Hey, it's me. I know I haven't written in a while, so here it is. I have a super long weekend coming up, so hopefully I'll get more stuff out soon. This wasn't properly looked over, so any mistakes you find, I apologise for. And hey, I notice a lot of people favouriting and alerting my stuff, so where are all the reviews? Really, leave them anonymous if you don't have an account or don't want to sign in. I don't care! I just really want to get some feedback. Please (flashes puppy dog eyes). Enjoy this though, and let me know what you think. PS. I don't own Ouran but I do own ALL OCs. Really, please respect that.

The End Is But The Beginning

"Thank you all for joining us here today. We've gathered to celebrate the life of Dr. Kyouya Ootori, as well as mourn his passing. In life, Dr. Ootori was an excellent husband, father and friend. He will be greatly missed, though it does well to remember that he will always remain close by, in the hearts of those who love him."

Kyouya Ootori had passed away one quiet April morning. After years of battling cancer, late nights spent vomiting and long days stuck in hospital, his passing had been almost anticlimactic. He'd simply fallen asleep and not woken up.

"Mr. Tamaki Suoh has prepared a few words."

Tamaki walked slowly to the front of the semi-circle that had formed around his old friend's casket. His eyes were red and swollen, cheeks damp.

"Kyouya was –" Tamaki stopped, his breath hitching. He cleared his throat and tried again. "Kyouya was my best friend. It hurts, almost indescribably, to know that he's gone. I would say that the pain is unimaginable, but for most of us here, it's more than imaginable. It's a reality.

"Kyouya is survived by his beautiful wife, and my dear friend, Haruhi Ootori."

To Tamaki's right stood the new widow. It was heart wrenching to see the woman who was usually so strong and unflappable needing to be supported on either side to keep from falling to her knees in grief. On her right, Nanami Hitachiin held her elbow firmly, crying silent tears of her own. On her left stood Renge Suoh holding her around her waist, just as much to keep herself upright as to help her friend.

"And they had three amazing children," Tamaki continued, his voice breaking.

Standing with her honorary uncles Mitsukuni and Takashi Morinozuka was the youngest Ootori child. Yumi Ootori was just seventeen years old but her deep brown eyes held the years of an elderly woman. Her thin, dark brown hair framed her gaunt face and rested just past her jutting collar bones.

Next to the youngest Ootori child was the oldest, twenty-five-year-old Tsubasa, and his girlfriend, Hikari Morinozuka. Tsubasa had followed in his father's footsteps and was studying to be a doctor. He was tall and lean with kind brown eyes and tousled light brown hair.

Where Tsubasa had an air of warmth about him, Hikari Morinozuka, at first glance, seemed cold and aloof. Her dark brown hair was cut shoulder length and her straight cut bangs brushed her eyebrows. Her face was hard and angular but her thick, full lips kept her appearance quite feminine. The main reason for which she seemed cold was her eyes. While her left eye sparkled a breathtaking amber, her right eye had been permanently damaged by an animal scratch, leaving it white and unseeing.

And finally, standing between her aunt Renge and her boyfriend of five months, Ichirou Suoh, was twenty-two-year-old Kotoko Ootori. Kotoko was the spitting image of her mother, aside from the fact that she had developed very sensual curves. Her hair was also a shade or two lighter than her mother's and fell to her waist.

Ichirou, for his part, looked much like his father, tough his hair was light brown like his mother's. The gang used to joke that Tamaki had been right all those years ago, going on about Mommy Ootori and Daddy Suoh. Clearly his foolishness was some show of clairvoyance. It was a joke that would now always feel bittersweet.

"Kyouya Ootori was a man among men. You didn't meet many people like him. He may have seemed like a cold, cocky bastard, but truth is, he was more kind and patient than any of us could ever hope to be."

Tamaki's voice quavered and broke, his tears falling freely.

"And I'm going to miss him," he sighed shakily wiping his eyes with the heels of his hands before rejoining his wife.

Things were quiet for a moment as the group of mourners took a moment to absorb Tamaki's words. The silence was broken suddenly however by several panicked gasps emanating from the group of Kyouya's family and friends. Standing among them was Nanami's very pregnant daughter and her husband – maybe she was a little too pregnant even.

Kaori Li looked down at her bulging stomach and wriggled her toes experimentally. Feeling that they were in fact wet, she sighed and shook her head.

