A/N: TADAAAAAA! Did you see that one coming? To be honest, I had this idea since before I finished the fanfic, and the completed chapter had been sitting on my desktop for months now. But I wanted to wait to post this until I thought you all would least expect it, when everyone had begun to forget about Crystal Clear. Ahhhh, but it was hard keeping it a secret for so long. Every now and then a reviewer would ask me to write just one more update, and it was all I could do not to send them a message saying that I've already done it. And to make up for the wait, I made it LONG too. Longer than I usually write. ^^
This is just a present to thank you guys again. I feel like I can never stop thanking everyone. To this day, the number of reviews still climbs. 350? Really? I'm so honored and loved! I really hope you enjoy it, the last (seriously this time) chapter of Crystal Clear.
Kyouya decided that always waking up so inexplicably early in the mornings was going to be the death of him one day.
If back pain didn't take him first.
With a reluctant groan, Kyouya opened his eyes and sat up, wincing as his spine cracked. It was 8:23 in the morning. His glasses were askew. He was still wearing his clothes from yesterday. And his butt was falling asleep from having sat on the hard linoleum floor all night.
He was the picture of hell, he was sure.
But then he heard the sleepy moan of someone next to him, the person who had robbed him of sleeping in a proper bed, and the sound of it brought a little relief to his aching back. A grin slipped onto his lips. Oh . . . that's right. Kyouya hadn't gotten the action he had been hoping for, and he had slept on the floor while Haruhi took the couch after watching a bazillion movies—
—but it had been worth it.
It just might take a while to convince the rest of his body that.
Sighing, Kyouya slowly pushed himself to his feet. Each movement brought a creak or screech from his joints. No wonder commoners age so quickly, he mused without much interest. All that mattered was the small girl curled up like a cat on his couch. Kyouya sat down on the edge, but when stroking her hair failed to bring any more excitement, he stretched out next to her to get a better look at her sleeping face.
"If I'm not allowed to sleep in, neither are you," Kyouya murmured, kissing her softly.
"Hnnn," Haruhi groaned again, leaning into the kiss sleepily. "Five more minutes?"
"It's already ten in the morning."
"WHAT!" Haruhi exclaimed, bolting upright.
Kyouya chuckled at her and gently pulled her back down on the sofa. "Relax. It's only 8:30. We still have time. What was it you said?" Kyouya smiled crookedly and held the girl in his arms. "Five more minutes?"
Haruhi looked close to objecting, but after a kiss or two, she said, "Maybe ten would be better."
"That's what I thought."
But it turns out they didn't get ten minutes. They didn't even get five. A couple minutes later, Kyouya's cellphone was ringing, and he could have sworn it was the ugliest, most obnoxious noise in the world. When Haruhi saw Kyouya stiffen and his expression turn dark, Haruhi nervously reached into his coat pocket and said, "Maybe I should answer it." She pushed Kyouya away so that she could breathe, and Kyouya grudgingly sat on the other side of the sofa, plotting new ways to torture his so-called friend.
"That idiot's terrible sense of timing never ceases to amaze me," he grumbled, and Haruhi rolled her eyes at him. Kyouya didn't sulk. He was much too refined for that . . .
. . . but his expression came pretty close to sulking.
"Eh? HARUHIIIIII!" Tamaki shouted at such a volume that even Kyouya could hear. Haruhi leaned away from the phone with a wince. "WHERE ARE YOU! WHERE ARE YOU, MY PRECIOUS DAUGHTER? I THOUGHT YOU SAID THE TIME WAS AT—!"
"Calm down, sempai," Haruhi sighed. "Everything's fine. My things are already ready, I just have to get a shower and—"
"But why aren't you at your house?"
There was a pause as Haruhi blinked once, twice, and then shot a look of panic at Kyouya. "T-t-tamaki-sempai . . . are you at my house right now?"
"The whole host club is! Well, except for Kyouya. No one was brave enough to wake him up this early in the morning."
"Well you still did, idiot, and you're going to pay for it dearly," Kyouya muttered, and Haruhi shushed him.
"But where are you right now, Haruhi?" Tamaki persisted.
"U-uhhh, um . . . a . . . a friend's house!" Haruhi squeaked. "Yep, yes! That's right."
