I am sosososososososo sorry for this being so late, but something tragic happened with one of my horses and just trying to proof this without crying was very hard.
I take no claim to anything that is not mine. Now enjoy!
After her first day of school, Kara lay awake in her plush bed unable to shut down her thoughts long enough to catch a wink of sleep.
No matter what Kara tried to do, she couldn't shake the feeling of regret for how stupidly she had acted. After thinking everything over, it was somewhat decidedly lucky; Kara would now spend even more time with the boy she was supposed to woo, but the ultimate downside was that now she would be under his command until the ridiculously large debt was paid.
Really, this couldn't get much worse.
Finally, after much tossing and turning, Kara's eyelids began to droop, and she drifted off into a restless sleep.
It was all she could do the night before to try and fall asleep, and still she only managed to capture a meager three hours of slumber. Waking up to the annoying wail of the alarm clock, she somewhat resembled some hideous creature; dark circles around her eyes and hair frazzled in every which way. Yet another bad start to the day in Japan.
Kara stretched, not satisfied until she heard the joints in her lower back pop, and slithered out of bed. She bundled up a fresh pair of orange and pink spotted shorts and a black tank top to change into after her shower and then trudged to the bathroom just outside the bedroom.
She plugged in the mini space heater and began to let it warm up the bathroom while she went to gather more of what she needed for school. Exiting the bathroom and reentering her bedroom, Kara started to scoop up some assorted papers and pens and stuff them into her school bag. Hanging on a brass hook on the closet door was the yellow monster; still cheery and bright despite the sour mood filling up the room from its single living occupant.
Once stroke of genius she had after school yesterday was to pack some spare clothes to change into after school, the sooner she was able to get out of that hideous dress, the better. Moving to her dresser, she pulled out a pair of navy blue capri length pants and a simple grey t-shirt that read, "Tennis Warehouse;" something she had been given by her coach when it came as a freebie with a racket stringer he had bought for the team.
Kara pulled out a drawstring back pack and stuffed the extra clothes into it, along with a pair of black flats. She looped the strap of the bag on the door knob to her bedroom and hurried back into the now warmed bathroom.
She wriggled her bare toes on the fluffy bath-mat while twisting the knobs to a comfortably warm temperature as the water gushed out from the faucet. Satisfied with the water, Kara stripped down the rest of the way and stepped into the bathtub, pulling the curtain closed and starting the shower.
Once done showering, Kara stepped out, wrung out her sopping-wet blonde hair over the tub, and grabbed one of the monogrammed towels that hung on the rack to begin drying off with.
Kara dressed herself in the shorts and tank top and began working on drying her hair. The loud whirring of the purple hair dryer filled the tan-tiled room as she combed her hair in front of it to rid it of the excess water. With her hair mostly dry, Kara straightened out the awkward lumps in her bangs and decided to leave her hair down in its natural wavy state for the day.
Kara made her way back to her bedroom and turned to face the foul yellow uniform. No matter how much she despised it, she had no choice. Grumbling, she removed it from the hanger, peeled off her tank and shorts, and put on the stuffy dress. She checked the clock on her bureau and grabbed her two bags, and made way to the kitchen to grab a bite for breakfast.
Kara's opening of the refrigerator door revealed a bottle of orange juice, much to her pleasure, and a vanilla yogurt. Grabbing a spoon out of a drawer, she made her way towards the front door where she peeked out a window to find that once again, the black Ootori vehicle waiting at the curb outside.
She opened the heavy front door and stepped out into the crisp morning air. The driver took note of her presence and stepped out of the car and made his way around to the other side to open the back door for her. Kara said her thanks to the middle-aged man with graying hair and stepped into the luxurious vehicle.
The driver went back around to his side and started the car, and began to drive off towards the school for the rich.
Upon arrival, the stares from surrounding people were not near as bad as yesterday, but still noticeable. 'I'm sure people will get used to it eventually… hopefully?'
Learning from her previous mistake, she allowed the driver to come around and open her door for her this time once they reached the front of the drop-off line.
