He had been in the hospital for several weeks before Tamaki felt he was well enough for visitors. He imagined from everything he had been told that the beginning was the worst, and it seemed that every day he had to remind himself of that. With each passing day of the intense chemo he would wake up to find more and more of his hair on his pillow, and while he knew it was coming it was only another blow to his confidence. His skin was considerably paler, and while he hadn't been paying any attention to his weight on a scale he knew he had dropped more than a few pounds. He could hardly keep anything down, after all.
The only person he saw on a regular basis, other than his father, doctors, and a nurse from America named Emma, was Haruhi. She would visit at roughly the same time every day, four o'clock on school days and noon on days off. On many of the days he slept a good majority of her stay, and when he was asleep she would take the time to do her school work. He appreciated her company though, and tried to stay awake while she visited, even if all they did was sit in silence or watch television together in his room.
Haruhi had started somewhat of a trend at school. Soon after Tamaki's chemo began she had started to wear a small orange ribbon next to her school's crest on her blazer. The conflicting colors caused the ribbon to stand out, and it was noticed by everyone pretty quickly. The first day that she wore it she got in trouble with a few of her teachers for violating the dress code, but when she came into school the next day all of the regular customers had worn ribbons on their uniforms as well. With the amount of people wearing the ribbons the teachers and administrators quit trying to stop the students.
Tamaki's popularity had caused the orange ribbons to quickly spread outside of the Host Club and their regular customers. By the end of the month nearly the entire student body wore an orange ribbon somewhere on their uniform.
With winter approaching faster than anyone wanted it to the Host Club had once again switched to their more tropical themes. It wasn't quite the same without Tamaki, but his absence caused what one might call a power vacuum- it was popular with the customers, and it brought in more profits for Kyouya, so he didn't mind everyone's antics. Hikaru and Kaoru tried desperately to make themselves the current 'most popular hosts'. They didn't have much competition, but when the customers found out Hunny had given Usa-chan to Tamaki his popularity skyrocketed. With all the hosts trying their absolute hardest to please everyone, many customers gravitated to Haruhi because of her calm, level-headed nature.
"Haruhi?" one of her regulars asked. "Have you heard anything about Tamaki's condition? How is he?"
"He's doing a lot better than he was. He still doesn't have nearly the energy he did, and he won't for a while. He's been a little depressed lately, though."
The girls nodded sadly in understanding. "Do you think he would like it if we sent flowers?"
"I'm not sure if that'd be the best idea," she said. "Sometimes chemotherapy patients can have a pretty bad reaction to flowers. But I know he'd really love it if you sent him letters or cards."
The girls smiled. "Would you bring them to him if we did?"
Haruhi smiled and nodded. "Of course."
The girls smiled and began discussing with each other what they wanted to include in their cards. Haruhi knew she would have several cards before the end of the week.
Tamaki had decided that he wanted all the hosts to visit him that Saturday. While Haruhi visited daily it was rarer to see all the others. Kyouya came by almost as often as Haruhi, and whenever Tamaki had a question he tended to go to him once his doctors had confused him. Mori, Hunny, and the twins had made sure to visit once or twice a week at the minimum, and they simply didn't visit because he didn't have the energy.
"Hey, Haruhi," the twins said after most of the customers had left. "You see the boss most often, how's he doing?"
She pushed some of her hair behind her ear and sat down in a chair. "A little better than the last time you saw him... but still pretty bad." They nodded in understanding.
"Is he still on for Saturday? I haven't heard from him," Kaoru asked. Haruhi nodded.
"We'll only be able to stay for a couple hours, but yeah, we're all still going."
"I want to do something for him," Hikaru said. "I'm just not sure what."
"I think I know what you could do," Hunny said, standing in front of them.
"You could make him laugh! You're good at that."
"Make him laugh?" they questioned.
"Tama-chan probably hasn't laughed in a really long time. I'm sure he'd feel a little bit better if he laughed."
While the twins stayed quiet for a moment, they did eventually smile. "You know, that's a pretty good idea Hunny," Kaoru said.
"That won't be too hard," Hikaru said. "We can do that."
Haruhi smiled. She felt a bit better about everyone visiting, no longer as worried that it might turn out badly.
Haruhi turned to the hosts as they walked through the hospital's halls. "He might be asleep," she said. "He's not supposed to be, but you should keep quiet anyway."
"Hey, you don't need to look at us when you say that," Hikaru and Kaoru said. Haruhi just put a finger over her lips to tell him to hush.
Tamaki, for the past few hours, had been sitting awake in his bed. A popular cartoon was playing on the television for noise, but he gave all of his attention to a book he was writing in. He looked up and smiled at his friends when they made their way in (making sure to stay as quiet as possible). He closed his book and put it under his pillow as they entered, but the twins had already grown curious as to what was written inside.
"Hey boss, what's that?"
"It's just a bucket list I was working on."
They pulled it out from under his bed. "Really now?"
The twins flipped through the book, staring intently at everything written down. "You don't know how to ride a bike...?!" they exclaimed.
"Well... no, I never learned...!"
"Really Tama-chan? You've never ridden a bike before?"
Kyouya flipped through the book once he took it away from the twins. "It looks like there' a lot of things you haven't done Tamaki."
"I guess that's true..."
Haruhi glanced over at the book too. "You've never gone canoeing, senpai?" He shook his head now.
"Well boss, we'll have to change that," the twins said. "And it will change within..." they glanced at each other.
"A year," Hikaru started.
"Yeah, a year," Kaoru said.
"A year is good."
"Think I'll really be able to do all that in a year?"
"Of course you will!"
"You can't honestly tell me that," he said, looking down at his hands. Haruhi had become used to his increasingly pessimistic behaviors already, but it pained her to see him openly speak to everyone about how he thought about his life.
"Well..." their eyes dropped. Each twin sat on each side of the bed.
Kaoru began: "Even if it takes two years, or three-"
"We'll make sure that you'll be able to do everything in that book."
Tamaki smiled a very small smile, not quite hopeful, but still believing that his hosts would try and bring him happiness.
Haruhi's eyes caught attention to one particular note: '-see my mother again'. Kyouya seemed to notice it as well, and while both took a mental note of it neither said anything about it.
"Hey, Tama-chan, has Usa-chan been keeping you company?"
"Mmhmm, he has," Tamaki said while nodding. He held out the pink bunny to Hunny, and Hunny instantly clung onto him, silently needing the comfort.
The hosts had stayed with Tamaki for a few hours. Tamaki had fallen asleep around 2 o'clock, and in order to prevent disturbing him everyone left to the hospital's cafeteria.
"Tama-chan looked really sad..." Hunny said, placing his head on top of Usa-chan's and leaning against Mori's side.
"He's trying to hide it though," Kaoru said. Hikaru nodded in agreement.
"I think he's most upset about the fact that he can't get up and do the things that he used to be able to at the moment," Haruhi said.
"Any estimate on when he'll be able to get out of the hospital for a day?"
She shook her head. "It'll still be a while."
"Haruhi?" Kyouya asked.
"What about you, how have you been? Are you still taking care of yourself?"
Seeing her on a daily basis no one really sat down and asked her how she was doing. She nodded at Kyouya and said, "Yeah, I am. Don't worry." While she said she was alright she knew the hosts probably didn't think that was the case. She'd closed herself off more than normal, and while she knew it wasn't healthy, in her mind, it was the easiest way to cope. While she hadn't talked openly about it she knew all of the others knew about her mother and how she had passed, and upon learning about it the hosts had realized how much more personal Tamaki's illness was to her than it was to him.
"But thank you for asking, I appreciate it."