Author Note: Hello all. I'm Maderfole, and this is my first foray into both crossover fiction and especially Ouran fiction (though definitely not Fanfiction in general, as a quick stop by my profile will prove). This fic was proposed to me by one of my good friends, Death-Scimitar, or I proposed it to her, or something like that. Anyway, it's a bet between us. She doesn't think I can write a good, lighthearted humor fic in this genre, and I aim to prove her wrong, so be sure to tell me if you were amused or not. The basic rules of the challenge were that it must be a one-shot, it can't be any longer than my longest individual chapter of my other stories (Hah!), it must be humor, and it must include the Ouran cast, the 5 main pilots from Gundam Wing (Heero, Duo, Trowa, Quatre, and Wufei), and the 3 druggie pilots from Gundam Seed (Shani, Clotho and Orga). If this appeals to you, Death-Scimitar herself has a story, "Roses, Guns and Boys", in this crossover fandom that incorporates almost the exact same setting, so that could be worth checking out too, after you read mine, if you do.

I could put a disclaimer about how I don't own copyrights to these characters and whatnot, but I won't insult your intelligence that way. If I owned anime licences, you'd be watching my stuff, and writing your own fics about it, not reading about it here (though in a shameless plug, one of my fanfics DOES have a fanfic written about it by another author...). I will warn you though, I'm writing about teenagers of roughly highschool age, and many of them are not polished and refined of upbringing like the Ouran cast are, so they may be rather crude and obscene in their language, with cursing and such. I feel that's only realistic, though if it offends you... I hope you never have to go to a public highschool. Oh, and happy Valentine's Day, especially to you, Death, and you, Strata. I know you loathe this holiday, and the mere idea of being a "Valentine", even my Valentine, but this is part of my gift to you (the cake should arrive later), so I hope you enjoy it.

xxxx

Tokyo Suburbs, Bank of Japan lobby, Afternoon, The day before Valentine's Day

Haruhi Fujioka was used to feeling miserable. Not because she was from a single income family on the low end of the tax income bracket, nor because she was pressured with schoolwork that required her to be at the very top of her class in order to maintain the scholarship that allowed her to have an education in the first place. Compared to the real sources of her stress, having to pinch penny's every month to afford all the food she wanted to get, and putting in three to five hours of studying a night were inconsequential problems. Even having to dress up as a guy wasn't that bothersome to her, she really didn't care how she looked or what gender people thought she was, at school or out of it. No, the source of her stress was the thing that really ought to be the destressor of her life... her after school club activities. The Host Club, to be precise.

Her issue wasn't the fact that she had to let herself be hit on by a few dozen members of her own gender, while in disguise, for a few hours every day. That was actually the fun part of the Club... she wasn't a social butterfly, but she did have fun entertaining her clients, because it really didn't take any effort on her part. Unlike her co-workers, she didn't have to subsume herself in some false persona to entertain people, the clients of the Club found her perfectly entertaining just the way she normally was. No, the part about the Host club that made Haruhi miserable was the people she had to work with. A spazzed out Frenchman with a daddy complex. Gender confused twins with a penchant for the near obscene. A devil masquerading as a manager. A midget with an inexhaustible appetite for cake and a plushie fetish. And Mori-Senpai, who was actually pretty cool and normal, except when he was tired, in which case all bets were off.

Bad enough that she had to deal with the twins all day in class, and the full horde of the rich bastards for two hours after school every day, but the worst was when they decided to get together... usually at Tamaki-senpai's insistence, normally because he'd been goaded by the twins... and invited themselves into her own personal life! They followed her home. They followed her to the store. They followed her everywhere she might conceivably think of going. They probably would follow her into a restroom if she hadn't threatened to kill them all if they even thought about it. And they treated it all like they were going on an African safari, sometimes even including actual safari costumes! They were loud, obnoxious, idiotic and entirely impossible to ignore, and that was when they were trying to behave! Sometimes Haruhi wondered, just what sort of villainous monster she'd been in some past life, to have accumulated the negative karma that ensured she suffered this daily hell?

And the worst part of it was, they really weren't trying to be malicious, just the opposite if anything. They really were interested in her "commoner's" lifestyle, because they were all filthy rich bastards who had silver spoons for their silver spoons! They were all raised in such sheltered lifestyles that they just didn't know how to act in everyday society. And to their credit, they usually ended up doing more good than harm. Usually. And if it meant spending a few hundred thousand dollars to fix things up and make things right, that was no skin off their nose... they made that much money just in interest on their bank accounts every day! However, unlike them, Haruhi knew the standards of society and wasn't made of money, so she usually ended up terminally embarrassed by them, and often added significantly to her debt she owed to the Host Club.

This brought her to today, the day before Valentine's Day, one of the biggest and most lucrative holiday's for the Host Club. Anticipating an extravaganza on the next day, Haruhi had begged out of Host Club duties today so she could rest up and take care of chores and tasks she wouldn't be able to get to on the morrow. Her luck and her misfortune had stemmed from the same decision... knowing Kyoya-senpai, he wouldn't have let her off just because she was dreading the effort she'd be putting in on holiday, he really seemed to have no heart when it came to matters of profit and loss, so she'd gone to Tamaki-senpai first, to drum up some support. Of course the Host King was more than glad to accomodate her in whatever way she wanted, he was the very soul of generousity when the mood struck him, but he was also the very soul of bothersome overinquisitiveness.

So instead of just getting her a pass out of club duties for a day, Tamaki-senpai had just canceled the entire club for today, so they could all have some free time, to relax before the big effort on Valentine's Day. Unfortunately, his definition of "relax" was to tag along with Haruhi as she went about her daily life. And since he'd just done her a favor... sort of... she didn't have the heart to tell him to get lost, like she usually would. Though she did still brush off his attempts to make her his "daughter", because that was really just creepy. Even for a girl with a transvestite dad. The Host Club members had all been particularly interested when she revealed that she had to go to the bank to deposit her father's paycheck, as none of them had ever been to a "commoner" bank before.

She wasn't surprised... she doubted any of them had been to ANY bank before, they were all so wealthy they didn't even usually bother to carry around paper money, and even their credit cards were usually carried by staff, not them personally. They just had to indicate they wanted something, and it would be bought for them, they rarely had to make the effort of doing a transaction personally. Even Kyoya-senpai delegated most purchasing tasks to his unseen staff. Telling herself that a bank was fairly safe, in terms of places to bring them, Haruhi had decided to take care of that first, hoping they might get bored by the mundaneness of it all, and stop pestering her. She knew it wasn't going to happen that way... her mundane was their exotic... but she was trying to stay more optimistic lately.

And as luck... her type of luck... would have it, this trip to the bank was anything but mundane. Oh, she'd deposited her dad's paycheck easily enough, and was even having a certain amount of success pretending she didn't know who the Host Club boys were, as they explored the bank foyer like it was some sort of newly discovered jungle ruin. But before she could corral them and herd them all back out onto the street, karma decided she hadn't suffered enough just yet. Haruhi was just thanking the clerk for her time and effort when the doors to the bank lobby crashed open, making everyone start and turn to look that way.

"EVERYONE GET ON THE GROUND AND PUT YOUR HANDS IN THE AIR!" One of the trio of young men, dressed in black track suits, all wearing blue bandannas over their lower faces as some sort of disguise attempt, roared at the top of his lungs. To add weight to his demand, he fired twice into the air, with a large pistol in either hand, blowing chunks of plaster out of the ceiling, and nearly blowing the heads off his two partners, as they moved forward with their own weapons in hand.

"Goddamn it Orga, who the fuck are you shooting at? You almost blew my fucking head off!" The leftmost robber, who had bright red hair and blue eyes, yowled at his comrade, his cheek feeling flash burned, so close to the muzzle flare of Orga's pistol he'd been. The redhead had a submachine gun in his hands, some sort of foreign gun Haruhi vaguely recognized from police action movies, slung on a strap around his chest. The robber wasn't so distracted by his near miss though that he failed to keep the stunned crowd of bank customers and employees covered.

Haruhi did not like sudden, loud noises, and especially when paired with bright flashes of light. Gunfire was different than thunder and lightning, at least in the movies, but in person, it was shockingly louder, and it was all she could do to merely flinch and not have a actual freak-out moment as she quickly lowered herself to her knees and put her hands into the air. Only after she did so, did she pause to consider what her friends might do in this kind of situation. Hunny and Mori were both national class martial artists, and the others were all physically fit and probably at least slightly familiar with self defense... she hoped they didn't think with movie logic and try to become heroes. The robbers had guns drawn, and plenty of room between them and their new hostages... even if the Host Club could take the crooks down without getting hurt themselves, the bystanders probably wouldn't be so lucky!

