Chapter Nine: The Host Club
"You're really not mad?" Kaoru's anxiousness was apparent as it disrupted the tense silence dominating the back seat of their limo.
Hikaru glanced over, in a would-be casual fashion, forcing a smile that wasn't convincing anyone. "It's really not a big deal. I'm really happy for you, really." 'Could I have said 'really' more in that sentence?'
Kaoru looked far from convinced but Hikaru wouldn't budge. They both were miserable but would either admit it? No. What did it matter to Hikaruif Kaoru got to design his own line and he did not? Hikaru tried to reason. Seriously, he could care less… Alright, he cared a little…
Kaoru was still watching him fretfully, his emotions written clearly on his features. He hated making his brother worry about him. If only he were better at comforting or with words, for that matter.
"Don't look at me like that," Hikaru snapped, letting his half veiled frustrations at his own inadequacies as both a brother and a designer sharpen his words and his mood. He pivoted to look out the tinted windows of their limo. "It's like mom said: I'm in trouble with the law and this is my punishment."
Kaoru snickered forcefully, "You sound like a character from an American western."
Hikaru swiveled his head towards his brother grinning as he caught the distraction from the topic at hand, "That's right, I'm Hikaru the Kid!" he said elatedly, recalling an old American western the pair of them had watched some years back.
Understanding the need for a change of topic Kaoru joined in, "Will you leave me behind when you go on your western trek to escape the law?" Kaoru simpered, jutting his lower lip.
"Never, brother!" Hikaru said sliding down the seat towards his brother. Tilting Kaoru's head back, he cupped his cheek.
Kaoru batted his long lashes at his brother as Hikaru pushed the auburn locks from his twin's face. "Nothing will ever divide us," he whispered in a sultry forbidden tone.
Kaoru's face wobbled and then Hikaru's followed suit. They both erupted in uproarious laughter clutching their sides and dabbing the tears it induced. When there laughter subsided they both let loose a contented sigh falling back into their seats simultaneously.
Momentary distraction abated, Kaoru looked over at Hikaru still not entirely convinced Hikaru forgave him for their mother's decision. "Reminds me of our Host Club Days," Kaoru said, nostalgically.
Hikaru exhaled, similarly minded to his brother, and rolled his head towards Kaoru, "Yeah, not the same without the girls kyah-ing though, is it?"
Kaoru shook his head in affirmative letting his eyes skim over to the windows.
"We haven't seen the others in months, either" he said, conservatively.
They let pensive quietude stretch out as the city blurred outside the tinted windows. Suddenly, a thought struck Kaoru. As he was whipping around to face Hikaru, a similar realization seemed to have dawned on his twin as well.
"…It would be hilarious if…"
Dangerous smirks decorated their lips. "Driver, change of plans…"
Thick, fragrant vapor rose from her cup, brushing her face as she inhaled deeply. Too many all nighters on a seemingly impossible case were beginning to wear thin on Haruhi. Taking a deep draught, Haruhi pulled back making a bitter face. This was one occasion where she would add some sweetener to her coffee. Wandering over to the counter, she set her mug down with a faint click. Titling the sugar container over nothing came out. Tossing it in a nearby refuse bin, she began scouring the cabinets for a replacement. She was standing on her tiptoes, on a chair, hands grazing the elusive sugar at the back of the top shelf when a trembling voice caught her off guard.
Haruhi whirled in place nearly toppling over as she lost purchase. Catching herself at the last minute on the edge of the cabinet, she straightened herself as the office receptionist, Ms. Koga, rushed over her round face taut with worry. After assuring the timid woman she was indeed alright, Haruhi straightened her rumpled clothes and faced her upright.
"Is there something I can help you with?"
"I'm sorry to bother you," she said her dark eyes flitting towards the door behind her as if she expected someone to erupt through it any moment and drag her away.
"You're not," Haruhi said kindly.
"There's two gentlemen here that asked to see you; I told them you weren't taking visitors but they wouldn't listen. They forced their way into your office. I am so sorry." Ms. Koga said this all in one breath and Haruhi blinked at her for a few minutes attempting to make heads and tales of it.
"Two men?" Haruhi parroted.
Ms. Koga nodded helplessly.
Haruhi exhaled deeply, pinching the bridge of her nose, "Of course it would be them."
Ms. Koga looked torn between concern and relief at not being told off. Haruhi noticed and smiled at the woman to reassure her. Glancing furtively at her steaming mug, Haruhi decided she would need something much stronger than dark coffee to deal with the pair of them this early in the morning with little to no sleep. While Ms. Koga ran towards her desk where a phone rattled off the hook, Haruhi headed towards her own office which was suspiciously quiet. She paused outside her office door taking one long breath before entering.
