Solitaire With Friends
In Which Haruhi Attempts to Avoid Her Feelings and a Tragedy Happens
Haruhi didn't tell Mori why she had returned from the boat that day. She remembered walking away from the mansion, casting a long gaze over her shoulder. She had been genuinely disappointed that Mori stayed behind. She couldn't help but keep looking back every so often.
"What's with you, you're moving so slow," Tamaki said.
She walked faster so that she could walk beside him.
"I guess I'm just preoccupied that's all," she said.
"Yeah. It just didn't seem like he was himself."
"Why do you think Mori stayed behind?"
"Probably was tired, like he said," Haruhi replied. But she knew that was a lie. There was something he was hiding, something that she was sure had to do with what they needed to talk about when they went home.
"So you and Mori are just friends?" Tamaki asked.
"Yes, we've been through this," she said.
Tamaki was silent and he put an arm around her shoulders.
"You have this bad habit of greatly underestimating how much you care about someone until they're taken away from you. Think carefully about how you feel about Mori."
How she felt about Mori. That was a complicated thing. She valued his friendship and she did prefer him to most people that she knew and was close to. He was such a sharp contrast to Tamaki whom she dated last. She didn't know how to put what she felt for Mori into words. And yet some how he knew. They didn't always understand each other's silent communications but they seemed to understand each other none the less. And she loved that she didn't need to beg him for privacy.
"I-I'm not sure I'm up to the beach just yet," she said and turned around to go back to the house. Tamaki was wrong, she knew herself, she wasn't some silly teenage girl. She saw him at the lagoon, alone, enjoying solitude. She dared to intrude and he didn't chase her away. Yes, this distance was fine. They were friends and could communicate, but there was a separation and that was fine.
That distance was closed in the space of a thunderstorm. The sound of his heart...it wasn't louder than the thunder, but it seemed so powerful nonetheless. She felt her own heart quicken at the thought of being so close to him and some of the snuggling had not been involuntary. She wanted nothing more to be close to him, and she found herself desiring it. Suddenly the separation was not all it was cracked up to be.
Was this still a friendship? If it was, she had over stepped the bounds and she had to explain herself to Mori and ask if he felt uncomfortable. Did she want to be closer to Mori? Not just physically, there was no way she was opening the way for the "friends with benefits" path. That was much too complicated and Mori deserved better than that.
As she rode home with him on the plane she pondered their relationship. She sighed and took out the pack of cards he gave her. He had fallen asleep in the seat next to her, his book resting on his chest. She found herself reaching for his face, but drew her hand back. No, they were friends, that would be wrong. She shuffled the cards and lay them out.
Just play and ask questions, she told herself.
Takashi and I are friends.
She moved a few cards, hoping to find a king or queen, maybe an ace to get things organized. No such luck.
I like that we're friends.
Too many statements, no questions, no answers and she wasn't finding any useful cards.
Can I see getting closer to Takashi?
She finally found a few useful cards. No aces still, but she was able to stack a few together.
I...I think I can. I know that when he talks to me, he's opening up. And he's so...what's the word I'm looking for?
She turned over a two of hearts.
He's warm. And he's remarkably perceptive and understanding. His silence isn't all empty space.
She grinned as she finally turned over an ace of spades.
So does all this mean that I love him?
Her heart skipped a beat and she blushed. She glanced furtively at him and then back at the cards.
I don't know. I don't know what this feeling is. It's not like family, it's not like friends, but we are friends. He's my best friend!
She didn't wand to think about this any more. She put all the cards back together in their box and tried to ignore Mori the entire rest of the way home.
She didn't want to see Mori that week when she returned home. She was still confused over how she felt and didn't know if she could face him without him knowing something. But they had to talk eventually. The phone rang in the evening as she came home from work. She saw Mori's number on the caller ID. Part of her wanted to ignore the call. The other part craved to hear his voice. She gave in and answered.
"Hello?" she said. Her heart was beating in her ears as she held her breath.
"Haruhi," Mori said. "I'm sorry I haven't called."
"It's okay," she said, running a hand through her hair. "I'm busy and you're busy."
"Mitsukuni said he is coming to visit. He wants us to spend the day together," he said.
"Oh, great! Pick a day and call me."