"Shut up! You got in the way, Clotho." The one addressed as Orga, who had olive-blond hair slicked back on his head, retorted unsympathetically. "Stop fucking around and get to work on the vault, like we planned! Shani, you round up the hostages, I'll keep an eye out for the... Shani? Shani! SHANI!" Orga screamed the last bit, addressing himself to his friend on his right, who had lime green hair that hung down over the left side of his face. The lanky crook was toting a shotgun with a sawed down barrel, and eyeing the crowd of customers near the tellers with laconic menace. Shani had earphones in, some sort of techno-beat blasting into his ears audible even to Haruhi across the room, and only after Orga elbowed him sharply in the side did he seem to realize he was being spoken to. "Damn it, Shani...!"

"Fuck you, Orga, I know what I'm doin. Just leave me alone, I work better without you two bastards distracting me and getting in the way." Shani retorted with a thousand yard stare, as he half moseyed up into the middle of the room, his one visible purple eye flicking dismissively over the kneeling and frightened hostages. "First one to stand up or piss me off gets a shotgun enema!" Shani announced with cold malice, and the way he smirked as he said it left no doubt in Haruhi's mind that he'd do exactly what he promised to do.

"A real bank robbery!" Tamaki all but squealed, quite forgetting to be terrified in his joy at experiencing something he'd only ever seen before in movies. He'd KNOWN it was a good idea to tag along with Haruhi today... she always led them to interesting places and people! "Do you think they'll hold us for ransom, Mommy? I wonder how many millions of dollars they'll ask for?"

"If they weren't before, they certainly are now..." Kyoya said with long suffering despair, as he watched Orga, the one one with two pistols, swing around to stare at their little group. The green haired lout with the shotgun was cowing the majority of the hostages, including Haruhi, lining them up on their knees in front of the counter where the bank tellers normally did their business, but the Host Club members had been messing around in the lobby instead of being near the line for the tellers, so they were on their own. He glanced aside at Mori and Hunny, and saw that they were tense, but didn't seem to be of mind to try any sort of physical interference at the current time. That was good, the last thing they needed now was to agitate these criminals. The bank employees had no doubt already sent out an alarm, and Tachibani had no doubt seen what was occuring from his position out with the car in the parking lot, so the Otori family was in the loop too. The authorities would be arriving very soon.

"Milord, could you shut the hell up, for once?" One of the twins... Kyoya suspected it was Hikaru... commented dourly, plainly taking the situation as seriously as it warranted. Perhaps because Haruhi's life was potentially in danger from the psycho with the shotgun if they made any false moves. And if anyone was going to do something crazy, Tamaki was that guy, simply because he really didn't seem to realize just how dangerous their position was right now.

Orga was about to ask what the blond haired freak with the looks of a male model had been babbling about, his ears having perked up at the mention of the words "ransom" and "millions of dollars" the young man had logorreahed out. But before he could, the not so distant sound of rapidly approaching sirens distracted him. "Aww shit, how'd they get here so fast?" Orga complained. "CLOTHO, SHANI, we got problems!" He yelled to his compatriots. "Get that fucking vault open ASAP!"

"I'm working on it, you stupid bastard! You think its easy, cracking this thing? I play a lot of video games, but that don't make this easy!" Clotho hollered back from the back room of the bank branch, where he was working his way through the task of opening the daily cash storage vault. It wasn't one of those huge, room sized things, more like a very secure locker, but if their calculations were right, there ought to be at least a few hundred grand in non-marked bills inside, more than enough to keep all three of them financed for the next few months in high style. As for Shani, he didn't seem to hear the warning, lost in his music and whatever thoughts were passing through his head, quite content to be doing his own thing and ignoring his teammates altogether. He ambled up and down the line of frightened hostages, occasionally pausing to sneer at someone or make a threatening gesture with his shotgun, if he thought someone did not look sufficiently scared and docile.

"Shit, shit, shit, SHIT!" Orga saw that they weren't going to make it in time for a clean getaway. Clotho was still futzing around with the vault, and Orga could already hear the sound of screeching tires as several police cars pulled up outside the bank. It was time to improvise a little. He remembered blondies remark about being held for ransom, and inspiration struck. "YOU!" He pointed his right hand gun at Tamaki, who stared up at him with a disconcerting expression of wonder on his face. The guy looked like he'd just been picked out of a crowd for a prize contest. "Get your ass up and come with me. The rest of you, go over to Shani... and if you try anything, we'll paint the floor with blood!"

"I assure you, sir, we have every intention of cooperating." Kyoya replied calmly. "I am Kyoya Otori, third son of the Otori group. My family will pay well for my safe return. If I may recommend, I would be a far better hostage to display than that idiot there."

"But Kyoya, my family's richer than yours..." Tamaki protested, as if it was some sort of contest as to who could be the better hostage. He shrank back when Kyoya fixed him with a look of utmost displeasure.

"Milord..." One of the twins, probably Kaoru, said with a groan. With Kyoya in charge, they probably would have been out before dinnertime... with Tamaki hogging the attention of the robbers, they'd be lucky to get out in one piece, much less in a reasonable timescale!

"I said get yer ass up, blondie!" Orga snapped, holding onto his temper by the skin of his teeth. He holstered his right pistol and reached for his chosen hostage. He didn't know where the blondie had managed to find mushrooms in a bank, but he grabbed the guy by his collar and yanked him upright anyway, dragging the whimpering pansy with him to the bank's front door. Putting the blond guy in front of him as a shield, Orga toed open the bank's door so he could yell out, making sure to keep his left hand gun pointed directly at the head of his hostage at all times. "I want ten million dollars in un-marked bills, and helicopter out of the city to a place I designate later!" Orga yelled, making up his demands on the fly. "You have two hours hour to get it together, at which point I'll blow this stupid sonuvabitch's head all over the pavement and kill another hostage every five minutes longer it takes! You try and come in here and we'll kill all the hostages and go down shooting! No negotiating!" He slammed the door and backed out of sight, still holding a now thrilled Tamaki as a shield.

And with that, the Host Club Hostage Crisis was well and truly on...

xxxx

Outside the bank, 20 minutes later

"So what's the situation?" Renge asked cheerfully, drawing odd looks from the gathered police and private security officials that had set up an impromptu operations center in the internet cafe across the street from the bank. She had heard about the situation from the Otori's, having kept track of their private security force's movements as a matter of course even since she'd learned of their existence, and Kyoya's ability to requistion them for a variety of tasks. As the only non-hostage member of the Host Club, and their senior manager... a self appointed position... Renge had decided that the operation to save her friends from durance vile obviously could not proceed without her guidance and oversight. Besides, this would make a GREAT doujin plot to sell later, she wasn't going to miss this for all the cute, glasses wearing guys in the world!

She'd even managed to come up with a reasonable cosplay outfit for the occasion, a modified version of the german military police outfit Haruhi had worn a few weeks ago, when the club theme of the day had been World War 2 militaries. Perhaps the swastika symbol was in a bit of poor taste, but it was historically authentic, and that was the main point! Besides, the Nazi's had stolen a perfectly good symbol and corrupted it in the eyes of the world anyway, in most Asian cultures, the swasitka was a sign of good luck, and this situation definitely called for some good luck! The officials didn't seem to know quite what to make of her presence, but with her family influence, there was no way they could shut her out either. She'd even called in her own team of super-specialists to help out, and was just waiting for the team to arrive so she could brief them.

"Approximately twenty five minutes ago, three heavily armed young men entered the bank and took the customers and staff hostage." A police detective replied tersely. "They disabled the internal security system shortly after entering, but we managed to get a good view of both the hostages and the assailants before they did so. We've cut off power, air conditioning and water to the bank, in keeping with standard protocols."

"There's thirty three hostages all told, mostly random civilians and bank employees." A grim looking man in dark suit and tie, with the sort of eye-shades that just oozed "private security", added brusquely. He wore the emblem of the Otori family's private security firm on his belt, and he seemed vaguely familiar to Renge... perhaps he was one of Kyoya's bodyguards. That would certainly explain his aura of concern and displeasure with the situation. "However, six of the hostages, including the primary hostage, are members of the national elite, with a combined net worth of several billion dollars. I recommend we pay the ransom as demanded... a mere ten million dollars is no loss at all compared to the saftey of Master Kyoya and the others."

