That little green eyed monster was at it again.
Kaoru watched silently from his place on the couch as Haruhi made Hikaru a cup of instant coffee. He could see it happening. The way Hikaru's cheeks would flush slightly as she made a snarky comment about rich people. How Haruhi would pull her hand back just a bit faster than she would with anyone else when handing over his cup. Kaoru's eyes narrowed and he looked away, glancing around the room. Tamaki was busy planning with Kyoya what a theme for next week was going to be, joyfully listing off the props they would need to sell it. Mori was watching Honey eat his third piece of cake since hosting hours had ended. Twenty minutes ago. Honestly.
Did no one else see this?
He didn't understand. If they were supposed to be such a family, then how did no one else notice the doe eyes they had been making at each other for weeks now? If Tamaki was Haruhi's 'daddy', then why was he allowing this?
If Kaoru and Hikaru were brothers, then why wouldn't he just fess up?
Kaoru set down his cup of tea with a little more force than was absolutely necessary, but, as was to be expected, everyone was so distracted with their own lives, they didn't even notice his irritation. He glanced around the room one more time, then turned over onto his back on the couch. It was just long enough that he could sleep comfortably while only needing to dangle his ankles over the arm of the couch. And besides, really, he was all by himself. No one would mind if he took a short nap.
He woke up to silence. A sort of silence that made his heart start to pound. He realized that he had never woken up alone before. Hikaru was always there with him. Hikaru was the sort to yawn loudly, to make sure everyone knew he was tired and not to be disturbed. There was none of that. Just the silence of the club room, pressing down on him, making it more difficult to remember why he was there in the first place, by himself. Hikaru must be nearby. His brother never strayed far from him. He would just lay there and wait for him to come get him. He stared up at the dark ceiling of the club room. Then, there was a soft clink, and Kaoru shot up, grateful for the noise, ready to ask Hikaru if he was up for a game.
Haruhi glanced his way.
"Oh, you're up," she said breezily. Kaoru's gaze dulled. Obviously… "Sempai told me to take these cups to the dishwasher. Apparently he doesn't know how they work…" She sent him a small, exasperated smile that said 'Can you believe him?' For a moment, he just stared at her. How can she act so naturally around him? When she knows what she's doing? He brought his eyebrows down in a hard look.
"Do you know who I am?" he asked. Her head reared back a bit in shock.
"What?" She did that thing where she looks to the left, then quickly to the right, then back at the person asking the question again when she doesn't fully understand. "You-."
"Do you know which one I am?" he asked again.
"You're Kaoru," she told him, as if it was obvious. As if he should know that she knows. Which honestly, she's right, she should, because it was obvious that the entire time, Hikaru was talking with her and drinking coffee and telling jokes, while Kaoru sat by himself on the couch. Hikaru left, probably saying he would see her tomorrow, so caught up in it that he somehow managed to forget that Kaoru was sleeping on the couch, waiting for when they could finally go home. "Kaoru… what's-."
"It doesn't matter," he said, standing up and straightening his jacket. He picked up his black bag and headed for the door.
"Hikaru already left," Haruhi said.
"I know. I'll call for a car," Kaoru said.
"I'll be fine."
"I said I'm fine!" He swung around to look at her, and she was staring back with as much anger as he had right then. He felt it all diminish in his shock. What could she be mad for? Her brown eyes were so fixed and clear on him that he felt like he did when he was young and getting in trouble with his mother. Hikaru could always just stare dully at her and wait for the punishment to end, but Kaoru was always the one to have tears prick at the corners of his eyes as his mother scolded them. He could never just endure like his brother could. He still couldn't.
"Why are you being like this? I don't know what I could have done. You were just fine yesterday, and then today, you're looking like you'd really like to toss me off a cliff and not tell anyone about it," Haruhi snapped. Scolded. Kaoru felt the warning in his chest. The way it tightened and his heart started beating hard. He used the best approach he had to keep from making it obvious that she was already getting to him.
"I think I could come up with a much classier way to make you disappear, Haruhi," he joked, trying to diffuse the situation. He would deal with this on his own. Just please. Don't make him say it out loud.
