A/N: There's actually quite a background to this story.
I received a PM from Always A Bookworm, one of the best and most amazing reviewers I could ever ask for. Basically it was asking me whether my family and I were okay because she'd heard of the earthquake/tsunami in Japan, and its impact on the Philippines. We're perfectly fine, but: I have to say that I'm completely blown away. For someone who doesn't know me personally to keep me in mind in the face of a disaster like that... it really gives me faith in human kindness. When I told my friends about it, they were honestly amazed.
So this story is for Always A Bookworm. Thank you, and the world really needs more people like you. This is also for the victims of the earthquake and tsunami. I can't even begin to imagine what they went through.
I wrote it in just two and a half hours, so it's a bit choppy. Also, I don't know much about the relief efforts in Japan (I did do a lot of Googling for this fic, though). Let's try to spread awareness, everyone-and I'm not religious, but I'm definitely praying for everyone in Japan.
The World Collapsed And You Were Gone
They fought. A lot. It was pretty much a given, with the personalities they had: Tamaki was a romantic who liked indulging his boyfriend, but he could be incredibly stubborn—his persistence in pestering Haruhi and calling her his 'daughter' no matter how many times she demanded that he stop was enough evidence of that.
And Hikaru was… well, Hikaru.
Later neither of them would remember what the argument was about. Kyouya probably knew—the Shadow King hadn't been there, but he would probably know anyway. It had probably been something stupid, something tiny and inconsequential that they had allowed to snowball out of control until Hikaru was yelling and Tamaki was silently listening to him, blue eyes furious and deeply unhappy.
What Tamaki did remember telling him, in a flat voice that sounded nothing like him, was this: "Sometimes I wonder why I went through so much just to be with you."
"Fuck you," Hikaru had snarled. "Acting like a martyr—if it was that much of a problem, then just break up with me."
Tamaki had gone white and pressed his lips together, not trusting himself to speak. He'd been afraid that if he opened his mouth, he would say something he would later regret. Hikaru seemed to sense it and just turned on his heel and walked out.
Like most of their stupid fights, it ended up with them just running away.
"Your running away will be the death of you, I swear." Kaoru said, lifting one eyebrow as Hikaru tossed some things into a bag.
"I always thought you said that it would be my mouth," Hikaru returned as he zipped it closed.
Never mind that it was only Tuesday and they were still in the middle of the school week. Their teachers were used to it; Hitachiin Yuzuha would call them up and explain that Hikaru needed a 'mental health day'—she was a firm believer in letting her sons do what they wanted so long as a.) it made them happy and b.) it wouldn't hurt them. Besides, Hikaru never let his grades slip, and he would be pretty much useless in class when he was mulling over why exactly Tamaki was such a "big-mouthed idiot who doesn't understand me at all".
It was a ritual of Hikaru's, of sorts: he had a list of places to go to whenever he was pissed off at his blonde lover. Kaoru had surreptitiously taken a peek at it once and was relieved to see that it was only a list of famous Japanese tourist spots. Last time, Hikaru had run off to Akashi Kaikyo Suspension Bridge. After that, his designs had been complex and geometric, delicate wisps of fabric in clean lines which were strangely structured to hang in place.
One good thing about Hikaru's habit was that his trips influenced his fashion so beautifully. Perhaps another reason why Yuzuha allowed him his little excursions.
"You know, you guys should actually try talking."
"Talking's overrated. Why should we bother when make-up sex is so much more efficient at getting the point across?" Hikaru scoffed.
"I call bullshit."
Hikaru scrubbed a hand across his face. Kaoru knew him too, too well. "Can't you at least let me pretend to be badass?"
His twin laughed. "Because you're not."
"No. I am totally badass," Hikaru corrected him. "I'm not a marshmallow, Kaoru. I'm not soft and gooey on the inside or whatever. Besides, those things are like fluffy pillows of death, I nearly choked on one once. I'm more like a… a jawbreaker."
"Yeah, because comparing yourself to candy is really macho." Kaoru smiled fondly at him. "I know, I know. You love him. If you didn't, you wouldn't be scurrying away to cool off. Where are you going this time, then?"
"Great, let me go with you. My drug supply's been running low," Kaoru deadpanned.
Hikaru sighed, surrendering. "I was thinking of taking the shinkansen…" Contrary to popular belief, the twins were actually pretty street-savvy. They used to sneak out of their house and wander around when they were kids. They were spoiled, but they were also eager to do things on their own, and that included taking public transportation. "Matsushima, this time."
