punkish furball – Hey, ev'rybody! ^.^
Words to Ponder:
This is a completely new and original chapter! X3 I won't be going back to the previous chapters of the story for about three or four chapters.
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Thanks for the praise and feedback! X3
Chapter 6: Close Comrades
Kagome groaned as she looked at her latest math score; it was her worst test performance to date. She was so sure she would be caught up with everyone else by now, but, clearly, that was not the case. In history, she had perfect marks on all her assignments without much effort. She maintained above average scores in literature and science as long as she kept up with the course readings and studied them for a few hours every night. She excelled in her elective courses, Introduction the Greek Mythology and Nursing Terminology. But when it came to math…
'I just can't get it! I don't even answer all the questions; the only reason I turn in my test is to get it out of my face. If I keep failing these math tests, I'll have to drop out of A-class by the end of the semester, and Akira-san won't be able to do anything about it.' Kagome sighed and rested her head on her desk. 'Maybe I should find a tutor. The sooner the better.'
"Good morning, Kagome-kun!" Rei greeted Kagome happily with Tsukiyo and Satoko standing at her side. Kagome quickly snapped her head up and stuffed her exam paper in her bag. The last thing she needed was for anyone to see this debacle of a test score.
"Morning," Kagome replied with a slight nod, "So what's with everyone today? They all seem more excited than usual."
While she sat at her desk lamenting, Kagome noticed her classmates—excluding Haruhi who was calmly reading a book in the desk adjacent to her—were much louder and more animated than normal. In addition to that, their homeroom teacher only appeared in the beginning of class to call roll and make a few brief announcements before leaving the class unattended.
"Oh!" Satoko said, "Today is the start of the cultural festival."
"Really?" Kagome questioned as she recalled the festivals she had at her old school, "That means other schools will have students coming and going for the next few days, huh?"
"That's right," Tsukiyo answered with a nod, "Classes are cancelled for the duration of the festival."
"Nice," Kagome responded; she was grateful for the short break.
'At least I won't have math to worry about for the next few days,' she thought in relief.
"And I think the host club will be putting in some extra hours during all the festival!" Tsukiyo squealed excitedly with Rei and Satoko looking equally as enthused.
"You three ladies—"
Hikaru and Kaoru approached the group of girls, wearing a pair of mischievous grins.
"We look forward to spending more time with you ladies," they said in unison. They turned to Haruhi and each boy placed a hand on one of her shoulders. "But that means you have to get us more instant coffee."
Haruhi lifted her head from her book and looked at the twins incredulously. "We're out already? I just bought some last week! You two really need to control your caffeine intake."
"The ass twin should drink from the faucet," Kagome chimed in causing Hikaru to groan.
"I wish you would give that a rest," he said without turning to face her.
"Maybe if you give being an ass a rest," Kagome retorted with a slight grin.
"Stop it, you two," Haruhi instructed in a motherly tone. While she agreed with Kagome's assessment of the twins—though she would have phrased it differently—she knew that if she let the two continued arguing about it, a much bigger brawl would ensue.
"Yeah, Hikaru," Kaoru added, "After all, you shouldn't upset our newest toy."
"Toy?" Kagome repeated with a slight edge to her voice.
"You of course," Kaoru answered with a grin causing Kagome to pout.
"The sweet twin shouldn't speak like the ass one," she said sounding quite disappointed and flicked Kaoru on the nose.
"Are you sure you have the right twin? I could be Hikaru for all you know," Kaoru stated teasingly. He wrinkled his nose when he felt Kagome flick him again.
"Don't start with that again," she warned him playfully.
While the two continued their playful banter, Hikaru continued to unsuccessfully goad Haruhi into buying them more coffee.
"Don't we have to stay on campus for the cultural festival?" Haruhi asked.
"Attendance isn't mandatory," Hikaru answered cheekily, "No one will even notice you're gone."
"Then why don't you and Kaoru go get it?" Haruhi countered as she closed her book in frustration. At this rate, she wouldn't get any more reading done.
"We don't know where to buy it!" Hikaru answered, "You and Kagome are the only ones who know where to get the commoners' coffee."
"One of you has to go get it," Kaoru stated, directing his efforts to coaxing Kagome to perform the task.
"I promise not to be an ass for the rest of the cultural festival," Hikaru added as an incentive.
Kagome snorted. "Somehow I doubt that."
"Don't worry about it, Kagome," Haruhi stated, "I'll go get the coffee." As she stood to her feet, Haruhi froze for a split second and her hazel eyes widened a small fraction.
'What's wrong with her?' Kagome thought worriedly. She looked toward the series of large windows where Haruhi's frightened gaze was pointed. It was raining outside. They couldn't hear the storm over the noise in the classroom, so no one else seemed to notice it. It wasn't a raging downpour, but Kagome could pick up the sound of gentle rolls of thunder and see quick flashes of lightning in the sky when she focused on them.
'Is that why Haruhi's afraid?' Kagome mused, 'She's afraid of the storm?'
"Hey, what's the hold up?" Hikaru asked when he noticed Haruhi didn't move to the door, "Is there something wrong, Haruhi?"
Haruhi quickly straightened her stance and turned away from the window. "Everything is fine! I just don't have an umbrella." The twins looked to the window and finally noticed the ongoing squall outside.
"Oh, it's raining," Hikaru said nonchalantly, "Well, a little water never hurt anyone, right?"
"You really expect me to go out in the rain?" Haruhi asked, letting her frustration show.
"It looks like it's starting to let up," Kaoru commented, "You should be fine."
"Don't worry. I got an umbrella," Kagome said as she stood up holding up a pink medium-sized umbrella dotted with bright yellow flowers. She always had one packed in her backpack; it came in handy when there was an unexpected shower in the Feudal Era.
"Aww! It's so cute!" Kagome's admirers squealed with glee.
"Let's get going." Kagome said with a sigh before she grabbed Haruhi's hand and led her out of the classroom. The two walked in silence until they reached the North Entrance of the academy.
