~ Chapter Twenty ~
~ A Request ~
If I have to choose a groom in this garden of romance ~
I could feel myself frowning in my sleep, but couldn't stir from it. Butterfly wings tickled my insides and in my dream I was flushed.
I heard someone talking to me, but I couldn't put forth the effort to respond properly. Gingerly someone placed their hand on my left shoulder and shook it slightly and at last I stirred, albeit groggily although a good portion of my rising consciousness realized I gained more attention than the person shaking my shoulder.
"Honiwa-san, may I ask that you remain awake for the rest of the class period? Your grades may be improving, but there's always a way of slipping up!" Scolded the teacher and instantly I bolted up as straight as a rod.
"Yes Sensei!" I yelped and the teacher gave a huff before returning to the chalkboard.
"Not enough sleep last night I imagine," crooned Kyouya's smooth voice from my left, the imprint my arms and desk left on my face began to burn on my skin like hot brands. My legs and arms stiffened as I tried not to hang my head from shame.
"I guess not," it was true, I was up fuming and debating if I should call my parents and chew them out or not or heck, call Kyouya and chew him out too well into the night until my fatigue won out. I ended up not calling anyone, my habit for overthinking providing a multitude of scenarios that would have prevented my parents from calling and informing me and twisting my angry feelings into different directions.
But I wasn't about to let Kyouya think he had nothing to do with me getting no sleep!
"It's your fault you know!" I managed to seethe in a whisper as the teacher continued his lecture, "What you did kept me up almost all night last night!"
Something didn't sound right about what I said and from the way the two boys in front of us snuck glances back at us made me turn red.
With anger that is.
"Don't be nosy!" I hissed at them and they returned their gazes to the front of the room when the teacher looked back with a disapproving look.
"No more interruptions!" he harked aiming a glare at me and I sunk in my seat, the shame just kept building up.
"…" we remained silent a little longer, I dutifully tried to catch up on the notes written on the board. Everything was going smoothly, I was eyeing an equation when I realized I had written it wrong when Kyouya spoke up.
"So tell me, what was I doing to you last night?" My pencil faltered but otherwise remained steady on the paper.
I inwardly snarled.
I wish, that was a lie, not only did my pencil falter it faltered a long and bold jagged mark across my notebook.
I hazarded a guess at Kyouya and a bolt of something electrical shot up my spine and tickled my nerves when we made eye contact.
Keep yourself together Tsu! This is ridiculous! You've been sitting next to him for practically an entire semester! Why are you getting all bothered NOW? With as much willpower I could muster I put on a strong front and smiled at him innocently.
"You should know, you were there right?" I shot back, Kyouya grinned at the challenge being returned.
"Are you asking me if I was there or telling me?"
"Depends," I replied.
"If you were there or not." Now we were just going in circles, but the more we spoke the more comfortable and anxious I became, if that was possible. We kept our whispers low and few until lab assignment were assigned. Today was for groups not pairs, funnily enough, Kyouya and I were paired with the two boys who had overheard me and they regarded me curiously over the black table near the back of the room.
"All right, I guess I'll handle the writing if you can handle prep," one of the boys, short brown hair with nice, cool blue eyes began giving instructions, which I thought would bother Kyouya, but he appeared to take it with ease. He had always been the one "in charge" of our chemistry partnership, but when someone took up the leader position he took a step back.
I suddenly realized he was in "Shadow King" mode now.
Personally I found this rather exciting, since he tutored me for the most part during hosting hours I never really actually witnessed this fabled side of him before. Hikaru and Koaru were rather dramatic one could never tell what they say is true or not.
"We can all handle the equation, but if you two can do the measurements that would be great." His name was Aki and the other boy, Chuuya, who had darker and spikier hair with playful brown eyes.
For a while we worked silently and diligently with Aki instructing our teamwork, but it wasn't long until I began a conversation with Kyouya and reluctantly, Chuuya butted in with Aki kept tabs on the work whilst listening.
"Have you heard from Ayanokouji-senpai recently Tsuyu?" Kyouya asked, the boys raised eyebrows at one another when they heard we were on a first-name basis. It probably solidified what they believed they heard earlier too.
"No, why? She's not causing trouble again is she?" I asked, I could only hint at the troubling accusations made against Kyouya and Tamaki since they weren't public knowledge yet, we couldn't risk Chuuya and Aki blabbering about it across Ouran.