"A really, really close friend," Kyouya added dryly. This time Haruhi whacked Kyouya over the head and instantly regretted it when he turned on her with murder in his eyes. Haruhi jumped to her feet and ran away from Kyouya, and he chased her around the room while she still tried to talk as normally as possible on the phone. "Yes, Sempai . . . yeah, yeah . . . don't worry, I'll be there soon . . . huh? Why do I sound so breathless . . . well, um . . . ?"
Kyouya cornered Haruhi and lunged for her. Haruhi squealed and, just in time, grabbed a spare pillow and flung it at Kyouya's face. While he was distracted, she ducked under his arms to escape. "It's . . . it's a pillow fight! Yeah . . . commoner thing, soooo . . . gotta go, Sempa—ACK!"
The phone dropped to the floor with a clack as Kyouya grabbed Haruhi from behind. The batteries fell out, but Kyouya hardly cared about anything more than the person squirming and struggling in his arms. And meanwhile, miles away, a certain blond idiot was looking at the phone in confusion, mumbling to himself, "Pillow fights must be vicious. My poor Haruhi."
"Haruhi?" the twins chorused. "But I thought you said you were calling Kyouya's cell."
Tamaki went blank as the words slowly sunk in, and then he fainted in a dramatic swoon.
"Kyouya! Let me go!" Haruhi protested, trying to free herself.
"Oh no you don't," Kyouya grunted, but then Haruhi pushed and jumped, knocking them both off balance. They hit the floor and were still for a moment, panting. The instant when Haruhi tried to get off of him, Kyouya held her more tightly against his chest, closing his eyes.
"This is how we should have slept last night," he murmured, rolling over so that they were both lying on their side, both staring intently at the other. "Warm and close, never letting go—"
"Kyouya," Haruhi began again firmly. When he tried to kiss her, she put both hands on either side of his face and held him back. "We both promised each other we weren't going to act like this. Not last night. Not today."
"I know." But Kyouya kissed her anyway. It was short and fleeting. They watched each other a little longer before Kyouya finally let Haruhi go. "There's a bathroom in the hall on the left. You can use that to shower. You brought a change of clothes, right?"
Haruhi smiled sadly at his attempt to act "strictly business." As if this were any other day. "Yeah. Of course."
Kyouya exhaled and pushed himself off the floor. "Well, we better hurry then." He offered his hand to help Haruhi up, which she graciously took. "We wouldn't want Tamaki to spontaneously combust out of anxiety . . . no, wait," Kyouya amended with a mock thoughtful expression.
Haruhi laughed at him and hugged him one last time before heading to the shower. Kyouya did the same. They were ready within twenty-five minutes, and Kyouya led her to the garage, their hands interlaced comfortably.
But before they made it there, they ran into Yuichi, who looked as if he were just about to leave for work. They paused awkwardly for a moment, and as Yuichi's eyes stared Haruhi down, she could swear that Kyouya's hands tightened marginally around hers.
But it turns out it was not needed. Though his face remained stony and stoic, Yuichi kept his voice civil at the very least. "Good morning, Haruhi."
"A-ah, good morning," Haruhi said, quickly falling into a bow. Kyouya said nothing.
Yuichi seemed to make an attempt to smile. "It's rather early for a visit, isn't it? I'm surprised you even managed to get Kyouya looking functional at this hour."
"Actually, she's leaving," Kyouya stated tersely, and Yuichi seemed slightly taken aback. Both boys chose not to further comment on the matter.
Yuichi turned to Haruhi again. "Fuyumi told me . . . is it tomorrow?"
"Today, actually," Haruhi answered, mildly surprised that he knew. She was even more surprised when he dipped his head to her.
"Then I wish you the best of luck. Work hard."
"Oh . . . thank you."
Yuichi put on a hat and moved to leave, but then he paused again. "Kyouya, be sure to remind Father that I will be home late tonight. I have an appointment with Saki again."
Kyouya nodded wordlessly, and Yuichi left.
"Take care," Haruhi called, but he didn't bother to reply. She frowned a little, but she had received enough politeness as it were.