"Kagome, why are you—" Haruhi began, but she was unsure of what she wanted to say.
"You're afraid, right?" Kagome asked bluntly causing Haruhi to stiffen as the two girls paused in front of the exit.
"I couldn't help but notice when you were looking out the window earlier," Kagome elaborated, "I thought you wouldn't want to admit it to the others, so I offered to go with you."
"Thanks," Haruhi said with a grateful grin, "I really was afraid. I never liked the rain especially with thunder and lightning." Kagome smiled before pushing the door open and opening the umbrella to shield them from the rain.
"Now let's get going," Kagome said, "We wouldn't want to keep our caffeine lords waiting, do we?"
"We don't," Haruhi answered with a nod. The two began walking in the direction of the grocery store they frequented huddled closely under Kagome's pink umbrella. Kagome fought the urge to giggle when Haruhi jumped at a sudden roll of thunder. She too had a fear and she wouldn't want to be laughed at no matter how silly she looked.
"You can stand closer to me if you want," Kagome offered. She grinned with Haruhi quickly pressed against her and clutched the sleeve of her blazer.
"Thanks," Haruhi replied gratefully. It didn't take long for Kagome and Haruhi to reach the store. After a few minutes of browsing, they ended up buying several different brands of instant coffee instead of the ones they usually bought. The store was having a sale, so they stocked up on as many containers as they could. They wanted to be sure they didn't run out for a long time even with Hikaru's and Kaoru's rate of consumption.
By the time the two girls left the store with two large brown bags full of coffee, the rain had reduced to a light drizzle, and they didn't need Kagome's umbrella anymore.
"You think they'll like these new flavors?" Haruhi asked once they entered one of Ouran's many ornate courtyards.
"Who cares?" Kagome replied, "They should be thankful we bought any at all. Kyoya-senpai better reimburse us. Unlike some people at Ouran Academy, I have a very limited supply of pocket change, and I don't like asking Akira-san for money."
"Not likely," Haruhi stated dryly, "He might deduct it from our debt. Not that a few thousand yen will make any difference considering how much we still owe."
Kagome glared at the silver cross dangling around her neck. "It wouldn't be so high if he talked Renge-san out of these expensive 'hosting accessories' and didn't keep charging us rental fees for our costumes. First chance I get, I might just deck him one good time in his pretty little face."
Haruhi giggled. "You really are a rebel. Your fans would be excited to hear you say something like that."
"Oh shut up," Kagome retorted playfully. Haruhi continued laughing until she lost her footing and slipped on the slick ground.
"Haruhi, watch out!" Kagome shouted and dropped her grocery bag. Before she could reach her fallen friend, another person caught Haruhi before she hit the concrete. She was a tall female student dressed in the uniform from another school with brown hair cut in a style similar to Haruhi's. Kagome had to admit her outfit was a major improvement compared to Ouran's uniform choice for females.
'But was she twirling just now?' Kagome thought. She shook her head of those ponderings and checked on Haruhi, who was still cradled in the unfamiliar girl's arms.
"Are you hurt at all?" Kagome asked with concern. Haruhi seemed alright and didn't even drop her bag.
"I'm fine," Haruhi answered and the stranger let her stand to her feet. She looked up to her savior and bowed her head respectfully. "Thank you for catching me."
"Yes, thank you," Kagome added appreciatively.
"You're welcome," the girl answered in a deep, sultry tone, "It would have been a shame if you scarred that pretty face of yours, young lady." Haruhi and Kagome looked at her in surprise.
'So she can tell,' Kagome thought as she picked up her grocery bag, 'Looks like there are a few rich people around here with some sense.'
"Of course I can see why you'd be distracted," the girl continued, "when you have such a lovely companion, a fair maiden like yourself."
Kagome's eye twitched slightly when the girl winked at her. '…then again maybe not.'
"Thanks I guess," Kagome replied, "We should get going. We have to get to our club meeting."
"Allow me to escort you," the girl suggested, "Beautiful women should never travel unaccompanied."
"Sure," Haruhi answered with a slight shrug of her shoulders, "Whatever you want."
'This girl is a little strange,' Kagome thought as their new companion followed closely behind her and Haruhi, but she was never one to judge based on first appearances.
'But if I didn't know any better, I'd think she was hitting on us just now!'
"What's taking Kagome and Haruhi so long?" Kaoru mumbled.
"They need to hurry up," Hikaru added.
"You have no right to complain!" Tamaki shouted, pointing an accusatory finger at the twins, "You're the ones that set my sweet daughters out in the cold and rain all alone! A respectful knight would never send such frail damsels out by themselves!" Tamaki repeatedly gestured to the cosplay theme they selected for today, chivalrous medieval knights.
"I think you're exaggerating," Hikaru said as he adjusted his feathered hat on his ginger head, "Haruhi and Kagome aren't exactly frail."
"Go-chan will be fine," Honey said reassuringly before he turned to Mori, "She and Haru-chan are good together, right?"
For a few short seconds, Mori thought of Kagome and Haruhi as he stood by the window looking toward the courtyard to see when they entered the school grounds. Both girls had proven many times they were independent and could handle themselves well.
"Yeah," Mori answered and Honey giggled happily at the response.
"Whether they're here or not, club activities must continue as scheduled," Kyoya stated, "I won't dock them any time or money since they're out on club business."
"You are right, Kaa-san!" Tamaki exclaimed, "Though my heart yearns for our sweet daughters and I long for their return, the show must go on for all our lovely patrons!" The host club quickly got into position in front of the music room's entrance and waited for their first guests to arrive. They didn't have to wait long before two unfamiliar students, a statuesque beauty with light brown flowing locks and a petite, dark-haired brunette, wearing knee length burgundy skirts with white tops thrust open the double doors.
"Welcome!" the host club greeted them warmly.
"Well, well," Tamaki stated as he gallantly approached them sword in hand as he flashed his charming, signature grin, "I see you ladies are from another school. I certainly hope we haven't startled you. We love first time guests!"