Kara sat at her desk in the back of class 2A with her head hung, only catching small bits of what the teacher was lecturing about- something regarding graphing quadratic functions or other. She had her notebook open and littered on the page were small doodles of people dancing Thriller. A small fleet of zombies and other monsters of the night were swinging their arms, some of which were only partially attached, back and forth. She continued to draw on the lined paper until a frightening presence was noted behind her. Little had Kara noticed that the teacher had stopped speaking and made his way to the back of the classroom. The teacher gave an attention-demanding cough that made Kara jump in her seat and slowly turn around to face him.
"You know, Miss Thorne, if you are having problems paying attention in class, I can always move you to a seat where I know I would have your undivided attention," said her sensei, with the threat still hanging off the end of the sentence.
Flushed with embarrassment, Kara nodded her head and closed her notebook.
"Also," spoke up her sensei, "I will be sending a recommendation to the art department." He finished the statement with a wink that also seemed to say, 'don't let it happen again.'
Class drew on, as did lunch, and then more class, until the time Kara was dreading most came- club hours. As soon as the final bell rang, she made her way to a bathroom with her change of clothes in tow to get out of the horrible uniform. Once the dress was neatly folded and slipped carefully into the shoulder-bag, Kara exited the restroom and made her way to the third music room, where any number of horrors could await.
As she opened the heavy wooden doors, she found the seven members of the Host Club dressed in English equestrian garb. They all wore cream-colored breeches, minus Tamaki who sported an extremely puffy pair dark tan jodhpurs, and all of them had shiny black riding boots that went almost all the way up to their knees. Each host wore a different colored polo tee, Tamaki's being a light plum, the twins' slightly different shades of green, Haruhi's a navy blue, Kyoya's a slate grey, Mori's maroon, and lastly Hani's a bubblegum pink.
"Oi Harai-senpai, what are you wearing?" asked the twin in the lighter green. "Comfy clothes?" responded Kara, somewhat confused as to what was wrong with her ensemble. "You do realize we are going to be around horses today, don't you?"
"Eh? No, I was not aware in fact!" Kara really wished she hadn't been left out of the loop on this. Now she was going to have to be around nearly half-ton beasts- in a pair of flats. 'Damn them.' She inwardly griped.
"No worries," spoke up the spectacled host, "I figured you wouldn't have worn proper attire so I took the liberty of getting you a pair of jeans and some boots. No need to thank me," he arrogantly said with a smirk. 'No need to thank me~" Kara inwardly mocked him. "Where then-?" Kara began to inquire, and Kyoya simply gestured to the back of the club room to a door, presumably where the change of clothes was located.
Upon opening the door to the dressing room, Kara was met with something she had not expected. Sitting on the bench were her old riding boots that she was positive she had left back home since she had not planned on dealing with anything horse-related. The tan and light pink cowboy boots were scuffed beyond repair from years of wear and tear and the leather soles were worn-down completely smooth. She had been using this same pair of boots since she was in seventh grade. It was amazing that they'd lasted this long. 'How?'
Kara shook it off, deciding to think nothing of it- which was easier said than done since the thought kept eating at the back of her mind. She took off her capris and replaced them with the pair of jeans that were left in there for her. 'How the hell did he know my size?' worriedly thought Kara. Again, trying to think nothing of it, she pulled her hair up into a ponytail, slightly off-center and draped over her left shoulder.
Just as she was turning to go back out, she saw one more article of clothing hanging from a hook on the door. On the hanger was a light blue and pink striped polo with a white collar. 'Oh hell no. I am not some doll they can dress up.' Kara just ignored the garment and proceeded to exit the room.
The club turned to see her as she reentered the main part of the clubroom. "I believe something is missing…" Spoke Kyoya. "I see no point in changing shirts when the one I have on is perfectly adequate," said Kara as she gestured to her 'Tennis Warehouse' t-shirt that she already had on.
"Well, I was going to just let the shirt's expense slide, but I'm seeing reason to add it to your debt now."
The club all turned to Kara to see what her response would be. She huffed, not wanting to deal with the situation any further, and turned back towards the dressing room to change once again. 'Jerk.'
"Kyoya-senpai, don't you think you should have just let her wear her shirt?" questioned Haruhi, who looked displeased with her fellow-host's miser-behavior. Kyoya simply waved off her question as Kara exited the dressing room, this time wearing the polo shirt. "Happy now?" she spat.