"He needn't call it an appointment. It's all too obvious regardless," Kyouya muttered, earning him a curious glance from Haruhi. Seeing this, he explained, "Saki is the daughter of doctor with a small practice. They live well enough but . . ."
Haruhi narrowed her eyes and guessed Kyouya's thoughts when he trailed off, slightly uncomfortable. "Still not up to your standards, though, right?"
And after a quick glance at Haruhi, Kyouya squeezed her hand and kissed her lightly on her left temple. "But I think you may have inspired him," he murmured.
"Or you did, Kyouya."
They held each other's gazes for a moment longer, neither quite revealing what they really thought, before Kyouya led Haruhi on through the hallways. "Regardless," Kyouya sighed. "He is the first son. There are still many obstacles he will have to overcome."
"And you are the third son," Haruhi said, and she said it like she was relieved. Kyouya found that he rather liked the tone of her voice, but chose not to comment on it.
"Not to mention he will be leaving for South Africa soon."
Haruhi leaned a little against Kyouya's arm, holding his hand in both of hers. "Long distance isn't that big of a deal, though."
"Hmm," was all Kyouya said in reply.
They made it to Haruhi's apartment and were immediately assaulted by the Host Club. Well, Kyouya was anyway. Haruhi stood back, torn between shock and resignation, while Tamaki and the twins ganged up on her boyfriend, holding him down and even preparing a plastic, toy bat to attack him with.
"KYOUYA!" Tamaki roared, preparing to swing. "What have you done to my precious daughter? Why did she spend the night at your house?"
"Tamaki-sempai," Haruhi groaned. She figured that she might as well exert even a little effort to stop him, but then Honey came to stand in front of her protectively, pulling out nun chucks (which were a thousand times more authentic and threatening than Tamaki's bat) from nowhere.
"Haru-chan, Haru-chan! Don't worry! We'll save you!" Honey-sempai cried.
"Guys—" Haruhi began again, but she was interrupted by the sudden manifestation of murderous intent coming from a certain boy in flashing glasses.
"I suggest that if you don't want to be hunted down by the Ootori secret forces for the rest of your lives, you let go of me at once," Kyouya stated in chilling ease. Immediately, the twins flinched and released him, stepping back several steps. Tamaki, seeing that everyone had run away, yelped and dropped the bat.
"B-b-but!" Tamaki pouted. "You two spent the night together, right? Since it's you, you certainly were doing . . . naughty stuff, right?"
Kyouya knocked his fist against Tamaki's head, though Haruhi could tell he didn't hit nearly as hard as he could have. "A prince character should not have such a dirty mind. Whatever you're thinking, I can assure you nothing happened."
And Mori, the most normal out of them all, held the door open as they all walked inside. What followed next was a good hour of aggravation and yelling and forced dress-up as Haruhi tried to gather her stuff. But it was also an hour of laughing and side-jabbing and hugging. Then Ranka directed Haruhi's attention to the clock, and Haruhi excused herself, Kyouya right by her side.
"Awww, are you sure you don't want us to come too?" Hikaru complained.
"You guys have made enough noise and mess as it is," Haruhi huffed. "You better help my dad clean up this place later. And don't even think about bringing maids in, you rich bastards."
"Wahhhh, Haruhi! I change my mind! Try on this dress instead. This dress will suit you better!" Kaoru said, poking his head out of her closet.
Haruhi glared at him. "No thanks. You should know that it's way too frilly and lacy."
"Ehhhhh, so boring!" the twins complained.
Tamaki jumped to his feet dramatically. "Well! Seeing as I am your father, I think that I should be allowed the privilege of—"
"Hold it right there, you useless king," Ranka said, kicking Tamaki away. "She's not even going to let her real father accompany her. Why would she let some fake go instead?"
Tamaki looked about ready to zoom off in a corner and cry his eyes out, but he was saved when he saw Haruhi's cute, sheepish smile. "About that . . . sorry. But I really want to do this on my own. I think it will be easier that way," she explained, wincing slightly.
"SO CUTE!" Tamaki, the twins, and Honey cried, and they glomped her long and hard before Kyouya, who was losing his patience and still suffering from low blood pressure, pried them off.