Once Tamaki shortened the distance between them, he bowed before the two ladies. "I'm glad you've come, princesses. My darlings, even if the world were to be destroyed, I would gladly put my life on the line as your faithful knight and servant. I will protect you." He knelt down on one knee at the end of his speech, but the new comers were not impressed.
"My, my," the light haired brunette replied airily, "Do you really think you'd be able to protect us? That's awfully arrogant of you, wouldn't you agree?" She paused and crossed her arms over her chest. "Do you really think that's what a woman wants to here? If so, you're mistaken."
"Give him a break, Suzuran-nee-sama," the shorter girl began, "Men are simply lower life forms who prize their own honor and pride above all else. By saying he can protect us, he is attempting to mask the fact he can't even protect himself."
Suzuran giggled behind her hand. "Hinagiku-chan, you're so clever." The other hosts were surprised by the girls' short dialogue and didn't know how to react. However, not daunted by the obvious rejection, Tamaki stood to his feet and casually placed his sword over his shoulder.
"That's pretty harsh," he said with a small crooked grin, "Well, what words would you liked to hear?"
"If it were me," a voice interjected, "I'd never leave my lover alone." All of a sudden, the lights in the host club dimmed and a single spot light appeared close to the entrance. Another girl garbed in the same uniform as the other two stood just outside the doorway with one hand stretched toward the ceiling and the other placed on Haruhi's shoulder.
"If we fight, we will fight together," she continued, "If we fail, we will meet our fate together." The girl got on her knees before Haruhi and gently grasped her hand. "Even if I perish, I swear I will never leave your side, my love." She pressed a gentled kiss on Haruhi's knuckles. Once the room was relit, Kagome was spotted in the background, fighting off snickers behind her palm.
"Benibara-sama," Hinagiku said with a slight sigh, "you're late."
"What are we going to do with you?" Suzuran added, "And where did you find these adorable ladies?"
"They were right outside the school," Benibara answered as she stood to her feet, "They may be dressed as boys, but I knew the truth." Benibara twirled Haruhi in her arms and held her close as she gently stroked her face. "They both have such clear maidenly eyes."
"Thanks I guess," Haruhi responded, unsure of have to react to this situation.
'Looks like Haruhi has a new fan,' Kagome thought, 'She's much more forward than our regular guests.' Her train of thought stopped completely when Suzuran suddenly appeared in her line of view, lightly caressing her cheek.
"Can I help you?" Kagome asked in a gruff tone as she tried to back away the forward girl.
"Your eyes are so expressive," Suzuran said appreciatively, "Such a lovely color."
"O…kay," Kagome replied. She jumped when Suzuran suddenly pressed her cheek against her bosom and hugged her tightly. Before she could react, she felt her pant leg being rolled up. She looked down to see Hinagiku rubbing her calf in admiration before doing the same to Haruhi's exposed leg.
"They both have such pretty skin," she exclaimed, "So soft!"
"Who would have thought we'd find such gems here!" Suzuran cried happily.
"What do you think you're doing?" Tamaki shouted as he rushed toward the group of girls molesting his daughters, "Unhand them at once!"
"Back off!" Benibara shouted before she punched Tamaki in the face and sent him flying toward the other hosts. She and the other girls stepped away from Haruhi and Kagome to stand in front of the host club with their arms planted on their hips. Benibara sneered as she condescendingly looked at the group of boys.
"She punched me!" Tamaki whined and drew his knees into his chest. The other hosts gathered around him to sooth his frazzled nerves.
"So the rumors we heard are true," Benibara stated, "You guys are just a bunch of weak little punks with no sense between you."
"Those uniforms," Kyoya began once he started to analyze their new guests, "I see you ladies are from the Lobelia Girls' Academy."
Benibara smirked haughtily before she answered. "We are." The trio of girls tossed their uniforms aside revealing costumes they wore underneath their clothes and began to sing.
Haruhi and Kagome stood on the sidelines watching the trio with deadpanned expressions. The Lobelia Academy girls were eerily similar to a certain group of eccentrics with a hobby for cosplay that they have come to know so well.
'Please don't tell me that all rich people act like this,' Haruhi thought. The girls continued with their theatrics, introducing themselves as they continued to sing the name of their school.
"St. Lobelia Academy, high school second year, Amakusa Benio."
"Also a second year, Meihara Chizuru."
"And first year student, Tsuwabuki Hinako."
"We are St. Lobelia Academy's White Lily League," Benio stated proudly, "also known as the Zuka Club!" Once again, the trio threw off their clothes and revealed yet another costume change hidden underneath. Hikaru and Kaoru burst into hysterics, rolling on the floor as they laughed heartily.
"Wow," Kagome said wryly before she turned to Haruhi, "Maybe we should go put this coffee away? It'll give us a chance to experience some normality."
"Sure," Haruhi answered, "We might need to make a few cups too. It seems like our guests will be here a while."
When Renge appeared on her motorized platform, Kagome and Haruhi knew it was their cue to leave. They walked toward the host club's built-in kitchen and stored the coffee containers in its cabinets. Once they were all put away, Haruhi began running some water to boil for the coffee.
Kagome lazily leaned against the counter watching Haruhi work. "I really don't wanna stay here. I'm beginning to get a headache with all this singing."
"Quit whining," Haruhi scolded half-heartedly, "Let's just give them some coffee, be polite, and hope they leave soon."
"I guess," Kagome replied and reached for her nearly emptied paper bag. She fished out a plastic bag filled with brightly colored treats.
"I hope they like mochi rice cakes," Kagome stated and grabbed a sparkling glass bowl and silver tray. She ripped open the bag and dumped the rice cakes in the bowl just as Haruhi finished pouring the hot water in a set of tea cups. As they walked back to the main area of the host room carrying their refreshments, they heard the remainder of Benio's speech.
