Things you should know: I'm using the anime canon, since that was more readily available to me. Although from the sound of it, I'd like the manga more. This takes place quite a few years after episode 26, everyone has finished college and has started working and everything. Like they even have to work…

The anime never specified what Mori's family does (aside from martial arts, but that can't be all that pays the bills), so I took some liberties.

Let's get this party started, shall we?


Solitaire With Friends

Chapter the First:

In Which the Man Formerly Known as Mori-Sempai Finds that Loneliness is Entirely Bearable, but Hardly Fun


To be entirely honest, Morinozuka Takashi had always liked the quiet. So the silence in his New York apartment, and at his palatial mansion back in Japan didn't bother him. He enjoyed the quiet rides in the back of the limo, his business suit on, his sunglasses hiding his eyes. It wasn't like he had much to hide anyway, his features gave away little in terms of emotion or other feelings.

He loved New York for the single reason that whenever he visited the more "common" parts of town, no one stared at his limousine, or him for very long. There were far fewer whispers, he felt less like he had to act like he was ignoring the people behind him. They didn't care who he was, or why he was there. "Commoners" in New York appealed to him because they gave him peace.

Despite being in the Ouran High School Host Club, he rather disliked too much attention. He quickly learned in the first few weeks that there was a difference between being oblivious to the squeals and pretending to be oblivious. The excessive adoration was one of the reasons he stayed close to Mitsukuni. The shorter boy was rather fond of attention and was eager to take the brunt of it away from his cousin.

What scared Mori the most was those one on one meetings, or a group of girls with him. Mitsukuni was usually with his clients, leaving Mori alone with a group of girls and nothing to say. The girls would talk, and he would respond, usually with a one word answer, and they'd squeal in delight. They mistook his silence and taciturnity for mystery and deep thinking, which some of it was. Most of it was he was terrified of talking to them.

Once he realized that his not saying anything was what made him popular, and that most of the girls requesting him were shy themselves, he became less terrified. He grew to equate the squeals and sighing with background noise, especially when he doted on his cousin. His days in the Host Club had given him a high tolerance for silliness and frivolity, he even grew to enjoy it, as far as Morinozuka Takashi would enjoy something.

Then he and Mitsukuni graduated. They all kept in touch, Kyoya mostly keeping in contact incase he needed a favor. Mori knew that despite the calculating nature of the vice president (or Mother as some people called him), Kyoya really did sort of like them. Mori decided that he'd like to study at Oxford, Mitsukuni chose to go to Cambridge. This separation disturbed Mori at first. He wished to continue watching over his cousin, but Mitsukuni refused to be followed by his faithful cousin.

"I understand your strong sense of duty, Takashi," the blond had told him, "But I need to be on my own just as much as you do. I'll be fine, you know I will."

Mori wasn't so worried about Mitsukuni on his own. Instead, he ended up being more worried about himself. The first year ended up not being so bad. The cousins saw each other frequently and went to visit their younger friends often.

Then slowly, their friends at Ouran began branching off. The next year, Kyoya went to Yale and Tamaki went off to Princeton. The next year, Hikaru went to Pratt, and Kaoru opted to study at the Sorbont in Paris. The twins' split was a surprise to everyone they knew, but they said it was an experiment, to see if people who knew them each individually first could tell them apart when they were together. No doubt a suggestion of Haruhi's.

Speaking of the girl, she was originally studying law in Japan, when she transferred suddenly to the Harvard Law program. Why she made the switch from Japanese law to American was never fully explained to Mori. She became absorbed in her studies and didn't talk to the others much. She missed six out of the nine Host Club reunions, first because of her studies, and then because she was always working.

Tamaki as usual, assumed she was living in abject poverty and was ready to rush to her aid, when Kyoya calmly assured him she was making a very decent salary and didn't need their help. Hikaru and Kaoru vouched for Haruhi's state, since they went to visit her often. Upon finding that someone saw Haruhi more than he did, Tamaki had a slight fit and sat dejectedly in a corner. After all these years, Tamaki was still inherently the same.

Everyone was working now, even Mori. Heading up his family's electronics business, (known to the world as…Suny, or Sonny or something of the sort…) he was constantly busy, taking frequent trips and such. He understood how Haruhi would be caught up in grind of work. However, he had to admit, he was taking on far more work than would be expected of him. Mori would have been termed a work-a-holic, had he not simply been doing so to fill the time.

