark eyes. I gave my sempai a sad but reassuring smile.
"I'm sorry sempai. I'm really, really sorry"
These were the words that parted from my lips. Kyouya-sempai's gaze softened and he opened his mouth to tell me his reply. But he never finished what he wanted to say. The words were buried against the soft cloth of a chloroform soaked handkerchief. His dark eyes widened in shock and alarm. His body convulsed, knees buckling, as he fought against his unknown attacker. His toned arms flailed wildly, feet staggering as he struggled with all his might. But Tachibana's hold was firm against his mouth and Aijima and Horita had helped subdue the young master that they had respected so much.
Soon enough, Kyouya Ootori's eyes finally shut close. Fine dark lashes spread against his cheek. Like a sleepy child, his body fell limp in Tachibana's arms. His breathing and heart beat evened out into a slow calming tempo. Silence filled the room and the gravity of what we had just done sunk into our minds.
"Shit. Shit. Shit." Horita cried out "We're all going to die!"
"Shut it" Tachibana growled "Help me carry Kyouya-sama's body out into the driveway. We'll deal with dying later"
The bald man flinched but nevertheless he hurried to take his position at his master's feet.
"The limousine is already waiting outside just as we planned" Aijima informed us, the grin he sported widened even further "Fujioka-san and I will drive away any servants that might loiter around the hallways"
"Make sure that nobody would witness us" Tachibana nodded. He winced as Kyouya's body almost slipped from his hold. "Horita! Grab Kyouya-sama's feet and we'll carry him together"
"This is really, really mad" the bald bodyguard stuttered but nevertheless he did as he was told.
Aijima grabbed my wrist, taking me towards the door that would lead us out of the office. Opening it slightly we peered into the main hallway. True enough, there were about five or four maids and retainers out and about the hall dusting and mopping about the place. If we wanted to be successful about this operation we needed to clear the floor.
"So we'll be the distraction?" I asked with a cheeky smile.
"Yes, I guess we can call it like that" Aijima chuckled then he gave me a grin.
I smirked back "This feels just like an espionage film"
Opening the door, I stepped out and exclaimed at the top of my voice.
"Excuse me! Can everyone clear out of the hallway?"
Several of the maids exchanged wary glances. The others just plainly ignored me.
"We're doing our jobs" One of the maids complained as she decidedly rubbed at the ceramic she was currently cleaning "Kyouya-sama will be displeased if he comes out and the vases aren't polished yet"
I was about to open my mouth to repeat my order when Aijima-san walked out of the office and stood beside me.
"Please listen to Fujioka-san" He backed me up "Kyouya-sama is really sick right now and we need to bring him to the hospital. He would be even more displeased if you would stay where you are. Get out of here and go back to your private areas. This is an order from our master himself!"
The group of servants nervously nodded in understanding and one by one they walked away, leaving the hallway as empty as we wanted.
"That was easy" I told Aijima-san.
"Yes, that's the easy part. Now we have to carry our unconscious master out of the house without anyone suspecting us of foul play" he said worriedly as we began to walk back to the office.
We peeked inside and saw Tachibana and Horita straining to take hold of the Ootori Heir's body. Kyouya's weight was making it quite difficult for the two so Aijima took his place between them to help. Their young master's head lolled like a rag doll. A line of drool dripped from the side of his mouth. And I prayed to the heavens above that Kyouya-sempai wouldn't wake up soon. If he knew how silly he looked like right now he'll probably throw us into the pits of hell.
"Let's go" Our superior commanded.
And in a careful synchronized manner, the three bodyguards carried their unassuming, unconscious master out of the office, through the grand hallway and into the waiting limousine outside.
"The target has left the building. I repeat. Kyouya-sama has left the building. Project Happy Birthday has finally launched."
The ecstatic tone in Tachibana's voice filled the moving vehicle as he chatted to his mobile phone. Horita steered the limousine to the left and the tires screeched loudly as the vehicle took a sharp turn at a corner. Aijima and I held on to our seats. Our free hands tried to steady the unconscious person that was the cause of all this madness.
"Fantastic!" I heard my father's voice crackle through the connection "I'm ready at my end. We just need the birthday boy to arrive"
"We're now only five minutes away Ranka-san" Tachibana said with a wolfish grin "We'll be there as soon as we can"
"How's Kyouya-sama?" Horita hollered from his position at the driver's seat.