"Very," he said with a smirk.
"Kara-chan! You look so cute like that!" Hani had his small arms wrapped around her waist as he giggled gleefully.
"Aw, thanks Hani-senpai," smiled Kara. "Ne, Takashi," began the small blonde, "don't you think Kara-chan looks cute?" "Ah," Mori replied, stoic-looking as ever.
Kara pat Hani on the head as he detached himself from her.
"Well, shall we be going?" enthusiastically said Tamaki, and with that, the group of eight walked out of the music room and down the great halls of the school and out towards the grassy event fields where two expensive looking horse-trailers were parked. Four horses were tied to each of the trailers, and each animal varying in color from a striking dapple-grey to a classic looking bay.
As they made their way closer to the trailers, Kara fell back a bit from the group, deciding to walk slower to maybe escape the excited chatter of the group's disbelief of Haruhi never riding a horse before. 'I guess he really is poor. How did either of us manage to get stuck in this mess?'
Still, she could hear the conversation. "Haruhi! How tragic it is that you have never been so privileged as to ride one of these amazing beasts!" "Oi, Senpai, will you shut it please?"
That last remark sent the king of the Host Club into a spastic fit which ended with him sulking.
Kyoya noticed her absence from the main body of the group and fell back as well to speak with her.
"Today you will be tending for the horses; moving them where they need to be moved, making sure they have water, et cetera." Kyoya began, snapping Kara out of her mindless silence. "Isn't that the owner's job?" "Maybe, but think about the money I'm saving by having you do it."
Kara inwardly groaned. 'It really is all about the money with this guy.'
Kara's orders from her mother really hadn't of even crossed her mind today. All she could keep thinking of was how to get out of this debt and go on with her life as a normal humble millionaire heiress- ironic sounding as that may be.
"How did you know I had any experience with horses?" Kara asked, but before Kyoya could answer, they had arrived at the site and Tamaki, now that he was over his previous fit, was excitedly jumping around enthusing about his equestrian-prowess to the few guests who had already made their way down to the special Host Club meeting place for the day. Kara just rolled her eyes when he turned his attention to her. "…And my beautiful princess," he began tilting Kara's chin up with a finger so she would face him directly, "what skill with these beautiful creatures do you possess?" "Well, considering I grew up in a ranch-like setting in a part of my state that lives, breathes, and eats rodeo, I'd have to say, well, a lot."
Tamaki deadpanned at that, not expecting such a blunt answer, but nothing could ever be as whimsical as he hoped anyway, so it shouldn't have been too big of a surprise to him. "Well then! I propose a riding competition to see whose skills are the mightiest!" "No thanks." And with that, Tamaki was in yet another state of woe, huddled into a corner of the gazebo that the group had just approached by the trailers.
Workers were setting up tables and chairs around the area for the members to host at after their riding display, and then adding little touches to the sets to make them more elegant looking. A small vase of flowers here, a riding crop there; everything was way overdone for an outdoor event to say in the least. Haruhi began to make tea and coffee and the two seniors began to pull several cakes and other sweets out of their boxes and set them on tables.
While all this preparation was going on, Kara meandered over to the horses to become acquainted, and also to begin prepping them for riding. She first went up to the dapple grey she had spotted earlier. He was a big, lean quarter-horse gelding with a yellowish mane and tail, and a fire in his eyes. He flicked his ears back in response to her walking up and she greeted him with a simple, "Hello." Kara put her palm out for him to smell and he was soon checking her pockets for any type of treats, a sure sign of a spoiled horse. "Easy now," she cooed. "I don't have any goodies for you mister." The horse flared his nostrils, and then shook his head before turning his large head back to the knot in his lead and began to pull on the end with his mouth. For obvious reasons, the knot had been safety-looped to keep intelligent horses, like this one, from untying themselves and wreaking havoc.
From the looks of the slobber on the end, he had been working on it for a while.
Kara proceeded to check out the rest of the big gelding, stroking down his neck and to his withers, scratching away pieces of caked on dirt as she went. She checked him entirely out, getting him used to her, and also making sure he didn't have any cuts or swollen joints before going to find the owner to ask if she could start tacking the horses up. Walking away from the trailer she took notice of the other horses tied to the trailer. There was a tall bay mare and next to her a short (possibly just by comparison) buckskin gelding. Tied to a loop on the back corner of the trailer next to Kara's new grey friend was a tall and muscular nearly all-white gelding, presumably for the club's resident king.
