Warnings: Slash (Kyouya/Kaoru), mild angst, fluff, innuendo, and SNOGGING (that's tonsil hockey to most of you). Part 3 of 3. Aside from the first section, the others are rather short. Includes one segment from Kyouya's point of view.
Disclaimer: Ouran High School Host Club belongs to Hattori Bisuko and associates, of whom I am not one. Written for KaraDragonfire's birthday (Happy 17th!) at her request.
3: The Debt Collector
Kaoru fidgeted in the car, but only a little. He'd lost his bet weeks ago, and the trip to Nara felt like forever past, even though it really hadn't been that long. There was no Host Club meeting today, in preparation for graduation; Tamaki was planning a gala or something in honor of Hani and Mori leaving, and was refusing input from anyone but Haruhi. Even Kyouya's sensible suggestions were completely ignored.
This was how Kaoru found himself in the back of Kyouya's car, the upper classman informed his brother that Kaoru would be home after dinner. The younger twin assumed that he was going to complete his final favor, but he had no idea what it was. He begged silently to whatever deity might be listening that it wouldn't be more paperwork. He couldn't stand that thought. At least Kyouya had given him some warning on the previous two favors! But he remained clueless.
Kaoru sent a sidelong glance towards the Cool Type host, only to avert his gaze when he was caught immediately. How was Kyouya so hyperaware that he would instantly catch it? It was unnatural. Almost as if he was looking first, but that was impossible because Kyouya had his laptop out and was doing… something. It involved a lot of typing though, so Kaoru figured he had an essay to write or he was filling out spending reports for the club or some such thing that would bore Kaoru to tears to do. Which was why he didn't bother asking.
Although making assumptions about Kyouya was rarely a safe thing, it was pretty easy to tell he was a workaholic.
"So, er… what am I supposed to do today?" Kaoru asked when the silence became too much. Maybe it was only an awkward silence to him – it wasn't awkward unless one felt the need to say anything and Kyouya certainly wouldn't – but it was too quiet to Kaoru, who was accustomed to wreaking havoc with his brother.
"Just go along with it," was all Kyouya said.
It was so… nonspecific. Like the terms of the bet that had gotten Kaoru into this mess to begin with. He shuddered; what could Kyouya have in mind? They were going to the Ootori mansion, so it couldn't be too bad… Not cleaning, since there was a full staff of maids and Team Kyouya to deal with the youngest Ootori. No one was suicidal enough to ask Kaoru to cook, either.
There was simply no way to narrow down what Kyouya wanted from Kaoru, which, oddly enough, wasn't all that bad. … Kaoru must be going mad.
Eventually, the car rolled through the gates of Ootori and pulled in front of the steps to the house before driving away to what looked like a ten car garage. Not surprising. Kaoru followed Kyouya into the house; he'd been there before on missions to "kidnap" Kyouya early in the morning for commoner fun. The most memorable remained the trip to the department store where they lost Kyouya for several hours because Tamaki left him somewhere, though they often had to "kidnap" Kyouya for the adventures with Mei over the summer (1). Kaoru wasn't unfamiliar with the place, but it always struck him how strangely plain and obsessively clean the place was.
Haruhi, of course, would still call it grand, but that was Haruhi.
Every wall was painted either white or blue, nothing too fancy. The tables were simple, the decorations were plain… it was very utilitarian. The most fanciful room was Kyouya's living room, because it was full of whatever knick knacks – such as million yen paintings – and objects Tamaki bought for Kyouya. This was where Kyouya led Kaoru… and still didn't tell him to do anything.
Well, Kyouya told him to "relax for the moment" and handed him the remote to the television for retreating to his bedroom.
Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, even if that gift horse was from Kyouya (and had no mouth to look in because it was a remote), Kaoru lounged on the couch and watched a commoner anime about four boys who were, according to the show, of host-like attractiveness (though the redheaded one really should not have been a redhead, blond suited him better) as they tried to turn a girl into the "perfect lady" so they could have free rent in a mansion (2). It was mildly entertaining… and at least it was less puerile than shounen anime.
Eventually Kyouya returned, no longer wearing his uniform and looking freshly showered. He sat on the couch and seemed to only be paying a little bit of attention to the show. Eventually it switched programs, and Kaoru felt his half hour was well wasted.
And he still didn't know why he was here. He was getting a little paranoid.
More time passed, and so did more anime – one about a boy who worked at a shop that granted wishes, another about a group of dimension travelers, and one about humanoid computers (3) – without any indication from Kyouya as to what Kaoru was supposed to do while he was here.