"Still passed out" I answered, horrified and thankful at the same time.
Adrenalin pumped in my veins. We were doing it. We were finally executing my father's harebrained idea. And we'll be so screwed the moment Kyouya-sempai would open his eyes. I prayed to my mother and to the gods above that we were doing the right thing. I really didn't want to lose my job the second time around.
But it didn't feel wrong at all. At the contrary, it felt strangely right.
The limousine suddenly skidded into a full stop, the sudden movement causing me to topple against its carpeted floor. Aijima and Tachibana were thankfully able to restrain Kyouya-sempai's passed out body from joining me there.
"We're here" Horita called out. I heard the familiar click that told me that the doors being opened.
This is it. The moment we have all been waiting for. Danger and excitement melded into one as I watched Aijima and Tachibana heaved and carried their precious master unto the empty street outside. But that was only half of the trouble. Pushing myself up, I stepped out and stood on the cemented pavement and looked up to see my father's waving form at my apartment's second floor.
Fujioka Ranka leaned against the balustrade, the bright red summer dress that he wore a contrast against the grey apartment building. A white feather boa hung around his pale white neck and too wide shoulders. Red tassel earrings hung hooked on his ears. His crimson lips jutted up into a wide grin and he cheered wildly as he watched us carry on with the plan he had cooked up.
"Sorry boys but this apartment doesn't have any elevators!" Ranka shouted from above us "You have to carry him through the staircase"
"I think we can handle it" Tachibana-san gritted his teeth as his arms supported Kyouya-sama's body with all his might. He glared at his underlings that were gaping widely at my father's appearance. Soon enough, Aijima and Horita san shook out of their thoughts and proceeded carry on.
It took a while before we were able to bring the precious heir of the Ootori Zaibatsu into my little home. There were times when Kyouya-sempai's body almost slipped from the trio of bodyguards' clutches. The pull of gravity and the heavy weight of his tall muscled body made the task more excruciatingly hard. Step by step the three of them moved up the winding staircase. Each step made them come nearer and nearer to the destination at hand. It was when we reached inside my apartment that they were able collapse in exhaustion. Thankfully, Kyouya-sempai's body was first carefully laid on top of our couch before they fell on a heap on the living room floor.
"I'm home!" I grinned as I closed the door behind me.
"Yes you are" my father winked as he gingerly helped Tachibana-san and the others to stand up on their feet.
But my home wasn't as I had remembered it to be. Turning on my heel, I swiveled around to take in the special improvements that my father had added to our living room. A paper banner hung proudly from the ceiling. Happy Birthday Kyouya-kun, it read. The sturdy study table that usually resided in my room was taken out and situated by a corner wall. On top of it were several bowls and plates filled with food. There were triangle-shaped onigiri, homemade seafood sushi and maki, fried pieces of breaded shrimp, and even western inspired food like red sauce spaghetti and broiled chicken. Bottles of sake and beer stood proudly beside a metal bucket of ice. A round cream cake topped with whipped cream and cut strawberries became the crowning glory of the display.
"I didn't know what his favourite food was so I just prepared what I could" I heard my father's voice whisper in my ear. Briefly, his arms enveloped me in a quick hug. I merely shook my head, wondering what Kyouya-sempai's reaction would be.
And speaking of the Third Ootori Heir...
I turned and saw the suit clad trio hovering around their beloved master, their faces stricken with a myriad of emotions that ranged from nervous, excited and downright scared. Ironically, their object of interest still slept peacefully against the comfortable two-seater sofa. The soft puffs of breaths a sign that he was still alive, just merely knocked out. My father approached the three with a vial of smelling salts clutched in his palm. With a wide excited grin he leaned to waft the bottle under his favourite host's nose.
The effect was instantaneous.
Nostrils inflamed as if offended by the scent. A second passed by then Kyouya Ootori's eyes began to twitch. He let out a deep rough groan. A hand ventured out to rake through his raven hair. Slowly, he lifted his eyelids. Dark raven lashes parted to reveal a pair of disoriented irises.
