This was written for the LiveJournal group, ouran_contest. The theme was "Abnormal." Unfortunately, it was the group's final contest, but I'm proud to say that this won first place.
The title is inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's short story, "The Telltale Heart." Please enjoy.
Haruhi felt a familiar feeling of dread as two pairs of arms encircled her, squishing her and hindering her breathing.
"Haruhi!" the twins crooned fondly with mischievous grins on their faces. "Did you enjoy yourself today?"
"Get off of me!" Haruhi managed to get out as she squirmed to evade their embrace.
"Lighten up, Haruhi!" Hikaru said with a laugh, releasing her only to place an arm around her shoulder.
Kaoru did the same, saying, "Yeah, Haruhi. Lighten up. We're only trying to have a little fun."
Haruhi, who had had a long, hard day and was not in the mood for the frivolous antics of the twins, tried to shake off the weight of their arms that was bearing down on her shoulders.
"I need to go home," she said calmly, feigning patience, "so could you two please get off of me?"
"Haruhi! You're so cold!" they responded. "Why don't you want to play with us?"
They began to spin her around in an awkward, forced dance, humming an obnoxious tune all the while.
Just as Haruhi neared the end of her patience, one of the other hosts caught sight of the perilous situation and spoke up.
"Stop that," Kyoya said calmly and clearly.
Upon hearing the demon lord's voice, the twins stopped in their tracks, both breaking out into a sudden sweat. Their eyes widened immensely as their heads slowly turned to look at the fear-inducing host club vice-president.
Haruhi also turned to look at Kyoya, in wonder.
How unusual, she thought to herself, Kyoya-senpai has actually come to my aid this time? I would not have expected him to want to help me...
"You almost knocked over that lamp. It's an antique, you know," Kyoya said, and the three of them simultaneously looked behind them to where Kyoya's gaze was directed.
There indeed on a small table was an expensive, one-of-a-kind antique lamp that they had not even noticed they were close to knocking over in their antics.
"You three should not engage in such horseplay in the club room," Kyoya stated.
Eh? Haruhi thought.
"You all mustn't be so careless," Kyoya concluded, turning away to scribble something in his notebook.
Haruhi's shoulders slumped, and her eyes narrowed in disbelief.
How did I get roped into taking the blame for this? she thought bitterly. So he had no intention of helping me; he just wanted to save his lamp. I should have known better.
When she looked back at the twins, they were holding each other, shaking and wiping away each other's tears.
"What's wrong with you two?" Haruhi asked, though she wasn't really that interested.
"Kyoya-senpai is so cold," Hikaru whispered through his shivers.
"Even colder than Haruhi," Kaoru said, prompting a fervent nod from Hikaru.
"Gee, thanks," Haruhi replied to the indirect insult. "I don't know what you guys are so afraid of, though. Sure, Kyoya-senpai can be a bit intimidating at times, but he's really not all that scary."
The twins looked at each other and then looked to Haruhi. Suddenly releasing each other, Hikaru placed a hand over Haruhi's mouth, and the two of them dragged her to the far corner of the music room, despite her struggles to get free.
As soon as they were all crouched in the corner, Hikaru removed his hand from her mouth.
She began loudly, "What the heck was that fo-"
Hikaru slapped his hand back over her mouth, and both twins nervously urged her not to speak above a whisper. Hikaru removed his hand once more when Haruhi reluctantly nodded in a promise of compliance.
"You're wrong, Haruhi! Dangerously wrong!" Kaoru cried in a hushed voice.
"Wrong about what? You guys are acting ridiculous. Not that I should be surprised about that..."
"Wrong about Kyoya-senpai!" Hikaru said, flailing his arms for emphasis. "He may have the outward charms of a host, but he is not as friendly as he leads the guests and everyone to believe!"
"Neither are you guys," Haruhi said dully.
Deciding to ignore her statement, Kaoru said, "We actually have a secret about Kyoya-senpai to share with you, Haruhi. We had promised to keep this secret between the two of us, but desperate times call for desperate measures. It's time you got an accurate perception of our vice-president, for your own safety."
"He's heartless," they both said, terror covering their faces.
"You guys... cut it out," Haruhi said, actually feeling a tiny bit sorry for Kyoya, who had had to deal with these crazed twins for much longer than she had.
"Haruhi! You don't understand!" they both said gravely.
Hikaru and Kaoru stole a glance back in Kyoya's direction. When they were sure he wasn't paying attention to them, they turned back to Haruhi, shuddering. They leaned in close to her, as if the disclosure of their secret was of life-or-death importance.
