A/N: So, first off: Hello, all you Ouran fans out there! This is my first official foray into your wonderful fandom. I usually play over in the Teen Titans sandbox (although I have been known to have occasional playdates with Ugly Betty, Dead Like Me, The Wallflower and X-Men, but I always seem to return to Teen Titans.) So, to borrow from the Japanese custom I learned of from reading manga, and watching anime and live action J-Drama: ::bows:: I am Emania Hilel. You all can call me Em. Nice to meet you. Please treat me kindly. (To all of you lured here by the ever-powerful author alert, thank you for following me here!)
Secondly: this is total AU in that it follows NONE of the established canon from either the manga or the anime. I don't mention here anything of what happens in either manga nor anime and something happens here that is never mentioned in either of the canon sources. That said, this would probably NEVER BE canon, since if you squint just right, you'll see insinuations of Kyoya/Haruhi in it.
Thirdly: I should mention that this was inspired almost solely by the song Now Comes the Night by Rob Thomas. It is very emotive and awesome, and if you would like to listen to it while reading this, it will only heighten your experience, I assure you.
In addition, I need to mention that Absentia (fanfiction dot net user id: 386797) (aka, my brainclone) was a great big help in working through the scenario here. So, I owe major props to her for that.
Of course, since like I said, this is my first official Ouran fic, I would of course appreciate any edits or insights you veterans out there might be kind enough to offer.
Um...anything else? I can't seem to think of anything.
How are all of you?
Disclaimer: The intellectual literary rights of the characters contained herein and the world in which they live do not belong to me. I use them for fun and entertainment purposes only, and make no profit from the posting or sharing of this work.
"And when the day has all but ended / and our echo starts to fade / no you will not stand alone / and we will not be afraid / no, you will not be afraid..."
- Now Comes The Night, Rob Thomas
"Kyouya-Sempai," she made his name half question and half welcome and he knew her enough by now to understand what was left unsaid.
"Ranka-san asked me to come tonight," he paused as she stepped aside and he walked into her small apartment. His eyes caught the neon of the digital clock. "I am a bit early," he admitted. "I miscalculated traffic."
Haruhi half-smiled at him. "You miscalculated?" she teased, taking his coat and hanging it carefully in the closet.
"Traffic is notoriously difficult to calculate any closer than within three-tenths of an hour," he answered seriously, as if he hadn't picked up on her tone. He met her eyes and read her look of disbelief. "I could come back."
She disregarded that last sentence as if it hadn't been uttered. "I'll put on the tea," she spoke as she walked to the kitchen area. "Father should be leaving work in another twenty minutes or so – he's not closing today, just his shift."
Kyouya followed her into the kitchen, glancing at the books open on the table where she had obviously been studying. He recognized the work, of course, after merely glancing at a few lines. He picked it up and thumbed through the pages, eyes catching on the neat print and highlights Haruhi had added.
"Western Politics," Haruhi offered as she turned to find him with her book in his hand.
"They teach Machiavelli's The Prince in Class 2A Western Politics?" he asked, surprised.
"It's not on the required reading list, no," Haruhi admitted. "It was mentioned in a treatise we were made to read, and I was curious."
Kyouya smirked as she went back to finding the tea things. "And what do you think?"
Haruhi paused as she thought. "It reminds me of you, actually."
Kyouya blinked, the smirk falling from his lips. "Is that so?" he asked.
Heedless of his tone, Haruhi continued. "He's obviously brilliant, but he isn't satisfied with that."
Kyouya paused, wondering what to respond to something like that. He always knew Haruhi was bluntly honest, and he knew she called him the Shadow King of the Host Club, but it had never occurred to him to wonder how she might see him.
She continued as she scavenged for cups in her cupboards. "I don't think he's realized that it's the nature of the world that there will always be someone smarter, faster, more paranoid than you somewhere out there and you can't protect against all of it all the time."
"And that reminds you of me?" Kyouya asked.
Haruhi turned, victorious with two mismatched cups in her hands. "The power-hungry bit does, the kind of brilliance that can play many different games at the same time and beat them all while making it look effortless," she answered, guileless. "I don't think you're at the level of paranoia he seems to be when he wrote this book."
When it seemed he wasn't going to ask her anything further, she turned back to the kettle as it began to whistle on the stove.
She was just handing him the purple cup with the dinosaurs on it when the phone rang.
There was a mumbled apology and an 'excuse me' as she went for the old phone hanging on the wall just inside the kitchen, and he thought he caught the slight shift of worry behind her eyes, but then she turned away and toward the kitchen for some unconscious semblance of privacy as she answered with the typical greeting.