"To think the notorious host club has dragged two sweet, innocent girls down with them. The host club's president may be a pretty little halfer, but spreading around false love with impressive appearances and toying with the pure hearts of young maidens is demeaning and inexcusable!" Benio shouted passionately, "It's outrageous how you claim to be carrying out club activities while satisfying your own devious appetites. I swear I will abolish the Ouran Host Club at once!"
"Excuse me," Haruhi interjected before the confrontation could escalate, "but would you ladies like some coffee?"
"We have mochi rice cakes too if you want some," Kagome added. Both girls smiled courteously as they held onto their matching silver trays.
"How exquisite!" Benio exclaimed and grabbed one of the tea cups on Haruhi's tray, "Anything produced by a maiden always possesses a magnificent aroma." Chizuru and Hinako quickly followed Benio's lead.
"You truly are pearls among swine," Chizuru exclaimed, delicately picking a pink mochi cake and popping it in her mouth.
"These are just store bought," Kagome clarified, "It's not like we made them ourselves."
"And the coffee is instant," Haruhi added.
"We should have our own private little tea party," Hinako suggested, ignoring what the two girls said.
Tamaki shot to his feet and rushed toward the girls again with renewed vigor. As much as the Lobelia girls frightened him, he would not allow them to have Kagome and Haruhi in their clutches.
"You girls are completely wrong!" he shouted angrily, "There is nothing to gain from a relationship between two girls! Keep your hands off my daughters!" As he rushed forward, Tamaki carelessly slipped and his finger landed in Hinako's teacup as he stumbled to keep his balance.
"Hot!" he shouted and cradled his injured finger to his chest as he sunk to the ground whimpering. Kagome sighed and placed down her tray before she approached the weeping king. Once she knelt down to his level, she reached out and gently took Tamaki's hand in hers.
"Geez, you're such a dope," she said exasperatedly, "Why can't you be a little more careful?" Kagome blew a stream of cool air on his pinkened skin before giving his finger a little kiss. While Tamaki was obviously distracted by the intimate gesture, Kagome let her energy flow and discreetly healed the injury. It was a small wound, so it wasn't hard to heal with a minimal amount of energy.
Kagome pulled back her lips and gave Tamaki a smile. "Feels better, doesn't it?"
"Yeah," Tamaki managed to answer softly as he fought the growing blush on his face. How could he ever hope to respond coherently to such sweetness? His cricket was acting much too charming for him to stand!
"Hold on. I have a bandage," Haruhi said as she knelt down beside the two and wrapped Tamaki's finger in the white dressing. When she was done, Tamaki curiously looked at his bandaged appendage.
"Do you always carry around bandages?" he asked curiously.
"No," Haruhi answered, "They were just giving them away at the supermarket when Kagome and I went to get the instant coffee."
"Giving them away?" Tamaki repeated.
"Stores always have free giveaways," Kagome explained briefly, "How do you think we got the rice cakes?"
Benio walked closer until she stood before the trio, looking down at Tamaki with disdain. "This doesn't even seem worth discussing." She grabbed Haruhi by the wrist and pulled her to her chest. Hinako and Chizuru stepped forward and did the same to Kagome, holding her between them.
"Now that we know of the situation, we cannot allow these maidens to remain in this club," Benio stated, "We will prepare their paperwork and have them transferred at once. They will be welcomed amongst their own kind at Lobelia Academy and in the Zuka Club!"
"Hold it!" Kagome interrupted as she pulled away from her captors. Once she was free, she tugged at her hoodie to straighten out the rumpled garment. When she finished, she helped Haruhi pull away from Benio.
"There's definitely been a misunderstanding here," Kagome said.
"Yeah," Haruhi began, "For one, you called senpai a halfer."
"It's true!" Honey exclaimed, "Tama-chan's half French and half Japanese!"
'Half French?' Kagome thought as she looked at the sheepish host, who was awkwardly scratching his neck at the revelation of his heritage, 'I guess that Suoh-sensei is Japanese based on his name, so Tamaki-senpai's French heritage must come from his mother.'
Kagome recalled the time she visited Yuzuru's office. There were many pictures of Tamaki adorning the office space but none of anyone that could be his wife or, if they weren't the same person, Tamaki's mother.
'Could it be…?' Kagome mused, 'that it's some sort of secret?'
"Well," Haruhi continued, "It isn't fair to say the host club doesn't have a history like yours."
"We hardly have any history," Hikaru commented.
"The host club was created two years ago when the boss started high school," Kaoru explained. Haruhi sighed when she was once again proven wrong in her defense of the host club, but she wouldn't give up.
"Even so," she began again, "When you say that they only hold the club's activities to satisfy their own appetites, you're going too far."
"Yeah," Kagome added, "it's not like we charge admissions or anything."
"While we don't charge our guests money directly, we do have a point system," Kyoya clarified as he sat up his laptop and quickly typed in a few lines, "We offer priority services, depending on the price of items won in net actions on the club's homepage." He stepped back from the laptop and gestured toward the screen. "Look here, Haruhi. Your used mechanical pencil just sold for a winning bid of ¥30,000." Haruhi rushed up to the screen with her mouth agape.
"I thought I lost that pencil!" she shouted and turned to Kyoya with a harsh glare, "I had no idea you were charging money for these kinds of things, Kyoya-senpai!"
"You thought we were just doing volunteer work?" Kyoya replied incredulously, "If you subtract event expenses, costume rentals, and cost of refreshments, we do generate a small profit."
"But you can't sell other people's possessions without their permission!" Haruhi countered, "That's stealing!"
"It's not stealing," the twins said in unison, "That pencil was on the floor."
"I'm sorry, Haruhi!" Tamaki whined loudly, "We weren't trying to hide it from you!" Tamaki reached into his pocket and pulled a green mechanical pencil with a brown teddy bear topper. "You can have my pencil. It has a teddy bear!"
"Keep it," Haruhi responded humorlessly, "I don't want anything like that."
"Someone really paid that much for a pencil?" Kagome commented curiously and looked at the computer screen. Sure enough, the winning bid was listed underneath the picture of Haruhi's former pencil. She sighed as she scrolled down the opened window until she spotted an ongoing auction where the bidding had already reached over ¥20,000 and was steadily rising.