With his voice lowered even more to the point of being barely audible, Hikaru began, "It was one afternoon in this very room, before you joined the host club, and the guests had all just left. We had done a doctor cosplay, and Kaoru and I had a stethoscope that we were playing with."
Kaoru picked up the retelling. "We were going around listening to everyone's hearts, you see. Honey-senpai's heartbeat was very quick and energetic, much like Honey-senpai himself. Mori-senpai's heartbeat was loud, deep, and yet somewhat apathetic. Tamaki-senpai's heartbeat-"
"-sounded very idiotic," they both finished in agreement.
Haruhi rolled her eyes.
Hikaru leaned in further to finish the grim tale. "Then we went to listen to Kyoya-senpai's heartbeat. We knew he wouldn't let us do it if we asked, so we just quickly snuck up on him and placed the stethoscope on his chest. But when we listened for his heartbeat..."
"...there was nothing there," Kaoru said.
"You've gotta be kidding me," Haruhi said, mourning her wasted time.
The twins took Haruhi by the shoulders when they saw that she wasn't taking them seriously and made their eyes as wide as possible.
"KYOYA-SENPAI HAS NO HEART," they concluded, shaking Haruhi with each word.
Haruhi was beyond annoyed now and swatted their hands away. "You two are the cold ones. You're exaggerating."
"No, we're not, Haruhi! It's true! You have to believe us," Kaoru pleaded.
Haruhi stood up and stretched. "You guys are ridiculous... and paranoid... and crazy," she said disapprovingly, pausing before each new adjective to make sure they got an accurate description of how she thought they were acting. "I'm going home," she said, ready to push past them and be on her way.
Hikaru and Kaoru stood up also, not about to let her get away without getting their point across.
"Fine! If you don't believe us, find out for yourself!"
They disappeared in a flash toward the supply room. Haruhi took that as her cue to leave, but she hadn't even reached the door by the time the twins reappeared and blocked her way.
Kaoru placed the stethoscope's earpieces in her ears, and Hikaru made sure the chestpiece was in her right hand.
Before she knew what was happening, the twins yelled, "Kyoya-senpai! Haruhi is trying to leave the club room with host club property!"
"What?" Haruhi cried in outrage, seeing them pointing at her and the stethoscope.
Kyoya stopped writing in his notebook with a wry face and approached them. As soon as he was close enough, the twins both pushed Haruhi forcefully toward Kyoya. She nearly tripped before colliding roughly into him, and a loud, hurried beating sound filled her ears. Confused, she looked to see that her hands had landed against Kyoya's chest when she was bracing herself for a fall, and her right hand, which held the chestpiece, had landed right over his heart.
He looked down at her curiously and then up at the twins, giving them a look that made their blood run cold.
"Are you two idiots telling people that I don't have a heart again?" he asked, his voice, now with a purposefully darker tone, instilling a deep fear in even Haruhi, who was currently immobile.
The twins screamed in horror, throwing their arms up and yelling, "Every man for himself!" as they bolted out of the third music room.
"Those jerks," Haruhi muttered.
"And you believed them?" he said down to her accusingly as the music room's doors slammed shut.
"No," she said honestly, still attached to him and hearing his enraged heartbeat as she slowly turned her wide-eyed gaze up to look at him.
His heartbeat got suddenly faster, pounding quite loudly in her ears. Haruhi was thoroughly confused as to how his heart could be beating so quickly when she was looking right at him and his expression was completely blank and void of emotion.
I thought he had low blood pressure?
"Find what you were looking for?" he asked, a hint of resentment in his voice.
"Your heart... is very active..." she mumbled, though she didn't think that he heard her.
When her mind registered what he had just said, she hastily removed the stethoscope from his chest and took a small step back.
"Uh, yes," she replied, embarrassed. "I apologize."
"I would have thought that you were above such nonsense, Haruhi, and I take it as a personal offense that you were even entertaining the notions of those two morons," he stated.
"Kyoya-senpai," she said with a softer tone, "You know that they don't mean anything by it. They just like to make up stories and embellish the truth to keep themselves from getting bored is all. Are you surprised by their actions? Why do you even pretend to take this seriously?"
"I'm more concerned about your part in this," he ventured to say.
"You know as well as I do that I would never believe in such a thing as you having no heart, senpai," she assured him.
"Then why did you have that look of surprise when you heard my heartbeat?" he inquired.