It occurred to him, belatedly, that Kyouya might be trying to have him replace Tamaki, but then he dismissed the thought. Although Tamaki was dating Haruhi now, he still spent a lot of time with Kyouya. They were obviously still best friends in their weird way.
"Have you seen our garden before?" Kyouya asked as the latest show ended. Kaoru replied in the negative, since the only deviation on the path from the front door to Kyouya's rooms that they had ever taken on a kidnapping had been the first time, when Tamaki showed off the kotatsu he had influenced Kyouya's family into installing in the private public private living room (4).
Kaoru ended up following Kyouya out of the elder host's rooms, leaving his blazer on the couch, and they arrived in the gardens. They weren't as wonderful as the Hitachiin gardens of course – even discounting that the twins' grandmother was a famous floral arrangement diva (for all an old woman could be a diva), the twins were always arranging the growing flowers in beautiful arrays – nor were they as grand as the Suou gardens at the second mansion, but they were laid out in a formulaic manner. Very Ootori.
Due to the fact that it was not quite spring, the flowers were just starting to bud, and a few cherry trees had started to bloom, adding a splash of color in the middle of the rock garden or by a pond. The garden was traditional, but everything was laid out in a geometric precision that actually rather impressed Kaoru. The gardeners must be very skilled to keep everything so perfect.
"What do you think?" Kyouya inquired after they had taken a quick tour of the garden.
"I'm impressed," admitted Kaoru. "It explains why you prefer the traditional gardens at school for club events."
"I suppose it does. I'm surprised you noticed." He paused, and Kaoru thought he heard a crunch of gravel. Kyouya's voice seemed a little deeper, a little... smirkier than before, even if that wasn't an actual word. "I think it's time for that favor."
Kaoru blinked. That was kind of sudden. "Sure. What do you want me to –"
There was nothing Kaoru could do from there. Well, no, he could do something, but given the current position he couldn't do much. His back was pressed against something hard – he registered the press of bark on the back of his head and through his shirt, that he was backed up against a plum tree and Kyouya was pressed entirely against his front. More than that, Kaoru could feel Kyouya's lips on his, moving just a little, kissing him and Kaoru almost wished lips weren't so sensitive.
Kyouya had just stolen his first kiss and was molesting him against a tree.
Kaoru was pretty sure he wasn't the only Host who hadn't lost his first kiss (until now – and assuming one discounted the kiss on the cheek when he went on that date with Haruhi in November), because they had a very strange position. As Hosts, they could not be seen as "taken", or else they would lose popularity and that wouldn't be good for the club. Hani could have his friendship with Reiko because no girl honestly believed their precious Hani-senpai would date the only girl in the Black Magic Club. Tamaki and Haruhi could have their relationship because even if it did go public without Haruhi revealing her true gender, they would become more popular.
Tamaki had had relationships in France, and Hani had supposedly had a girlfriend as first year. But the twins had scorned anyone before Tamaki got them to join the club, so Kaoru never really kissed anyone.
The fact that he had so suddenly lost his "precious" (if one listened to girls) first kiss to the Shadow King – who had just poked him in the ribs and tricked him into opening his mouth, allowing an invasion of something that could only be the older male's tongue – was a bit crazy when he thought about it. The fact that it felt good was perhaps less strange. What did it matter who he kissed, when mouths were the same for men and women? They were wired the same, had the same sensory hotspots, and –
Kaoru shuddered when Kyouya licked the roof of his mouth. Kissing was weird but it felt good in a ticklish sort of way. And Kyouya tasted like shower water and toothpaste, which wasn't entirely unpleasant.
But back to the whole ambush-kiss and molestation thing. Kaoru had tried to push Kyouya away, really he had, but he wasn't terribly strong and Kyouya had angled them in a way that Kaoru really could not escape. Did he practice molesting people or something?! Then there was a crunch of gravel and Kyouya extricated himself from Kaoru entirely.
The twin was left leaning against a tree, a little dazed and more than a little red in the face. His mouth was still open and a string of saliva that had connected him to Kyouya snapped, landing on his shirt. Ootori Yoshio stood on the gravel path and was staring at them.
Kaoru's first thought, when he saw Kyouya's father, was not Oh God Kyouya's dad just saw us kissing or even Why the hell did Kyouya kiss me?! It was Kyouya planned this.
Before Kaoru could say anything to try and show that he was the victim in this scenario, Kyouya's father turned around and walked pointedly in the other direction. Kaoru took a moment to make sure his legs still worked and rounded on Kyouya, who looked far too smug.
