"Oh, my precious daughter, you look sooo bee-yooo-tiful!"
A whirl of rose-petals signaled Tamaki's pleasure with the satin ball-gown that Haruhi has been forced into by the twins.
Haruhi sighed, tugging and pulling at the pouffy skirt to get it to sit right. A puff of exasperated air escaped from her, as she twisted around inside the dress.
Stupid dress, she thought. It was too tight around her ribcage, too voluminous after her waist, and there was too little of it covering her chest! She tugged at the neckline again, trying to pull it up. One of the blessings of being flat was never worrying about necklines, or so she thought. Thanks to Hikaru and Kaoru's mother, though, even that comfort was taken away.
Judging from the looks on the boys faces, though, she could guess how she looked. Or rather how her figure looked.
"You look great Haru-chan," said Honey solemnly, Usa-chan trailing on the floor next to him.
Kyoya even cleared his throat, adjusted his glasses, and began scribbling mutely on his notepad.
She felt a blush crawling up her cheeks.
Tamaki twirled over, in his flower petal storm, leaning over to her.
"Oh, what a maidenly blush! How innocent! How sweet!" he cried, reaching out and crushing her to him.
"Get OFF of me!" Haruhi grunted, pushing away from his surprisingly strong embrace. Her cheeks reddened even more. She silently hoped the dress stayed in place.
"Aw, doesn't she look cute," the twins teased in unison, over her other shoulder.
"Cut it OUT!" she yelled.
"We thought you wanted to look feminine for once," Kaoru said, slightly puzzled. "For your birthday…"
"And do you ever!" Hikaru added slyly. The other twin reached over and slapped him upside his head.
Haruhi narrowed her eyes and shot a glare at him.
Tamaki twirled over, and then frowned at the twins.
"Stop upsetting my beautiful princess!" he shooed them away. He paused, and slicked his hair back with one hand. Holding out a rose to Haruhi in one hand, he leaned forward with another whoosh of rose petals.
"Of course you know dear," he said, eyes sparkling, "you are enchantingly feminine. Your sparkling beauty overwhelmed me and I had to come closer. Forgive me, beautiful princess. Please accept this rose," he proffered the rose with a bow. Haruhi stared at it, and blinked in irritation at the petal background that suddenly appreared behind her.
He paused, and looked at her, big bluish-purple dinner-plate eyes blinking. Haruhi groaned. "Tamaki-senpai," she said, biting the words out. "Do you really think you can use your Host Club act on me?"
He froze, stunned. The color drained from his face. "Aaaaaccttt?" he moaned as his white ghost swirled away in a cloud of depression.
Haruhi sighed inwardly. This was not turning out well. The other members looked at her like she'd kicked a puppy. Well, was she supposed to banish her common sense just because she put on a dress? Frustration boiled up inside.
"How am I supposed to feel feminine, when you're all such a bunch of GIRLS!" she yelled. Grabbing handfuls of the skirt she gingerly lifted it up and stomped across the room, away from the lunatics. Her tulle rustled angrily as she muttered to herself.
"If I wasn't in a dress right now," she growled to herself. She would what? Gosh, she wouldn't do anything. Because they wouldn't be staring at her…like…like that! She glanced backwards. The group was still staring at her, quietly, like they weren't sure what happened.
The heat of their stares burned her skin, especially her neck and shoulders…she felt her reddening intensify. It infuriated her, and what they were probably thinking about her blush made her even more upset.
Why had she given in to the twins' suggestion? That was her first mistake.
It was late one day, and as they were clearing out the tea-things, Haruhi had let drop the fact that it was her birthday on Friday.
"Really?" they both said eagerly.
"Ah, I mean…never mind," she'd hastily covered.
"Oh no, this is terrific!" said Hikaru. "Our Mom is about the release her spring collection, and she has the perfect dress that you could wear for your birthday party!"
"My birthday party?"
"You don't think we'd allow you to get away without a birthday party now that we know the date, do you?" asked Kaoru, sliding around to her other side.
Haruhi groaned. "C'mon guys, I just said that I wanted the day off, not a party! You know how I hate those affairs…"
"What, and let you go home and sit around in…this all day long?" asked Hikaru, holding up the sleeve of her uniform.
"Hey, what do you mean?" she asked, snatching her sleeve back.
"Oh. You know," began Hikaru.
"Men's clothes," they chimed together, looking at her derisively.
"HEY! I'll have you know I don't only wear men's clothes! I mean, not like it matters…" she huffed. "Because it doesn't!"