"Oh, that?" Haruhi said, almost humored by his disposition. "I was wondering why it was so... abnormal."
"Excuse me?" Kyoya said automatically. No one had ever called him abnormal before.
"Your heartbeat, I mean," she explained. "It was very fast and loud, but it was irregular."
His eyes narrowed as he looked down at her discerningly. "You must have heard wrong."
"No," she said with complete confidence, "Your heartbeat was very unsteady. Your face is very good at hiding things, but your heart, Kyoya-senpai, is not."
"And what exactly is my face hiding that my heart cannot?" Kyoya asked in an almost mocking tone, looking away from her. Not waiting for her answer, he added, "You must be mistaken."
Irritated by his disbelief, she plunked the chestpiece back on him, bringing his gaze back to her as she listened intently.
Indignant, he began, "What-"
"No, I heard right, Kyoya-senpai," she interrupted. "Your heartbeat is still abnormal."
Annoyed, Kyoya reached up a hand to pull hers away, but the bewildered look on her face as his hand made contact with hers made him freeze in place.
As she heard his heart speed up dangerously when he touched her, something clicked in Haruhi's mind. The implications were undeniable.
She looked at him anew, her mouth slightly open in surprise as she marveled over what his heart was betraying to her without his permission.
Kyoya began to ask, "What is that look..."
But his question trailed off, and his eyes lost the hard edge that he had reflexively forced upon them.
Seeing his resignation, her own heart seized.
Before she knew what was happening, Kyoya's right hand, with pointer and middle fingers extended, reached up and rested on the side of her neck. He applied pressure with the two fingers, feeling her racing pulse seconds before her mind registered what he was doing.
Haruhi noticed him swallow hard before he said, "Your heart... Haruhi... is also very active."
Her face grew warm as his fingers remained in place, gaging her heartbeat. She became suddenly acutely aware of how her own heart was running an embarrassingly fitful marathon inside of her.
As she continued listening to his spastic heart, she tried to imagine how the two of them looked at the moment. She realized that the position they were in must have looked strange, to say the least, but she could not find it in herself to move from it. There was too much to listen to, too much that she would never hear again so that it made her want not to miss a beat.
They stared at each other, stuck at quite a stalemate. Something unidentifiable hung in the air between them, as their minds raced almost as frantically as their hearts, wondering how this predicament had even come to place and what assumptions could be made from it, if any.
As Haruhi pondered these things, a look of deep contemplation came over her. As her mind posed a number of irrational courses of action, a heavy frown crossed her face. None of the options seemed viable, and she mentally kicked herself for even thinking such senseless things.
Seeing her frown, as well as the accompanying speeding up of her pulse and the glazing over of her eyes as her mind went into unknown imaginations, he extended the other three fingers of his right hand. The hand, which seemed to only be partially attached to his brain, slid the few inches up to the side of her face. Because of this, he did not get to feel her pulse go even faster, but he instead felt the intense heat coming from her cheeks.
As he absentmindedly stroked her face once with the side of his thumb, a corner of his mouth raised slightly upon seeing her frown fade.
The chestpiece fell from Kyoya's chest, and Haruhi swiftly removed the stethoscope from her ears, tossing it aside.
It was too much. Too much all at once.
She was on the edge of an explosion of some sort, and it took everything in her to keep herself together.
"I should... go..." she voiced, not looking at him yet not moving to leave.
His hand slid back along her jawline, reminding her of its presence.
"Maybe you should," he said before bending to kiss her gingerly on the cheek, his lips just barely catching the corner of her mouth.
Haruhi let out a humming little sigh, and he removed his lips from her cheek, only moving an inch away before whispering, "I probably shouldn't have done that," onto her skin.
"You probably shouldn't have," Haruhi replied.
Her hand shot up out of nowhere, rotating his face forcefully so that she could kiss him.
His eyebrows rose at the unexpected action, and he was glad that she had tossed the stethoscope so she could not hear the incessant hammering of his heart against its bony cage.
However, she rested a hand on his chest, and, feeling the hammering vibrating through her fingers, she smiled against his lips. His heart, dangerously honest and undefended as it was, told her everything that she needed to know, and from then on, whenever they kissed, she would place a hand over his heart so that she could hear him say that he loved her.
Ah, young love.
Because Kyoya's not one to admit his feelings out loud, and Haruhi's not one to figure out such feelings without painfully obvious and undeniable evidence of them.
Thank you for reading. Please review, if you could.