"What the hell, Kyouya!" He snapped. This was so… he couldn't even think of what it was. Yes, he enjoyed the kiss. Yes, he was open on who to fantasize about. But that was….
"All according to plan," Kyouya stated with an easy smirk. "My apologies. My father has been considering arranging a marriage to a girl that I consider would not be an asset to my reputation and path in life. However, with that display, I believe he will stop trying to marry me off. Consider your debt repaid. Oh, and you're welcome to stay for dinner."
Kaoru gaped as Kyouya turned and started heading back to the house.
What. The. Hell.
It had been entirely too simple, at first. Kyouya made the bet knowing Kaoru would accept and he would lose. Even Hikaru had, at the time, known Haruhi was in love with Tamaki already; only Kaoru was able to be willfully blind enough to not see how she looked at him, how she had been acting around him since even so long ago as October. Even Tamaki had noticed something belatedly to give him the courage to ask her out formally.
Even Kyouya's favors had been carefully plotted out. The first was simply to put Kaoru in the same room as him for several hours – and get the twin to organize things, which was done surprisingly well – and for the simple brush of hands when helping Kaoru fulfill his end off the bargain. When Akito called, Kyouya took full advantage to set a precedent in the family for why they should believe the following scenarios.
The second was a "date" scenario, which was much more intricate. He called the Ryoukan and told them to play along when they arrived, talking about a "mix-up" in the arrangements. The okami was in a small amount of debt to the Ootori Group because of the chemotherapy her husband was currently undergoing, which Kyoya was happy to take care of for the favor. The weekend long date was a greater success than anticipated, as Kaoru was, under his own impetus, "sweet" by giving Kyouya his gloves. The fact that he took note of how cold Kyouya was after waking up was a bonus. Further week following Renge circulated Kyouya's photos, which he supplied for a good cost.
He had actually rather liked the gloves though, and ordered a pair of his own while at the Ryoukan. They arrived Monday morning before he went to school. The fact that his sister was visiting that week and asked why he was buying gloves at the end of winter helped secure him just that much more.
The third was actually the easiest to set up. All he had to do was get Kaoru to relax with a few hours of lazing about, then a quick tour of the garden that started precisely ten minutes before his father's routine stroll. Kyouya hardly had to work to time everything perfectly, that his father would hear the flirtation and turn the corner before they had separated.
Of course, it didn't hurt that Kyouya did like Kaoru. Just because he didn't always act it didn't mean Kyouya wasn't human. He knew an attractive man when he saw one, and Kaoru was a lot less devilish now that Haruhi had forced the twins into the real world. Kaoru was an interesting person. Not a bad match, whether in practical terms of simply for use in dissuading his father from arranging a marriage to Renge – his ex-fangirl had hardly been interested for a week, anyway, and that was long since past.
His eyes tracked Kaoru across the dance floor, even as he danced with his own partner. Tamaki's big plan for the leaving party for Hani and Mori was to do a ball like the one the past Spring, and Kyouya had nothing against it. It wasn't too expensive for the club's budget, and Kyouya rather thought Kaoru looked dashing in his suit.
The waltz ended, and Kyouya bowed politely to the girl before him. She giggled and scampered off as soon as he was standing straight again, and Kyouya's eyes immediately sought out the familiar red hair that was, surprisingly, making a beeline for him anyway.
Kyouya made a special signal to Tamaki that caused the blond's face to light up. In a flash he grabbed Haruhi and dragged her onto the dance floor; Mori and Hani followed suit, and Kyouya thought it lucky Hikaru was currently on a bathroom break. When Kaoru arrived before him, Kyouya bowed, offering his hand, and the MC called for the "Hosts only" dance. The plan had been a gimmick to get the fangirls riled up, but Kyouya had not anticipated being included since he thought Kaoru was still avoiding him.
The waiting hand was accepted, and Kyouya prepared to lead. He could not be led, but the twins switched often enough that Kaoru slipped into flawlessly. Which worked well enough, really.
"I just thought you should now," Kaoru informed him as soon as the music started up and no one had any chance of overhearing, "that your dad sent me something. It arrived this morning."
"He did?" That was... unanticipated, and it didn't fit in with the next step in the plan. Well, the next step could only proceed if Kaoru was actually interested, which was up in the air for the moment. His father shouldn't be considering bribing Kaoru to keep away until any potential relationship was strong enough for Kaoru to not even notice. "What was your response?"