"That's no fun." Renge replied with a pout. "This is a HOSTAGE crisis... an opportunity like this doesn't just happen everyday! We have to negotiate, make concessions, get some hostages released, inject some tension into the situation! We have to account for stockholm syndrome, and infiltrate the bank on the sly, and end up with a dramatic shootout on the top of the building!" She hugged herself with glee, imagining it all play out.

"Miss, I don't know if you understand the gravity of the situation..." One of the police officers began, in gentle reprimand.

"Pish, of course I understand. People's lives are at stake." Renge said with a flippant wave of her hand. "Which is why I've called in a team of specialists. The best of the best. They'll get this straightened out in no time. Just leave it all to Renge, I assure you, everything will work out just fine for me..."

xxxx

Inside the bank, same time

"Anyone else suddenly get a cold shiver down their spine?" Hikaru said glumly, as he fidgeted with the duct tape wound around his wrists, his arms interlaced with his brothers so that they were forced to remain back to back and incapable of moving seperately. Which was less a handicap for them than for most people, but all the same, the tape was so tight, it was really not so comfortable. His boredom tolerance was rapidly being reached, and thus too must Kaoru's be. He shot glare that was half admonishing and half envious over at Tamaki, who had been tied up to Haruhi, after the crooks had made her help them tie all the other hostages up, apparently deciding that she was the least threatening because she was the only teenaged girl present. The Host King was also gagged, somewhat to Haruhi's obvious relief, their captors having grown entirely sick of his pratter after only a few minutes of being subject to it.

"Like someone was walking across your grave, you mean?" Kaoru answered, completely on the same wavelength as his more irritable brother. "Something's not right... the police haven't even tried to talk to these guys yet. Hey, Kyoya, you're the expert, what's going on?"

Kyoya was bound to Mori, Hunny being the odd man out, apparently discounted by the criminals because of his childlike stature and persona. Which could have been of great benefit to them all, if Orga hadn't snatched away Usa-Chan and threatened to blow the plushie's stuffing out with his guns if Hunny didn't stop sobbing and asking for cake, about ten minutes prior. It had been a toss up between triggering a thermonuclear Hunny-death rampage and shocking the third year into a torpor, and the coin had come up torpor, so Hunny was sitting forlornly in a chair, staring off into space and sniffling, as Orga kept the pink bunny toy on the deposit counter, across the room.

"If I had to guess..." Kyoya said, twitching his nose as he tried to get his glasses to move back up into a more comfortable position, as they had a habit of sliding down his nose over time. "There must be some form of outside interference blocking them from following standard procedures."

"But who would..." Hikaru protested, setting up the standard twin thought-swap.

"... do something like that? And..." Kaoru cut in, automatically.

"... more importantly, why?" They concluded, in unison.

"Renge." Mori grunted, his tone somewhere between stoic realization and a curse. "She likes drama."

The Host Club digested that unwelcome thought for a few seconds, and unfortunately, none of them could come up with a counter for it. "We're doomed." Kaoru complained morosely.

"Totally doomed." Hikaru agreed. "Only way it could be worse is if Milord was in charge out there."

"Mrrphm!" Tamaki retorted through his tape gag, obviously displeased at this opinionation. He squirmed, obviously attempting to rise and menace some respect back into his vassals, but was prevented by Haruhi refusing to rise with him. Upon feeling his hands brush accidentally against her lower back, and almost down to her buttocks, Tamaki froze, mortified by the close call. Even under utmost duress, there were places where it was completely inappropriate for a father to touch his daughter in public, and he'd almost done so just now! "Mrrmphmr." He apologized to Haruhi with downcast eyes.

"Damn, you're STILL noisy!" Orga cut in irritably, having completed his slow patrol of the bank's inner perimeter, checking in with Clotho, who'd gotten the vault open and was packing their duffel bags full of the cash within, and Shani, who was still off in la-la land, menacing the hostages and tripping to his tunes. He crouched down in front of Tamaki, and poked the Host King on the breastbone with the muzzle of one gun. "I told the cops I'd wait two hours to cap you, but you're really pushing my buttons, blondie. You remind me of younger version of a certain other blond guy who I've had the misfortune to work for in the past. Just like you, he was always twitching and going on about random shit that nobody else cared about, and he totally didn't seem to care or realize when his life was in danger. This is your last warning, next time you even groan loud enough for me to hear you, I'm gonna kneecap you, got it?"

Orga turned the gun away and casually squeezed the trigger, making both Haruhi and Tamaki jump as the gun roared and spat a bullet off into the back of the bank. Biting down on her lip, Haruhi managed to avoid yelping in fright, but still found herself pressed against Tamaki's back in an unconscious need for reassurance. She flushed a bit, and moved as far away as their bound arms would allow, a part of her, deep down inside, wondering what it was about Senpai that made her flinch TOWARDS his presence when she was scared, rather than away from it. She certainly didn't draw reassurance from him at other times, and indeed, she often went somewhat out of her way to avoid him and his wacky schemes and such if she could. But her instinct when frightened was to get closer to him... she wondered what that meant.

"OI! WHAT THE HELL, ORGA?" Clotho shouted from the back room of the bank, glaring at a smoking hole punched in the floor next to his leg where Orga's bullet had ricocheted and nearly caught him in the side. "WATCH WHERE THE FUCK YOU'RE SHOOTING, YOU ASSHOLE!"

"Then get out of my line of fire, Clotho! You're always in my fucking way!" Orga snapped back, unapologetic. He turned back to Tamaki. "Nod if you understand what I just said." He said threateningly.

Tamaki nodded his head in the affirmative, but Haruhi, forced closer to her senpai than she really found comfortable all of a sudden, doubted he truly understood the threat. She grabbed the back of his shirt quickly and scooted closer to him, pressing her back against his, causing him to freeze up again, like he'd been petrified. Hopefully he'd be too focused on what she was doing to think about causing more trouble. At least until Orga could calm down some. "Senpai, I know it's hard for you..." Haruhi whispered, as Orga moved on, to talk with Clotho again. "But I don't think you can charm your way out of this situation. You're always going on about how you like commoner things... we'll look at what all the commoners are doing in this situation. Maybe you should emulate them for a while? I don't want you to get hurt for some stupid reason, okay? Bad enough that Kyoya will probably figure some way to tack your ransom onto my debt, since it's "my" fault we're at the bank right now, I don't need your pain on my conscience too."

She heard him start to mumble a reply, and cut him off before he could finish nailing shut his own coffin by slamming the back of her head into the back of his. Somewhat surprisingly, his head didn't feel particularly thick or filled with cement, contrary to how he acted, but at least he shut up. She was glad her dad was working late today, and hoped this situation wouldn't be put out on the news... the last thing she needed was another hysterical male waiting in the wings. If she was lucky, she still might be able to make it home before he did, and act like nothing had happened. Certainly, in the grand scheme of things, being caught up in a bank heist turned hostage crisis actually wasn't that remarkable, compared to some of the trouble the Host Club had gotten her into in the past. If she was lucky, she might even get out of this without anything added to her debt, and that was actually a better turnout than a NORMAL day!

Though if Renge really was out there, and even worse, was in a position to control or even influence the actions of the authorities responding to the crisis, then she unfortunately had to agree with the twins. They were soooo doomed...

xxxx

Outside the bank, 40 minutes since hostage crisis start

"All right, gentlemen, you've heard the situation, and the clock is ticking." Renge said brightly. She'd exchanged her MP outfit for a trenchcoat and fedora, reminescent of a private eye from the 1920's era of movies. She leaned forward on the table in the break room of the internet cafe which she'd commandeered for the use of her private team, who had arrived ten minutes ago. "Thirty three lives are on the line... men, women, children, and Tamaki. You're the best in the world at this sort of thing... what are you going to do? Just ask, and I'll get whatever you need for you to do your job."

"Could you shut the hell up and go away?" Duo Maxwell, the American assassin who went by the nom de guerre of "God of Death" answered irritably. "You're jogging our elbows. You've asked the same question three times in as many minutes."

"For once I agree with him." Wufei Chang, Chinese martial artist and noble guerilla fighter extraordinaire, said in a clipped tone of voice. "The biggest favor you could do us is to go the hell away, woman. Don't make me have to agree with Duo again. Its offensive."

"Getting back on topic..." Quatre Winner, who's actual name was about thirty syllables longer than that, interrupted the banter. He wasn't any more fond of Renge's badgering than his fellows, but they'd worked for the heiress before, so it wasn't like they didn't know what to expect from her. Though it was certainly the last time he was ever going to accept a work recommendation from Dorothy. She'd said there were no hard feelings about the saber duel thing, but apparently she was still feeling a little sore about how preachy he'd gotten with her, even if it had turned out for the best. Frankly, Quatre didn't see what she had to complain about... he was the one who'd ended up stabbed through the chest then!