"The pine forests in Sendai?" Kaoru smiled. "I'll tell mom to stock up on woodsy tones for your return, then. Any fabric preferences?"
The older Hitachiin shrugged. "Won't know until I actually get there... try tulle, though. I'm just going to get in some valuable design insights, come home, and kiss milord senseless."
"You could probably do that now, actually."
"Much as I think that time not spent kissing him is time wasted, I would really rather beat him senseless right now. I just need to be by myself for a bit. What he said this time… it really…" Hurt, he thought, but didn't say it out loud. Because Hikaru just didn't do cheesy, okay?
His phone beeped. He flipped it open with a snort, and a fond shake of his head.
Kaoru leaned over his shoulder to read it, ignoring Hikaru's complaints of "Ow, ow! What the hell have you been eating? It feels like a baby whale's on me!" Come back safe. From Tamaki, of course. No matter how angry they got at each other, Tamaki would never fail to e-mail that message to his brother.
Still hate you, Hikaru typed back, though he couldn't help the slight smile quirking up his lips.
They were still having club activities when the shaking started the next day.
"Earthquake," Kyouya said crisply, eyes narrowing behind his glasses. His first move was to grab for Kaoru. "Ladies, please remain calm and get under the nearest available stable surface. I've taken precautions with this room for most eventualities, but better safe than sorry."
Haruhi let Mori tug her under a table with him and Hunny. The Host Club knew what kind of 'eventualities' Kyouya was talking about. The room was fire-proof, shock-proof, and a lot of other something-proofs that the Shadow King had told them about once. "Just in case," Kyouya had explained, before adding that in the event of an asteroid destroying the earth/a widespread outbreak of a deadly virus/nuclear war/the zombie apocalypse/any other thing that would cause the end of the world, they should all meet at his house because he had 'plans' which would supposedly tide them over for at least five generations, though he had voiced his concerns that the only females he planned on letting in on his plans were Haruhi and Fuyumi, which could pose some problems with having children populating their future.
Kyouya was a very, very creepy person, but he was definitely handy to have on your side.
"The hell," Kaoru breathed, wide-eyed. They were used to earthquakes; they lived in Japan, after all. But it felt like the whole building was collapsing. He looked up at his boyfriend to see Kyouya's face white with tension.
Hunny murmured an inquiry to Haruhi about her father. "He's at home," she replied calmly, although her fingers twisted in her lap. "Probably won't even notice the earthquake, with the way he sleeps." Mori's grip on her tightened as teacups slid off tables and shattered on the ground, the customers letting out cries of dismay. One of the girls started crying, and Renge, who was next to her, tried to comfort her.
It felt like forever before it stopped.
"Nobody move yet," Mori instructed them. "There may still be aftershocks."
"Is everybody okay?" Hunny asked. Murmurs of assent came from all sides. The worst casualty seemed to be a girl who had twisted her ankle a bit. "Give it a few hours, ne? I know you all want to go home and be with your families, but we have to stay now."
"We're all okay," Renge murmured dazedly. They breathed a sigh of relief before settling down to wait.
A few hours later, the girls headed home. Their families had sent them escorts, of course. Hunny, Haruhi and Mori were trying to set the club room to rights, sweeping up the broken remnants of their antique tea sets and putting all the things that had fallen back to their proper places. Kyouya was quietly conversing with someone on his phone, trying to assess the situation—they didn't know how, honestly, since most lines of communication were down. But knowing Kyouya, he'd also 'prepared for this eventuality'.
The younger Hitachiin looked up to meet Tamaki's anxious gaze. The half-French boy hadn't spoken in a while. "Milord?"
"Where did Hikaru go?" Tamaki's jaw was clenched. "He told me once that he goes to strip clubs but…" He sighed, letting out a soft laugh. "I can't get his cellphone, all the lines are busy. Is he still sulking at your house? Tell me he went out of the country."
"No, he… he went to Sendai."
At that, Kyouya pulled his ear away from his phone. "Say that again," he ordered, his voice going deadly.
Kaoru faltered at his tone. "He's not in Tokyo, sempai. He left yesterday evening for Sendai—he said he wanted to see Matsushima—"
"Kyouya, tell me now," Tamaki demanded, cutting the freshman short.
"You're going to need to sit down," Kyouya said. Tamaki ignored his best friend, raising an eyebrow expectantly. The Shadow King sighed. "Fine. Sendai is right beside the epicenter of the earthquake. It caused a tsunami and whole towns are gone. The body count…" He cleared his throat. "It's too early to tell, but it looks to be quite high."