The owner was over at the gazebo talking to Kyoya, who was scribbling in a black notebook, when she approached him. He had crisp looking brown hair and donned a simple t-shirt, much like she had on earlier and a pair of black boots under his worn jeans. "Excuse me, Sir. I was wondering if you'd like me to start grooming and tacking up the horses for club activities."
"Huh?" He turned to Kyoya, who then spoke up. "I was just about to inform you that one of our members will be tending to your animals during club hours today. No worries though, she has years of expertise under her belt." "Oh really? Well then, I guess let's get you started." He pulled out a set of keys from his pockets and began to walk towards his trailers after bidding a swift farewell to the Ootori boy. Another man, much younger than the owner, appeared out from the far trailer that had two sorrel mares (chestnuts, if you prefer), a palomino gelding, and a black gelding tied to it, all of which appeared to be American warmbloods.
"Taro-san," spoke up the younger man, "where the hell is the hoof pi- Oh, hello." He took notice of Kara, who began to lightly tint pink. The younger man was American, and spoke Japanese almost as well ('well' being not-so-well) as Kara. He couldn't have been more than a year or two older than herself, and had dark blonde hair and was very tan; handsome enough to be host himself.
"Ah, Michael-san, please show this young lady where all the brushes and tack are, won't you? I need to go, er, talk to a man about a dog."
"Oh, OH!" he coughed, "Right." Michael nodded in understanding at his bosses' words and caught the keys as Taro tossed them at him. "Come along then," he gestured for Kara to follow him to the trailer with the grey tied to it.
"So, Michael," began Kara in English, anxious for a break from speaking Japanese, "What brings you to Japan?" At first he looked surprised, but that turned to a look of ease when he began back in English, "Well you see, the old coot, Taro-san, is a champion breeder. I came here from Washington to train to ride for him in the future. I'm no-where good enough for his standards yet, but one day I'll be great enough to mount up on one of his prized horses and win competition after competition. I can only dream of it now." Michael had an unmistakable twinkle in his eyes as he spoke about his passion. His determinedness was yet another feature she found attractive about the guy.
He fumbled with the key ring until he pulled out a smaller key and inserted into the lock on the back door where the tack was stored. With a twist, he unlocked it and pulled it open to reveal eight English saddles on racks that had bridles hooked on the ends. Each rack had a printed label with each horses name on it, signifying which saddle and bridle fit which horse.
"Would you like any help?" As much as she'd hate to admit it, Kara had no idea how to put on an English saddle. The only saddles she had ever dealt with were western, and she was clueless as to the proper tightness, or where on the withers the saddle was supposed to rest. She didn't even know how to get the stirrups down, or why they were even up in the first place.
"Um, if you don't mind?" Kara sheepishly said, while awkwardly scratching the back of her head. Michael simply smiled at her and grabbed up the bucket of brushes, taking one for himself and handing one to her before setting the bucket back into the trailer. They moved to the horses, Kara to the dapple, whom she learned was named Axel, and Michael to the white horse, who already couldn't seem to get any cleaner- quite the feat for a horse. The white horse's name was ironically Prince.
They finished brushing all the horses, and moved back to the tack closet to begin grabbing blankets and saddles. Kara tried to observe how Michael put the saddle on Prince, and tried to mimic until it came to the stirrups. The cinch, although different from a western saddle, surprisingly had been no problem at all, but when she moved to unhook the stirrups, she just managed to create a weird loop in the leather. "Um Michael, could I get some help please?" "Sure, just a second." He finished saddling Prince and came over to her and Axel.
"So, what is it you need?" he smiled at her. "Well, you see, I've never actually… used an English saddle before, so I have no idea how to fix this." She gestured to the stirrup which was flipped around weirdly. Michael simply chuckled and began to fix the stirrup back up into its original position. "Silly, you don't take it down until you actually go to get on the horse." "But... why?" Kara questioned. 'That makes no sense whatsoever.' "It's so they don't hit the horse." He playfully bumped her and she just smiled back. "So, you've never ridden English, huh?"