"We need to get a man on the inside." Heero Yuy, the unacknowledged leader of the team, and the most cold hearted and pragmatic of the team, said thinly. He'd absorbed the schematics they had of the bank, but there were notations on the blueprints that indicated there had been renovations in the building since the last time the plans were updated, so they couldn't be relied on. They needed intelligence they could trust implicitly if they were going to make any attempt at a forced rescue attempt of the hostages. He was personally prepared to accept a few collateral casualties amongst the civilians, but knew better than to voice such an opinion aloud. Quatre was pretty sensitive about things like that, and when the blond haired arab got upset, EVERYONE ended up unhappy.

"How about we pull the old "mail em a package" routine? That's worked out pretty good in the past." Duo suggested with a smirk. "These crooks never think that a guy could fit into a box that small."

"As the guy in question, I must object." Trowa Barton, the last member of the team, and the most mysterious, retorted. He was a trained circus performer, clown, and acrobat, and his body was even more flexible than Wufei's martial arts training could accomplish. With a little time and effort, Trowa could fold himself up enough to fit inside a large duffelbag or small crate, though it might mean a few dislocated joints in the process. It was a handy trick for smuggling himself into places where he might otherwise not be able to reach, as few people would ever think to smuggle a human in through the path of inanimate contraband. However, there were a few flaws in the process as well. "The last time we tried this, I ended up getting shipped to Iceland by accident, because SOMEONE screwed up the address on the package." He glared at Duo.

"I keep telling you guys, I'm not very multilingual. I was working from an internet translater. So sue me." Dup shrugged off the criticism.

"Sue you? I ought to murder you." Trowa grumbled, an uncharacteristic display of emotion. Though it might have had something to do with the fact that they'd been in Argentina when Duo had "mislabeled" the package with Trowa inside. He'd been trapped in that crate for almost twenty seven hours straight, starved of oxygen for half that time while in flight, and nearly froze to death in the non-climate controlled package storage dump in Iceland before Wufei finally tracked him down and unburied the crate from the stack of other crates it had been placed under. He'd damned near died, and had needed weeks of therapy to recover from that debacle!

"This is a bank, not a hotel or embassy." Quatre reminded them. "Any size package being delievered would be an obvious suspicious action."

"Okay, then let's try a subtler method." Duo turned to look at Wufei with a shit eating grin on his face.

"No." Wufei cut him off before he could say anything. "I will NOT pretend to be a chinese fast food delivery boy. End of discussion."

"But it works so WELL!" Duo protested mournfully. "Everyone falls for that trick. Everyone. And you fit the role so well..."

"Was that racial profiling? How very American of you." Wufei answered with a snort.

"Guys..." Quatre interceded once more. It was more or less his secondary role in the team, not only was he the tactical advisor, but he was the peacemaker that smoothed over the rougher edges of his comrades. But that didn't mean he always enjoyed riding herd over their little spats. They were worse than married couples most of the time.

"What about a hostage exchange?" Heero suggested dryly. Quatre blinked, because it was actually a fairly good idea, and didn't tread on anyone's toes. Unfortunately, there was a flaw with it. Though they were all young men, little older than the Host Club members, they were all quite tinted by their life experiences. In short, they all, even Quatre himself, looked rather dangerous and competent, and not very much like civilians of any sort. Oh, they could disguise themselves fairly well, and had done so in the past, but that kind of work took several hours to physically achieve, and sometimes days of studying to get into the proper persona for the role. They didn't have days, or even hours... the first hostage was going to be killed in somewhat less than eighty minutes. They had to make snap decisions.

"But that won't get any of us in." Duo pointed out the same flaw Quatre had discerned. "They'd have to be blind and idiots to accept a trade of a docile hostage for one of us, and giving them anyone else would just be pointless. None of us can get disguised fast enough..."

"That's not true!" Quatre cut him off, a sudden flash of inspiration striking him. It was unorthodox, but with Renge's expert help, it might just be possible! "Renge, I need you to find me a dress. Duo, this is going to be a little weird, but bear with me, its our best option..."

xxxx

Twenty minutes later

I cannot believe this shit. Duo thought to himself, casting a dire look that promised untold pain and suffering to Quatre over his shoulder as he slowly approached the doors to the bank. He was being escorted by Heero, who at least had the grace to keep a straight face, though Duo thought he detected a bit of amusement in his friend's posture. It was difficult to tell with Heero sometimes. Something that would have anyone else, even a stick-up-the-ass hardcase like Wufei, doubled over with laughter, wouldn't even provoke a smirk from the brown haired Japanese pilot. And Wufei HAD been doubled over with laughter, in point of fact, which definite insured that Duo would be taking revenge on more than just one part of his team in the near future. His next step almost spilled him to the ground, courtesy of the heeled shoes Renge had forced him to wear as part of his impromptu disguise, and if Heero hadn't bee there to steady him, he probably would have twisted or broken his ankle.

He didn't see how women could handle shoes like that. He didn't like the yellow dress much either, it felt very confining, and he couldn't imagine having to wear things like this everyday for school, as Renge apparently did. Duo's hair swished as he regained his balance, and it took all his willpower to avoid frowning as he ran a hand though the brown waterfall of hair that fell down his back. He'd very nearly broken Quatre's neck when his friend had told him he'd have to unbraid his hair to make the deception work best... that braid was far more than just a mere stylistic touch to Duo, it was deeply meaningful to him for reasons he didn't like to discuss. When given a choice between letting his hair down or wearing a godawful wig though, he'd chosen to bite the bullet. At least Wufei had the grace not to make any cracks about how feminine he looked with his hair undone, because that would have resulted in drawn blood, job or no goddamned job!

He did have to admit, with Renge's over enthusiastic help, he doubted anyone who didn't know him would recognize him as any sort of threat, gussied up as he was in the Ouran highschool girls uniform and with his hair unbound and his face greased with more makeup than he'd ever thought possible to apply! There wasn't much they could do about his chest, or rather the lack of it, but as a highschool student he could still get away with being flat as a board, at least under such circumstances as this. The hostage takers had refused the idea of making an exchange, rightly suspicious that the authorities were up to something, but they had mellowed out when Duo... now named "Dua" for the duration... was offered up without need of trade, playing on the excuse that he was Hunny's older sister and that he would care for the pint sized student's special needs.

Which was why Heero was lugging a satchel filled to the brim with brand name snack cakes of various shapes and sizes, damn near twenty pounds worth. Given that was an appreciable portion of Hunny's bodyweight, Duo didn't see how the guy could possibly eat enough of the cakes to find the ones that had radio transmitters and micro-cameras inserted into them, which when freed from their doughy confines would allow those outside to see and hear what was going on inside the bank. However, Renge had assured him that it wouldn't be an issue. Reaching the doors, watched from within by a shady looking dude with lime green hair that fell over the left side of his face, and a sawed off shotgun in his hands, Duo carefully took the bag of cakes from Heero, who backed away as Duo pulled the door open and stepped inside. "I come in peace..." He said, his neck aching as the plastic inserts Trowa had stuffed down his throat modulated his voice to sound much higher than it actually was.

"And if you think that's cute, you'll be leaving in pieces." A blond haired captor said acidly, as he stepped forward, pistol in one hand, to snatch the bag of cakes away from Duo. The blunt muzzle of the shotgun all but shoved down his ear canal by the other guy made Duo disinclined to protest, as he watched the blond guy upend the bag onto the floor. By the time cakes and pastries stopped falling out of the bag, there was a mound nearly a foot high on the floor, and Duo could see the captors had absolutely no idea what the fuck was going on.

"Hunny has sugar deficiencies." Duo explained, willing to bet they wouldn't be able to call bullshit on him. "If he doesn't eat sugar constantly, it can lead to major health complications." Usually for other people, if what Renge says is true about how cranky he gets without his treats.

"Whatever." Orga shrugged, turning away from the pile of pastries. "Give the kid his fix, but tell him to keep in mind, if there's any funny business, his bunny gets it between the eyes."

"You're threatening his stuffed toy?" Duo arched an eyebrow, trying not to chuckle at the absurdity of the idea.

"If a method works, don't fix it." Orga sneered. "Thought the kid was gonna go for my throat with his teeth when I took it away from him, but the moment I put a gun to that bunny's head, he's been docile as a lamb. Your brother is fucked in the head, you know that?"