"Where...am I?" he coughed as his slim fingers clutched the side of his head. Then he fixed the spectacles that were dangling a bit off his face and blinked, his mind registering the faces of the people who surrounded him.
The confused expression gave way to realization and then into savage ire that threatened to spark into an unstoppable blaze.
"Now don't get angry at them" Father reasoned as a snarl escape Kyouya's lips. The palm of Ranka's hand pushed at the younger man's chest to let him settle more comfortably on the couch. "If you want to kill somebody then you should kill me" Father smirked as his guest's eyes widened in complete bafflement "I was the one who ordered them to kidnap you. Blame me all you want because that is the truth"
The tension heightened as silence followed my father's pronouncement. For a while their young master clutched his head between his own hands. Another tortured groan escaped his dry mouth.
"Ranka-san?" Kyouya-sempai murmured as if unsure if he heard it right. "Where am I?"
"In my home" Father wiggled his brows then straightened up to throw the feather boa over his shoulder. His hand gestured for me and the others to come closer. The smile on his face turned into a full-blown teeth showing grin and he waved his hands like conductor leading an orchestra.
"HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU! HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU! HAPPY BIRTHDAY! HAPPY BIRTHDAY! HAPPY BIRTHDAY KYOU-KUN!"
Our voices melded into one. Hands clapped together to set the rhythm. The low bass in Tachibana, Horita and Aijima's voices complimented my own alto tone and my father's slightly off-toned high soprano tune. And for the first time since he had come to wakefulness, Kyouya-sempai's eyes widened in complete shock. His jaw slackened and fell open. I almost laughed at how ridiculous he looked.
The famous cool-type host rendered speechless by a birthday song.
Who would have believed that it was possible!
As the song ended into a close, Kyouya's dark eyes hardened into a glower. His expression caught between rage and unbelief.
"Now don't act like a sour puss" Ranka wiggled his finger in warning "Haruhi told me how awful your birthday was yesterday. Didn't you, my dear?"
I glared at my father as my cheeks warmed. A tell-tale sign of an oncoming blush. With a raised brow, Kyouya's unbelief and attention quickly switched to me.
"She told me that you probably never celebrated a birthday in your life. Soooo..." Father continued as I saw Kyouya purse his lips into a frown. "We are all here to celebrate your big day - even if it's twenty-four hours late."
The silence that followed that made it hard for me to breathe. Sempai fixed his face into a neutral expression. Something that made it hard for me to see if he was still angry or if what my father said had finally registered in his brain. His onyx eyes then turned towards the three bodyguards who were currently shivering in abject fear. Father leaned over and gently pulled at Kyouya's chin to catch his attention.
"It's after office hours Kyou-kun" He patted at the Ootori heir's cheek "Let them have fun"
We were gambling our faith on someone who was known to have a temper as volatile as the raging volcano. As the quiet turned into unnerving moment, father stepped back and skipped towards the table laden with food. He grabbed a bottle of sake, filled a plate with choice pieces of sushi before walking back towards our unmoving special guest.
"Here" He set the plate in front his Kyou-kun "I made these especially for you."
I watched with bated breath as my senior gratefully accepted a pair of chopsticks that Aijima presented to him. Without further ado, he broke the wooden stick in the middle, separating them into two. Then, with a careful hand, he reached out to grab a piece of kani sushi. Gingerly, he dipped the rolls of crab, seaweed, and rice into a shallow bowl of soy sauce mixed with wasabi before popping it into his mouth.
Kyouya closed his eyes as he chewed. Seconds passed as we waited with bated breaths. Then those onyx eyes opened. His glasses glinted. A small barely there uncharacteristic smile graced his lips.
And for the first time since this whole debacle started, I felt assured that we did the right thing.
Until my father shouted at the top of his voice that we should all go sing Karaoke.
I woke up the next morning with a brain-splitting headache. Bile rose immediately in my throat.
I shouldn't have drunk too much sake. Hell, I shouldn't have also accepted the bottles of beer that my father kept pestering me to drink. But I did chug down quite a few, maybe it even led to a litre or two.
