It was one of those crisp winter days, one where, when you exhaled, clouds of vapor would rise like clouds of smoke. Inside it was nice and toasty but tendrils of steam still rose from his cup of peppermint-flavored cocoa. Kaoru took a long sip as he stared out the bay window in his room and watched the lazy wide clouds glide across the dusk colored sky. From behind him, his twin's grumbles were audible. Behind said twin was a growing pile of discarded clothing. Kaoru glanced over his shoulder as Hikaru held a button down shirt against his torso. Several emotions flickered across Hikaru's golden orbs, hope, disgust and anger. He balled up the shirt and then tossed it aside with the others.
"It's not the shirts fault," Kaoru teased lightly.
Hikaru glared at his brother as if noticing him for the first time.
"I know," he grumbled; Kaoru grinned. Setting down his cocoa he sauntered past his brother and into their enormous walk-in closet. He reemerged a few minutes later with a tailored shirt and pin-striped vest and slacks. "Try these," he offered.
Hikaru took the offered items, grudgingly, with a mumbled thanks. Kaoru smirked as his brother dressed. "It's just a party," Kaoru remarked, with forced casual air that piqued his twin's suspicions.
"Yeah, just a Christmas party that you happened to plan by yourself, that just happens to involve Haruhi and the rest of the Host Club." Hikaru scowled from under the collar of his dress shirt.
Kaoru laughed, motioning to help Hikaru with the buttons of his shirt. Kaoru continued to avoid his gaze as Hikaru scowled. "Convenient that I picked Haruhi's name in the Commoner's Secret Santa draw isn't it?" Hikaru said, through gritted teeth.
Kaoru laughed, "What a coincidence." He stepped back admiring his brothers appearance, "Fix your hair, the others will be here any minute." He suppressed a grin and turned away from his brother.
"I know you're plotting something," Hikaru called after his retreating back.
Kaoru only waved over his shoulder and exited.
It was a smashing success of a party. Despite Hikaru's characteristic reluctance, he'd had a great time and currently was out on the balcony giving Haruhi her present. Hikaru had been rather secretive about the whole affair. A few days prior, however, Kaoru stumbled upon 'notes' on Hikaru's plan for giving Haruhi her present. From what Kaoru surmised, Hikaru was giving her a coupon book that included a get out of Hitachiin hi-jinks free card, -worth Haruhi's weight in gold, and tickets to dinner anywhere she wanted on Hikaru, -which technically was against the commoner's homemade under 2000 yen rule they'd applied to the gift exchange- he also put together a photo album comprised of pictures of the three of them and the host club. It was, honestly, surprisingly thoughtful coming from his normally selfish irrational twin. It just showed how much Hikaru had grown recently. Thanks to Haruhi, he mused.
Watching his friends, looking relaxed as they slumped over couches and sat amid piles of paper wrapping Kaoru was feeling rather proud of himself, everything had gone exactly as he planned. Currently, Tamaki was sulking in the corner, something to do with Kyoya not appreciating the home made sweater he'd made him. -it really didn't look like a sweater more like a purple blob with arm holes- Kaoru felt a tap on his shoulder and He glanced up towards Mei who was leaning over him, a thin wrapped box in her hand.
"Here," she shoved the box into his hand.
He blinked at her looking from the package back to her, "Good to see you too?" Kaoru smirked.
"I got you for Secret Santa," Mei said, crossing her arms over her chest looking past him and across the room.
"Oh," he looked back down at the present where his name was scrawled hastily on the tag. Quite frankly, he'd been so focused on party planning, hosting and brother set ups to remember he was supposed to receive a present in return.
"This is the part where you say 'thanks'," Mei snapped.
Kaoru grinned and Mei scowled, "Thanks, Mei."
Mei stared at him, her lips were thin as her brows meeting above her nose; Kaoru stared back bemused.
"Well, open it!" She blurted.
Kaoru laughed and tore into the wrapping, Mei dropped into the seat beside him as he was opening a long thin box. Inside, was a crimson tie, along the length of it in gold stitching was a motif of falling maple leaves and a scrolling letter 'K' beneath them that nearly blended with the background. Kaoru stared.
"If you don't like it just say so." Mei grumbled, shifting uncomfortably.
Kaoru lifted his hand tracing the delicate gold threads, along the silk of the tie, "Did you make this yourself?"
"Yeah," Mei ground out, "that's the point, remember?"
His eyes darted towards her face and she was scowling but it was more than that, she was feeling self conscious.
Kaoru smiled at this revelation, "I love it." He took the tie from the box and after removing his own tie, put it on. He was fumbling with the knot when Mei held up a hand to stop him.