"My... my response?" Kaoru blinked. It was a good indication of his experience dancing that he did not falter even slightly despite the surprise. "I hadn't even thought about – I mean, not that I'm exactly adverse – I'm only sixteen for god's sake, and I'm not exactly hard up to marry someone right now, even if it is you!"
Kyouya's eyebrows rose slightly. "He sent you a marriage proposal?"
"In representation of you, yeah," Kaoru looked away. "I mean, I'm flattered and all, but I knew he was going behind your back, and I figure it's something you of all people ought to be aware of and have a say in."
Amusement was an emotion Kyouya had come to know throughout his friendship with Tamaki and membership with the Host Club, so it came as no surprise when he found himself amused, dancing in the middle of the main ballroom of the Ouran campus, with a certain red-headed twin in his arms.
"'Something I should have a say in'?" Kyouya mimicked. Kaoru seemed to realize what he had said and his cheeks turned just a bit redder.
"I didn't mean it like that!" Kaoru endeavored to explain. "I just... I mean, you're an okay guy when you aren't being evil and the whole kissing thing was nice but like I said I'm sixteen and thinking about stuff like that at this age would make me like Tono, and he's crazy! Not that you wouldn't be a good prospect –"
He seemed to decide now was a good time to shut up. Or the quick kiss from Kyouya might have decided that for him.
Or may, just maybe, it was the fact that Hikaru had just walked into the ballroom again, shrieked like a girl, and fainted. Who knows?
When Yoshio's personal guard, the elder brother of Kyouya's favored guard, brought in the morning mail, Yoshio flipped through it with minute interest, paying more attention to his food. Requests for loans, applications to work at the Ootori Medical Research Center which he would forward to the Research Director later in the morning, an invitation from Yuuichi to visit his two year old grandson (5), a letter from the Hitachiin family, and –
Yoshio paused and set aside the personal letter before adding the small stack of university brochures sent to Kyouya in another stack. Other universities than the Ouran university department were interested in him, and he received requests to apply just as his elder brothers had, though there were requests from schools abroad that had never even considered the elder two.
After a moment, the Head of the Ootori Group turned his attention completely from his food and picked up the personal letter once more. The paper was good quality, a faint blue color. With only the smallest indication of his desire, Yoshio received a letter opener. In an instant, the actual mail was in his hands.
It was a formal letter of appropriate length and perfect formatting. The information, however, boiled down to one simple sentence.
Give me a year or two to think about it.
Yoshio smirked to himself and resumed his breakfast, already thinking of what sort of suit he would commission from the mother of the boy who sent the letter for an event he anticipated would be happening in two and a half years' time.
Really, Kyouya was too easy to predict sometimes.
Author's Note: Aaaand that's a wrap. This chapter was actually posted on this date (4-6-10) at the request of KounetsuDeb in honor of her birthday :D Saves me from having to think of anything for her, I suppose, or deciding on a date significant to KaraDragonfire.
Hope the Kyouya/Kaoru make-out was okay. I haven't actually written anything of the sort since HPatHC :\ Mostly been writing gen fic and pre-slash, not getting far enough to include anything too... y'know, and the like. Hm, I should fix that.
(1) During the second summer vacation (manga-verse), Misuzu-chi (the okama who owns the pension Haruhi worked at during the first summer vacation) brings his daughter to the Fujioka household because she refuses to stay with him over the vacation. She then meets the Hosts and goes gaga over them, going on commoner adventures with them expecting to do rich-people stuff. She is Haruhi's closest female friend and is the one who makes Haruhi realize she's in love with Tamaki.
(2) This is The Wallflower or Perfect Girl Evolution (Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge) by Toshokawa Tomoko.
(3) In order, xxxHolic, Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles, and Chobits, all by CLAMP. (I haven't seen the anime for these, but I know it exists)
(4) Just my way of making fun of rich people. The Ootori family all have their private ones in their rooms which only they and close friends enter. There are also public living rooms, for guests who are not close, private public, which are for associates with a closer connection, private public private, which is where the entire family might congregate (the piano Tamaki played would be in one of these) with actual friends or allies. There may be more, but these are just the ones I made up. (Canonically, Kyouya DOES have his own living room. Tachibana is the only one of Team Kyouya who are allowed in there, implying he doesn't let anyone in if he can help it.)
(5) Referring to Chapter 77, in which we meet Kyouya's older brother, Yuuichi and Akito. It is stated that Yuuichi "already has a family" which I take to mean a wife and perhaps one child so far.