"I simply wondered," he replied, I frowned lightly.
Why bring it up here or at all then?
"Oh, the redhead that was banned from the Host Club?" Chuuya asked, Kyouya regarded him with a cool stare that I thought I saw made Chuuya shiver, but he remained composed and inappropriately curious.
"The same one," I answered as Kyouya adjusted his glasses, I began to believe this was a 'scheming' tick whereas I had previously thought it to be a way to intimidate others, his lenses had a funny knack of catching the light just right to make him appear ominous.
"She's been awfully withdrawn and diligent about her studies lately," Aki spoke up, "my older sister's in her class, she said she used to talk a bit, but now she keeps to her desk most of the time and goes straight home after school."
That doesn't sound like Ayanokouji, I thought, then again, I never really knew her that well beyond the bullying, the pinching and the tantrum-ing.
"She doesn't talk to anyone either, Onee-chan had to partner up with her a couple of times and she says she barely says a word, odd huh? Wasn't she really, er, outspoken before she was banned?" Aki ended with a questioning tone, obviously we weren't the only ones thinking the banishment had something to do with Ayanokouji's shift in behavior.
Does this also rule her out in making false accusations against Tamaki and Kyouya? I thought, or has she calmed down so when the accusations were made no one would suspect a mellow Ayanokouji of making more trouble?
"Who does she eat with at lunch? Does she talk to anyone in the halls or after school?" I blurted out the questions without really thinking them over, Aki, Chuuya, even Kyouya, gave me baffled looks.
"Are you her sister or something?" Chuuya asked not unkindly.
"Oh, no, um, just curious is all." I responded lamely, my thoughts too preoccupied now that my theory had possibly just been turned on its head.
"Sometimes we have to…deal with the aftermath of ex-customers. Ayanokouji, as you well know, had been banned for her uncouth mannerisms. If she isn't causing any problems we can eliminate her as a suspect." Claimed Kyouya, I gave him an incredulous look he shrugged at.
Who would guess you manage a host club Kyouya? Certainly not Aki and Chuuya, it won't be long now until you're known as some police detective prodigy. I let my eyes sink toward our lab table, my motivation to continue our work dropped to zero.
"Ooooh, you mean like jealousy or petty revenge? I heard she had a real infatuation with Suoh-san!" Chuuya added, then with a nervous smile added "our fellow second-year, not the superintendent."
"Yeah," her motives would make sense, but if she was scheming why wasn't she her usual obnoxious self?
Granted, her obnoxious self doused Haruhi in soapy water and threw her school supplies in the fountain.
But untrue accusations were overkill, but then again, she would know the horrible consequences that would surface if word ever got out…but that begged the question, why hadn't word gotten out?
"Can you answer the questions though? Who she eats lunch with and possibly who she hangs out with?" I asked once more, Aki looked up in thought.
"If you have to know I can ask my sister, I'll let you know tomorrow." I nodded appreciatively and afterwards the assignment passed slowly, eventually lab drew to an end and we had to turn in our papers.
Kyouya and I left together, lunch would be soon.
"I can't believe I'm saying this, but I have doubts now." I said, for a brief second our swaying hands grazed one another's and my heart jumped in my throat. Kyouya put the hand in his pocket while the other held his school bag, I felt some sense of disappointment and to some fractional degree some annoyance.
I knew I was mimicking, but I went to put my hand in a pocket too only to realize I was in my Ouran dress not my janitor jumpsuit, my hand slid right down the skirt and I kept it there hoping Kyouya didn't notice.
"We never knew for certain she was behind any of it, but she is still a possibility. We can only wait until Torimaru-san tells us what his sister knows, but I doubt he'll tell us anything new. The school security systems have already been probed, Ayanokouji truly doesn't seem to have a social life anymore."
"Kyouya I thought we discussed no hacking for the sake of preserving your and Tamaki's innocence," I scolded in a low hiss, Kyouya smirked.
"I never said I probed them, Tamaki told me his father had already began a quiet investigation. We gave him our list of banned students," claimed Kyouya, I raised an eyebrow at him.
"The Host Club has a list - wait, that's not morbidly ridiculous is it?"
"Of course not." He agreed smoothly.
"Exactly how long is it or should I be afraid to ask?"
"Only three students."