Blinking several times, the memories of the night before flooded in my sub-consciousness. From the taste of delicious homemade food, the creamy slice of strawberry shortcake that I ate, to my father's boisterous voice as he sung a romantic duet with a thoroughly drunk Tachibana-san. I could clearly picture in my mind the wasted looks on Aijima and Horita's faces and the way they hung their ties around their heads and chanted like common salary men. I could even remember Kyouya-sempai's monotone way of singing when he sung, in a quite reluctant manner, the national anthem of Japan.
How we managed to make him sing... I really don't want to know. But I think it involved some sake.
A humongous amount of sake.
That... and an alcoholic father who will not take 'no' for an answer.
"Cut it out!" I growled and groaned as my world spun around. My hands cupped the sides of my head as loud snores irritated my sensitive ears. Searching for the source of that terrible sound, I turned and glared at the sleeping forms of Aijima and Horita. The two slept on the hard wooden floor without a care in the world. Their neckties were still wrapped around their heads. Their matching snores as annoying as ever. Just a foot away from them, Tachibana was passed out on the couch. His mouth hung open as he exhaled through his nose. Beside him was my father, who had obviously taken advantage of the unconscious man and wrapped his too willing arms around the bodyguard's suit clad body.
It was then that I realized something was amiss.
"Kyouya-sempai?" I mumbled.
Narrowing my gaze, I looked over the participants in the room.
There was my father. Tachibana-san. Horita-san and even Aijima-san.
Kyouya Ootori was missing.
He was gone.
Panic arose. Like a drum beat, my heart pounded. My hangover suddenly forgotten for the one we had kidnapped the day before was nowhere to be found. Unsteadily, I straightened up to my feet. My hand grasped at a chair in order to stop myself from falling face down. Then I ran. Towards my empty room then to my father's own much larger bedroom. To the loo and the kitchen too but he wasn't there. My bare feet moved towards the hallway and I padded towards the front door. I unlocked the knob and pushed it open.
Light streamed instantly and I winced as it blinded me momentarily. A figure silhouetted from the sun's rays piqued my interest.
And I sighed in relief.
There he was, still wearing the suit that he wore the day before, leaning casually against the metal rails. His expression was calm and peaceful as he watched the sun rise magnificently from the horizon. The sky before us tinged with pink, orange and violet hues as the fiery ball of fire slowly rose into the sky.
"Beautiful" I murmured as I stepped forward to stand beside him. My lips lifted up into a wistful smile as I absorbed every bit of that warm sunshine.
From the corner of my eye, I saw him turn his attention towards me. His eyes no longer held the guarded, masked expression that it held the night before. I turned slightly to observe him a bit more.
My heart skipped a beat. I was awe-struck.
For the first time since I've known him I realized just how handsome he was. To me, he had always been my sempai and nothing more. But today, as he was bathed in the early morning light, he looked a lot different from before.
The soothing breeze played with wisps of his hair and the raven locks look rumpled yet still styled as if a set of fingers had run through it just a few moments before. His full brows lifted in a regal way as his dark eyes, a svelte almond shape, observed me through the clear glass of his spectacles. Then there was his nose, aristocratic and upturned at the most appealing hint. It complemented his cheekbones and those lips that were lifted in a teasing smirk.
He was like a perfect Adonis carved by a master sculptor or painted by a talented artist. But it wasn't only that. There was an underlying sense of masculinity and power in the way he held himself. Over the years he had grown. He was no longer lanky and thin just like in his youth. Now he had a tall towering height and broad shoulders only accentuated this.
And I realized why women easily fell in love with him just like with the other hosts.
Kyouya Ootori was simply gorgeous.
"Everything that happened last night... Was it all just your father's idea?"
I blinked when I heard his voice. It brought me out of my reverie. I remembered his question and thought up a proper reply.
"Not really" I admitted, remembering that 'Operation Happy Birthday' started because I wanted to share with him my happy childhood memories. To think that this whole crazy idea was created just because I wanted to see him happy. It's silly really. But being able to dispel that hard uncaring mask that he often used as a shield was more than worth it.
"It doesn't matter whose idea it was" I said "In the end we just wanted to show you how much you matter to us. Me, Father, Tachibana-san, Horita-san and Aijima-san, we all care about you. Maybe even more that you already know. Our methods must have bent several rules but we all thought that it everything will be alright it in the end"
"Bent?" The smirk he held was familiar in its teasing ways "You practically crushed all the rules that my father had constituted." Then his haughty expression turned a bit reserved.