"Nope, just western," replied Kara. "Hm, we'll have to change that then. Today will be the day you ride English!" He punched the air, momentarily startling the nearby horses. "Oops, haha." Kara simply smiled back at him.
The pair continued to saddle the remainder of the horses just as the majority of the guests began to make their way out to the field. Kara took three of the horses' leads, leaving Axel tied to the trailer for herself, and began to walk them over to the hosts. She handed the bay mare to Mori, and the buckskin to Hani, and the four began to grow quickly acquainted to each other, Mori's nickering happily as she nuzzled against his chest.
She handed Prince to Tamaki, who excitedly began to pet the large animal. Prince tossed his head proudly, just as happy showing off for the ladies who were watching as Tamaki was; the two really were a great pair.
Kara went back to the trailer to fetch the remaining horses. The twins took the rusty-colored sorrels, Haruhi the gentle palomino with doe-eyes just like his, and lastly Kyoya the black gelding, who was named Shadow. The twins were quick to point out that the 'Shadow King' was riding a horse named Shadow. Yet another uncanny pairing.
All the hosts donned their expensive-looking helmets and walked around to the left side of their steeds as their fans watched eagerly from the sidelines. The girls could be heard swooning from all around. Some of the guests squealed at how handsome the hosts looked next to the large animals.
Haruhi just looked like he was going to puke.
The hosts all mounted up as if on some unheard cue, Haruhi with more trouble than the others, but the gentle palomino was patient. And with that, the hosts began to ride around, showing off for their guests. Haruhi just walked his horse around in large circles, happy enough looking with what he had managed to do.
Kara smiled at the scene. Mori and Hani were clearing some simple jumps with flawless form, while the twins raced around the perimeter of the field. Tamaki happily let Prince prance around in front of the girls as they squealed on about his horsemanship skills and Kyoya simply trotted up and down a line.
The weather was cool, and all in all, it was a great day for riding. Kara turned back towards the trailer where Michael and Axel waited. In Michael's hand was a helmet which he offered to Kara as she walked up. "No thanks. I've never used one before, so why start now?"
"Alrighty then, let's get you started." Michael flashed her a smile which she returned. Kara put on Axel's bridle, slipping the bit over his tongue and led him out by the reins to an open area to mount up. She gave Axel a pat on the rump and began to questionably look at the drawn-up stirrups once more. Her confusion must have been apparent on her face.
"Oh, right." Michael moved to let them down on both sides. "Thanks! Well, here goes nothing." Kara looped the reins over Axel's muscled neck and stuck her left foot up into the small silver stirrup and placed one of her hands on the pommel and the other on the fatty-part at the base of his neck to lift herself up into the seat. The stirrups were slightly too long, which Michael was quick to fix. He took her boot from the stirrup gently moved her leg forward and began to adjust the straps to the proper length, doing the same to the other side.
Michael gave Kara a pat on the leg, signaling she was good to go. She thanked him and began to walk Axel out to begin warming him up. She started by walking him around a bit, and then took him up into a trot- which was amazingly smooth for a quarter horse. She did a few wide circles, hardly having to post at all, and stopped him by leaning deep into her seat and moving her legs slightly forward and giving a stern, "Whoa." She moved the large horse into a sharp turn around on his hind right hoof to reverse her circle with just her feet and took off into a lope (or canter, if you prefer) and circled him a few times before stopping once more.
Kara was slowly becoming used to the small saddle. She really liked how close to the horse she was, but she missed the deep seat of a western saddle. She turned to give Michael, who was watching intently, a thumbs up which he returned.
Back with the hosts, there was a collective stare at the girl who looked so natural in the seat of the saddle. "Wow, she's really good!" exclaimed Hikaru, and the rest of the boys nodded in agreement.
Kara went to move out further from the group out of view and by a small grove of trees. Axel began to shy slightly from the thicket, but Kara continued to urge him forward, not letting him push her around. A slight breeze began to pick up and rustle the leaves. It picked up her ponytail and blew her bangs into her eyes. A plastic bag blew out of the trees and entangled itself into Axel's legs and the horse began to buck. Kara held on tightly as she grasped for a saddle-horn that was not there. She settled with grabbing onto a lock of mane as she cooed to the horse, trying to calm him down. The bag finally blew off in another direction, making a loud snapping sound as it did so, and Axel began to settle. Promptly shaken, Kara started to walk him back towards Michael.