"Wow, what a list."
"It's a little surprising that so few students wanted us all for themselves," Kyouya's lips remained curled as I shot him an exasperated look. Yet I took the teasing banter for what it was, the situation must have been lightening up a little.
"You are so full of it," I huffed and for some reason Kyouya stopped abruptly and I only just realized he was no longer at my side a couple steps later.
"What's wrong Kyouya?" I asked, when I looked back and saw his face for a split second I saw shock, but it rapidly morphed into something serious and even more worrisome, his gaze was on me.
"I've actually had something I have been meaning to ask you," he said, the last few students mingling in the halls were occupied with their own conversations and were hurrying toward the cafeteria. Idly I wondered why Ouran had a cafeteria when most schools just prefered to let their students eat in the classrooms, but Kyouya's strangely serious expression brought me back to earth.
"Ok, what is it?" I looked at him carefully, he seemed to be bracing himself.
"I know this is sudden and you and I have…occupied schedules." Suddenly the dream I was having in class, which I could just barely remember, came to the front of my memory.
It was a fantasy that I didn't know I had, one of Kyouya's hands holding me and his nose nuzzling into my face, my hair and my neck. They had never touched me, but the sensation of Dream Kyouya's lips on my neck were so unexpected and felt so real that my face must have looked scarlet as the dream came up with vivid detail.
Kyouya's probably a medical expert since he's from a medical family and all, maybe he'll think of a thousand diseases my red face is a symptom for before thinking it's because of him…
"Can you come with me somewhere after school today?" Kyouya suddenly seemed, well, sheepish. His eyes, once serious now slipped away and his lips thinned. If I weren't so bewildered I would find this look on him as adorable as the one I saw on him at the beach.
The dream's visual contents became a little bolder and bright and my imagination took care of the rest, I needed to drown the wild fluttering in my stomach before I did something embarrassing.
"S-Sure, but what about - what for?" I choked out as convincingly as I could as a tumble of questions struggled to be heard first.
What are you Tsu? A lovesick fangirl?
Kyouya (dare I believe what I am seeing) seemed to have a mild pink flush painted across his cheeks.
Damn, he would've been a pretty girl, then I mentally smacked myself, of course he would be, I saw physical proof myself!
"I need your...assistance with a matter my father and brother asked of me to oversee, it's at our main hospital, I will send a note to the custodian staff - but I will meet you at the front gate right after school. Due to the matter we cannot attend host club today...I hope you do not mind." By this point my eyes were practically bulging out of their sockets at this rare and mind-boggling display of a repertoire of emotions I didn't think Kyouya possessed.
Much less be painted across his face like neon graffiti.
And he was showing them to me.
Why does he want me to go with him to the hospital I wonder? I thought moments later as Kyouya and I made our way to lunch. My eyes were too focused on the event to occur after school or maybe I was too flustered by how even Kyouya seemed affected (I didn't want to think much of it but he was loosening his tie a little (as if he was doing so for my sake bah)) by the verbal exchange, but I never noticed Akito around the corner watching us as we passed the adjacent hall.
Even if I had seen him I wouldn't have been able to read his blank expression anyhow.
Later in math I gave Tamaki a pat on the arm.
"I'm sure you'll find a way to survive without me Tamaki, besides, Haruhi will still be there." I said reassuringly, Tamaki frowned.
"We tried to convince her to let us sleep over at her commoner's-"
"Apartment, Tamaki," I briskly cut in, allowing some annoyance to slip out.
"-apartment and she said no, I thought that was what friends did?" With those adorable blue orbs I knew he was expecting an enlightening explanation from me as I walked with him out of class.
"Typically sleepovers are same sex Tamaki, surely you knew that much," okay, so I wanted to tease him a little, "imagine what Ranka-san would say if he saw you all at his home with Haruhi in a nightie."
Okay, so I wanted to tease him a lot.
"I can imagine the Devils doing such things, but not-"
"I hope you're not about to say you wouldn't, I heard a whole new side of you came out at the beach you guys stayed at without me." So Mount Fiji was about to erupt on Tamaki's shoulders judging how red his face had gone, but it was too much fun, it's not like I could tease Kyouya like that.
Not that I've tried.