"Well, whatever works for you. I mean, I know you avoid dresses because your figure isn't…shall we say…ideal?" Hikaru sniffed.
Haruhi was surprised at the anger itching in her throat. I mean, she didn't care about gender or anything...so why was this getting on her nerves? She was always so cool-headed. That was her job, practically...But those Twins! They'd been grating on her all day with their stupid "let's-annoy-Haruhi!" act, and now they were insulting her? Well, you know what? Maybe they'd imposed on her good graces for too long.
"Fine!" You know what? We'll have the stupid party. I'll wear the dress," she said.
"What?" Kaoru said, eyes wide. Hikaru looked surprised as well.
"Yes. You set up the party and bring the dress, and you'll see just how 'ideal' a girl I can be," Haruhi felt like sticking out her tongue, but refrained. Barely.
She left the twins dumbfounded, a nagging feeling that she would really regret this.
Haruhi sat on the piano bench, looking at the night sky over Ouran Academy. The imposing clock face stared blankly back at her. Her skirt mounded up on the bench around her.
Maidenly blush! Ha! Haruhi fumed. It wasn't an innocent, flattered blush that she had, but an embarrassed, frustrated red-hot that painted her cheeks. So embarrassed…and her privacy felt completely violated.
Taking a deep breath, she tried to compose herself, but the skirt rustled every time she moved. She sighed.
With a hesitant hand, she smoothed over the fabric. It felt soft and silky, like she'd imagined a real lady would feel like. After entertaining Ouran girls for nearly a year now, Haruhi got to know all kinds of details about clothes and fabrics. Thankfully, as a "boy" she wasn't expected to know much, but Haruhi still felt behind.
A pang of jealousy shot through her remembering the Host Club's last ball. Girls chatting and sparkling, twirling and swirling in their beautiful dresses. She stood in tie and tails, bowing and escorting the girls, dressed like confections, rather than people. But…
There was a magic about their dresses and perfume. She saw Tamaki bowing and twirling girls, even Kyoya-senpai waltzing gracefully with an elegant customer. The girls seemed so happy...and the hosts, even though they practiced at keeping their feelings to themselves, Haruhi could tell they were entranced by the gorgeous creatures.
"Whaddaya think, Haruhi? wishing you were in a dress?" Hikaru whispered in her ear, as he passed by. Haruhi jumped, breaking her reverie.
"What? No!" she belatedly protested, but Hikaru was already on the dancefloor, with a small blonde girl in his arms. Haruhi recognized her, a new girl..Aiko? Kikyo? Rather shy, she shocked everyone when she requested the twins.
Haruhi gazed at them. Hikaru was graciously showing her the steps, as she tenatively held onto his hands. Hikaru had adopted her somewhat, Haruhi remembered. He didn't play jokes on her, but instead included her in his wisecracks, and glowed when a smile blossomed on her face.
"Hmmm," Haruhi thought. The twins were always so mean to her. She wondered if they would torment her if she wore a dress and did her hair all feminine...like she used to. She shook her head, and proffered her arm to one of her clients. "Would you like to dance?"
Haruhi groaned inwardly on the piano bench as she realized that was her motivation. Not to get revenge on the twins, but just…to feel feminine for once. Was it so wrong? She stroked a bit of her dress. It was lovely. Haruhi sighed. But it turned out, no matter what she wore, she was still the staid, reliable ol'Haruhi with her head squarely on her shoulders, like always. Why couldn't she ever act like everyone else?
She shook her head. Tomorrow she'd be better, with no dreams of being some delicate flower. Yes, tomorrow.
A shadow fell on the floor in front of her. She froze, sensing a cool presence behind her.
"Haruhi," a deep voice stated.
"Mori-senpai?" she asked, turning her head.
He stood there, in his suit, staring out the window. The streetlights from outside illuminated his imposing features.
He turned and looked at her, his granite eyes coming in contact with her stomach. Whap. She felt it lurch. He reached his white-gloved hand to her. She stared at it.
"Ah, um, I'm fine, I mean, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to storm off like that," she said, words all bumping together.
His mouth quirked briefly in a corner, and his eyes softened. Haruhi instantly remembered his smile at her in the tropical resort. Impressions flooded back, including a warm hand on her head, and being nestled in strong arms. Darn. She felt a blush start in the pit of her stomach.
"Would you like to dance?" he said quietly, head tilted to one side.
Haruhi swallowed. She couldn't trust herself to speak. What was with tonight? Everything was all topsy-turvy. Nodding slightly, she grasped his hand.