Kaoru's world spun as Tamaki stared at them. "Hikaru could be…" Dead.
"How is he?" Haruhi asked later that evening as she emerged from the bathroom in her pajamas. In a show of solidarity, the whole Host Club had elected to sleep over at Kyouya's house. Or stay over, anyway; none of them showed any signs of wanting to sleep.
"Not well. But Kyouya will talk him through it," Mori murmured. He'd used another one of Kyouya's special contact lines to talk to the twins' parents, who were in Rome and sick with worry. Yuzuha had sounded like she was going to lose her mind when she'd heard that Hikaru had gone to Sendai. They couldn't come back, though—flights to Japan were impossible at the moment.
Hunny was with Kaoru, who was stashed away in his own bedroom (yes, he now had his own bedroom in the Ootori household, which connected to Kyouya's; given the frequency with which he slept over, they decided to just reserve a room for him—though the bed never got used, as he always slipped into Kyouya's to sleep). Having Hikaru's mirror image in the same room as Tamaki was decidedly not a good idea at the moment.
"We should be with Kaoru," she said. The younger Hitachiin was having his own meltdown at the moment, and didn't have his boyfriend with him.
"I told Kyouya we would switch with him in a few minutes, actually."
"And Hunny-sempai, too?"
"Yes. Mitsukini's better at comforting people." He looked down at her, tucking a loose strand of her hair behind her ear. "But are you all right?"
"…me?" She had gone over to check on her father earlier on—he was all right, thankfully. And their house wasn't damaged. She wasn't injured. She was… "Fine."
"Hikaru is your friend too. You're closer to the twins than most of us."
She thought back to all the times that Hikaru had teased and pranked her. From the time that he and Kaoru had pretended to be in a fight in order to trick her into letting them go to her house to the time in Karuizawa when they had gone out together. She remembered when he wasn't in a relationship with Tamaki yet, and she had attempted to give him a talk about connecting with people emotionally (that had gone over spectacularly badly). She swallowed hard, nodded. "Hikaru was a good friend of mine."
His expression tightened. "Is. He is a good friend of yours."
Massive 8.9/9.0 earthquake—
One of the five worst earthquakes in history—
Thousands roaming the streets—
Kyouya shoved a cup of coffee at him, tugging away the laptop Tamaki had borrowed. It was near dawn, and there was simultaneously too much and too little information. He was starting to regret asking Kyouya for all the data. Kyouya's sources were efficient and thorough—but in this case, every report just seemed to be another death sentence. At the same time, he couldn't find out what he really wanted to know.
Hikaru, are you alive?
The Shadow King scrutinized him. He, Haruhi, Mori and Hunny were taking it in shifts to switch between Tamaki and Kaoru. Right now, Hunny was catching a few hours sleep while Haruhi and Mori were watching Kaoru—leaving him to take his turn with Tamaki. "You look terrible."
Tamaki thought of how Hikaru would respond to such a statement if he were in his place. Forgive me for not looking my best while my boyfriend's corpse might be out there somewhere, the redhead would probably have said.
Instead, he drained the coffee in one gulp, burning his tongue. He ignored it as he stared into the empty mug. "I told him that I didn't even know why we were still together."
Kyouya said nothing. Someone else would have told him not to beat himself up over this, that it wasn't his fault—but Tamaki didn't need platitudes.
"That was the last thing I told him. He said that if I suffered so much, I should just break up with him. I almost did, I was so angry at him."
"But you didn't."
"How could I ever even think about breaking up with him?" the blonde said.
Kyouya shrugged. "But you didn't. You love him."
"I still hurt him, Kyouya."
Haruhi spoke from the doorway where she'd been listening. "People who hurt each other don't always hate each other. Being in love doesn't mean that you guys aren't going to fight. It's normal. It's healthy. Saying stupid things… it happens."
"Eavesdropping, Haruhi?" Kyouya said with a little smile.
"Kaoru had a nightmare," she muttered, pulling the door open wider to reveal the younger Hitachiin beside her, looking small and fragile in his black pajamas. Kyouya's smile vanished immediately as he went over to him, rubbing soothing circles into his back.