I smirked a little at the memory of Kyouya with a pink flush on his pale cheeks, that was an image demanding to be put on paper, heck, maybe I can make a profit off of it by selling it on the Host Club website (I am sort of kind of in charge of the graphics for the time being). Just a little bit of payback is all I ask for, I'm not needy, not at all. Besides, Kyouya's always willing to do anything short of human trafficking to make a profit...
Ok, so I wanted to Ebay the heck out of blushing Kyouya, it would be a snap with a little digital editing…
Don't judge, people do opium.
"Why don't Haruhi and I come up with a list for what to do at sleepovers and you boys can give it a go?" I suggested, helpfully pulling Tamaki out of his funk. "We'll do it 'Commoner's Style.'"
After more consoling and a mental thought to plan myself a sleepover at a rich boy's house (for the sole reason of mattress surfing among other things) I made my way to the locker room in the custodian lounge. I'm not going to the hospital in my Ouran dress.
I wish he had given me more notice, like yesterday, I mentally groaned as I switched out of my dress and slipped into a pair of denim shorts, a worn Hello Kitty pink shirt and a pair of broken in brown sandals.
Since I had been getting back into the habit of wearing my contacts all the time I just fussed with my hair afterwards experiencing more fluttery butterflies as I fought with my hair to cooperate.
Forget it, I had tried putting it in a loose bun, a French braid and pigtails, but in the end I just untethered the braid and let my hair splay out on my shoulders in waves (courtesy of being trapped in a braid all day).
Mildly put out that all I had was a Hello Kitty shirt in my locker I left the lounge after stashing the dress as flat as I could in the large locker hoping it wouldn't wrinkle with my school shoes. It felt odd walking Ouran halls with my street shoes, but Ouran was all about making their students happy and this wasn't exactly a traditional Japanese school anyways, no one minded, not even the passing vice president.
"-what do you suppose will come of this? Suoh-san had received a complaint from a parent this time, his son can be a little...eccentric, but he's a kind young man."
My heart jumped in my throat and my eyes widened as they swiveled toward the back of the vice president, he was conversing quietly with an unknown man who sympathetically nodded toward his talking companion. Their conversation had grown too far away for me to eavesdrop further, but I don't recall the distance I closed between there and the front door.
Kyouya wasn't there.
My imagination went wild.
Was Kyouya involved too? There's no doubt they were talking about Tamaki, is this a follow-up? What's going? As I silently frenzied over various scenarios a sleek and shiny black limo pulled up and although Kyouya was no where to be seen the driver did step out and held his hand over his eyes to block out the sun.
"Are you Honiwa Tsuyu miss?" he called out politely, I blinked at him as his voice brought me back down to earth.
"I am," I replied, the man nodded.
"I am Ootori Kyouya-san's personal driver, he told me to come collect you as you would be waiting. He had to be taken earlier than expected, he sends his apologies." The driver explained as I approached the limo.
"Is everything all right?" I asked, still worried that Kyouya had been called home earlier to receive a briefing of the latest accusation against him. I had to wonder just how serious this was going to get.
"As far as I know miss, he simply needed to be earlier than they expected. Pardon me miss, but he asked for you to come quickly." The driver added the end hesitantly then rapidly once he decided to say it, I frowned. Wouldn't Kyouya expect a swift departure? The driver made it sound as if he wanted to hurry me there like something actually bothered Kyouya.
"All right then, let's go." I went to open the door before the driver could get there, there was a spark of irritation, but I scolded myself, he was only doing his job and being polite, not indicating I needed help opening a door by myself.
"I'm so sorry miss, I should've-"
"No worries, I won't tell." That was his biggest concern, I could only imagine how strict Ootori Senior was on his employees.
This chapter would have been a little longer, but at the last minute I decided to cut something out and include in the next chapter.
WARNING: I am about to leave canon altogether soon, so if you intend to read further on my own carefree creativity of Hatori-sensei's work, by all means read on, if you rather keep to canon look elsewhere. This story is about to get darker and more (fun) intricate, my own style of humor will remain (and hopefully progress ha), but the silly body-faults and sweat-drops and cue-cute-anime-things are coming to an end. Our favorite characters will still laugh and smile, but there will be some twists and turns completely unrelated to the anime and manga (as far as I know, I'm still only on volume 2 of the series) and some "lovely" family politics, substantial romance/flirting and what not.
Hopefully I do not scare you away and I hope you enjoyed the latest chapter. :)