"Don't try to turn this into one of your jokes, Kaoru." She nearly spat out his name, like it was a despicable thing to say. And that's just how he felt. Jealous of her. Jealous of Hikaru. He wanted them both, and he wanted neither of them to have each other. "Why don't you tell me what's really bothering you?" She was in front of him before he could leave, say he really needed to go, say he was just kidding, nothing's wrong. She was too close now. She would see he was lying to her. He blinked hard and hung his head, determined that when he did open his eyes again, he wouldn't see her. "Kaoru." Her voice was soft now. A caress to his pained heart. A warm blanket on a troubled mind. The way she pronounced his name. It sounded like his name. Not the tail end of a pair of names, hardly ever separated in their lives. The way she said their names further fortified their new individuality from each other. Every time she said it, it made them stronger in themselves, drifting further from each other. Their brotherly love act, which used to come so easily to them, now they had to force it. That was the problem. It was forced. And in the end, it was Haruhi's fault. Kaoru just wasn't sure if it was that Hikaru wanted her, or that Kaoru wanted her more. He turned his eyes on her. She reached her hand out to take his, hanging loosely by his side. Strange. She would never do that to anyone else. Except maybe… Hikaru… such a softy. Kaoru yanked his hand away, hitting the palm of hers with the back of his hand in the movement. The resulting slap resounded in the room. Despicable. How could he?
"Don't confuse me with him. I don't need you the way he does," Kaoru grumbled. He heard how weak his voice was. He knew that his heart wasn't in it. He hated this. Hated this hole he had dug himself into, one that he wouldn't be able to get out of with his pride. Haruhi's hand was already lowered at her side.
"What do you need me to do?" Haruhi asked flatly. Kaoru's eyes widened slightly. What… did he need? Well, of course, he needed her. But he didn't know what for. He needed her to laugh. To look at him during hosting hours with that natural smile. To share a secret with him. To let him hold her for hours, even though she was so independent, because he wasn't. To tell him that she didn't want his brother the same way she wanted him.
He sighed and finally smiled. In the silence around them, he heard Haruhi's intake of breath. He watched her cheeks redden. His did in response. What was happening? He felt warm. He finally set his bag down. He took a step forward and wrapped and arm around Haruhi, bringing her against his chest. His fingers curled into her hair, and he felt her shaking. She was the solid one here. But in that moment, she wound her arms around his waist and squeezed. He exhaled shortly, reveling in the way it felt to be held like that. To be totally encompassed in another person's arms. He felt young. He felt powerful. He felt peaceful. He felt tired. He wanted her to feel the same thing, too. He brought his other arm up and wrapped it around her shoulders, pulling her hard against him. She whimpered softly, but made no attempt to unwind herself from his grip. He pushed her face to the side with his cheek and kissed her temple, moving down to the corner of her jaw just below her ear, then the corner of her mouth. She said nothing, did noting, but sank her fingertips into the skin on either side of his spine before clutching onto his jacket. He nearly purred at the sensation, his eyes slipping shut unbidden.
"What am I going to do without Hikaru?" he ground out, trailing his lips over her cheek.
"What?" she asked, sounding genuinely surprised. His heart pounded. Did he say the wrong thing? "Kaoru…" He felt her shoulders shake in a slight laugh. Kaoru jerked away, but kept his arms around her, not willing to let her go just yet. Still, he needed to see her face, needed to see how she could be laughing so easily when they were so mad before. "Can't you tell? You're going to be fine. You should be asking what Hikaru is going to do without you." Instead of having the effect it should have on him, Kaoru's gaze turned to the floor.
"So he does need you, then," he stated. "More than I do." His hand slipped from her hair to her shoulder, then fell to his side.
"Kaoru!" she said with a strange urgency that made him start. You say someone's name like that when they're about to get hit by a dodge ball. Or back up into something that will make them fall over. She said it that way… because she didn't want him to retreat again. His eyes widened a bit. It was too late, though.
"You don't need anyone," he told her. It was a fact commonly known to mankind. Haruhi required nothing more than she already had. The way she stared at him though, her brow furrowed and her bottom lip brought high up in a frown. She stared at him through her lashes and he knew. He took a cleansing breath and reached out with a shaking hand, gripping a piece of her hair between his fingers and feeling the softness on the pad of his thumb. "You should keep your hair short," he told her. "It suits you." Her eyes closed. Her entire being seemed to wilt. He pressed his lips together into a thin line. "Am I hurting you?" he asked quietly. She pulled away, out of his arms, far away, where he wouldn't be able to reach her the same way he had again. And here, where he thought that they had all opened the gates for each other. Turns out, only he and Hikaru had opened a gate at all.
"It's okay," she said in that carefree way she did. As if it really didn't matter to her. "Your brother needs you more than I do. And you need him more than you need me." But it did. And as she swept past him and out of the room, leaving behind the teacups she was supposed to be washing, he wondered how he would ever be the same around his brother. How he would ever know that for his sake, he hadn't told her. And how he would handle it when Hikaru told Haruhi that he loved her. And what he would do when she told him she loved him too. He would tell himself it was just for Hikaru's sake. And not because Kaoru had let her go before he even had her.