"You're going to ruin the embroidery," she scolded. Nimbly she tied the tie for him, smoothing the fabric against his chest her land lingering for perhaps a moment too long.
Heat rose to his cheeks and he wasn't sure why.
"Thanks again, Mei."
"Don't worry about it," she replied. He couldn't be sure, but she looked a little pink under that tan as well.
Further awkward conversation was prevented when Honey bounced over with a brightly wrapped present for Mei.
The rest of the night passed in an obnoxious Host Club blur. Once all the presents were exchanged, they had dinner and then afterwards they watched an American movie import called 'A Christmas Carol'. After Hikaru and Haruhi had returned from their gift exchange -'coincidentally' they'd gotten each other- the pair had been exchanging sideways glances and sitting rather close together during the movie. Kaoru, normally, would have been gloating at his own genius but his focus was distracted as his mind kept wandering back to Mei, as were his eyes.
Mei was one of those people he never thought about until she was in his face. Tonight, however, she absorbed his thoughts. He had always been indifferent to Mei in the past. She was just Haruhi's friend who wore too much make up; she was only at this party for the fact that she was Haruhi's friend. Tonight, something had changed in his thoughts about her. Kaoru thumbed his tie rubbing it between his fingers. Who knew she could be so thoughtful. He was certainly floored by this revelation.
The movie ended and Tamaki lay on the floor head cradled in his upturned palms legs kicking reminiscent of a small child, before he rolled over, stretching.
"That was such a beautiful ending," he gushed, "to think that evil man turned his ways around and decided to celebrate Christmas and give to those who were less fortunate." Tamaki lapped into pensive silence as everyone got up stretching and leaning from side to side, essentially ignoring his monologue. "In fact, I'm going to follow Scrooge's example!" He declared jumping to his feet he stomped over to Haruhi and grabbed her by her shoulders, "Haruhi, daddy promises he will make this a Christmas to remember for you!"
Haruhi stared at him unblinking before she said, "No thanks."
Tamaki recoiled and fell back into his corner, pouting.
It took several minutes to get him to leave his corner and only once everyone promised to have another party on Christmas day at the Suoh Second Mansion. Kaoru was surprised at his own excitement when Mei was invited as well.
Christmas dawned bright, clear and cold. Hikaru and Kaoru walked up the steps to the Suoh Second Mansion wearing coordinating woolen scarves over their cold faces. In Kaoru's hands was clutched a wrapped package. Hikaru had tried and failed to get more information on his twin's sudden philanthropy but Kaoru was unusually tight lipped.
As they were approaching the door, Tamaki threw them open wearing a Santa hat and matching ensemble.
It took three seconds for them both to break into hysterics.
Catching his breath, Hikaru said, "What the hell are you wearing?"
Tamaki, appearing nonplussed, replied, "It's a Santa suit! Great, isn't it?"
Kaoru snorted, "Fabulous."
Tamaki beamed at them in his idiotically charming way and led them into the sitting room while Hikaru and Kaoru tried to suppress their laughter. Coming round the corner, Kaoru wasn't able to control his laughter anymore and, subsequently, neither was Hikaru. Both doubled over in laughter and didn't see the two girls waiting in the sitting room.
"What's so funny?" A sharp voice cut through their reverie.
They looked up to see Mei sitting beside Haruhi on one the couches, Haruhi was staring intently at a glittering Christmas tree in the corner, Mei was scowling at the pair of them while Tamaki looked confused.
Kaoru's hand closed reflexively on the present.
"Nice to see you too, Kiba," Hikaru snapped sarcastically.
Mei bristled at the comment, but was interrupted tactfully by Haruhi. "Merry Christmas, Hikaru, Kaoru." Haruhi smiled and all the tension slipped from the room. As casually as he could, Kaoru dropped his present beside the tree before taking a seat on the couch beside his twin.
The others arrived shortly after.
Once everyone was settled in, Tamaki emerged with an overly large sack of presents. Giving a 'ho ho ho' as he went around the room handing out gifts to everyone. Kaoru was admiring a leather bound novel; Tamaki had given him, when Kyoya's voice cut through the din.
"Tamaki, you missed a present under the tree." He motioned towards the tree.
Tamaki glanced bewildered towards the Christmas tree where Kaoru's present was lying innocently.
"I don't remember that one..."
Honey, who was closest, retrieved the package, "It's for Mei..."
Everyone looked towards Mei, "What are you all looking at me for?" She snarled defensively.
Kaoru looked on with interest, suppressing a smirk as Honey happily handed over the package.