He quite frankly didn't have to work, there was enough people to dole the work out to, and quite frankly, his family's estate was enough to live off of. He was just…lonely. Hunny no longer needed him to be near, he never did. He didn't think it proper to bother the others, they had their own worries. Mori just needed to know that he was protecting someone. Someone…

Anyway, he liked New York. He liked the people there and the distractions. The commoners he worked with were not afraid to talk to him like they were in Tokyo. His cheeky young assistant in his New York office, named Takeada Ken taught him a game called Solitaire. Mori found that the game filled up time, he had a deck of cards in his pocket, and played on his computer during off times on the job. He felt like every time he played, he was putting everything in order in his life.

In arranging the cards in coordinating piles, he could arrange his thoughts. He was in The City one fall, on his way to the Japanese Consulate General to extend his visa when he pulled up a game of Solitaire on his laptop. He was twenty seven years old, and felt just as empty and dark as his stoic façade. The cards were in disarray, and he posed a question to himself.

Why do you like it here?

He pondered the question and searched for aces. He found an ace of hearts, and an answer came to mind.

Because I can blend in.

He found an ace of clubs and asked another question.

Why do you like to blend in?

He moved cards, trying to find the hidden ones. He uncovered a king of clubs.

I dislike the theatrics of standing out.

Why?

He placed the ace of diamonds on the side.

I don't like the noise.

Liar, what's the real reason?

He placed the ace of spades beside the ace of diamonds.

It's more peaceful to blend in.

Don't you like it when people gawk and stare? Doesn't it make you feel special?

His jaw tightened as he sifted through the cards on the screen. He placed a queen of diamonds over the king of clubs.

Not at all. They don't know me. It's like back at the Host Club…the girls liked that I was nice to look at and doted on someone who was cute like Mitsukuni. I fueled their fantasies, I didn't fill their hearts.

You want to fill someone's heart?

Mori paused before he began looking through the cards again. He placed a two of diamonds on a three of clubs.

Someday.

What kind of person would you like to be with?

Mori paused even longer this time before he began to search.

Someone who'd approach me because I'm me. Not because I look like their dream guy from some shoujo manga or dating sim.

So…you want someone who sees you?

He stopped and sat in silence.

"Someone who sees me," he said softly. Mitsukuni saw him. All of the Host Club saw him for who he was in their own special way. Yet only Haruhi could remotely fill the role that Mitsukuni had in his life. It was different with Haruhi than with Mitsukuni. With Mitsukuni the protection was symbolic although the devotion was not. The devotion was certainly real. Haruhi probably would have benefited more from his protection and yet his devotion to her was not nearly equal that of Mitsukuni.

Yet she filled the loneliness like the others couldn't. Mori decided as the limousine pulled up to the Consulate General, that it would be very nice to see her again. Having lunch with Haruhi was very different from having lunch with a Host Club client. Maybe with the emptiness abated just a little he could concentrate better on other things.

He entered the building and was directed by a secretary as to where he could get an extension on his business visa. Once he arrived at the office and filled out the paperwork, he went outside to the lobby to wait while all the processing was being done. He sat in one of the chairs and continued his game of Solitaire.

So, you miss Haruhi?

A jack of spades came up, he placed him on the queen of diamonds.

Yes, I do miss her.

He flipped over the other card. A five of clubs.

Where is she?

The five of clubs was placed on a six of hearts.

I'm not sure.

He flipped over the now exposed card. A two of diamonds. He placed it on top of the ace of diamonds.

Who would know where she is?

Mori moved the king of clubs and his cargo to a new spot. Then he flipped over another card. Two of clubs.

Kyoya would know.

He placed the two of clubs over the ace of clubs.

I'm going to at least talk to her. Maybe a short conversation will make this mood I'm in subside a little. Haruhi had this way of making everyone feel better. Like that time Mitsukuni was missing…

His cousin seemed to be avoiding him lately. Mori thought he had an idea as to why, but he couldn't be entirely sure…his cousin was so multifaceted, most people took that for granted, loving only the cake eating, bunny toting part of him.

Lost in his own musings about his cousin, Mori paid no attention to the young woman barreling toward him, her glasses askew. Without another warning, she tripped over his long legs, spilling her coffee and papers everywhere. However, he had managed to catch her in time before she it the ground.

"I'm very sorry, ma'am," he said in English. She got her bearings and dusted herself off a little.

"It's all right," she replied. Mori detected something familiar about her voice, perhaps it was her distinct Japanese accent. He noticed her glasses had fallen off and he reached down to get them for her. As he handed them to her he nearly froze. She took her glasses, put them on, blinked a few times and then gasped.

Perhaps out of sheer habit, she stammered out, "Mori-sempai?"

Through another accident (although far less costly), Fujioka Haruhi had fallen into his life again.


Before someone says, "Oh, but ribbon_scythe wrote this exact same story on LiveJournal a few years ago" …Um…yeah I know. Because I am ribbon_scythe. I'll update twice a week. This fic is finished I'm just sitting on chapters.