"That's my hair wrapper!" Kagome shouted angrily. She remembered the day she lost the thin, black hair accessory well. It happened just before lunch one day when someone snuck behind her and slipped it from her low hanging ponytail. Though she never found out the identity of the culprit, she suspected the host club was responsible. Her guest numbers were nearly doubled that day because all the girls clamored to see her unbound raven tresses up close and hear her grumble about it. Now her suspicions were confirmed.
"You stole my hair wrapper so you could sell it? You do know I got in trouble for causing a disturbance in class for having my hair down, right? You jerks!" she shouted at the twins; they were the ones closest to her when her wrapper went missing. They simply shrugged and backed away from the fuming girl.
"It's not that important of an item," Kyoya retorted, "Besides, we offered you a substitute, but you didn't want it."
Kagome growled lowly; she remembered that as well. While she lamented the loss of her hair accessory, Tamaki rushed toward her beaming as he and Kyoya offered her a jeweled butterfly hair clip to pin her hair back which she promptly refused.
"Why the hell would I have wanted that?" Kagome cried angrily.
"You poor dears," Chizuru said with a sympathetic hand placed on Kagome's shoulder, "It must have been quite a shock to be so deceived."
"Dump these losers and come with us!" Hinako suggested cheerfully.
"Hold on," Benio said to her fellow club members, "These lovely ladies have had a rough day. We'll give them time to their selves and ask them again tomorrow." She turn toward the exit and gave Kagome and Haruhi a wink and a wave over her shoulder. "Until then, adieu."
After the Lobelia girls left, Haruhi and Kagome turned to the remainder of the host club wearing blank expressions.
"I'll be excusing myself for the day," Haruhi stated emotionlessly.
"Me too," Kagome added. Both girls pulled open the pink double doors and exited the room without any more words.
"What good did it do to tell the truth?" Tamaki shouted now that Kagome and Haruhi were well out of earshot, "We just made it worse!"
Hikaru and Kaoru both shrugged. "The facts are the facts. It's not like we could lie to them."
"So we shouldn't have sold their stuff?" Honey asked timidly.
"I guess so," Kaoru answered, "They could have been family keepsakes for all we knew."
"No, Haruhi's pencil was just an electronic store freebie," Hikaru said, pointing to the store's logo on the picture of the pencil.
"And Go-chan has a lot of those hair wrappers at home," Honey added, "She's always losing them." Mori nodded as he recalled seeing many thin black elastics scattered on Kagome's vanity whenever she frantically looked for one before they left for school.
"Gentleman, think about it," Tamaki began solemnly as he moved toward the large window overlooking the central courtyard, "Haruhi may basically be indifferent, but if she had to choose, she does tend to favor men's clothing. In addition to that, consider what she said when she first joined the club. Based on that, the Zuka Club is a much better match for her, don't you think?" The rest of the host club blanched as they considered the truth of Tamaki's words. The plucky commoner was a rarity at Ouran Academy; perhaps she would prefer attending to Lobelia.
"And there's Kagome," Tamaki continued, "Unlike Haruhi, she's open about her dislike for certain club activities. If given the chance to leave, would she really stay with us? She can still bond with Mori-senpai and Honey-senpai at home if she decides to attend Lobelia Academy."
"What's more, those two have been getting close," Hikaru added, "If one of them decides to leave, the other might follow her decision. They are far more suited to go to a girls' school."
"Go-chan and Haru-chan will transfer away!" Honey cried and clung to his Usa-chan. Mori placed a comforting hand on his cousin's shoulder, but he was also growing increasingly upset. The host club was the only thing he shared with Kagome. Without that, any hope of them growing closer seemed to steadily be evaporating away.
"What are we going to do?" Hikaru asked in a panic.
"Haruhi will pass Lobelia's scholarship exam for sure," Kaoru stated, "And Kagome will definitely get in with the Morinozuka family's prestige."
"Lobelia also has enough money to pay back the debt they both share," Kyoya added, knowing he couldn't use that as leverage to coerce the two girls into staying.
"Calm down, gentlemen!" Tamaki cried as he turned to his friends holding his bandaged index finger in the air, "I have a secret plan that is sure to work!"
Kagome grumbled as she walked side by side with Haruhi. The cultural festival activities were going on all around them, but they couldn't bring themselves to enjoy the fun in the mood they were in. They simply continued to walk aimlessly around Ouran's expansive campus, subconsciously looking for some peace and quiet.
"I can't believe that they stole from us," Kagome muttered, "I feel so played."
"Me too," Haruhi replied, "I knew they were eccentric, but this is going too far."
The two girls continued walking for a while until they finally stopped and looked at their surroundings. They managed to travel far beyond the high school's Third Music Room and ended up at the most impressive play area they had ever seen.
"It looks like we're in the elementary school section," Haruhi mused aloud.
"Wow!" Kagome exclaimed in awe, "Awesome playground!" She quickly ran for the swing set and took a seat. Giggling happily, she lightly pushed her feet off the ground and swung back and forth.
"It's been forever since I used one of these!"
Haruhi shrugged her shoulders before she approached the swings and sat on the one to Kagome's right. She tentatively tested the swing and was soon moving back and forth like Kagome was.
"These are pretty fun," she commented, wearing a slight smile.
"Much sturdier than the ones I'm used to," Kagome added as she pushed herself higher.
Haruhi slowly came to a stop with her eyes closed in thought. "What do you think they're doing right now?"
Kagome was silent for a few moments as she began to slow down as well. "Pouting I bet."
"Do you think we were too hard on them?" Haruhi asked and opened her eyes to look at Kagome. The raven pursed her lips together and came to a complete stop so she and Haruhi could speak face-to-face.
"I guess," she answered, "They did take our stuff, but it's not like they lied about it or went out of their way to hide it. And I may have overreacted; I literally have a ton of those elastics at the manor, and I constantly lose them."