It took not fifteen seconds before he could read that something was wrong in the utterly frozen countenance of Haruhi's face.
His hands were suddenly and unaccountably unsteady as he placed the cup on the table and stood, unabashed in his approach to better hear.
He didn't bother asking her stupid questions while her attention was so very obviously overtaken by the conversation on the phone, only neared enough to hear for himself, wishing he knew of another extension in the tiny apartment and wondering if he should try to find out when the voice on the other side of the line came through into the stillness of the kitchen loud and clear.
Some hysterical okama was screaming that Haruhi needed to rush rush to the hospital, that Ranka-san was in dire surgery, babbling the name and address the paramedics had given him before rushing off, and hanging up in despair before Haruhi could utter a single word.
Haruhi didn't even glance at him as she placed the phone back on the cradle, her movements stiff and careful and for a moment, he wondered if she would crack open like a shell or one of those statues made of ice, like the one of the swan he had stuck a fork in when he was five to see what would happen.
He repeated it three times before with a visible shake, Haruhi snapped to attention and began moving. She reached for the phone again, then stopped, looking at him, but not like she was really registering he was still there. "I don't know the name of the taxi service," she tells him, her voice blank and almost calm if not for the slight tremor he caught in the undertone.
"I need to get to the hospital, Kyouya-sempai," she told him. "I apologize, we'll have to—"
He cut her off by grabbing her wrist in his firm grip, placing the phone back on its cradle and leading her out of the house. "I will drive you," he told her in that voice she knew she could not argue with.
She nodded instead and let him lead her outside, down the stairs and into the black town car waiting for him on the curb.
Suddenly waking from her daze again once the car started to move, Haruhi snapped her attention to him. "He's at Ho—" she started, but again, Kyouya cut her off.
"I know it," he told her. "It's an Ohtori hospital," he explained.
"Ah," she said, turning dazedly toward the window. "Then he's in good hands."
"I'll make sure of it," Kyouya said as he flipped his cell phone open, but he didn't think she heard.
Through her daze, Haruhi heard words she recognized come from Kyouya, knew she was being taken by him to her father, but didn't know what to expect. The last time she had been in a hospital in a similar situation was too many years ago and she'd been holding her father's hand then – hadn't needed to worry about any details then, she'd had him to hold on to, to let take care of the details such as getting them there, worrying about what would happen once they were there.
She felt so cold suddenly and thought about asking Kyouya to turn off the air conditioning unit inside the car, wondered if she shouldn't have grabbed a jacket, the hospital might be cold—
Kyouya's voice, her father's name and she felt her heart constrict.
"Status?" Kyouya said in that voice Haruhi heard rarely, so businesslike and cold. "I am bringing the daughter," he informed whoever was on the other end of the line. "Yes," he answered briskly. "Well, call him." Another pause. "I'm counting on you," he said in that way that made the words sound ominous and pregnant with meaning should the listener fail to live up to Ohtori Kyouya's expectations. Haruhi felt comforted.
If Kyouya-sempai was counting on whoever it was, her father was certainly in good hands.
Haruhi heard the snap of the cell phone and glanced at him, but she didn't need to ask him what he'd learned, the look of frustration on his face was clear enough.
"He is still in surgery," he offered, without bothering her with the details since she obviously didn't want to know them.
Haruhi nodded, once, and was distracted by the warmth she felt on her wrist, noting for the first time, that Kyouya's long fingers were still firmly around it.
She noticed it with a detached air, and as she didn't mind it, looked back through the tinted window at the speed with which they were passing familiar scenery.
By the time she found herself sitting in the drab blue and gray surgery lounge, the smell of slightly burnt coffee coloring the stink of disinfectant in the stale air, she had moved past numb.
The stern, persistent sound of Kyouya's voice volleying against that of the head nurse buzzed around her, only making her more anxious, more desperate to see him.
She didn't care what the nurse said or what news she had to offer. She was remembering the other time she was in a hospital unexpectedly, remembered the nurse telling her everything would be alright, and how nothing ever was again and knew she couldn't trust what the nurse had to say, no matter how Kyouya harassed her.
She needed to see him.
And still, despite her lack of interest in listening to the nurse's information, they gave Ohtori Kyouya more information than they would ever give her and she couldn't help but catch snatches of information anyway.
"…collapsed…pain…abdominal area…heavy drinker…liver…suspected cirrhosis…corrective…"
She needed to see him. She had to see her father.