In one fluid motion, he pulled her up and close to him. Haruhi blinked and realized she was floating, nearly suspended by arms that could break through cement. Now they began twirling onto the dance-floor, and she felt like flying.
She looked up, and Mori's serene, gray-eyed expression stared back at her. His gaze was steady and solid, like the arms that held her delicately as they spun around the floor. Haruhi felt the blush trying to crawl up her cheeks again.
Dipping and swaying around the room, Mori was precise and controlled. Haruhi could feel the skill in his muscles as he guided her. One of his hands, gentle, but firm, caressed the small of her back. Haruhi could feel the occasional pressure as he steered her forward.
She was dizzy with the music before she realized there was music, violins playing a waltz, which had somehow appeared in the side of the room. As they twirled past, Haruhi glimpsed the Host Club. Tamaki-senpai's jaw was on the floor, and Kyoya had one restraining hand on his shoulder. Honey was gleefully smiling and clutching Usa-chan, and Hikaru and Kaoru were next to the conductor whispering something in his ear.
The music shifted. A sensuous strain of violins glided over a pizzicato bass, which plucked out a rhythmic beat. Haruhi looked up at Mori. His eyes had darkened and Haruhi felt her stomach liquefy. His arms tightened around her, as they shifted position.
Haruhi was fiercely aware of the curve in her waist, through the warm, firm pressure of his hand embracing it.
Crap. This was what she had wanted wasn't it? She'd never felt so…so…feminine before. This was bad. Haruhi remembered why she renounced gender. From the desire in Mori-senpai's eyes, to the intentional pressures and small caresses his hands kept making, Haruhi could never remember feeling so helpless. And vulnerable. Yet exhilarated.
She stared into Mori's eyes, intent on returning the solid gaze, to show how strong she was. His eyes shifted, and she saw a glint of mirth in them. His hand squeezed her waist, then he used it to push her under his other arm, which was raised. As she came around, her hand caught the solidness of his shoulder, and suddenly, she was suspended a foot above the floor, in a strong embrace.
Haruhi nearly gasped, but Mori's smoky gaze two inches from her face eyes stole her breath away. The intimate hold her had her in...Haruhi felt exposed. Could he read her mind through her muscles? she wondered. Goodness knows what he was reading now, as her mind roiled with the heat and sensation.
He slowly drew her up, the strength in his muscles so obvious. He knew it, she thought, his eyes still searing her. As they began to march diagonally across the floor, as the tango demanded, his hand trailed small circles on her lower back. Step, step, turn. They snapped their heads to face each other. His eyes were so deep, Haruhi felt herself shiver. Did he know what he was doing to her? They finished marching across the floor, and he twirled her out, then pulled her back to firmly.
Hauruhi collided with his chest, and his arms tightened around her. She looked up confused. What was she supposed to do now? He quirked a smile. Haruhi suddenly remembered.
"Okay," she thought, suppressing her ody's reaction to his proximity, "two can play at this game."
With one foot, she pressed against the inside of his ankle, sliding it out. She stepped her foot through his legs, and back again, in a kicking motion. She returned the stare, and he crooked an eyebrow. Repeating it on the other side, she stomped her feet and intentionally nudged him.
He was about to resume dancing, but she took his hands, looking up at him. His eyebrow shot up again. There was a tango trick or two she had learned that she could show him.
Haruhi twirled around, back pressed against him, placed his hands on her hips, and slid down his torso, stretching one leg out to the side. She felt a slight tremor in his stomach, a muffled intake of breath.
His hands gripped her waist, and pulled her upwards, completing the move. Turning her around, Mori's eyes were stormy and Haruhi felt her bones turn to jelly.
The slinky violins continued to twirl around them. He slid one arm behind her back, placed the other firmly on her waist, and before she could say anything, he'd lifted her up. She was airborne. Her only connection to earth was Mori's solid grip. She felt her heartbeat throughout her whole body.
"Ooh"'s and "Aah"'s came from the sidelines.
Mori gently set her back on the floor, facing him. Reaching out, he grasped her hand, and twirled her around again, then pulling her back in. Haruhi felt ashamed to be so affected by his presence, but she was awash in the dizzing cocktail of his warnth and musky scent. Steps blurred into the next, and Haruhi lost track of where her arms and legs began and ended. She was swallowed up in the pressure and warmth and connectedness of it all. She remembered Mori's eyes, incongruously calm.