Kaoru spoke, voice slightly muffled from where his face was buried in Kyouya's shoulder. He was still shaking with the aftereffects of his nightmare (God, no, Hikaru just couldn't be dead, it was just impossible; Kaoru couldn't imagine a world where he wasn't a Hitachiin twin, where it was Kaoru instead of Hikaru-and-Kaoru). "When Hikaru left… he said that all he wanted was to come back and kiss you senseless. He didn't even stop and think that maybe you would break up with him, and considering that you've already done it once before, that's saying a lot." He lifted his head. "He's not someone who loves easily, but he always believed in you."
School was suspended for the next two days. Most of the students were old enough to have their hands full trying to help their parents do damage control with their businesses. Others were trying to reach their relatives and friends in other parts of Japan.
And yes, Kyouya was dealing with the earthquake's aftermath on the Ootori zaibatsu and making sure that Fuyumi was all right (she was, and was horrified to hear about Hikaru), and Hunny and Mori had both checked in on their families and dojos—but in reality, they were doing nothing but waiting.
Hunny had confiscated the laptop from Tamaki after the sophomore had gone silent, staring at the image of a white SOS painted on a partially-submerged school. The pictures were horrific.
Kyouya had also confiscated his phone because Tamaki wouldn't stop flipping it open to read the last message Hikaru had sent him.
Still hate you.
"He didn't mean it that way," Kaoru pointed out, looking drained and upset. He was busy trying to use the person finder website that had been set up for earthquake survivors. "You know Hikaru. He has all the emotional capacity of a rock, and that's insulting the rock… holy Christ, it's Hikaru!"
Tamaki shot out of his chair to dive at the laptop.
Haruhi bit her lip. "Is he…"
"He's alive," Kaoru choked out, relief evident in his tones. "He got picked up by some of the disaster workers. He's safe."
Kyouya let out a breath he hadn't even known he'd been holding. He reached out and embraced him, looking over Kaoru's shoulder to Tamaki, who had just sunk into a chair, trying to smile but still too shocked and stressed to quite make it. "Come on. We're going to go get him."
It took them hours to get to Hikaru, who was sitting in one of the disaster centers they had put up, his head cradled in his hands. He looked sick and exhausted, but the moment he saw them, he staggered to his feet.
"God, I thought I'd never see you guys again," he managed shakily, grabbing at Tamaki to crush his mouth to his. Damn keeping a low profile—nobody cared about something like that at the moment anyway. He tried to crack a smile as he pulled away to hug his brother. "Hey. You said that my running away would be the death of me. Close but no cigar, Kaoru."
"Fuck you, that's not funny," Kaoru complained, smacking him on the arm—lightly, though. Hikaru looked as though he had quite a few injuries. "Next time go to the crack den like you said."
Hikaru laughed softly while the seniors and Haruhi hugged him next. He even let Kyouya clasp his hand and pull him in for a brief embrace (with no complaints about demon cooties for once). He didn't say anything about the terror of being right in the center of the earthquake. Looking at whole buildings getting swallowed up in water, structures falling completely apart as he'd huddled with a small group of others in a high spot that he'd been lucky enough to be at right before the tsunami hit. Of watching people die. Of thinking that he would die.
There would be time to tell later…preferably cradled against Tamaki where he would most definitely not cry.
Instead, he added, "Jesus, milord. What happened to you? I'll be really upset if you lost your pretty-boy looks while I was away."
Tamaki's throat tightened, taking in the sight of him. Hikaru was in much, much worse shape. "Don't worry, I'll be sure to doll myself up for you at the soonest possible notice," he joked weakly, tangling his fingers in the redhead's hair. "Can you guys give us a moment?"
The others agreed. "We want to see if we can try and extend some help here anyway," Hunny piped up. "Take your time."
Tamaki stroked careful fingers down Hikaru's haggard face. He had never looked so wrecked—and Tamaki had never been so happy to see him before. "I nearly lost my mind."
"Can't lose what you don't have," Hikaru muttered as he clung to him. He could only guess at how Tamaki had been the last few days. The whole time, he'd been thinking of Tamaki too. "I'm here, Rene."
"Don't leave when you're angry again, please," Tamaki murmured. "What I said last time—I would never break up with you. Everything we went through, it was worth it just to have you. But if you hadn't come back… those would have been my last words to you."
"No," Hikaru contradicted him, pressing a soft kiss to his lips. "Your last words were 'come back safe'. They always are, milord. No matter how angry we are at each other, you always care enough to ask me to return to you. And damned if I wasn't going to do just that. I'll always come back for you."
A/N: Fanfictioning for a cause. I didn't plan to write so soon after NaF wrapped up, but this just welled up in me and wouldn't go away until I'd written it. I'm glad I wrote it, no matter how flawed the writing is.