Author notes: This bit is a little newer than the others, but still written over a year ago…
Disclaimer: I am not the owner or creator of the characters herein. This is a fun, not for profit endeavor.
Haruhi was sticky and uncomfortable and she sighed in irritation as she pushed back a lock of hair that was plastered to her forehead.
If only her father hadn't decided to take the entire month to go be a part of some sort of traveling drag show - leaving her at home to sort out her belongings before she left for university. The heat was making her irritable, and having to deal with her father's perpetual mess and pack-rat tendencies wasn't helping matters.
She sat back on heels and rolled her shoulders, trying to loosen a knot that had formed between her shoulder blades, and frowned at the feeling of a bead of sweat sliding down the back of her neck and along her spine.
Who knew that the two of them would be able to accumulate so much crap in such a tiny apartment? Well, to be fair to herself, most of it was her father's. She'd spent an hour just that morning on the floor of their cramped little bathroom opening tube after tube of mascara, lip gloss, and eye liner in order to toss out the dried up stuff. All of the beauty products and cosmetics Haruhi owned fit into a single small traveling case. Of course, her father spent his life pretending to be a girl, and Haruhi had spent the last three years pretending to be a boy. So it was probably appropriate.
She was now elbow-deep in the shared closet in the living room, sorting through boxes and boxes of shoes and dresses and trying to decide what she could get rid of without Ranka noticing. She wouldn't normally feel compelled to bother sorting through his things, but when she moved out he was planning to move into a smaller apartment closer to work. And while he might think that he could fit all of his clothing and accessories into a single-room efficiency, Haruhi knew better. She'd already taken one huge trash bag of his clothing to the charity shop two blocks over and another smaller bag of the more outrageous stuff to a local school's theater department.
When a measured knock came at the door Haruhi had half a mind to ignore it, but the low grade worry that always plagued her when her father was out of town made her shift to her feet and grouchily stalk towards the door. If it was a salesperson they were going to get an earful.
When she swung the door open with a curt dismissal ready on her lips she was brought up short by the broad chest that completely filled her field of vision. Haruhi blinked – and looked up.
There was only one person she had ever met who had quite such an impressive stature.
It was still a little strange to her. For such a silent, taciturn guy that the only times he ever addressed her he did so in such an informal manner. His standard placid expression shifted into a slight smile and before she knew it one of his thumbs was sweeping across her cheek. She started.
The smile faded back into reserve and he explained in his low rumble, "You had dirt,"
"Oh, I don't doubt it, I've been cleaning." Using a forearm she swiped at her face. She paused, honestly at a bit of a loss. What would cause Mori to show up on her doorstep after not seeing or hearing from him for a year? "Would you like to come in? We don't have air conditioning," she warned.
He smiled slightly again and ducked his head as he came in the door.
Haruhi stared at his broad back, her mind searching for potential reasons for him to show up unexpected at her door as he turned to slip off his shoes. No obvious answers were forthcoming, and he remained his usual reserved self as she poured them each a cold glass of barley tea and joined him at the low table.
Shrugging to herself she figured he must have been in the area, or feeling nostalgic and settled on standard polite conversation, "How have you been? I haven't seen you since Tamaki and Kyoya-senpai's graduation last year."
To her surprise a soft blush colored his cheeks and his eyes flicked away from her face.
"Good." A pause, "You?"
"Oh, pretty good. Getting ready to go off to university." She gestured around the little apartment.
He cleared his throat, looking uncomfortable. He probably hated small talk as much as she did. "You and Hikaru aren't dating anymore?"
"Mitzikuni said something like that." His face returned to its usual neutrality and he took a sip of his tea.
"Oh, well he's going to design school in London. So there isn't really any point to keep dating."
His eyes flicked to her face and then back to his tea, "Are you okay?"
"Okay? About what?" the timer beeped in the kitchen, "hold on, let me get that, I'm making soup, do you want some?"
He stared at his glass, both hands laid palm down on either side of it, "Are you okay, not being with Hikaru anymore?"
Haruhi knew her surprise must show on her face. She hadn't seen Mori since Kyoya and Tamaki's graduation and before that since his and Honey's. Since this was only their second meeting in two years she didn't know quite what to make of the strange tension that seemed to exist between them. She'd always felt that she knew Mori the least well of any of the host club members. Unsurprising, really, he wasn't the type to offer up information and she wasn't the type to push for it.
"Oh." At least now she understood what he was asking. But only because her father, frustrated by her utter lack of reaction to the dissolution of her first real 'relationship', had informed her that most girls would be very upset in her situation.