"He's certainly special." Duo agreed, thinking about the character synopsis of the Haninozuka heir Renge had provided him with. It was unlikely that the criminals knew any details about their hostages, as they certainly hadn't seemed to recognize the true worth of the people they now had in their control, but it never hurt to be thorough in preparations. Duo enjoyed improvising in clinch situations, but he could still understand the necessity of pre-work before you got to the fun stuff. Which was why he wore several interesting items taped to the insides of his legs, each harmless enough on its own, but in the proper combinations, he could make anything from smoke, to tear gas, to an explosive compound that would leave the entire bank a smoking crater. There were few things Duo liked more than explosions and demolitions work.

"Speaking of special..." A new voice, belonging to the red-headed robber, interjected with just a slight hint of sleaze. Clotho had finished looting the vault and come to join his "brothers" in the lobby proper, and saw Orga talking with a girl he hadn't seen before. And she was HOT as hell! "Forget the cakes, you look good enough to eat..." Clotho said, moseying up to Orga and the girl, smirking beneath his half face bandanna-mask. "What's your name, precious?"

"Stuff it back in your pants, Clotho." Orga rolled his eyes in exasperation, seeing the poor girl was struck dumb by his brother's bald faced advances. Honestly, he picked the worst times to crush on people. "We're surrounded by police who would be glad to shoot us. I need you with your game face on."

"I can play two games at once." Clotho retorted, refusing to be drawn away from Duo. "Come on, don't be shy, tell me your name, beautiful. I'm Clotho Buer, don't worry, we're not gonna hurt ya. Unless the people outside refuse to pay, in which case we may have to, but don't worry about that. I'll make sure you go last..." He put his hand on Duo's shoulder in a friendly fashion.

Do I REALLY make this disguise look THAT good? Duo thought with mingled pride and disgust. He recognized a perennial flirt when he saw one... he behaved much the same way himself when he had the free time, inclination and opportunity. But he'd never expected to be the target of the flirtation. Duo made a mental note to NEVER unbraid his hair again, if this sort of gender confusion was the result! Though it made him want to screw up his face in loathing, Duo was nothing if not a pragmatist. And besides, the camera's and audio pickups weren't functioning yet. "I'm... my name is... Du... Dua." Duo replied, lowering his eyes and trying his best to force a blush as he channeled a shy, rich girl who didn't know how to respond to such bold advances. "Are you going to protect me...?" He asked, trying not to gag on the act. He placed one gloved hand on Clotho's wrist... the glove there to disguise his calloused and very unladylike hands... and glanced at the redheaded robber through the thick eyelashes Renge had glued to his eyelids.

"You there! Unhand that lady, you manipulative, degenerate lout!" Tamaki all but roared, having finally managed to work his lips free of his tape gag. It wasn't like it was the first time he'd ever been tied up and gagged, though usually it was at the orders of Kyoya, or the antics of the Hittachin twins that were the architects of his misfortune, and he'd grown rather proficient in escaping bonds and gags over the years of the Host Club. "How dare you, sir, attempt to take advantage of a lady in time of duress!" He continued indignantly.

"Senpai..." Haruhi groaned, as Orga whirled around to glare at Tamaki and her. There was something really OFF about Dua, but Haruhi couldn't quite put her finger on what it was. It almost seemed like the brown haired girl had DECIDED to flirt back with Clotho after weighing the pros and cons of the situation. And Haruhi knew damned well that Hunny didn't have an older sister. Besides, she would have been blond, like all the other Haninozuka's, and there would have been a Morinozuka of some stripe accompanying her, especially in a dangerous situation such as this! But it seemed impossible that the police would send in a disguised operative for such a low key situation, especially since the host Club family members would pay a ten million dollar ransom like they were ordering fast food... why risk escalating the situation with a risky ploy?

xxxx

Outside

"So, are we going to tell him later that we bugged his clothing too?" Quatre asked, trying to keep his voice even as they listened to Duo flirting in an outrageous manner with one of the criminals. Wufei, who was perennially the butt of many of Duo's jokes and pranks, was nearly in hysterics, bracing himself against the wall as he listened to the long haired American try to act cute and interested. Trowa, who'd also ended up on the wrong end of Duo's sense of humor from time to time, was openly smiling and shaking his head. Even Heero, who had a heart of glacial ice, might have snorted with amusement when Duo first started reciprocating Clotho's advances, obviously with the intent of pumping the crook for intel.

"Oh, we should tell him..." Wufei managed to gasp out as he regained his usual poise. "We should tell him we recorded it, the next time he starts getting uppity."

"I don't want to have to hire a bomb squad to deliver my mail though." Quatre countered with a frown, only half joking. For all their joking, none of them were particularly happy to be the butt of jokes, and they were all more than capable of exacting revenge on others in ways both humorous and harmful if the inclination struck them. With Duo's penchant for stealth and demolitions work, he wasn't someone Quatre wanted gunning for him over a little operational necessity like this one. If any one of them had the charm and spontaneous charisma to pull off something like this infiltration, it was definitely Duo, or else Quatre himself, and he was far more useful for his tactical mindset than his infiltration skills. Though Quatre liked to think that spontaneously seducing an armed hostile, even while in disguise, might not be his first choice of action in that sort of situation. He'd certainly never be able to look at Duo the same way again.

Tuning out the syrupy sweet conversation between Clotho and Duo as much as possible, Quatre focused on the background sounds, which included the voice of someone he tenatively identified as Tamaki Suoh, heir of the massive Suoh group, who was being gruesomely threatened by another of the criminals, the leader, Orga. "... and what did I tell you, blondie? I said if you even GRUNTED loud enough for me to hear you, I'd turn your kneecaps into stew bones! And you have the gall to preach at my friend? Who the hell do you think you are, anyway? And what's your problem with following directions? Do you just like pain?" There followed the sound of a fist striking flesh, and a body awkwardly hitting the floor. "But the real question you should ask yourself, blondie, is... Do I feel lucky today? Do ya? Huh, punk-ass? What, no words to spout off now? Can't even argue? And now you're crying... what a bitch..."

"My, what a big gun you have there. Is it dangerous?" Duo's girlish tones tittered in the foreground.

"Hey!" A soft but firm voice, of indeterminate gender, interrupted Orga fiercely. "Maybe if you took your gun out of his mouth, he might have a chance to reply, don't you think? Don't be such a bully, its pathetic and it doesn't help anyone..."

"... don't you think, beautiful? How bout we find some privacy, Orga tends to be a little excitable when he gets going..."

"Who asked you, titmouse? Or should I say, mouse-tits? Who's this rich bastard to you anyway? He your sugar-daddy or something? You think if I shoot you in the face, he'll finally shut the fuck up and stop spouting off? Well, you... " Orga snarled back, clearly at the limits of his patience.

"... sure? I don't like violence, but my little brother..."

"Don't you dare point that gun at Haruhi! I demand you put it back in my mouth this instant! I'd rather choke on it than let her be threatened even a little bit!"

"... never seen someone eat so many cakes... where the hell does he put it all?"

"I don't need your protection, Senpai. He's not going to shoot anyone, because that will force the police to come in after..."

"... he jumps around a lot, and gets pretty hyper. Just you wait, he'll be bouncing off the walls in a moment..."

"But Haruhi, I'm your father! It's a father's duty to protect his daughter!"

"You're his kid? How old are you, titmouse? How old is HE? Does your family tree not have any branches or somethin?"

"I'm not his kid! Senpai, I've told you a thousand times, I'm NOT your daughter!"

"But Haruhi..."

"Where the fuck did he get mushrooms? And how the hell did he get loose, and get all the way over to that corner so damned fast? You people are freaks..."

"Don't lump me in with him. I just had to go to the bank to cash my dad's paycheck. My real dad. Now, please, put the gun up. You don't need it..."

"I want Usa-Chan..." A new, childish voice added itself to the growing cacophony. "Give me Usa-Chan..."

"Fuck off, brat, I'm busy. Now, Dua... what the hell is it, brat? I told you to fuck off! You want me to give you a lead lobotom... holy shit... ORGA, SHANI, HELP!"

"I WANT Usa-Chan. GIVE ME Usa-Chan! NOW!" A sound like a small explosion drowned out the other conversations.

"OWW! JESUS CHRIST, WHAT IS THIS BRAT?"

"GET THE FUCKING RABBIT! SHANI, GODDAMN IT, PAY ATTENTION!"

"USA-CHAN, USA-CHAANNN!"

"GET HIM OFF ME! GET HIM OFF ME! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, GET HIM OFF ME!"