"And I suppose I could always get another pencil from the electronics store I got the other one from," Haruhi added.
"I can't believe someone actually paid ¥30,000 for a pencil," Kagome commented.
"Neither can I," Haruhi replied, "I would have just given the pencil to someone if they asked to borrow it. There isn't anyone with common sense around here."
"You got that right," Kagome countered with a smile, "You and I have to stick together. We're comrades."
"Comrades?" Haruhi repeated.
"Thant's right!" Kagome affirmed.
Haruhi smiled to herself; she didn't really have any friends before coming to Ouran especially female ones. She was always cordial and polite to everyone at her previous schools and she had a few close friends from her childhood, but, after her mother passed, she didn't really make an effort to have close relationships with her peers. She was always preoccupied with doing her schoolwork and taking care of her father and their home. And, even though she spent most of her free time at the host club now, there were still many things they didn't know about her.
'But Kagome knows some things about me that they don't,' Haruhi thought when she considered how Kagome discovered her greatest fear earlier today. It was nice to have someone to share that type of thing with and who regarded her as her close friend. Kagome had many qualities that Haruhi respected and admired; some of those characteristics were a few she had herself. Who better to be her comrade?
"Well then, comrade," Haruhi responded, "should we forgive them?"
"Let's let them sweat until tomorrow," Kagome answered with a smirk, "They deserve at least some punishment."
Haruhi grinned. "Sounds good to me. While we wait, we could actually look around the festival or get some homework done in the library."
Kagome sighed; Haruhi was ever the studious one. She wanted to give her studies a small break during the festival, but that didn't seem like a possibility now. But, if Haruhi was as willing a teacher as she was a student, maybe this was for the best.
"Speaking of homework," Kagome began hesitantly, "You are good in math, right?"
"Yeah," Haruhi replied, "Why do you ask?"
Kagome placed a heavy hand on Haruhi's shoulder. "I have something math related you need to look at that you've probably never seen before."
"Those guys have been quiet all day. It's s not like them," Haruhi commented as she and Kagome sat in the library. It was the second day of the cultural festival and, instead of heading straight to class, Haruhi and Kagome checked in with their homeroom teacher before they looked at a few of the cultural exhibits. When they were bored of that, the two girls retreated to the library to work on their studies like they did the day before.
"I know," Kagome replied, "Takashi-san even came home late last night and left home early this morning. I think they're up to something."
"We might as well go check on them now; it is our regular club time." Haruhi closed her textbook before putting it away and Kagome mimicked the action. They both stood up with their school bags and walked toward the Third Music Room until their path was blocked.
"Hey there, maidens," Benio greeted them suavely.
"As promised yesterday, we've come to ask you again," Hinako added.
"We've come to set things straight with those Host Club idiots today," Chizuru said confidently.
"Excuse me," Haruhi began, "but set what straight exactly?" While she did remember the trio in front of her, after spending a few hours after school helping Kagome with her math, yesterday became a bit of blur.
"That lovely maidens like you should be with your own kind!" Benio exclaimed proudly. She grabbed Kagome and Haruhi by the hand and pulled them towards the doors of the host club with Chizuru and Hinako following behind them.
"Whatever, lady," Kagome muttered under her breath.
Benio opened the door and the entire room was dark. They stood there for a few seconds before a light came on in the background revealing several large and poofy silhouettes in the center of the room.
"—Host Club welcomes you!"
All of the lights in the room came on, revealing each host club member and their surprising display of ensembles. Mori was the most normal looking of the group and that was certainly saying something. He wore a dark blue outfit reminiscent of the one of the costumes Benio wore yesterday accented with gold buttons and fringed shoulder pads with a large white puff behind him accentuated by large black feathers. Every few seconds, he'd play a tambourine, creating a soft tinkling sound. Stationed next to him, Honey wore a large poofy gown with a hot pink top and light pink skirt decorated with white ribbons and bows. A large open mouth smile lined in pink lipstick stretched across his sweet face which was decorated with an excess amount of blush and eye shadow. Usa-chan was even dressed up, wearing a large red bow on the side of his head and ruby red lipstick.
Kyoya was at the duo's immediate right dressed in a long sleeved dark mauve dress with white frills on the shoulders and red buttons; it appeared similar to a maid's outfit. A white frilled headband was perched upon his raven head which was arranged in a long ponytail over his shoulder. In his gloved hand was a black fan with a feathered fringe. His makeup was much more subdued compared to the others as he only wore a light pink gloss on his lips. The twins were in the front facing each other in matching turquoise and pale yellow gowns with white frills. Their makeup was just as heavy as Honey's and their normal hairstyles were covered by wigs done up in two large and curly pigtails on the sides their heads. They posed with their arms outstretched toward each other while holding orange fans.
In the middle of them all was Tamaki looking every bit the vibrant and flamboyant blonde he was. His gown was red and pink outlined in gold with a poofy skirt and sleeves. His long arms were clothed in stark white gloves. He had many more accessories than the others: a red cloth delicately fastened around his neck, oval shaped earrings, and a headband with a large red feather on his blonde, flowing locks.
Tamaki stepped away the formation and approached group of blanched, dumbstruck girls swishing his skirt as he glided across the floor in his high heels.
"Welcome, Haruhi and Kagome," he greeted them, trying the make his voice reach a higher pitch, "How nice of you to join us."
"Go-chan! Haru-chan!" Honey cried as he twirled around, "I'm a princess now! Aren't I cute?"
"What's the meaning of this?" Benio shouted once she recovered from her shock, "Are you trying to mock our culture?"
"Of course not!" Tamaki replied confidently, "I've taken everything into account. This is a surefire strategy that would make even a crying child smile. It's the Freebie Campaign!" Tamaki posed with one arm stretched toward the five girls while he held up the hem of his dress with the other hosts arranging themselves around him. "You ladies have lived sheltered lives at Lobelia, so you may not know that commoners have a weakness for free things. Haruhi and Kagome, you may be distracted by the Zuka Club now, but if you choose the host club, you'll get a club full of brothers and sisters! This way you can experience the feminine bonding of the Zuka Club while remaining in the host club!"