"Oh, I see. I get it dad. But Hikaru and I are just friends, so there's no reason for me to be upset. He's just going to be too far away for us to date."(Ranka had refrained from telling his daughter that she might see Hikaru as nothing more than a good friend, but the young man saw Haruhi quite differently. Her father was constantly torn between amusement and concern that Haruhi, blissfully clueless and unaware, had so many young men fall in love with her)
"I wasn't in love with Hikaru, we were just friends." She explained, "I'm sad that one of my good friends is going to be so far away, but that's all."
And just like that the weird tension seemed to dissipate and Mori gave her a small but genuine smile. Had he been that worried about her emotions regarding the 'break up'?
Haruhi pondered that. She supposed it made sense, Hikaru was his friend too and if there was an ugly break up between two of his friends it could make things awkward.
Haruhi dished up the soup and the pair ate in relative silence.
Mori was the first to finish eating, "You're packing and cleaning at the same time? The whole apartment?"
"Yes, well, my dad is moving into a smaller place when I move out, so I figure it makes sense to do it all at once. But it does mean that it's kind of a big job."
He glanced around at the half-packed boxes and dirty cleaning rags, "I could help for awhile."
She gave him an assessing stare, "Are you really offering?"
"I'm not going to turn you down out of politeness," she grinned, "I could actually use some help getting some boxes down from the top of the closet. Since dads out of town I can't reach them."
Mori frowned as he gathered the bowls and cups from the table, shooing her hands away as she moved to help, "Your father's gone?"
"Oh, yeah, did I not mention that? One of his old friends put together this variety act that got some notoriety and they were invited to do a short tour. He'll be gone until the beginning of August."
"Hmmnn." His tone was noncommittal and offered no opinions on the matter. He simply slid the closet door open and started handing boxes down to Haruhi.
She was surprised to find him on her doorstep the next day. And the day after.
When he appeared on the third day she felt secure enough in assuming a trend to question him about it.
"I'm making sure you're alright. With your dad gone."
"Oh. Well you could just call for that. You don't have to come all the way over here every day."
His eyes flicked to her face, and that odd tension was back, "Would you prefer that?"
"No." She was surprised by her own answer, "No, the company is nice. I just don't want you going out of your way. But it's nice to see you."
There was an unfamiliar softness in his eyes that she didn't recognize and couldn't read, "Then I'll see you tomorrow."
Ranka had not been expecting to come home a day early to find Haruhi debating some point about the evolution of Heian Era literature with the tall quiet young man he remembered from her first year in the Host Club.
When the pair noticed him in the doorway, the boy rose gracefully to his feet and offered Ranka a proper, respectful bow.
He was regarding Ranka with the same look that the Hikaru boy had always tried so hard to cover with bravado and that idiot Tamaki had subconsciously tried to hide with false protestations of 'fatherly' affection.
Haruhi was surprised when Mori had stayed for dinner.
Ranka was not.
He mostly felt sorry for the boy. His daughter was utterly unaware when men showed interest in her, and from her apparent lack of response to Mori's subtle (very subtle) flirting Ranka suspected this was going to turn into another instance of his cute little Haruhi breaking someone's heart.
He hadn't minded so much with Tamaki or Hikaru. But he sort of liked this Mori character. At least he was thoughtful and respectful – his daughter could do a lot worse.
"So Haruhi, how long has Morinozuka-san been visiting? You two seemed pretty cozy, and I thought that you hadn't seen him since last year's graduation."
"Oh, he just dropped by one day because he heard that Hikaru and I were no longer dating." She paused in washing the dishes, looking thoughtful, "I think he must have been concerned that it would strain our friendship but I told him that everything was okay. He kept coming to make sure I was okay on my own since you were out of town."
"Really? That's all?"
"Yeah, he takes care of people. He's like that."
Ranka stared at his daughter before shaking his head.
"Really, he's not like the other Host Club members. He actually thinks about other people besides himself."
"Oh, I believe you, I think he thinks of you a lot, and thinks a lot of you. But he probably kept coming over because he wants to be your boyfriend, and not because he thought you needed looking in on."
With growing amusement and amazement he watched his daughter go bright red.
"Oh." She said quietly before turning back to the dishes. Her response sounded pleased and the pretty blush remained on her cheeks.
Oh indeed. Perhaps this wouldn't turn out exactly the same as the Hikaru debacle.
*I don't hate Tamaki. But c'mon, he IS an idiot. A lovable one, but still an idiot*