Everything was fine until suddenly Axel crow-hopped and reared up, a nasty cry erupting from his throat.
All the hosts and guests turned to look at the commotion to see Kara tumbling backwards off of the grey steed while he was in mid-rear; the horse was obviously in pain judging by the noises he was making.
Everything seemed to slow down to Kara. Before she knew it, her boots had slipped from the thin stirrups and no matter how tight she held on with her legs, she could not keep herself on. As soon as she hit the ground she looked up to see Axel going up for another rear- this one more steep than the previous, and he looked like he was going to fall over backwards.
Kara knew people had died, or at the very least been seriously injured when a horse of this size had landed on them, so she rolled as quickly as she could, despite her smarting shoulder, out of the way of the horse who began to tip backwards into his rear. Just as soon as Kara had moved away, Axel came down where she had laid. The grey gelding struggled to get up as a crowd of people moved towards the scene. Michael was the first to reach them and as soon as he saw the hosts start to move towards Kara, began to work on calming the half-ton of horse-flesh down and preventing him from hurting himself any further.
Kara could feel tears streaming down her face as she curled up into a fetal-position to try and ease the immense pain she was feeling in her right shoulder. A pair of firm hands began to move her over onto her back and get her to lie still while a familiar but distant voice was shouting out instructions.
Kara could not understand a thing being said though as everything was still a blur. Noises melded together and she had her eyes clenched so tight that seeing anything was out of the question.
She kept wanting to curl back up, but those hands wouldn't let her. They kept her forced onto her back and when she finally complied, one of the hands began to stroke her hair, picking the debris from it.
Kyoya had quickly taken control of the situation; yelling at Tamaki to call for an ambulance and having the third-years round up all the horses and get them tied up. The twins ran to fetch a cold compress and a towel from the school for Kara's shoulder and Haruhi just stood there, unable to do anything other than be amazed at the serious change in mood of the club members.
Haruhi decided to try and move the crowd of girls away from the scene to get things quiet for those who were working for the pained girl on the ground and the still thrashing horse.
Michael had finally been able to get Axel to lay calmly on the ground while he and Taro, who had run up shortly after the incident, checked out the animal for any major external damage.
Once he had been cleared, they stood him up and that's when the probable cause as to why the horse had gone berserk came to light. Dark red blood and dirt stained the grey gelding's hair around his flank. A dime-sized chunk of flesh had been torn out in what looked like was the result of a fly bite- a large fly at that. The red liquid dripped down Axel's leg and the muscles around the wound kept twitching. More flies were already beginning to buzz the open sore.
Kara could vaguely hear the sirens of the ambulance as it pulled up. She felt herself being moved onto a board and strapped down, something she did not like. As she was hoisted up and put into the vehicle, once phrase was prominent:
"Make sure she gets Yuuichi."
And then the doors slammed shut.
Yay! Chapter four! :D And it's 5,000+ words, again! I'm not sure if I'll be able to keep that up, but I do enjoy writing for you guys!
I apologize if bombarded you with horse-terminology, but I really wanted to do something club-related with horses. Also, I was totally winging it with the English tack stuff. I've actually never seen an English saddle in real life, funny no? I've been riding since I was born almost and it's only been western.
Now, what happened on Axel was actually something that happened to a friend of mine. The two of us and her brother were riding and her horse went nuts out of no-where and ended up throwing her, and then falling down from rearing. It was quite scary and the chunk of flesh missing was way bigger than you'd imagine. D: Luckily, her dad's a vet.
I'd like to give a huge thanks to everyone who has reviewed, favorited, and alerted this so early on in the story and I'd like you to know it really means a lot to me. (Actually, more specifically, it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside). ;)
I urge you guys reading to criticize the shit out of my writing because honestly that is the only way I'll ever get better. My English teacher never gives crits on my essays and it kind of makes me sad that I'm not being told how to get better. :/
Anyway, I really hope you enjoyed this chapter! Take care, and I hope to see you again!
5,859 words, by the way! ;D