"Mommy has to teach you to have a better sense of timing."

xXx

Ryan Li sat beside his wife, holding her hand, as a nurse placed a rather painful-looking epidural. Ryan and Kaori had met three years ago at The University of British Colombia's Vancouver campus. Kaori had gotten a student visa and had planned to spend only a year in Canada to write a research paper on the mythological Thunderbirds with the help of the Kwakwaka'wakw First Nations of Northern Vancouver Island. That all changed when she met kind-hearted, quick-witted Ryan.

Ryan Li was of Chinese heritage, his great-grandfather having immigrated to British Colombia as a child. All the men in his family had married women from the Prairies however and so he held but a small few Asiatic traits. His hair was a very light brown and his eyes were forest green.

Kaori didn't look overly Asiatic herself. Her mother's father had been a Scotsman and so like Nanami, Kaori's skin was fair, her eyes were blue and her hair was golden blond. Though no one knew who her biological father was, he was also most likely from the West.

The two were married in Vancouver a year and a half ago and had unanimously decided to have children straight away. Though they planned to live in Vancouver, they thought it best to have the baby in Japan surrounded by the support of family and friends.

And that was just what was happening.

"Hey Baby, how are you doing?" Nanami asked, coming into her daughter's room with Kaori's stepfather Kaoru and her half-sisters, the redheaded twins, Sora and Sango.

"I'm okay," she said, rather calmly. "I had an epidural."

"That's good," Sango said. She was the twin with the longest hair, her silky locks just brushing the bottoms of her shoulder blades.

"I hear those work wonders," Sora furthered. Her hair was cut in a playful bob with a sweeping side bang.

"It had better," Kaori grumbled. "Hurt like a bitch to get it."

"Have you guys thought of any names yet?" Sango asked, reserved as ever.

"A few," Ryan answered, his Japanese much better than some of Kaori's old boyfriends.

"It's hard though," Kaori whined. "How do you just pick something that you know this kid is going to have to live with forever?"

"It might help if you knew the sex of the baby," Sora teased. Both parents-to-be had wanted the gender to be a surprise.

"Sora, leave your sister alone," Nanami snapped. She reached her hand out and Kaoru passed her the cup of ice chips he had gotten for his step-daughter.

"Are you nervous, Ryan?" Kaoru asked, moving to sit beside the young Canadian.

"Just for Kaori and the baby's health," he answered honestly.

"Are you anxious at all, Hon?" Nanami asked the expecting mother, pushing damp hair off her forehead.

"Not really," she said. "It hasn't really sunk in yet. I'll probably only start freaking out when they wheel me into the delivery room. I can't believe I'm having a baby."

Ryan gave his wife's hand an extra squeeze and smiled lovingly at her. It was then that Haruhi appeared at the doorway.

"How are you doing, Kaori?" she asked, her voice tired but holing a hint of true happiness.

"Good," Kaori replied. "I'm sorry, about the timing of all this."

"Don't be," Haruhi said quickly. "It's hardly your fault. Besides, it's nice to see a bit of joy around here. Anyway, I was just checking in. Yumi's out in the waiting room with Kotoko and Ichirou. I should be getting back. Have a good... birthing experience," she said hesitantly.

Kaori laughed and Haruhi joined in with her, a light coming to her eyes.

"Will do," Kaori giggled. "I'll see you in a bit, Aunt Haruhi?"

"Sure thing, kiddo," she said before the mask of sadness washed over her again and she walked away.

xXx

"How are you doing?" Hikari asked, reaching a hand across the small glass table and placing her hand over Tsubasa's. They had escaped down to the hospital café in the commotion. Tsubasa nursed a black coffee with Hikari indulged in a Chai tea.

"Not great," Tsubasa replied in a sighed. His head was hung low and Hikari squeezed his hand to get his attention. He looked up at the brunette with watery eyes.

"I love you," she said softly. "We're going to get through this, okay?"

"Take a walk with me?" he asked suddenly. Hikari slowly nodded and finished off her tea in a gulp. Tsubasa took her hand and led her out to the hospital's garden. They walked until they reached a small clearing full of violet roses where he pulled her into a bone-crushing hug.

"I love you," he breathed.

"I love you too," she sighed, hugging him back just as tightly. He loosened his grip after a moment but still held her at arms length.

"With Dad passing away and everything, I've gotten to thinking," he began, trembling lightly. "We only get to live one life and for some of us, even one life isn't all that long. Dad, he never gave up on something he wanted. He pined after Mom for years and in the end he got her. I want you, Hikari Morinozuka, now and forever."

Tsubasa let her go completely and stepped back, reaching into his suit pocket and pulling something out before getting down on one knee.