"You want the rabbit, you little monster? Here's the fucking rabbit, right here! Put Clotho down or I'll blow it's head off!" This declaration was followed by a loud gunshot.

"GODDAMN YOU, ORGA! EVERYTIME YOU FUCKING FIRE, I ALMOST GET SHOT! WHY IS THAT?"

"CAUSE YOU'RE ALWAYS IN MY WAY, CLOTHO!"

"Usa-chan..." The childish voice sounded stunned and mournful. "You shot Usa-chan's ear..."

"Now you've done it." Another new voice, stoic, cool and calm as a deep lake, interjected, with an undercurrent of anger mixed with true pity.

"He actually put a hole in Usa-chan..." A wheedling male voice commented in shocked tones.

"He must have a death wish..." A second, almost identical voice, added an instant later.

"You're interrupting my music with all this noise." The third criminal hissed unpleasantly. It was impossible for those outside the bank to see, but his hair had shifted, showing off his other eye, which was gold compared to the usual violet. "Boy-thing, put Clotho down and shut up, or I'll blow mouse-tits all over the wall. You, the washboard with brown hair... you're his sister, keep him calm, or else. And stop flirting with Clotho. It's creeping me out."

"Wait, you were paying attention all this time? Why didn't you repond earlier, Shani? You were purposefully ignoring me, weren't you!"

"I only respond to important things, Orga. You and Clotho don't count."

"Hey, you assholes, stop cock-fencing for a moment and fucking help me! Damn, that brat broke my gun in fucking HALF!"

"You're lucky he didn't break you in half." Tamaki pointed out helpfully. "Very people have gotten between Hunny and Usa-Chan and lived to tell about it..."

"Again, blondie, you just DON'T SHUT UP, DO YOU? Nobody asked for your opinion! I can't take it anymore! Shani, watch Mouse-tits and make sure Clotho doesn't do anything else stupid. I'm taking Ole Yeller here to the bathroom and putting him out of my misery!"

"I wouldn't if I were you." A dry, collected male voice interceded. "Without Suoh, you won't get your ten million dollar ransom."

"But Kyoya, your family will pay ten times that much to get you back..." Tamaki answered in confusion.

"On second thought, go ahead and kill him twice for me..."

"Oh, I'm not going to kill him. That would be too kind for the aggravation he's caused me. No, Ole Yeller and I are going to play a nice little game together. It's called, how many swirlies does it take before he can't speak anymore..."

"Uh oh..." Renge commented, barging in, seemingly alerted by her usual nose for troublesome situations. "It sounds like things are going from bad to worse in there! We'll have to take prompt emergency measures to secure the safety of the hostages! I would never forgive myself if my dear Haruhi was even scratched! And Kyoya-Sama seems most put out, its high time we relieved his stress! Hurry, there's no time to lose! We must infiltrate the building by the most expeditious route!"

xxxx

20 minutes later, inside the ventilation ducts of the bank

"I've got a question." The normally stoic Wufei asked, gasping for breath as he crawled on hands and knees down the nearly pitch dark metal shaft of the air conditioning duct. "Why do we follow that bit... that woman's orders? Her interference never makes the situation any better, and usually make it far worse."

"Even Gundam pilots have to eat." Heero replied pragmatically, from a few feet ahead of Wufei. "And its good training for our real work. Renge is the epitome of random, she always makes things challenging for us. I would think you of all people would be appreciative of that."

"I appreciate challenge, yes, but this is not the same thing! We're not doing this because its hard, we're doing it to increase the drama of the situation! You and I both know damn well that nobody in their right fucking mind infiltrates through the air ducts anymore! This has absolutely no real world applications!" Wufei paused to resettle the equipment slung all over his body, which Renge had insisted he take with him, "just in case", a phrase he now loathed from the core of his being. He had three guns, more than a dozen clips of ammo, a half dozen grenades, his sword, body armor, food and water, what felt like ten miles of rope, four knives, two medical kits, several flashlights without batteries for some godforsaken reason, and possibly several large rocks, just because Renge wanted to "challenge" him! He was so loaded down he sometimes had to crawl on his belly, like a worm in the dust, to get through parts of the ventilation shafts!

And of course the air conditioning was shut down, so not only was it dark and cramped, it was hot as well, and growing rapidly hotter with his body heat and exertions, so he was sweating like a pig. Someone was going to DIE for this travesty, Wufei promised himself that. Whether that someone was one of the hostage takers, or one of his supposed "allies", he was rapidly becoming less than choosy about. He forced himself to start crawling forward again, trying to spread his burdened weight out as much as possible, so he didn't collapse the duct through the ceiling and end up at the mercy of the criminals. Focused on his dire thoughts, Wufei failed to notice that Heero had in turn stopped for a moment, and crawled face first into his comrades posterior. The urge to arm one of the grenades at his belt was suddenly almost overwhelming. Anything would be better than this hell. Even explosive death...

For his part, Heero did his best to ignore the fuming of his shorter tempered comrade, though he was in truth not best pleased by Renge's interference either. She'd tried to load him down like she did to Wufei, all in the name of being "helpful" of course, but he'd managed to lose most of the extra gear on the way over to the outside air exchanging system that had been their point of entry to the ventilation ducts. He was down to bare minimums, one gun, one knife, a few explosive devices, a penlight to show him the way, and a schematic map of the ventilation system for a guide, with a radio headset so he could keep in contact with Trowa and Quatre outside. He felt Wufei collide with him and grimaced at his comrade's lack of focus. He'd been sweat free until the Chinese pilot had smeared his face into his shorts. One of Heero's many secret vices was being a bit of a neat freak, it came with his perfectionist attitude.

In truth, that was the reason he tolerated Renge's meddling... because he was determined to prove himself the equal of any challenge, no matter how arduous or nonsensical it might otherwise be. He would not be defeated, and least of all by a scatterbrained otaku like Renge! "Please don't tell me we're lost. I'm about to commit seppuku back here as it is." Wufei said, a few moments later, after swallowing his pride and waiting for Heero to make some sort of disparaging comment about his error. Fortunately though, Heero was not Duo, and thus Wufei was not forced to slaughter them both with his sword in order to placate his sense of honor over the mishap.

"We're getting close." Heero replied, consulting the map, which was a little out of date, but ought to be accurate enough for their purposes. He tapped his commset to contact Quatre and Trowa. The former was still back in the internet cafe, monitoring the situation inside the bank, and trying his best to keep Renge out of their hair and off the comm channels. The latter was preparing to storm the building from one of the side windows, where there was a drive by banking service. "We're almost in position. Any change in plan?" He asked the blond controller and the mysterious acrobat.

"Everything's good on this end. I can see the guy with the shotgun. I'll take him out as soon as you make your ingress from above." Trowa reported, stretching out his legs and loosening his muscles as he prepared for the running dive through the glass that Renge had all but swooned over insisting how cool and heroic it would look. Trowa didn't really care, but he was willing to try it out, simply becausehe didn't anticipate the threat inside the building to be that great anyway.

"Duo's in position and has a distraction device prepared for when you make your appearance." Quatre answered tersely, sounding a little out of breath. Perhaps he was being forced to resort to physical measures to keep Renge from interfering further. That would certainly account for the feminine grunts and squeals that formed a odd backdrop to his words. Either that, or the relationship between the Arabian princeling and their French benefactor was even closer and more indecent than Heero had ever suspected. "One of the terrorists is still in the bathroom, abusing the Suoh heir, though he doesn't appear to be causing any permanent harm by what I can hear. The unarmed terrorist is still trying to chat up Duo, the Haninozuka heir will be taking care of him. When you... hold on..." The sounds of struggle grew a lot more fierce all of a sudden.

"Am I hallucinating, or does that sound more erotic than combative?" Wufei muttured, just loud enough for Heero to pretend he hadn't heard, though he had to agree with his peer's assessment. Perhaps because Quatre was reluctant to unleash potential harm upon their client-benefactor by using his full strength and skills to subdue her, the struggle sounded quite intense and protracted, with many gasps, moans, grunts and sighs, both masculine and feminine, sometimes in harmony. It really did sound like the soundtrack to an adult video. The battle culminated in a piercing yelp of feminine achievement that almost brought a blush to Heero's face before he realized what a victory by Renge had to mean, regardless of how she accomplished it.

"All right boys, slight change in plans." Renge said heavily, panting for breath. "I saw this movie a few weeks ago, and it had a scene in it that fits this situation perfectly! Heero, Wufei, I need you two to get in a fight with each other. If possible, you should get tangled up in the rope while you do it, and fall through the ceiling into the middle of the room before you get brought up a few feet from the floor. While you're hanging upside down, you draw your guns and shoot all the bad guys dead before they can react. It's gonna be so cool!"