"Haruhi…." he went silent on the other end. Haruhi bit her lip and twirled her hair in her free hand.
"I haven't forgotten. We need to talk," he said.
"Right now?" she asked.
"No, but soon. Good bye for now."
She bid him good bye an hung up. She collapsed onto the couch, her heart racing. It had started, just the sound of his voice made her feel so warm. She had to work up the nerve to at least be around him without him noticing the change. With Hunny visiting, she had a little diversion.
She curled up, hugging her knees to her chest and shaking her head.
"I can't be in love with Takashi," she mumbled. "It's terrible…"
The question startled her. Why did she think it was so terrible to be in love with him? He was devoted, tender, patient, kind; he was like a mountain in a windstorm, unmovable and stable. She decided that if she was in love with him, it wouldn't be terrible. But she wasn't in love with him. They were just very good friends.
Then explain why you can't stop your heart from beating so fast.
She couldn't explain it. No, she could. She was just nervous about seeing him again, what they had to talk about. He said it wasn't important but Mori wasn't in the habit of asking to talk. She knew he avoided it when possible. Something important was happening and quite honestly, she wasn't sure she wanted to face it.
"It's time to turn career mode into overdrive," she said to herself. When in doubt, her job could help her overcome her fears.
Or help you hide from them.
She was not afraid of Mori. There was nothing to be scared of. She pressed her hand tightly over her eyes.
"Nothing," she whispered. "I'm not afraid of anything."
A few days passed and Mori didn't call. He was busy with work, his classes and Mistukuni's upcoming visit and honestly she was glad he was. Though she would try to resist, if he had asked her to come see him, she would have came. Just when she thought she was in the clear, he called in the morning before she went to work.
"Mitsukuni is coming today," he said. "May we have dinner with you tonight?"
"I'll be there, name the time and place," she said.
"I'll be picking him up soon. We'll see you after work," he said.
They said good bye. Haruhi felt slightly accomplished. It was a short conversation, but she got through it without her heart beating a mile a minute. Dinner would not be so bad, with Hunny to distract Mori from her.
She went off to work hoping that soon an onslaught of cases would come in, or at least a really tricky one would surface. The day was starting unusually slow. She finished doing some research for some upcoming cases, nothing new really came in. She just wanted something, anything to distract her from Mori, give her an excuse not to see him.
"I just don't want to see him," she said and put her head on the desk. By the time work was slowing down, it was almost lunch time. She was surprised that Mori hadn't called to tell her that Hunny had arrived and made arrangements for dinner. It was just as well, she didn't need to be around him today. Her cellphone rang and she looked at the caller ID. She had spoken too soon, Hunny was calling her.
"Hey, Hunny, how was your trip?" she said. He didn't respond right away, in fact she heard sniffling. "Hunny? Is everything all right?"
"Haruhi…" he began. She waited for him to get his composure. "Haruhi, Takashi's in the hospital."
Haruhi nearly dropped her phone. She leaned on her desk and put her hand over her mouth.
"Wh-when did this happen?" she asked.
"About two hours ago. He was coming to pick me up, when his office got the call about his accident, they called me and sent a driver to take me to the hospital. Haru, come here quickly!"
She jotted down the name of the hospital he gave. She ran grabbed her purse, pulled on her coat and dashed for the door.
"Haru, what's going on?" Michael said as she ran past his office door.
"It's Takashi. He's in the hospital and…and he…"
"Say no more. Take the rest of the day," he said. She bowed hastily.
"Thank you," she said. She hurried out the door, hailed a cab and jumped in, asking to head toward the hospital where Mori was taken. All the way to the there, she chewed on her thumb. Mori was hurt. Mori might be dead. The thought alone killed her. She would have laid on her side to try and hide what felt like a hole in her chest, but she was more afraid of the dirty seats in the cab. This didn't stop her from crying.
Honestly, I've cried over him more than any other man I've ever been close to, she thought. But he's worth it. He's worth it because I...I…
The cab pulled to a stop in front of the hospital and she hurried into the building. Hunny was waiting outside in the lobby. He ran to her and hugged her tightly.
"How is he?" she said when they drew back from the embrace.
"He's broken his leg, he has a few cracked ribs, and he's got a pretty bad head injury. He hasn't woken up yet. They've managed to stop the internal bleeding. They think he'll be all right."