"Hikari Morinozuka, you are the light of my life. I want you, damn it! So what do you say? Will you marry me?"

xXx

On the other side of the hospital garden sat Sakura Hitachiin on a marble bench in a field of gardenias. She breathed deep and melted in the smell of the sweet flowers. It had been a very stressful couple of weeks for the seventeen-year-old. Much like her mother, whom her father had met through work, she was very short and thin to the point of being skeletal. Her large brown eyes looked almost out of place on her slender face. Her dark brown hair was sleek and pin straight, falling to her shoulders and hiding her left eye with a side bang.

She'd inherited more than her looks from her mother however. Hikaru Hitachiin had met a young Kimiko Suzumiya while working as a private detective twenty-five years ago. Kimiko proved useful to their team because of certain talents. She could see spirits and commune with the departed. And so could all three of Kimiko and Hikaru's children. The eldest, Hatori, and the youngest, Ayako, didn't seemed to be bothered by their ability. Sakura definitely was.

"Come on," she muttered under her breath angrily. "If this damn thing really is a gift, where are you? Everyone else. I can see everyone else. So where are you?"

"Who are you talking to?" asked a male voice suddenly from behind her. She jumped and turned around to see a tall, dark-haired young man walk towards her. She recognized him almost instantly. Kenji Nakamura, one of the school's biggest jocks and therefore biggest assholes.

"What are you doing here," Sakura snapped, trying to discreetly wipe the tears off her cheeks.

In explanation, Kenji held up his left arm. It was covered in plaster.

"Kendo," he said. "I'm actually in for a check-up. It's been like this for weeks. You're only just noticing?"

"I don't really pay much attention to you. You've got a spirit hanging around; it's distracting," she said honestly. He raised an eyebrow at her and she scoffed at him.

"Did you think I was going to make something up?" she asked. "You're already convinced that I'm a freak so what does it matter. I'm not gonna do this shit with you. I'm a medium. Get over it."

"I don't think you're a freak," he said quickly.

"No?" Sakura quipped. "Well, you hang out with people who do yet never contradict them, so I fail to see how that's any better."

"I guess not," Kenji mumbled. It was quiet for a moment before he hesitantly asked, "so you can see someone around me?"

"It's not your mother," she said softly, smiling sympathetically. Kenji looked completely crestfallen so she quickly backtracked. "The corporeal manifestation isn't your mother, but I can sense her."

"So no way to ask her something only she would know," Kenji muttered.

"I know what you're thinking," Sakura snapped. "But I'm not feeding you bullshit, alright. There are different planes on which spiritual activity occurs. Most mediums can only access two or three at best. The more at rest a spirit is – the more certain they are that their loved ones are well – the deeper they travel in the spirit world. I can only fully access the outermost plane. I can sense spirits from a few levels in though, and I know she's around."

"And you're out here now, talking to yourself, because Dr. Ootori's spirit is too far away for you to access," he guessed.

Sakura stood from her seat and wheeled to face Kenji, thinking he meant to mock her. "What gives you the right to –"

She bit her tongue when she saw from his surprise that he had only meant to help her talk things through. She sighed and sat again, gesturing for him to sit beside her. He did and she looked over into his deep brown eyes, deciding that she trusted him enough to confide in him.

"Yeah," she sighed, defeated. A tear rolled down her cheek. "Mom can sense him, but just barely. I understand that she's had years to hone her abilities, but it just doesn't seem fair. Uncle Kyouya knows about what we can do. Why would he choose to go somewhere we can't contact him?"

"Maybe it's not a choice," Kenji answered after a moment. He wasn't sure if the question had been rhetorical, but he chose to answer the brunette anyway. "Or maybe knowing you could contact him is exactly why he stayed away."

"I don't understand," Sakura said, brows knitting in confusion.

"Well, maybe he doesn't want anyone to spend the rest of their lives waiting to get word from him. If he's always around, no one can really move on. You said the deeper they go, the more at peace they are. I'd take that as a good sign."

Sakura breathed deeply and wiped her eyes, smiling at him. "Thank you."

"For what?" he asked.

"Knowing just what to say."

"Kenji, are you out here?" called a male voice from somewhere in the garden.

"That's my Dad," Kenji explained. "I'm coming," he yelled back. "I'll see you at school?"

"See me? Sure," she said. "Dare to associate with me? Probably not."

"I'm sorry Sakura, I really am," he apologized. "You're a really great girl."

"I know."

She stood and extended a hand. Kenji took it and she guided him to his feet. She got up on her tippy toes and placed a quick kiss on his cheek. He blushed, but smiled at her shyly when she pulled away. He began to walk off, but just before he could disappear from sight, Sakura called to him.