Everyone watched with interest as Mei carefully unraveled the ribbon, the lid was removed and then tossed aside. Mei inhaled sharply and everyone but Kaoru and Hikaru craned their necks to get a better look. Kaoru was looking politely bemused and Hikaru was staring at his brother with a raised brow.
Mei looked up and around the room, "Who gave this to me?" She asked quietly.
No one fessed up.
Mei scowled as Tamaki jumped to his feet looking triumphant, "It's a Christmas miracle."
"How old are you, Tono, honestly." Hikaru scoffed.
"Sixteen." Tamaki replied automatically.
"I was guessing six." Hikaru teased and Haruhi snorted in response. The room burst to life with laughter and any remaining attention left on Mei was diffused. Kaoru had never been more appreciative of his brother in his life. Kaoru joined in the joyful atmosphere along with their favorite hobby of teasing Tamaki but he could feel Mei's gaze lingering on him. When he looked at her, however, she was chatting amicably with Haruhi, her gaze fixedly away from Kaoru.
He couldn't help but smile to himself.
Tamaki was so distracted all evening keeping everyone entertained; he didn't notice Haruhi and Hikaru slip off together at one point. To Kaoru's surprise, Mei materialized at his side shortly after, with the obvious intent of keeping Kaoru from going after his twin and best friend. This suited Kaoru just fine. He had no intention of going after his brother if he was alone with Haruhi. He was doubly pleased to find Mei's company very enjoyable. It turned out they had a lot in common. After a while, Hikaru came back with Haruhi in tow, a stupid smile on his face. Hikaru got everything he wanted for Christmas I bet. Kaoru eyes met across the room and they shared one of their silent twin messages; Hikaru definitely got everything he wanted for Christmas.
It was the end of the night; everyone was making their way out. Again, Hikaru and Haruhi were scarce and Kaoru was pretending to find a painting in the living room of intense interest. Kaoru turned around when someone cleared their throat behind him. Mei was hanging back in the doorway.
"You gave it to me." She said without preamble.
Kaoru raised a single auburn brow, "Excuse me?" He couldn't keep the smile from creeping up.
"You know what I'm talking about!" Mei narrowed her eyes at him and he chuckled.
"You'll have to elaborate; I'm afraid I don't know what you're inferring."
Mei huffed rolling her eyes muttering something that sound suspiciously like 'damn rich brat'
"Excuse me?" Kaoru smirked.
"Why did you give me the dress?" Mei asked.
"I thought it'd look good on you." He shrugged.
"But it's a Yuzuha Hitachiin original; it didn't even have a tag. It must be from one of her new lines!"
Kaoru chuckled, "It's not. It's a Kaoru Hitachiin original."
Mei narrowed her eyes at him again, "You're saying you made that dress?"
Kaoru nodded trying not to look too proud of himself.
"But, it was good!"
"Should I be insulted by that?"
"That's not what I meant and you know it."
"What did you mean then?"
"You're still in high school still, how can you design like that?"
Mei scowled again.
"I take it you like the dress?" Kaoru asked.
Mei stared at him, dark eyes darting across his face, "Yeah... It's perfect. And that's what bothers me."
"Why did you give it to me?"
"You gave me the tie."
"But that was for the Secret Santa exchange... This was different."
He hummed and strolled across the room towards her, "I guess."
Mei was scowling slightly as if puzzling through something. "I don't understand you people..." She made a motion to walk away, but was stopped. Mei turned, wide-eyed, as Kaoru pulled her into his chest. "What the hell are you-" she couldn't finish her sentence because Kaoru pressed his lips to hers. At first she was too shocked to react and then she melted into it. He was a surprisingly good kisser. They pulled apart a few seconds later and Kaoru was smiling in such a way that she couldn't decide if it was charming or infuriating.
"You were standing under the mistletoe," he motioned above her. Mei's eyes flickered towards the greenery hanging in the doorway above her. When she looked back, Kaoru was walking away. She was preparing to stomp after him, when he glanced over his shoulder.
"To answer your question, I did it because I like you." He smiled and was gone. Mei watched the space where he disappeared.
She spoke to the empty room, "That's funny, I traded for your name because I like you."
A/N: First of Merry-belated-Christmas! I'd like to thank my work for being jerks and making me work Christmas day so I had time to write this one-shot. :D And I'd really like to thank Enigmaticrose4 for betaing as always and for writing a Christmas songfic and giving me the motivation to write a Christmas one-shot by means of inspiration. For those of you that read my other story in progress Open Shutters, I promise I'll update eventually, I'm just focusing on my original novel at the moment and it has absorbed all my time. :D
Btw. This one-shot was written entirely on my Blackberry, god bless technology.
Enigmaticrose4: Ya, the Blackberry with no spell-check, god bless a beta with Microsoft Word.