Haruhi breathed a sigh of relief. And she didn't know why but she cried even more knowing he was going to survive. In fact, she cried so much she had to lean on Mitsukuni. He held her and rubbed her back.
"Everything's going to be okay."
All the while all she could think of was what a horrible person she was. All she wanted for the past few days was to get away from Mori and now…
It was another whole day before Mori woke up. Haruhi gave him flowers and came to see him as often as she could. She was there when he opened his eyes. Hunny held his hand tightly and Mori smiled at him.
"Good morning, Takashi," Hunny said. Mori turned slowly to Haruhi, who was sitting on the other side of the bed. She hadn't touched his hand, though her fingers were suspiciously close to his. If possible, his face got even more tender and he lifted his uninjured hand to run his fingers though her hair. She closed her eyes and held her breath as his fingers brushed against her cheek and down the length of her hair. Such an inviting touch, she almost grabbed his hand to hold onto him. But no, no, she shouldn't. Mori spent most of the day sleeping, but he was in the clear.
It pained her more than she cared to admit to see him like this. Mori always seemed so strong, so untouchable. Ye,t he was just as fragile as any human being, his life was just as delicate. Even he had vulnerabilities.
She came to see Mori the next day after work. She had an armful of sunflowers. They may have been out of season and cost her more, but they were tall, bright and hopeful. He was awake and staring at her quite intently. She greeted him quietly feeling a sudden shyness that she had never felt around him before.
She sat on the chair beside his bed and put the flowers close. He smiled at them and ran a long finger across one of the petals.
"It's kind of stupid to ask you how you're feeling," she said.
"It's not. I'm feeling a bit better. I've got some pain medication so it doesn't hurt as much."
"Where's Hunny?" she asked.
"He's coming later. I told him to sleep at my place," he said. She nodded and rubbed her hands along her thighs.
"Haruhi," he paused and she bit her lip. "We still need to talk."
She closed her eyes in defeat, "Okay."
"It's nothing all that serious. Perhaps…perhaps it is serious."
She looked up at him and clenched her fists. He placed his hand over them.
"Please don't say it," she whispered.
"You have to know how I feel about you. I know how you feel about me."
She looked up at him in shock but was silent and offered no retort.
"I love you, Haruhi," he said.
She didn't know why she couldn't respond. Her eyes welled up with tears and her lips trembled.
"No, you can't," she said softly. Then came the uncontrollable sobbing. She hurried out of the room, her sobbing and tears escalating the further she went. She managed to regain her composure enough to hail a cab and enter her house with some dignity. But as soon as she closed her door she leaned her back against it and slid to the floor and rested her head against her knees. She cried hysterically for what felt like an eternity.
"Why now?" she said in between sobs. "Takashi, why did you tell me this now?"
Mori was home, or at least she remembered he was scheduled to be going home about a day or so ago. She had stopped answering her phone calls for a while now. She was in full work mode again and she didn't plan on stopping, she was almost upset that the weekend came and Micheal insisted that she take a few days off.
She took to doing chores, deciding today would be a good day to clean her kitchen. She couldn't focus though. Her thoughts kept drifting to Mori and she found herself gripped with anguish and the desire to see him. She forced herself to keep working. She idn't need Mori. And she didn't need Hunny meddling least of all. That was what started this. She was perfectly happy and alone in New York and then he had to make that stupid phone call…
But she had seen Mori even before that happened, right? If only she hadn't seen him that day at the Consulate.
You'd miss out on having one of the best friends you ever had. And he loves you.
She stopped scrubbing her sink and sat on her kitchen floor. Why did he have to tell her then? Why did he have to love her? The doorbell rang. She got up slowly. She had half a mind as to who it was, but it was inevitable. She didn't even bother to look through her peep hole. When she opened the door, Hunny was there. He didn't speak right away, but she could tell he was upset.
"Takashi told me not to come," he said. "But I don't care."
Haruhi looked down at her feet.
"Haruhi, I'm not asking you to love him," Hunny said.
"What did you think would happen?" she asked, her eyes never leaving the ground.
"I don't know. I really hoped he'd just find a companion in you. You have a way of bringing people out, there's no reason for pretense and…I wanted Takashi to come into his own with you. I'm sorry for using you but Takashi is…"
"You love him so much you'd risk your friendship with me to keep him sane."