"Haruhi, Kagome!" Tamaki exclaimed happily as he twirled around, "Don't I look pretty?"
"We're the Hitachiin sisters! Which one is prettier?" Hikaru and Kaoru chorused together. They playfully hid their faces behind their matching fans. "We're just teasing you!"
"Hey, Haru-chan! Go-chan!" Honey cried as he waved Usa-chan up and down, "You can both call me 'Nee-chan', ok?"
Kyoya and Mori said nothing but stood almost regally next to each other with Mori occasionally shaking his tambourine.
"You really think they can be taken in by this cheap trick?" Benio shouted angrily, "We've had enough of your fooling around!"
Unable to hold it in anymore, Kagome and Haruhi let their laughter loose. Both girls held their sides as they sank to the ground unleashing several peals of laughter.
"This is all too much!" Haruhi managed to say between laughs, "I don't even know what you're trying to do!"
"That makeup! Those gowns! Those wigs!" Kagome exclaimed, pointing out every hilarious feature the boys wore, "You guys even made yourselves boobs!"
"We never knew you goof balls would take it this far!" Haruhi added. By this point, Haruhi was hitting the ground as she laughed while Kagome began rolling on the floor.
"Are we really that funny?" Honey and the twins asked in unison before leaning over the two girls. Seeing their made up faces up close was too much for them to take and the two girls began shuffling along the floor, performing a pseudo crabwalk to get away from the three hosts.
"Call us 'Nee-chan'!" they continued, "Come on; do it! Please!"
"No way! Back off!" When the three boys backed away, Haruhi and Kagome took several deep breaths to compose themselves.
"Seriously," Kagome began once her voice was even, "what were you guys thinking?"
Hikaru looked away from the two girls and placed his hands on the back of his head. "We did this because we wanted you both to stay in the club." Kagome and Haruhi stilled and looked at the remainder of the host club with thoughtful expressions.
"Maidens," Benio said after she cleared her throat to gain Kagome's and Haruhi's attention, "have you made your decisions?"
"We're sorry," Kagome answered as she stood to her feet, "but Haruhi and I are staying here." Once she was in a standing position, Kagome held out her hand to Haruhi and helped her get on her feet.
"Don't get us wrong," Haruhi began while dusting off her uniform, "we think your ideals are interesting and unique, but I came to this school with a goal in mind for my future. In addition to that, Kagome and I made a promise to each other."
"A promise?" Benio repeated curiously.
Kagome nodded eagerly and held up her pinky finger. Haruhi grinned before she did the same and wrapped hers around it.
"It's a promise between comrades!" Kagome explained as she and Haruhi gave their fingers a mutual shake before pulling the digits away from each other, "Besides, we never intended to leave Ouran to begin with."
"Wait a minute!" Tamaki exclaimed with a hand on his hip and the other pointing an accusatory finger at Kagome and Haruhi, "If you both weren't going to quit, why did you act so angry yesterday?"
"It's a natural reaction to get angry when someone takes your stuff and sells it without permission!" Kagome shouted, "You could have at least asked for it if you wanted it so badly!"
"And I really liked that mechanical pencil!" Haruhi added angrily, "It was easy to write with!"
"I'm sorry," Tamaki said sincerely before reaching for something he had tucked away in his dress. He held out his teddy bear pencil and the jeweled hair clip. "But that's why I offered you these substitutes!"
"No one wants those," Haruhi said dryly.
After a few moments of silent thought, Benio thrust her fist high in the air. "You may have won today, but mark my words. I will rescue the fair maidens and abolish the Ouran Host Club once and for all!" Before she turned away with her club members, she blew Haruhi and Kagome a kiss. "Until then, zái jián!"
"This has been a long, strange few days," Kagome commented once the Lobelia girls were gone. She then approached Mori and motioned for the taller boy to come closer to her. He immediately dropped down one knee so he was closer to her height. Kagome slipped Mori's tambourine from his hands and lightly bopped him on the head with it, creating a small, tinkling noise. Mori grunted but accepted the slight reprimand.
"Next time, tell me what you're thinking instead of running straight for the coat tails," Kagome admonished him lightly, "Although, I would have liked to see you in a dress." She grinned and used her new position to ruffle Mori's hair like he had down to her. Mori smiled softly as he accepted Kagome's show of forgiveness.
"He would have been so pretty, right?" Honey asked.
"Definitely!" Kagome replied with a giggle.
Haruhi pursed her lips together in distaste; she couldn't picture Mori in a big, poofy dress and wearing heavy makeup like the other hosts. As odd as it seemed to her to think this, she thought he appeared far too macho and manly to dress like that even if it was for the club.
"So who do you think is the prettiest, Kagome?" Hikaru and Kaoru asked in unison, "Could it be one of us?"
"Is it me?" Honey asked, giving a small twirl.
"It's me, right, Kagome?" Tamaki asked, pointing to himself excitedly, "You think I'm the prettiest, don't you?"
"Well, you are all really pretty. Especially you, ero-senpai," Kagome complimented the host king exclusively causing him to beam happily, "But I have to admit." Kagome paused and turned to Kyoya just as the cool host started sneaking away to change his clothes. He stiffened slightly as she gave him an unexpected thumb up and a wink much to Tamaki's chagrin.
"Kyoya-senpai is one stone cold fox!"
"There are so many steps!" Satoshi exclaimed as he looked at the large set of stone stairs leading to the Higurashi family's shrine. All of his relatives—excluding Kagome of course—were impressed by the expansive walkway in front of them. They were glad their parents agreed to let them visit Kagome's home this weekend. When Kagome suggested it, they were surprised she wanted to share this time with them but eagerly accepted the offer. Of course, Satoshi had to persuade Chika to attend, but he had accompanied them all the same.