She hadn't seen her mother, had lost her before she could even say goodbye, had fallen asleep on the couch, so like the one she was on then, and when she'd woken, it had all been over.
She needed to see him. She couldn't (she should have taken better care of him) lose him.
Not him too.
Kyouya said nothing as he approached, he could read it on her face that she'd heard enough.
She wouldn't realize it until later, but Kyouya was the first person to see her cry.
Not cry out of fear, Tamaki had been the first of them to witness that. Not cry from laughter. Mori held that honor.
But when she felt the pain of her heart swell, when the despair and sorrow finally wore down her walls and spilled onto her cheeks, it was Kyouya who was there. Kyouya who approached, as awkwardly as Kyouya ever did anything, and sat beside her. Asking no questions, offering no pity…simply sitting. And even then, even as her heart gave up, it might have been nothing more than the silent tears that fell from her eyes as she stared straight ahead, if he hadn't let the outside of his right hand graze her left where it lay numb and immobile next to her lap on the couch.
And when the sobs wracked her tiny frame, and her back bent under the weight of the sorrow, her hands reached up to cover her face, her throat half choking on the sobs she still tried to hold back, and her forehead touched her knees, Kyouya's arms were suddenly around her, his often overlooked strength easily sliding her across the couch closer to him, gathering her as tightly against him as he could.
And although his touch didn't make anything alright, didn't take away any of the pain and his presence didn't make whatever her father was going through less real or less raw, the fact that Kyouya was holding her, the fact that his arms seemed to be trying to enclose her completely, the fact that he tried, made her feel less alone in the world.
And during an inconsolable moment, when nothing save her father laughing and joking back in their living room could make things okay again, Kyouya's calm acceptance and stoic being eased a fraction of her hurt and although she was still afraid, his hands at her back and his heart beating against her ear let her know that being afraid was alright.
For his part, Kyoya knew nothing of comfort, not really. He knew none of the empty little lies people told in moments like these. Words such as 'it'll be alright' or 'you'll get past this' never even occurred to him. He didn't know how to touch her, how to soothe her back, caress her hair, in gentle, calming motions. When she shook with emotion and the power of her tears, he knew only to reach for arms, head, legs, anything he could to bring her closer to keep her warm, and the more she shook, it was purely instinct that had him hold her tighter, ever tighter, in an attempt to stop it.
It was a fleeting thought, caught between the logistics of how much of her body he could hold and whether or not there was any conceivable way he could get his cell phone out of his pocket should it ring without moving his hands, and he gave it no real precedence when he did think it, discarding it as illogical and useless, and of no help at all.
There was no physical way he could take over her pain and hoping for one wouldn't solve a thing.
"I have to see him."
They were the first words she had spoken since they were in the car, and Kyouya heard them as if she had yelled them, even though she had only whispered them.
Kyouya didn't acknowledge he heard her, he knew she was speaking more to herself than to him in the first place. He didn't need to acknowledge her, he merely stood up from the couch and walked calmly and pointedly back to the nurse's station in the center of the waiting area, ignoring the look of near fear on the young nurse's face as she saw him approach.
He didn't care what the nurse thought of him; he didn't care that the Head Nurse had just walked away from the area when he had told her there was nothing more they could do for them; he didn't care they might have to call the Hospital's Risk Manager; he didn't particularly care if they ended up having to get the Hospital's Chief of Staff in his hotel room in Pago Pago. He had a purpose, and he would accomplish it.
It was hard to breathe through the mask, she'd had some trouble pulling her short hair into the paper cap they'd given her, and there was something rather itchy about the strange material of the baby blue cover up over her body, but Haruhi didn't register any of this. She was altogether too transfixed by the sight of her father, tubes coming out of his nose and attached to the backs of his hands, wires coming from his chest, the beeping of his heart exposed for the entire room to hear.
Her latex covered hand tightened around the much bigger latex covered hand in hers and some part of her mind (the part that was still logical and thinking rather than merely able to act and react) knew that this was strange - not only having this hand in hers, but the strength she found in the way he squeezed her hand in return.
She could feel the warmth from his skin, even through the latex.
"Dad," she breathed, and she suddenly noticed the green gowned men and women with masks and headgear standing around her father's prone form.
They didn't even seem to acknowledge their presence, but she knew she couldn't get closer to her father because of them and it was thanks to the logical part still awake somewhere inside her (and Kyoya's hand still gripping hers, his firm presence, steady, along her right side) that she didn't try to get closer anyway.