"I'm not playing out her bondage fantasy with you." Wufei said instantly. "Nothing in this world could possibly make me do something so totally..."

"If you don't, I'll tell Duo all about how you wanted to record his cosplay as a flirting woman so you have something to jerk off to later." Heero said calmly, as he turned to face Wufei directly, bracing himself, knowing precisely what buttons to push to send his comrade over the edge of sanity. There was a long moment of silence as the color, what little of it there was, drained from Wufei's face. That fact that the threat was spurious and baseless hardly mattered, any such accusation coming from someone as dead-cold humorless as Heero would be taken as gospel truth by Duo and maybe even the other pilots. He'd never be able to live it down.

"Prepare to get your ass kicked, Yuy..."

"As long as you don't kiss it again in the process..."

xxxx

When the inevitable happened, the only sure thing was that it happened in such a way that absolutely no one was ready for it. Banging sounds from the ceiling, as Heero and Wufei enthusiastically used fists and knees and elbows to batter at each other in the confines of the air shaft, drew all eyes in the bank upwards. Orga was just coming out of the bathroom, a sodden Tamaki dragged by the collar behind him, after satisfying himself that he'd bullied the spine, and more importantly, any further lip, out of the irrepressible scion. Clotho took advantage of the distraction to lean back in his chair and not-so-casually slipped one arm around "Dua's" shoulders, leaning in to breath gently against the side of the brunette haired hottie's neck, confident in his "game" to pave the way to a happy ending. Shani continued to rock out to his music, shotgun bobbing along to the beat, apparently lost in his own world without a care for anyone around him.

Finally, the support bolts holding the ventilation shaft in place could no longer bear up under the stress of the tussling boys, and the duct broke loose from its mountings with firecracker snaps of shearing metal, and they plummeted downward, bursting through the flimsy plaster ceiling, dark rope twisted around their bodies and limbs, all but tying them together like a pinata. Duo, still startled and out of sorts from when Clotho had breathed on his neck with amorous intentions, tried to stand up so he could access the smoke bomb he'd been cobbling together beneath the hem of his dress ever since he'd taken the seat next to Hunny twenty minutes prior. He reckoned without Clotho's arm though, or his unbound hair, and ended up falling back with a very girly screech of pain as the red headed robbers hand caught in his hair, having been playing with it while he moved in on the disguised operative.

Trowa had made a slight miscalculation as well. Or rather, Quatre had failed to update him on the full rennovation schedule of the bank, possibly because he was distracted fending off Renge's attempts at active interference in their mission. At some point in the relatively recent past, this bank branch had replaced their plain glass windows with plate glass versions. So when the most acrobatic pilot hurled himself gracefully towards the sheet of translucent material in question, arms raised to protect his face from being cut, he did not end up smashing through the window so much as merely INTO it, like a bug on a windscreen. The reinforced glass barely even shivered, and the "thump" of impact was so quiet no one in the bank even noticed the abortive entry. Trowa was affected rather more than the glass though, falling backwards into the bushes beneath the window, nose bleeding freely and limbs twitching in spastic response as his brain fought not to shut down from the jarring impact.

With Duo entangled in Clotho, and Trowa semiconcious outside the bank, the odds were still two on two. Heero laid down a curtain of fire with his one pistol, but even a perfect soldier like him hadn't ever trained to shoot while hanging upside down from a rope, head about three feet off the floor, while his face was buried in the sweaty chest of a peer! Wufei, being far more burdened down with gear than Heero was, had not been jerked to a halt quite as fast as the other pilot had by the rope, so he'd fallen a bit further, his torso completely blocking Heero's field of view. Wufei was also far more tangled in the rope than Heero was, since he was the one carrying it in the first place, but he still managed to get one hand free enough to fire a few shots, causing civilians to scream and Shani to curse as the shotgun toting boy was forced to dive behind the bank counter to avoid being hit.

Orga returned fire, with a pistol in either hand, before being tackled round the waist from behind, by a galvanized Tamaki. The bullets went wide of the tempting target of the dangling operatives, smacking into the far wall, nearly decapitating Clotho as Duo finally managed to jerk free his hair from the red head's grip. Clotho screamed something vile in Orga's direction, shaking his fist at his comrade's constant carelessness with his firepower. He had little time for ire though, as he gaped in horrified dismay as Dua flipped up "her" dress, showing a very disturbing glimpse of legs and boxers that were not very feminine at all, and even less so the improvised explosive device strapped to them! Which Duo promptly detached and hurled into the center of the bank's floor. A sun-bright flash of light preceeded a thunderbolt crack of detonation as the improvised smoke bomb blew up and started sending dark black smoke in every direction, rapidly filling the entire bank space with the choking fumes.

The loud booms of Shani's shotgun punctuated the panicked screaming of the hostages, as he fired more or less blindly into the swirling chaos, though the hostages thankfully had the sense to remain down on the ground, mostly out of the line of fire. Most of the hostages that is, as both Hunny and Mori had been waiting for just this sort of situation. Well, not quite THIS situation, but an opportunity to act at least. Bursting free of the tape bonds was simplicity itself for Mori, and Hunny hadn't been bound in the first place. Heero and Wufei had still been falling from the ceiling as the childish Haninozuka heir had burst into action, hurling himself off his chair, Usa-chan tucked safely beneath it, holed ear and all, as he made a beeline across the room, heading for the blond bastard who'd dared injure his most prized possession!

Orga was just about to turn his guns on Tamaki... enough was enough, and those ten million dollars were already looking pretty far away anyhow... before Hunny hit him like a lion taking down a wildebeest from the side. He literally did not know what hit him... one moment he was standing, with a sobbing blond leech attached to him at the waist, the next, he was face down on the ground while a pantheon of angry demi-gods played patticake with his spine! As a Biological Computer Processing Unit, a Super-Soldier by any measure, Orga was more than used to rough and tumble combat. But nothing in his years of near abusive training could have possibly prepared him for the nigh-supernatural levels of vengeance Hunny was doling out his way. For the first time in his entire life, Orga panicked, realizing he had no defense against this sort of opponent.

Squriming free of the python like grip of his tiny assailant, taking advantage of the confusion to shove Ole Yeller into the path of the enraged tyke instead... one limp blond body being almost indistinguishable from another with all the smoke around... to buy himself a few moments of time to escape. He saw Clotho fleeing in his direction, fleeing the tag team of Duo and Mori, and instinct overtook him. Leaping as high into the air as he could manage, Orga hurled himself onto the shoulders of his comrade, intent on hitching a ride out of the battlezone on his faster and more manueverable comrade. It was a procedure their Gundams used frequently, but it didn't translate so well outside those hulking war machines. He was appreciably bigger and more muscular than Clotho, and all his unexpected weight did was crush the smaller BCPU into the floor in a heap, with Orga lying atop him.

"Why... why Orga... why do you hate me so much..." Clotho gasped through compressed lungs. His team leader had no reply. No words to say anyway... his throat was clogged with unvoiced screams instead. Because there was a glowering demon stalking out of the smoke cloud not far away, with eyes that promised an eternity of pain that even a thousand deaths could not assuage.

"You hurt Usa-Chan..." The condemnation was pronouced heavily, like a guillotine blade dropping from on high.

Across the room, Shani continued to pump out blasts from his shotgun, more or less at random, but he was so caught up in his personal maelstrom of combat that he lost track of his expended ammunition, and sooner rather than later, the shotgun went "sn-clickt" instead of "boom". Shani stared down at the empty shotgun in disgust. "You useless piece of shit! How can you be out of ammo already? I haven't even killed anyone yet!"

"It's a poor soldier who blames his weapon." An infuriatingly collected voice commented from beside and slightly behind him, and Shani let the empty gun clatter to the floor as he felt the cold caress of a pistol muzzle on the side of his head. Heero stepped out of the smoke, eyes as cold as whetted knife blades. "Maybe you aren't a complete idiot after all. Now lie on the ground with your arms and legs spread, and maybe you'll live through this."

After cutting himself and Heero down from their rope prison, Wufei had drawn his sword and stalked into the choking clouds of Duo's far too effective smoke bomb in search of someone to vent his anger, frustration and embarassment onto. He was half hoping to stumble into Duo himself, actually, since he could always blame the confusion of the smoke filled room for any "friendly" fire accidents. He'd always wondered what the American pilot would look like without all that ridiculously long hair, and this struck him as the perfect opportunity to attempt a little barbering. Unfortunately, Nataku wasn't smiling on him today, and Duo failed to materialize. Neither did any of the criminals they'd come here to stop or apprehend. He felt someone move behind him, and he spun with sword upraised, and just barely managed to swing up and over the head of the slight figure of the girl who'd stumbled up behind him, blind and gagging as she forged her way through the chaos. Wufei snarled... women were always causing him problems!