"Enough of the nonsense. You're going to make her late," he snapped, and without waiting for Haruhi, he briskly walked outside. Haruhi quickly hugged her friends and father again before rushing out to catch up with Kyouya again. Only when she was back at her side did his tense features seem to relax.
They were silent for a while as they walked. Haruhi took a deep breath and halfway closed her eyes, gathering courage to let the bomb explode.
"To be honest . . . Kyouya," she said carefully. "When I said that I didn't want anyone to come with me . . . I was including you in that too."
"I'm coming," Kyouya declared, his voice stiff.
"Kyouya, I really don't think it's a good idea—"
"Just try to stop me, commoner."
Haruhi let the harmless insult slide right over her head, and they passed into silence again. Though it was still early, the summer heat was growing stifling. Cicadas buzzed. The wheels of the suitcase bumped leisurely against the uneven sidewalk.
"You can follow me up until the bus stop."
". . . . . fine."
Ten more minutes passed like this, and then there were there. Since the bus wasn't there, and no one else was for that matter, Haruhi collapsed onto a bench and began fanning herself. Kyouya remained standing, a frown weighing down on his mouth. When Haruhi couldn't stand him looking down at her anymore, she patted the spot next to her, and he reluctantly sat down.
"It's only Boston," Haruhi said, looking at him in concern. "And it's only going to be for a year."
Kyouya only grunted.
Haruhi's face fell. Awkwardly, she looked away. "What's with you? If it really bothers you this much, you should have told me. I could have refused the scholarship."
"No, you should go," he muttered, and then adjusted his glasses. "My father is quite impressed with you at the moment—"
"Because the reason I did this is all because of your father," Haruhi said with a roll of her eyes.
"You should know better than that. The only reason we've been able to go out like this for so long is because of you being in Father's good graces. And that approval is definitely something we want to keep. A chance like this will give you an edge in your field and make you a stronger lawyer. It makes you most . . ." Kyouya trailed off for so long that Haruhi actually raised her eyebrows at him. When he finally finished his sentence, Haruhi almost didn't catch his muttered word, "desirable."
Haruhi frowned at him. "But none of that ridiculous scheming changes the fact that you're obviously pouting now."
"I'm not pouting, Haruhi. I don't pout."
"You're pouting," Haruhi declared one last time, just to get on his nerves, before leaning her head against his arm. Quietly, she added, "But it's okay. I'm going to miss you too."
Kyouya sighed and draped his arm across her shoulders, pulling her a little closer. Haruhi all too willingly obliged, smiling, and they fell into an easy silence broken only by an occasional murmur or gentle whisper.
But that didn't diminish the presence of the large suitcase, which occupied the space between Haruhi and Kyouya's legs.
"I got you something," Kyouya said after a moment.
His expression was perfectly unreadable.
"Is it another song?"
Kyouya actually cracked a wry grin at that. "Don't be so unreasonable, Haruhi. That was a bit of a one-time thing. It wouldn't be special if I did it all the time, right?"
"Says who? I don't mind hearing you play and sing again."
Kyouya made no comment. Haruhi sensed that she had struck a weak point of his. A source of embarrassment. Haruhi didn't think it was embarrassing at all. She could still remember being trapped in the freezing train several months ago, how relieved and confused she had been when Kyouya walked in, how they spent a couple hours huddled up together until help finally came, but Haruhi hadn't minded all that much because she was listening to Kyouya's song, and he would occasionally sing along with it, quietly. It was such a blur and unreal situation that several times Haruhi looked back and wondered if it was just a delusion caused by hypothermia. Then she would stumble across "Tsumetai Yoru" on her ipod, and the warm rush of emotions from that time would wash over her once more. How could something so wonderful be embarrassing?
Then again, that one time when Hikaru stole Haruhi's ipod, the twins wouldn't let Kyouya live it down for a whole week, despite threats to their family's wellbeing. Maybe it was only natural for Kyouya to try to block it from his memory.
Grinning widely even though she was a little disappointed, she asked, "So, if you're not going to serenade me, what is it?"
"Since I won't be there . . . to protect you against strange men and perverts and any other person in Boston who might otherwise flirt with my girlfriend . . . I figured I might as well get you something to ward off . . . undesirable company."