He sighed, "That's the long and the short of it."
"He's really worth it. I don't mean anything compared to him."
"That's not what I meant at all, Haruhi, it was a hard decision, but––"
"Hunny, I…Takashi is…"
She burst into tears. Mori's love wasn't terrible. It was wonderful. She hadn't realized how much she'd wanted it until she almost lost him. He didn't deserve someone like her, he needed so much better. Hunny put a hand on her shoulder.
"I just want him to be happy," Hunny said. "But I can't force you to do something that isn't in your heart to do."
"Take me to see him," she said. "I've got something for him anyway."
Hunny smiled faintly, "I'll be waiting for you."
She went inside, put on a nicer shirt and a pair of shoes. Her hand lingered over the small box she had gift wrapped. She'd bought it shortly after the trip to Japan. She didn't think she'd ever work up the nerve to even be in his presence, let alone give it to him. Now was as good a time as any. She met Hunny in the car and stared at the box in her lap the entire trip. She lightly bit her lip as they came to the building and breathed deeply and evenly as they rode up the elevator.
Hunny led the way to the apartment and held open the door for her. She walked in, and removed her shoes. Every step toward his bedroom increased her dread, she swallowed before she entered. Her eyes locked with Mori's the instant she walked into the room. She dropped her gaze first but she felt his still following her as she drew closer. He looked much better but it still hurt her to see him like this.
"I got these for you," she said putting the box on the bedside table. He took it with his free hand and slid over in the bed.
"Sit, please," he said. She sat beside him so their shoulders would rub lightly together. Takashi gingerly unwrapped the paper, careful not to tear it. She helped him, as it was a bit slow going with one hand. Haruhi found herself flushing red slightly, the close proximity, their fingers would brush against each other every now and then, and Mori displayed such gentleness, all he had to do was rip it open. He slid out the pack of cards and smiled.
"Thank you," he said.
"It's really nothing. I mean, you gave me a deck, I thought I should just replace it."
He rumpled her hair and she grabbed his wrist and took his hand in both of hers. She forced herself to look him in the eye.
"Takashi, I have a confession to make," she said. He didn't say anything and she glanced up nervously. He was waiting for her to continue. She took a deep breath.
"I've never been closer with anyone outside of my father until I was with you. I never had anyone understand me so well. I just I don't want to lose that. I...I love you Takashi. But I didn't want to admit it to myself until I thought I had lost you. That's the reason why when you told me how you felt, I ran away. I'm such a terrible person, I don't know if I deserve you. If this hadn't happened, would I have ever…"
She trailed off and looked down fearfully. He hadn't said anything in response and she wondered what was going through his mind at the moment. He tilted her chin up and she was forced to meet his eyes again.
"You let me decide what I do and don't deserve," he said. She nodded and he kissed her. It was firm and yet so soft and Haruhi found herself inching closer to deepen the kiss. Their lips parted with a satisfying smack and Haruhi pressed her forehead against his neck and carefully wrapped an arm around his waist.
"I'm sorry it took so long for me to admit how I felt," she said. He shook his head and held her close.
"I don't care. I have you now, don't I?" he said.
"Yes," she said softly. She removed her hand from his waist and let her palm rest against his stomach. She felt the muscles tighten under her touch and she walked her fingers up toward his chest and pressed her hand against his heart. It was beating really fast and strong and she smiled to herself. So she could get him a little hot under the collar every now and then. It was only fair, he made her blush so many times.
Eventually, they would have to tell Hunny that everything was patched up, in fact things were better than ever. Eventually, they would have to call Ranka, and Tamaki and Kyoya and the rest of the Host Club. But for right then, they just wanted to enjoy the quiet, sweet moment of being together in each other's arms. Not much more needed to be said and quite frankly, Haruhi didn't yet have the words to explain the depth of what she felt. Knowing Mori, he probably already knew.
About a week or so later, they were stumbling back to Mori's apartment from a performance of Wicked. Haruhi kicked off her heels and walked beside Mori he hopped along on his crutches back to his room.
"So you were now introduced to one of my vices," she said. He grinned and shook his head.
"You didn't like it," she said.