The temptation to smack the girl with the flat of his sword, just to teach her not to wander around in the midst of a combat area, was strong, but contrary to popular belief, Wufei wasn't quite that much of an asshole. "Are you all right?" He asked the girl, who had boyish short brown hair and a figure that was slender to the point of androgyny. The only things that suggested her gender were her clothes, and the way she walked.

"Is that you, Kyoya-senpai?" Haruhi asked, unable to see in the murky atmosphere, her heart still racing from dealing with all the sudden, loud noises of the brief gun battle. She'd approached the relatively tall, stiff backed, dark haired figure in the hopes that it would be her ever prepared senpai, but the voice wasn't quite right. And the large sword in the figure's other hand was definitely not something she could imagine the heir of the Otori's wielding, even in duress. For Kyoya, the pen was definitely mightier than any sword.

"I am Wufei. Get to one of the walls and stay there until someone comes to get you, girl." Wufei ordered her brusquely.

"I'm sorry, but I can't do that. I have to find Tamaki... there's no telling what that idiot will get up to if he's not supervised properly." Haruhi answered. She reconsidered her position when the stiff backed guy turned to face her more fully, and not quite prodded her in the belly with his sword tip. He looked almost unhinged, an expression nearly as bad as Kasanoda's scowl pasted on his face. Kasanoda had never scared her, she could see that his scowl was just a product of his upbringing, but Wufei was different... he looked like he badly wanted to chop someone up, like Kyoya was when he was absolutely at the end of his rope with regards to Tamaki's meddling, or when woken up early in the morning. "On the other hand, I'm sure he'll be fine." She shrugged off whatever trouble Tamaki might be in with surprising ease. Probably served him right, anyway, considering all he'd done to escalate the situation from bad to worse.

Outside the bank, back at the internet cafe, Renge turned satisfied eyes on the black smoke billowing out of the bank, as firefighters and uniformed police officers began to move in now that the shooting had stopped. She sighed dreamily, already planning out how she would draw the events when she turned it all into a doujin. Absentmindly, she straightened her clothes, which were in disarray after her little "tussle" with Quatre. He could be so dastardly cute when it came to trying to stop her from getting her way. "I'm going to head home. My day's work is done here. I'll see you later, Quatre." Renge said over her shoulder as she left, wanting to make herself scarce before the Host Club got out of the bank and tried to take out their frustrations on her, like they always did.

A rumpled Quatre with his hair tousled into disarray used the table to pull himself upright, blinking his eyes at Renge's almost supernatural ability to appear and disappear seemingly at whim. Why was he always getting involved with the troublesome sort of girls? Renge insisted on playing his life and those of his friends like it was part of one of her video games, and before her, Dorothy had done much the same, just on a far grander scale. At least Renge hadn't stabbed him through the chest with a rapier yet. Though he found it hard to doubt that it was only a matter of time until something like that did happen to him. He frowned as he recalled how she'd beaten him to get hold of the commset. For a girl of breeding, she sure did know how to fight dirty...

xxxx

Ouran Highschool, Music Room 3, Valentine's Day, 30 minutes before Club opening

"You can't be serious!" Haruhi protested, trying... unsuccessfully... to stare down the Shadow King, her eyes burning with residual smoke from yesterday, coupled with a general lack of rest during the night. After a lengthy debriefing by the police, they'd called her dad to come pick her up, despite only being a few blocks away from her apartment. It really sucked, still being a minor, at least if you weren't a rich bastard like the other Host Club members. So not only had she had to deal with the stress of Tamaki hamming it up for an appreciative crowd of female detectives, dramatically overplaying the parts in the rescue operation he, Mori and Hunny had played, she'd also gotten the unwelcome gift of dealing with her real father's overprotective mothering for the rest of the night. And now this... she'd joked to herself about Kyoya finding some way to increase her debt due to the events in the bank, but it had been black humor... she hadn't thought he'd really do it!

"I am perfectly serious, like always." Kyoya pushed his glasses back up his nose with one finger, almost glorying in the tiny motion. That hour and a half or so of being unable to indulge his favorite tic had been brutally annoying, above and beyond all the other events that had occured. "While it is true that we never had to pay the ransom demand, we wouldn't have been there at all had you not been so careless as to enlist Tamaki's help for getting a day off from the Host Club. You've been with us for several months now, Haruhi, how is it that you haven't learned to keep as much of a distance from Tamaki as possible in matters such as this? You obviously need to be punished for putting troublesome ideas into his head. So I'm adding the bills for getting all the smoke damage out of our clothing, plus an indemnity for emotional suffering, onto your debt. Don't worry, it's only a few hundred thousand yen all told."

"Only..." Haruhi groaned, her eyebrow twitching as she repressed the urge to try and throttle her senpai. Only a few hundred thousand yen was still ONLY more than her father made in a month of sixteen hour days at the bar! If she ever had a few hundred thousand yen in one spot at one time, Haruhi might have felt fairly wealthy, though many of her classmates could probably drop that much money on the ground and just forget about it, as it wouldnt be worth their time to pick it all up. But it was no use getting mad at Kyoya, he'd only start tacking on further "indemnity" for emotional disturbance, knowing him!

The twins were off putting the final touches on their Valentine's Day costumes... the theme for today was that of Imperial Rome, with the room done up like a palace, as well as a small amphitheatre where Mori and Hunny were scheduled to have a "Battle for Love" sometime during the course of the day. Haruhi was already dreading what costume she'd end up with. Tamaki was obviously going to be Emperor, Kyoya was probably a Consul, Mori and Hunny were going to be gladiators, the twins would probably go with Legionnaire outfits and knowing her luck, she'd probably end up a slave or something. A case of perception syncing up with reality.

Hunny was still a bit out of sorts after the events of the previous day, rattled by the damage to Usa-Chan, which even though it had been fairly easy to fix, was still the most wear and tear the plushie had seen in years of being Hunny's near constant companion. He'd apparently also swallowed a number of micro-cameras and listening bugs while wolfing down the cakes his fake sister "Dua" had brought into the bank, which had upset his stomach. From what she'd heard, even Mori-senpai had found Hunny all but unapproachable all day long, and Haruhi was already pitying the stoic senior his match against his childlike cousin during the Club meeting. Hunny had a lot of stress to work out, and Mori would be making himself a very convenient target.

Haruhi wanted to get into contact with the five young men who'd orchestrated the rescue attempt, messy though it was, they'd still saved her, the Host Club and dozens of other civilians from a nasty situation, and done it without any casualties. Even the criminals had escaped with minor injuries, though that was more because the police pulled them away from Hunny before he could get serious about his vengeance. However, their only point of contact was apparently Renge, and after finding out just how much the Host Club "manager" had to do with how crazy things had gotten, Haruhi wanted nothing to do with the girl for the immediate future. She didn't think she'd be able to restrain her throttle impulse, unlike what she'd done with Kyoya.

She was about to ask Kyoya if he might be able to track down the youths anyway... if anyone could, it would be he... but before she could, the door to the Host Club chamber burst open, to admit none other than Tamaki, the self styled King himself. He was strutting even moreso than usual, his ego, which was normally the size of a small moon, inflated even further by a day spent telling and retelling the story of his "heroic" conduct during the bank robbery the day before, which had girls swooning at his feet in even deeper piles than usual. Well, Haruhi was willing to give him a little leeway on that, actually... even if he hadn't really been so much brave as he was just ignorant of danger. Except for when he tackled one of the gunmen, despite having just been half drowned in the toilets... a tidbit she noticed he failed to mention in his little stories of valor. It was a stupid move, that... if not for Hunny's intervention, Tamaki would have been hurt or killed, so she wasn't of a mind to praise him for that, no matter how brave and selfless it was.

"Mother! Daughter! I've just had the most brilliant idea for our next theme!" Tamaki crowed triumphantly.

Please tell he doesn't mean...

"We'll hold a faux bank robbery, right here in the Host Club! The twins will be the thugs, Kyoya will be the criminal mastermind, while Mori, Hunny, Haruhi and I form the heroic rescue team that bursts in to save the day! It'll be a huge hit, I know it..."

"Kill me now..."

xxxx

Note: Bonus points to anyone who can tell me what movie Renge ripped that ventilation shaft scene from.