"You didn't have to do anything"
"But we wanted to. I wanted to." I confessed as I held that dark gaze "We only wanted to make you smile sempai."
My admittance hung in the air as we stared at each other eyes. He was struck silent, speechless. His Adam's apple bobbed up and down as he took in a deep shuddering breath. He was quiet then, unnervingly so. A part of me was afraid that he would still lash out at us, at me particularly. We kidnapped him, made a party that was against the 'rules' and even made him sing the national anthem of Japan just for kicks. He definitely would damn us to hell, create havoc, and turn us into eternal slaves.
What he did next was something that I would not have ever predicted in my entire life.
Turning his head, he leaned forward and moved towards me. Soft, pliant slips brushed tenderly against the side of my cheek. Everything happened so fast, so sudden that it barely registered in my mind. My breath hitched as he stepped back. His was gaze was dark, unfathomable and it sent shivers down my spine.
His words were simple but it held a hidden wealth of meaning. I didn't know what to say. I didn't know what to do. I was about to speak again when the door to my apartment suddenly swung open with a bang. The wood slammed forcefully against the wall as someone dashed forward and bent over the railings. Then I heard the unmistakable sound of someone retching and cringed.
"Sorry about that, darlings" Father said with a burp before wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. His eyes suddenly looked as big as saucers as if he remembered something important. My parent leaned over the handrails and looked back down.
"Thank fucking god I missed the freaking limo!" He swore rowdily before he turned to face us. He flung the feathered boa behind his shoulder and winked "I don't think I would be able to cook breakfast today my dears. I hope both of you wouldn't mind"
Then, as if my morning wouldn't get any weirder, Kyouya Ootori chortled – loudly. His hands clutched at his sides as he laughed and laughed and laughed. I thought that his laughter would never end until he abruptly stopped. The corner of his lips lifted up into a beaming sincerely joyous smile.
My breath caught in my throat.
If I thought that Kyouya-sempai was handsome before, it encompassed what I saw now.
He was simply beautiful.
I heard Tachibana's panicked voice cry out from inside of the apartment. I knew that someone had just woken up and found out that his most precious master was missing from the home.
"He's outside" I hollered. The sound of someone crashing against something hard was heard. There were also two manly cries of hurt and surprise. A few minutes later Tachibana, Aijima and Horita stumbled out of the door. The three of them looked totally smashed.
"Ootori-sama!" Tachibana's voice wavered as kneeled down and prostrated himself before his master. His two fellow bodyguards did the same, their ties still hanging around their heads.
"PLEASE PUNISH US FOR WHAT WE HAVE DONE!"
Their eyes were closed and their bodies visibly trembled with dread. Their apprehension, worry and outright fright revealed in their expressions. Kyouya's brow rose almost instinctively and he snorted through his nose.
"All of you are..." He glared at them before turning to look at me and my father "Going to spend the whole morning helping Ranka-san clean up after our mess. Then after that you will all go back to your respective homes and have a well deserved rest"
I blinked. Father clapped happily. The bodyguards looked up, disbelief rendering them speechless.
Kyouya's sighed, probably thinking that these imbeciles are stupid. "Yes, I'm ordering all of you to take a break for the rest of day"
"You're not going to punish us?" Horita squeaked.
Kyouya's brow rose even higher. Then he growled. His onyx eyes narrowed into an intense glare as his infamous temper flared with full frightening force of his threat.
"If you repeat that I will change my mind and throw you all to the pits of hell!"
Everyone, even my father, cringed. Then, with a haughty lift of his chin and a push of his spectacles up the bridge of his nose, Kyouya Ootori announced that he would simply wait in the limo while the rest of us would clean cluttered chaos that resulted from our surprise party. Without any further words spoken, the arrogant Third Ootori Heir strode purposefully down the staircase. A loud thump told us that he had entered the vehicle parked on the street below.
"So we're not going to be punished?" Horita spoke again as if not believing just what had happened.
Tachibana smacked the back of his head. "You have heard what our young master had said. Let's clean up and do what he said"
I shook my head and grinned before following the three of them and my father back inside our apartment.