Kyouya actually jumped slightly when Haruhi groaned out load and smacked her forehead. "Kyouyaaaaaa! Please tell me you did not give me my own bodyguard. Or swat team. Or anything of that nature! Haven't we been through this before?"
"I got the next best thing, I assure you," he replied coolly, reaching for something in his pocket.
"Pepper spray?" Haruhi asked, truly curious but at a loss of what it could be. She leaned over to get a better glimpse. "It's pepper spray, isn't it? Kyouya, I already got some. From both Tamaki AND my dad. I'm not that helpless."
"Wrong," Kyouya said. He dropped the object in Haruhi's waiting hands and turned his body away before he even caught a glimpse of her expression. The sound of her gasp was enough. Kyouya quickly cleared his throat and explained, "You can consider this a lease for now. If you don't like it, you don't have to take it to heart or worry about it."
"A year. A few years. I can present it to you at a more ideal time later, but please wear it for now. It will make me feel more at ease."
"I won't compromise on this, Haruhi. You know how American men can be, but this will drive them away in an instant, so—"
"Kyouya!" Haruhi exclaimed, half laughing as she covered his mouth with her hand to make him shut up. Kyouya bristled when she did, but then he saw the glimmer on her finger. Her ring finger.
Haruhi's eyes twinkled as she narrowed them at Kyouya in amusement. "Trust me, Kyouya. You don't have to worry so much about other boys. I'm already sold."
Kyouya cleared his throat again, a little more awkwardly. He removed her hand and said, "Good. Then we have reached an understanding." Before he let Haruhi's hand drop, he hesitated, and then he brought his lips to her hand in a gentle kiss. "I'm glad."
Haruhi giggled just as the bus pulled up with a hiss of its engine. "A lease, you said?"
"Yes," he answered, matching her tone. "As long as I can collect the interest later."
Kyouya still hadn't let go of her hand.
The doors of the bus slide open. Haruhi stood. "I'm not sure I can give you a real answer now, but perhaps in the future."
"It doesn't matter to me. I told you, I'm giving you time. Just don't take too long, Haruhi. I'm impatient."
"I know," Haruhi laughed. "I've been in several of your personal debts before."
The driver rudely honked the horn, and Kyouya's grip tightened in response. Sighing, Haruhi slipped her hand out of his and grabbed her suitcase. "It's time for me to go, Kyouya."
Kyouya jumped to his feet and smoothly kissed her, ignoring the loud honking. "Do well," he murmured. "Be successful. And don't you dare forget about me."
"How could I?" Haruhi replied with a soft smile. She rolled her eyes and added, "Besides, you don't fool me." She shamelessly stuck her hand in Kyouya's pants pocket and pulled out a plane ticket. Her smile turned into a smirk as she waved it in front of his face. "You were planning on harassing me within a month anyway. Is it even worth saying goodbye to you?"
"I'm sure I have no idea what you're talking about," Kyouya deadpanned, his glasses flashing.
Haruhi chuckled and handed him back his plane ticket. "Yeah, yeah. I'm sure." Then she turned to the obnoxious bus driver and said, "Hey! Don't you realize this is an important moment? In shoujo mangas, the main couple always has at least a fifteen minute goodbye scene."
"Yes, he's kind of ruining the moment, isn't he?" Kyouya agreed. "And what's more, there aren't enough flower petals floating in the air. I'll have to contact my servants. They're falling down on the job."
Haruhi jabbed him in the side. "Your touch is slipping, rich bastard."
"And you are being unfashionably late, commoner. Hurry and get on before I change my mind and follow you to the airport after all."
"Alright!" Haruhi hugged Kyouya tightly, catching him off guard, before hopping up the steps and climbing aboard the bus. Haruhi grabbed a seat and then tapped on the window to get Kyouya's attention. When he looked up, she laughed and flashed her engagement ring at him one last time, and then the bus drove off.
Kyouya stood in place for a good while, even long after he could see the bus in the distance. When he finally turned around and headed back to meet up with the rest of the host club, he made a mental note to himself to call Haruhi tomorrow afternoon when she had landed. And jetlag be damned.
Kyouya admired his plane ticket one last time, and he smiled, tucking it away safely.