Then, the last twirl and a swoop downwards, and Haruhi was staring into Mori's eyes from an inch away. There was a storm raging, but an overlay of triumph shining from them. She felt their breath mingle for one delirious second, and then she was up, standing, while the applause from the Host Club surrounded her.
She looked over at the sidelines. Kyoya was fanning Tamaki, who had passed out on the floor. Honey's eyes were wider than dinner plates, Usa-chan forgotten on the floor, and the twins looked devilishly delighted.
"I knew the tango was your dance!" said Hikaru, grinning. "Mori-senpai, who knew you could move it so well on the dancefloor…" his last statement was tinged with…jealousy? Haruhi shook her head. She needed to sit down before she could think straight.
"Here, let me help you to the table," said Kaoru, gliding over and supporting Haruhi with one arm. She grasped it thankfully, instantly noting the difference between Kaoru's slender one and Mori's strong one. Darn it! she thought.
A table had appeared, with a cake on it, and some presents ("Fancy tuna! For you!" Tamaki-senpai had said joyously, mysteriously recovered) and the rest of her party passed in a blur.
As they all bustled about, leaving, each member came by to say goodbye and wish her a happy birthday. Each one smiled and wished her a very happy birthday, shaking her hand or giving her a hug. Even Kyoya. He shook her hand, and he turned and looked at Mori, glasses glinting. Then he looked at Haruhi.
"Good luck," he said simply, and walked off.
"W-what do you mean?" Haruhi said in surprise, but Kyoya was gone.
Haruhi looked over where Mori standing at a distance, staring out the window, arms clasped behind his back.
She cleared her throat nervously, which echoed in the room.
He turned around, and his gaze again interrupted the normal functions of her stomach.
Mori walked over smoothly, and expressionless as usual, though, and Haruhi wondered if she'd imagined everything in the dance. But then he took out his hand, and in one swift move, pulled her to him.
Haruhi stared up at his face, inscrutable but steady.
His chest felt like a tree trunk, and she felt like the tree was growing around her, as his arm wrapped around her again. She looked up, panic in her eyes. His gaze was reassuringly warm and soft.
He leaned down, sending a breeze past her cheek. His mouth next to her ear, and he whispered in a soft rumble.
"Happy Birthday, Haruhi."
She wonder if he could feel the chills run up her spine in this tight of a grip.
"Thank you, Mori," she said, cursing her un-steady voice.
He pulled back, and looked down at her, and held her chin with one hand. Haruhi wondered if she would ever feel this helpless again.
He leaned down, and pressed a warm kiss on her cheek. She sucked in a breath and clutched his suit-coat automatically. When he straightened up, he looked at her and smiled.
He turned to go, but Haruhi's mouth finally began working again.
"Wait!" she said. He paused and turned around.
She ran over, and pushed up on her tip-toes. He leaned down, brows knit in confusion. Haruhi reached up to hold his cheek with one hand (his skin was ever-so-slightly stubbly), and pressed her lips onto his other cheek.
When she sank back down on her feet, she couldn't tell if she was blushing or smiling harder.
"Thank you for a wonderful birthday, Mori-senpai," she whispered, looking up at him.
Maybe it was the darkness, but she thought she saw a slight red tinge cover his face. One hand held his cheek where she kissed him.
"…you're welcome," he rumbled. A pause, and then a slight smile tugged at his mouth.
"See you later, Mori-senpai," Haruhi said. He nodded.
She was stuck to the spot, watching Mori saunter off. It was probably her addled brain, but she swore could see muscles rippling through his suit coat. Once the door closed behind him, Haruhi weakly walked back to the dressing room. Hanging the dress on a hanger, Haruhi stared at it. Then she shivered and clutched at her casual jeans and T-shirt.
Leaving the dressing-room, she shut the door with a sigh. She'd sort out the churning emotions in her stomach later, she thought, folding the dress over one arm.
She'd take it home with her, and bring it back for the twins to pick up. She shuffled out and paused, looking out the window before flipping the low lights off.
One thing was for sure, she thought, with an eye-roll. That was quite enough feminine for a while.
A/N: I hope you liked it! I always thought Mori was the only host that made Haruhi feel feminine...since she's always the sensibvle level-headed one pulling the other Hosts out of scrapes. :-)
Question: Was the "hot" stuff hot enough? Not enough? Awkward? Juvenile?...I'm used to sweet fluff, and this sort of turned into a wannabe steamy Mori/Haruhi...and I'm not sure how much of it worked! :-)
Please let me know what you liked and didn't like about it. I appreciate every little bit of feedback...