What she expected, she wasn't sure. But them sitting patiently and quietly in the supplied desk chairs was most definitely at the bottom of her list. Letting the door fall closed behind her with a click, the twins turned in unison towards her, smiling but neither was smirking. Her suspicions were piqued.
"Hey, Haruhi," Kaoru greeted jovially.
"Hey." Her eyes slid from one twin to the other. "Alright, what are you up to?"
A wordless message was passed between the pair of them, never a good sign. Haruhi stayed by the door, hands flexing behind her.
"Can't we just stop by and chat?" Hikaru asked too innocently, his head tilted to the side, reminiscence of a smirking ginger cat.
"It's never that simple with the two of you."
They both laughed.
"You caught us," Kaoru conceded.
"We actually wanted you to come to lunch with us." Hikaru added.
Haruhi glanced up at the clock; it was just now reaching nine.
"You do realize it is still morning, correct."
Both appeared nonplussed. "Call it brunch then," Kaoru said.
"Yeah, the meal between breakfast and lunch," Hikaru was biting his lip to fight a grin.
"I know what brunch is," Haruhi said, impatiently. "What I want to know is: what are your motives?"
In usual form, the pair rose from their chairs and each took a side of Haruhi. Backing up until her back met her office door, her eyes scanned from one to the other.
"Oh ye of little faith," Hikaru purred.
Haruhi's vision was filled suddenly by Kaoru's smiling face, "I promise we won't hurt you."
She knew it was futile from the beginning but somehow she always had to try. Haruhi sighed and slumped in defeat. "Not for too long, okay?"
They cheered and Haruhi felt her heart swell at the sound of it, if only a little. Somehow she'd gotten accustomed to their over exuberance and maybe just a small part of her liked making them happy. But it was a really small part.
It was beautiful, the perfect example of form and function. Smooth white icing, dotted with succulent strawberries and fringed with sea shell style frosting at the base and along the edges of its three tears.
His mouth watered. Suddenly, a fork was procured, it was him or the cake and he had no intention of letting this delectible beauty get away. Arm poised to strike, he went in for the kill only to be haulted by the shrill call of an interloper. Death was the charge for interrupting this sacred ceremony! Hunny glared at the blonde who was grinning at him idiotically and babbling nonsense as usual. Hunny thumbed his fork thoughtfully considering ways he could use it to end Tamaki's interruption, when Takashi's firm hand came down on his head, virtually reading his murderous thoughts toward their blonde-idiot friend. Hunny forced a cheery smile, overwhelming his momentary bloodlust and tried to listen to Tamaki's babble.
"Now, it isn't often that Hikaru and Kaoru bring a guest."—'More like never', Honey added scathingly, eyeing his as of yet uneaten cake—"And since it's been such a long time since we've had a guest I want everyone in top form, understood?"
Tamaki eyed them all in a would-be stern expression –that is if he didn't look positively giddy.
"Tamaki, why are you lecturing them, they're technically guests too." Came the Morse-code voice of Tamaki's wife, Ayame.
Tamaki whirled to face his pregnant wife who was leaning on the doorway leading into the dining room of the restaurant he managed and co-owned with the rest of the former host club members. Rushing forward, his eyes dancing with love, Tamaki ushered his wife into a chair.
While he was distracted, Hunny took the oppurtunity to scarf down his cake with gusto. Sighing contentedly, and feeling much more himself, he regarded the others scattered around the room. Takashi was sitting in the chair beside him, his constant silent companion, across the dining room, Tamaki was cooing over an uninterested Ayame. Who looked to be resisting the urge to roll her eyes as Tamaki forced upon her a glass of water and some ill gotten advice for a healthy pregnancy. Just past them, half hidden in the shadows, was Kyouya, notebook open taking notes in his usual Shadow King way. The original six were together again, well almost all of them. It had been a couple months since they'd all been together, that's why Honey had been surprised when Kaoru had called them that morning, stating there was someone Hikaru and he wanted them all to meet. It was unprecedented.
A few years after they'd all graduated, they'd pooled their money and bought a restaurant together. It was primarily run by Tamaki and by extension, Kyouya –mostly Kyouya if you wanted to get technical— In the beginning, it'd been a monthly meeting place somewhere to catch up enjoy one another's company but after a few years life got in the way. Tamaki got married, Kyouya's company took off, and Mori and he got caught up in family duty, the Hitachiins were working for their mom and busier than ever as far as he could tell. And meetings had become fewer and briefer. Especially with Hikaru's legal trouble, they just couldn't seem to make all their schedules align.
Then that call this morning… Honey had put off a meeting just to assuage his curiosity. It seemed everyone else had done the same; this certainly would be a reunion to remember that was for sure.
Honey left off his musings as Tamaki gave up on trying force Ayame relax and only looking slightly crest fallen, opened his mouth to speak when a great thunderish crash echoed across the empty dining hall interupting him. Everyone looked towards the entrance where a dishevelled looking brunette stared wide eyed at a shattered vase.