"I'm not used to it. I liked some things. The singing was really good," he said.
"You'll like 'Phantom of the Opera' better," she said. They both collapsed on the bed.
"Tamaki will be calling soon," he said. She groaned and wriggled her way out of her nylons. They had agreed on a time for him to call them compensating for the time difference.
"He probably wants a play by play of our first official week as a couple," she said.
"He'll have everyone in a conference call," Mori added as he took off his jacket and tie. She giggled and gently snuggled close to him. His ribs were still tender from the accident so she had to be careful.
"We have a little time before they call," she whispered in his ear. She unbuttoned his shirt a little and pressed light kisses along his neck. His fingers threaded through her hair and he breathed in sharply. She moved to his lips, savoring the feel of his lips against hers before deepening the kiss. The phone rang and she pulled away, but he pulled her back into another lingering kiss. Finally, they stopped long enough for Haruhi to pick up the phone.
"Hey, Tamaki," she said, hoping she didn't sound too breathless. "Wait a minute, I'm putting you on speaker phone."
"Good evening, lovebirds!" Tamaki sang. "Oh, I can't tell you how happy I am for you both. And guess what, I have a surprise for you guys! The entire Host Club is on the line!"
As everyone said their greetings, Haruhi shot Mori a look. He raised his eyebrows and smirked and she stifled a giggle.
"Takashi, how are you since the accident?" Hunny asked.
"I'm much better. It will still be a couple of months before I can teach kendo and ride my horses again but I'm mostly back to normal."
"I'm sure being injured is keeping you from doing everything you want to do. I mean, you have to go easy on your body and all. Haruhi will just have to be patient," Hikaru said.
"Well, there are creative ways around it I'm sure," Karou said. "There's got to be one position you can use that won't––"
"Will you two stop that?" Haruhi said quickly, a blush gracing her cheeks. Mori placed his hand over hers and squeezed. One look at his face and she could tell he had been concerned about the things they had brought up. She shook her head and kissed his cheek.
"Don't worry about it," she whispered in his ear so the others wouldn't hear.
"I'm just glad to hear you're feeling better and that you're getting out," Hunny said.
"Yes, what kinds of dates did you guys go on?" Tamaki interjected.
"We didn't do much. We just got back from a Broadway show," Haruhi said.
"Oh? Broadway doesn't seem very Haruhi to me," Kyoya said.
"It is. It was her idea to go," Mori said.
"Oh, Broadway! No shortage of love songs in that genre. Which one do you like best? I'll practice now for your wedding," Tamaki said.
"Give us some time first!" Haruhi said. Tamaki continued as though he hadn't heard.
"Oh, there's 'All I Ask of You,' 'Sunrise, Sunset,' or maybe something from 'Les Miserables…'"
As he rattled more songs off, she rubbed her cheek against his and he put his arm around her waist.
"How soon did you want to get married?" he whispered.
"I don't know," she replied. "No pressure, I was just talking."
Kyoya chimed in, "Since we're on the subject of your possible wedding, may I offer the use of one of my resorts for the proceedings?"
"I'll design your wedding dress!" Karou offered.
"Then I've got the reception dress," Hikaru said.
"I know the best baker for the cake," Hunny added.
Haruhi laughed and leaned her head on Mori's shoulder. Was there a wedding for them in the future? She wasn't going to lie to herself this time: she sincerely hoped there was. But that was the future. Right now, she was just grateful to know that she was in his heart. The simple comfort of falling asleep in his arms that night was more than enough.
So hopefully everyone enjoyed the story. I hope it gives you the MoriHaru fix we all need now and then. Um, will I continue this story? Most likely not. Though someone mentioned in the comments a while back that Mori as a father would be adorable. And…well yes, it really would be. So maybe I'll write a one shot about that (obviously tied to this story). And I'm kicking around the idea of the Host Club sponsored wedding, I'm not sure about that.
But this is it for now. I'm hopping off to the Death Note fandom for a short stint. I have a story I've been working on for that fandom for a long time and I'm ready to post it.
I hope you all liked this story. Thank you, thank you, thank you for reading, favorite-ing and reviewing. I greatly appreciate it. You made my first Ouran fic a joy to share. I was so sure everyone would be upset for not my not writing TamaHaru and I got so much great support. Again, thank you!