It took us a while to get every trash into the bin but we were able to clean the living room and get it back the way it was before. My study table was put back into my room. The beer and sake bottles were gathered to be returned to the store. The floor even gleamed because Horita-san volunteered to wax it off to its former glory.
Father cleaned his hands with a bit of alcohol. He smirked at everyone and finally took off the feathered boa from around his neck.
"So that's it then. I guess this is goodbye. Good work everyone!"
Tachibana-san bowed to him "Thank you for your assistance Ranka-san. Your plan was spectacular"
Aijima and Horita bowed down too before hauling up the trash bags that we had just filled up with used paper plates and cups.
"Of course it is! I'm Haruhi's father! I'm bound to think up wonderful plans" He winked and blew a kiss. I groaned in horror.
For the first time ever Tachibana didn't flinch. Instead, he offered his hand for a handshake. Aijima and Horita saluted me and my father with a wave of their hands and followed their superior as he led them out of the apartment. A few moments later we heard a start of a car's engine. I smiled to myself knowing that the limousine had probably left.
And there we were again just the two of us like it had always been. The living room no longer held any evidence that we held an extremely wild party last night. I stretched my arms up and felt some of my bones pop a bit and grinned widely. I still had a bit of a hangover but it wasn't important.
"I have a whole day to myself" I sighed. Spending yesterday writing a thousand letters really stressed me out. Having a day off is just too perfect.
And just when I thought I would be able to have a bit of peace and quiet the doorbell rang.
It was a bit odd to have some visitors since it was just seven in the morning. But I shrugged, thinking that Kyouya-sempai and his bodyguards must have just come back for something they have forgotten. I skipped towards the door and opened it with relish only to be face to face with an unknown man carrying a brown manila envelope.
"Fujioka Haruhi-san?" He asked me. The man's eyes were covered with dark sunglasses. He also wore a suit like the one Aijima, Horita and Tachibana wore. He spoke perfect Japanese even if his hair was blonde and his features were Caucasian.
"Yes?" I answered completely confused at his sudden appearance.
"Tamaki-sama had ordered me to take you to him"
My eyes widened. He said Tamaki-sempai! Was he Tamaki's own personal guard?
"It's about his promise to you" The man continued in a clipped tone "His promise about telling you everything that you need to know"
Just then my heart hammered in my chest. I almost forgot Tamaki-sempai's promise. That he will tell me everything and answer all my questions as to why he and Kyouya-sempai had a falling out. I felt like I was opening Pandora's Box or revealing a secret that shouldn't be revealed but I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep at night if I didn't find out the truth.
"Can you come with me right now?" he asked "Or do you need me to come back at another time?"
"No right now would be fine" I blurted out.
The man nodded. "A car is waiting for us. Come with me, please."
I looked back to my house and wondered if I should tell my father but he was probably already asleep, still inebriated and tired. I probably should leave a note or something but I figured out that my meeting with Tamaki wouldn't take long. I've waited for a long time to know the reason. I'm not going to back out.
So stepped out into the foyer and closed the door behind me.
OMG I finally updated. Sorry for the wait. I am truly sorry. I know that I should give promises anymore since I can't keep most of them. This chapter was the most fun to write and also was the most hard to write at the same time; hard because I didn't have any time to do it and easy because it's just really, really fun. Work had literally eaten me up. I no longer had the energy or the time to write fanfics. So this chapter festered in my laptop for months. I feel guilty, really, but I really can't write when I'm tired. Thankfully, I now have some free time. So what I did was finish it.
This chapter is really long because its two chapters joined into one. I was supposed to stop at Ranka announcing that everyone's going to sing Karaoke (or else!) but then I though... hey why don't I add the next chapter just for the fun of it. Thus this monstrosity of 8,222 words and 22 pages was born. I've never written anything this long but I'm glad I did because I've included all the scenes that I wanted to include.
I don't know if anyone is still interested in reading this story but as I promised I will never give up on this. It might take a while but I'm not giving up.
So to my readers, enjoy this little chappie. Next chapter will reveal 'the reason' at last! Whew! It took 13 chapters to get here but every chapter counts.
Read and review. I would love to know what you think. I hope the wait for this chapter was worth it.
Thanks. I love you all.