These people are trying to save his life.
She looked up at Kyoya, intending to ask him what they were doing, needing to know suddenly, only to still as she found his eyes above the mask and beneath the cap covering his hair, right on her.
"They're good, aren't they?" she asked, after a moment.
Kyoya looked at the team of physicians and technicians surrounding her father and then turned back to look at her. "The best," he answered, his voice muffled behind the mask and the sounds of the room.
She turned back to the operating table, her father and the team working on him and bowed. "Please take care of him," she whispered, way too low for it to have actually been meant to be heard by them. She straightened and her eyes focused on her father. "I love you, dad," she said, just as low.
Kyoya heard, however, and all he could think to do was to tighten his hold on her hand.
The details trickled through her consciousness and left her reeling.
One doctor, still in scrubs, had come to find her in the waiting room. He told her that the operation had been successful, and her knees had given out. It was only thanks to Kyoya's still firm grip on her hand and the addition of his arm around her waist that she didn't crumple onto the stark linoleum floor. He guided her to a chair, and try as she might, she couldn't focus on anything else that the doctor had said after that.
She didn't know how long after that it was, but eventually, sound and feeling, and life came back into her consciousness - with a kind of pop - like when a vacuum seal is broken - and she heard herself take in a shaky breath. She looked at Kyoya, still at her side, and smiled.
"He's going to be ok."
Kyoya nodded. "The doctors agree," he said. And then, in a soft but certain voice, he proceeded to tell her what the doctors had said about the care he'd have to take of himself, how long he was expected to be in recovery and when he was expected to be able to return home.
"You can go home for a few hours if you want," Kyoya said. "I'll take you."
Haruhi shook her head. "No, it's ok, I'll stay here," she said. Then, reluctantly, because although she didn't really want to, he had done more than he should've, she continued speaking. "You should go on home, though," she told him, looking at the LCD tv broadcasting some news channel sotto voce, the closed captioning running below the image. She glanced at him. "Thank you," she told him sincerely. "If you hadn't been here, I..." she trailed off and shook her head. She smiled at him again, and realizing her hand was still holding his, released her grip and started to slide her hand away from his.
To her surprise, rather than letting her go, his fingers wrapped around her hand, holding it from moving. "I'd rather stay and see it through, if it's all the same to you," he admitted.
She felt something she hadn't realized was still coiled and tight inside her ease at the realization that he wouldn't be leaving her. Somewhere inside her, a voice reminded her that she had been useless enough for a lifetime that day - that she should've been strong enough to take care of things on her own - hadn't she been doing things for herself and her father for as long as she could remember? - she should be ashamed of herself for relying so completely, so thoroughly, on someone else - Ohtori Kyoya, for Kami's sake - she should make him leave.
She should prove to him and everyone else that she had had a moment's weakness, but she was not weak.
Instead, her fingers curled around the warmth of his hand, and before she knew it, she was leaning against his firm, surprisingly comfortable shoulder.
Eyes closed, she exhaled when he didn't stiffen or pull away, and she hadn't even realized that she'd mostly expected him to.
"What did you do to keep the others from coming?" she found herself asking, after several heartbeats.
"I told them they'd only upset you," Kyoya answered, his tone unreadable.
She knew the other Host Club members too well, however, to think it was possible for them to have stayed away even despite Kyoya's admonition. Show up and hide somewhere where they'd think they wouldn't be in the way, somewhere where they wouldn't be seen by her while trying to do good for her, yes. Stay away simply because they were asked? No.
"And?" she prompted.
She felt Kyoya shift and her eyelids fluttered open, her gaze rising to meet his as he looked down at her. She was surprised by how peaceful his almost smile made her feel.
"And, I promised them they could throw a get well party once your father is discharged," he said.
And maybe it was because she knew her father was over the worst of it, maybe because she knew she hadn't really been as close to losing him as she had feared in the darkest parts of her heart, maybe she was grateful, maybe was just happy - the way people who had just avoided disaster or survived a car crash felt happy - but suddenly, she was smiling.
She nodded. "He'd like that," she allowed, and turned to look at the television again.
They were silent for a few more moments, before Haruhi spoke again.
"Kyoya," she said, not realizing she had left off the honorific until it was too late to tack it on.
It took him a moment to answer. "Yes, Haruhi?"
"Thank you," she said, letting her eyelids flutter closed again.
Kyoya didn't answer, but his hand around hers tightened.
A/N: So...what'd you guys think? Worth the trouble of reading it, or what? Drop me a line and let me know.