She looked up from the vase to the group lounging about.
"Uh," she said eloquently. Kyouya snapped his notebook shut and her eyes darted towards him. When they fell upon him they grew large with fear. "You!"
"Haru!" Twin voices echoed from behind her. Entering the scene, they each took a side of her and she glanced bewildered between them.
"What did you do now?" Kaoru said, playfully.
Hikaru leaned over picking up a vase fragment, "You're so clumsy, Haru."
Haruhi glared at Hikaru, "You're the one that tripped me!"
Hikaru, shrugging, feigned innocence, while his twin wrapped his arm around Hikaru's shoulder.
"Are you sure it was him?" Kaoru prodded.
Haruhi was obviously forming a retort when Kyoya smoothly stepped in.
"What I would like to know is who plans on paying for this vase."
Something passed silently between Haruhi and Kyoya and Honey got the distinct impression this wasn't the first time they'd met.
"Don't worry about it, Haruhi," Kaoru and Hikaru said stepping in front of her blocking her from Kyoya's sight. "It was or fault; we'll pay for it."
Kyoya leveled them with his sharp eyes, he pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose and they glinted beneath the flourescent lights. "I'll add it to your bill," he said coolly.
The tension fizzled and the twins laughed. Haruhi was formally introduced to The Host Club after that. Surprisingly enough, she fell into place amongst their chaos as if she was meant to be there. The twin's fondness for her was obvious just from the relentless amount of teasing and attention they showered her with. She seemed to take it all with a cool indifferince and yet she had a natural charm that was hard to deny.
It was a few hours and several cups of tea and cakes a plenty later that Honey excused himself to the little boys room. Upon exiting the bathroom, he collided with the young woman that had captured their interest all afternoon. –Hikaru had instigated a one side food fight with Haruhi which had result in Haruhi covered in cake and she was on her way to wash up—
"Oh sorry," Haruhi said as she regained her balance.
"Don't worry about it," Honey said, sweetly.
They stared at one another in awkward silence, "Well… I'm going to go…"
Haruhi made to pass him by when Honey's hand darted out dragging her down to his level. "Be careful with them." He nodded towards Hikaru and Kaoru who were laughing freer than he'd seen them do in ages, if ever. Haruhi blinked at him owlishly as if at a loss for a response. Hunny smiled. "They've never let anyone into their hearts before; make sure you're careful with what they've shared with you." Hunny released her smiling before jogging off - vaulting in the air and jumping onto Takashi's back. Haruhi stared after him at a complete loss for words.
It's difficult to genuinely shock a Hitachiin, but Haruhi had managed to do it again. Only Haruhi could turn their devious plotting into an enjoyable afternoon reminiscing. Kaoru watched as Haruhi chatted with an excitable Tamaki and flat-line Ayame. Apparently Haruhi and Ayame knew each other from their Ouran days, Haruhi's grades had been slipping during a semester and Ayame had tutored her for a while. Would coincidences ever cease?
Hikaru shuffled over to him, hands jammed into his pants pocket. "I'm going to call the driver." His tone didn't give much away but Kaoru could read the frustration and anger as plainly on his face as if it was his own. The afternoon's distractions had done little to appease his foul mood it seemed.
"Okay." Kaoru held his brother's gaze silently pleading for him to forgive him, it wasn't his fault their mother had singled him out.
Hikaru ignored his non-verbal concern, though Kaoru knew Hikaru could read him as easily as he could read him. "See ya in a minute." Hikaru slunk away, Kaoru watching his progress.
He didn't turn back till he felt a slight prescience at his side. Kaoru's eyes flickered down; Haruhi's large brown eyes were upturned to him. They were suspiciously alone.
Kaoru bit back the knee jerk surprise at how easily Haruhi could read him.
"Yeah, I'm fine."
Haruhi hummed a noncommitted sound.
"I just wanted to thank you both for bringing me today."
Kaoru inhaled sharply and she titled her head to regard him.
"Don't worry about it." He smiled. "Its no big deal."
"But it is," Haruhi said, "your friends told me you've never brought anyone around before. I'm glad you're comfortable around me."
Kaoru's eyes scanned her face. What did he say to that?
"I had fun," he said robotically.
Haruhi smiled, that rare fleeting smile. "Me too."
He realized she'd done it again, she'd caught him off guard with her simple Haruhi-ness. And he had to admit: he kind of liked it.
A/N: Sorry for another delayed post, would you believe it if I told you I've been distracted by some original fiction I'm writing. Hehehe. yeahh. SO, chapter ten is written awaiting edits so hopefully there wont be another decade long wait for a new chapter. Hopefully. Thanks go to Engimaticrose4 for kicking me in the ass and betaing this for me.