"By the way, the spirit I was telling you about, it's your old Kendo Coach from when you were six. He's been pestering me for months to tell you that your form was a little off. I guess there's little point in delivering the message now, with your broken arm and all, but I just thought I'd let you know."

Kenji smiled at her whimsically before disappearing behind a row of shrubs. Sakura sighed and decided that it was time she too made her way back to the hospital. Any moment now, Little One Li would be born into the world and she for one didn't want to miss it.

xXx

"I'd like you all to meet Hope Li," Kaori said proudly, holding her beautiful baby daughter swaddled in a pink blanket. Ryan sat at her side, a small, pink hand grasping his finger tightly. Hope looked up at the room full of mesmerized family members with her big, blue eyes and yawned adorably, her face scrunching just so.

"She's beautiful, just like her mother," Kaoru said, smiling warmly at his step-daughter.

"Would you like to hold your granddaughter, Dad?" Kaori asked, offing him the warm bundle of blankets. Kaoru teared up a little as held Hope in his arms. Nanami stood by his side and gently stroked her cheek delicately with a finger.

The new baby was passed around to Sora and Sango before moving on to Hikaru and Kimiko, followed by Mitsukuni and Takashi. She had made it almost completely around the room after a few minutes, but there was still one person left to hold her.

"Would you like to hold Hope, Aunt Haruhi?" Kaori asked softly.

Haruhi nodded slowly before taking Hope in her arms. Looking down at the beautiful little girl she was holding, a few silent tears escaped her eyes.

"Are you alright, Haruhi?" Tamaki asked hesitantly.

"I'm more than alright," she sighed. "I have hope."

"This would probably be a perfect time to introduce more joy to your life then," Tsubasa said suddenly. Hikari elbowed him in the ribs.

"A time and a place, Tsubasa. We talked about this," she scolded.

"What's this?" Takashi asked, quirking an eyebrow at his daughter and her boyfriend.

A quick look at Hikari, and she nodded, albeit reluctantly. Tsubasa took it as an invitation to continue. "Hikari and I are getting married."

There room was instantly filled with cheers and congratulations. Haruhi however remained silent and expressionless.

"Mom," Tsubasa said hesitantly.

"Someone take Hope," she said. "Someone take her so I can go hug my son and my new daughter."

Ryan took his daughter from the euphoric woman and let her run over to hug the happy couple. She cried but they weren't tears of sorrow anymore.

xXx

It was late in the evening some weeks later when a sleek, black limousine pulled up to the cemetery. An elderly man, back slightly hunched and hair thin and grey, walked slowly over to recently erected headstone. He stopped and pulled a cell phone from his suit pocket and dialled a number he had known for years, but had never taken the time to call.

"Hello, Mrs. Haruhi Ootori. This is Yoshio Ootori. I hope I haven't caught you at an inconvenient time... I am aware of that, and it is something I wish to rectify. I understand that you may feel some animosity towards me, and it is not unfounded. I cut my son off because I disagreed with the choices he made in life. Regretfully, Mrs. Ootori, you were one of the choices I was so adamantly against. I was angry that my son had, as I believed, lowered his standards, getting involved with a commoner. I realized later how wrong I was, but as a middle-aged man, my pride prevented me from making amends. What good did it do me? My son is dead, and the only memories I have of him are ones of us arguing. I don't want to make the same mistakes with my grandchildren as I did with my own children. Please, come to dinner at the manor... You and the children, of course... He's engaged now, is he? Yes of course, Young Miss Morinozuka is welcome, as well as the Young Mister Suoh should he choose to accompany your daughter."

All was quiet for a moment as the woman on the line contemplated his offer.

"Please say you'll think about it Haruhi – may I call you Haruhi... Mrs. Ootori, then. Please, I want to make things right. The next Ootori to pass on will most likely be myself and I cannot bear the though of dying the cold man I have become."

Silence again, but after a moment, Mr. Ootori smiled softly.

"I'll see you tomorrow at seven then. Thank you, Mrs. Ootori."

Yoshio Ootori closed his phone and returned it to his pocket with a satisfied smile on his face. He returned to his limousine and directly addressed the driver.

"My daughter and her family are coming to dinner. Tell the chef to prepare only the finest."

"How many will be in Miss Fuyumi's party?" the driver asked.

"No, not Fuyumi," Yoshio corrected. "Tomorrow, I'm expecting Haruhi and her children. Tell the chef five."

"Yes, Sir," the driver said before rolling up the dividing window and pulling away, letting the silhouette of the cemetery become framed the red, red sunset, slipping slowly into the horizon.