'She'll drop the "–san" any day now for sure!' Satoshi thought excitedly.
"It's just like a dojo!" Honey commented.
"Come on! Kaa-san is waiting for us," Kagome said over her shoulder before she flew up the stairs at top speed, leaving with the four boys behind her. She was anxious to go home again. Although she was enjoying attending Ouran and living at the Morinozuka estate, nothing compared to the feeling Kagome as she returned home. She was glad Akira okayed the weekend visit and allowed them go un-chaperoned.
"Nee-chan!" Sota cried when he spotted was his sister at the top of the stone steps. He knew she was coming to visit today, so he stayed outside in the yard practicing soccer as he waited for her. Once she was close enough, he gladly let the ball roll on the ground in favor of throwing his arms around Kagome's middle and pressing against her, sweaty, grass-stained uniform and all.
"Eww!" Kagome whined but returned the embrace happily. During the reunion hug, Kagome noticed the group of four appearing up the stairs out of the corner of her eye. She pulled away and stood with Sota in front of her and her hands on his shoulders.
"Everyone, this is my little brother, Sota," Kagome said happily when the others were close enough.
"Pleased to meet you," Sota greeted them shakily and bowed at his waist. Kagome knew Sota was nervous about meeting the Morinozuka and Haninozuka siblings, but he had nothing to fear. She knew they would never hold his social status against him and treat him or the rest of her family poorly.
"This is awesome!" Satoshi exclaimed with his fist raised high in the air, "Now I can be 'Nii-san'!"
"You look just like Go-chan!" Honey noted happily, "That's so cute!"
"Thanks," Sota responded with a shy smile before his look sobered, "You've been taking good care of Nee-chan, right?"
"Of course!" Satoshi answered, "Nee-chan is well taken care of with us!"
Mori nodded affirmatively and patted Sota on the head. The older boy smiled when Sota reacted to the friendly touch the same way Kagome did.
"Let's go in so you can meet Ojii-chan and Kaa-san," Kagome suggested. She and Sota led the way with the boys falling behind them. When they reached the door to the modest two story home, Kagome opened it and called for her mother.
"Just a minute!" Nodoka answered before she exited the kitchen, wiping her hands on her apron.
"Kaa-san!" Kagome exclaimed as she rushed toward Nodoka and hugged the older woman tightly. In her haste, she almost forgot to slip off her shoes. Nodoka chuckled and returned her daughter's embrace.
"I missed you too," Nodoka said and pulled away from Kagome. She immediately looked to the four boys standing behind her daughter.
"Hello, boys!" she greeted them warmly, "Put your shoes by the door and come to the dining room. I hope you're all hungry."
The boys did as they were told and joined the Higurashi family in the dining room to share a home cooked lunch and make all of the necessary introductions. Whatever they were expecting during this meeting, the Higurashi family exceeded those preconceived notions. Any lingering feelings of awkwardness were dispelled by the amiable group. Nodoka was a doting and caring mother as always, making sure everyone had enough to eat and even giving Honey several extra pieces of dessert. Sota was a bright young boy and quickly hit it off with Chika and Satoshi, who were eager to be role models to Kagome's youngest sibling. The eldest member of the Higurashi family, Soijiro, was determined to be quite the character as he recounted various myths and legends at the dinner table.
Throughout the meal, Mori noticed how well Kagome seemed to fit and, though it was obvious she would, he was envious of the close relationship the family had. How could he ever hope to make his way into Kagome's world when it was already so well established? Once the meal was over, Sota excitedly dragged everyone up to his room to play some video games. Kagome and Mori sat to the side while Sota explained the wonders of the PS3 ™ to Honey, Satoshi, and Chika.
"Do you have a second?" Kagome asked Mori after he was unresponsive for a few minutes.
"Yeah," he answered. Kagome smiled before she stood and held out her hand to Mori. He took it and she led him outside the house to the Goshinboku.
"Here's the tree I was talking about," Kagome stated, "Do you remember?"
"I do," Mori answered as he stared at the imposing tree. Though the blossoms Kagome described weren't in bloom, it was still a beautiful sight to behold.
"You didn't seem too entertained with the others, so I thought you'd appreciate this better," Kagome explained, "Would you like to see more of the shrine?"
"Sure," Mori answered, "I'd like that." Kagome grinned and took Mori's hand in hers once more. The two toured the shrine grounds until they returned to the Goshinboku where they started. Mori eagerly listened as Kagome told him condensed stories of the shrine's landmarks she pointed out to him. He absently noted they avoided an old wooden shack on the property but decided it probably didn't hold much importance.
Just as Kagome and Mori returned to the large tree, a soccer ball whizzed by them and hit one of the wooden posts surrounding the Goshinboku.
"You were supposed to catch it!" Sota yelled at them from a few meters away surrounded by the other three boys.
"We're about to play a game," he continued, "Want in?"
"Sure!" Kagome answered as she picked up the ball, "How about the oldest versus the youngest?"
"Okay," Sota agreed, "but we get first ball!" Kagome nodded and kicked the ball to her younger brothers and cousin. Honey ran toward his newly formed team, eager to get the game started.
"So what's the plan, captain?" Honey asked Kagome excitedly.
"You want me to be captain?" Kagome asked disbelievingly.
Honey nodded. "She'll be a good captain, right Takashi?" Mori grunted affirmatively.
"In that case," Kagome began and pointed to an expanse of space behind them, "Takashi-san, you're goalie. Make sure nothing gets passed you." Mori nodded and got into position.
"And me?" Honey pressed.
"You and I gotta steal the ball from the others before they score." Kagome looked to the opposing team. It appeared that Satoshi was their goalie and Sota and Chika were practicing short passes with each other.
"You watch out for Sota and I'll take Chika-san," Kagome instructed. Honey saluted her playfully before running toward the others with Kagome following behind him. With a plan of attack, the elder siblings mobilized against the younger trio.
punkish furball – And that's a wrap! Hope you enjoyed my prose. Until next time, L83R, DUD35! ^.^