Hikaru had been spending a lot of time with Haruhi. A lot. Honestly, Kaoru knew he should be happy for his twin, because it was obvious how much he cared about her. But, instead, he found himself more frustrated than anything else. He attributed this to the fact that Hikaru himself seemed to be the only person oblivious to his feelings.
Honestly. How ridiculous.
It wasn't until Kaoru was approached by two girls in the host club that he realized his frustration may be due to something entirely different.
Kaoru leant forward, looking across the table at the girl who sat across from him, "Yes, princess?"
"Kaoru, may I ask you a question?" She looked anywhere but his eyes, twirling her thumbs together on top of the table in what he assumed to be a nervous act.
"Of course." He smiled broadly at her.
"Does it bother you," She finally met his eyes, though he could tell it took a great amount of courage to do so, "That Hikaru no longer spends any time with you?" For a moment, it seemed like the world stood still. A whole mess of feelings hit Kaoru at once, but the girl didn't seem to notice. Now that she had started talking, she didn't seem to want to stop. "I mean he's always with Haruhi. And I like Haruhi, really. He's a great guy and I know what Hikaru sees in him. But, I mean, he was yours for so long, and now it's like you've lost him. And I just have to imagine it—Kaoru?"
Without realizing it, or realizing why, tears began to stream down Kaoru's face as he listened to the girl talk. She was right and he knew it. Of course he knew it. How couldn't he? All Hikaru talked about was Haruhi. All he did was spend his time with her. They didn't study together anymore, they didn't eat lunch together anymore, they didn't do anything together anymore.
"Kaoru, I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to—oh, no!" The girl cried, standing from her chair.
The commotion of her standing seemed to catch the attention of other guests in the room. It was only when all the girls came running to his side, calling out his name, that Hikaru even noticed something was wrong.
He scanned across the room slowly until he noticed the cause of all the excitement. As he saw tears streaming down Kaoru's face, he panicked. He quickly jumped to his feet and dashed past Haruhi, who he had been sitting with, and made his way through all the princesses and to his brother.
"Kaoru? Kaoru, what's wrong?" He gripped his brother's hand and pulled him to his feet.
Kaoru could barely breathe and was so busy fighting off more tears that he didn't have it in him to answer. So, the girl who had brought all this emotion forth stepped forwards, "I was just asking him if he cares that he's lost you to Haruhi and, well, I guess this is the answer."
"Lost me to—Kaoru, you don't—"
"Hikaru," Kaoru cut his twin off. He had finally caught enough of his breath to recover his speaking ability. Now all that was left to recover was his dignity. And their act for the princesses. "You wish I were more like Haruhi, don't you? He's more the type of brother you want, isn't he?"
Immediately Hikaru recognized the lines. Kaoru was recycling an old act that they had used. But, why? They had made no plans to use it ever again and yet, here Kaoru stood, watery eyes directed towards the ground, repeating lines they had already used and tossed aside.
Luckily for him, he remembered the gist of what he was supposed to say for this act. He just had to shake off his surprise so it didn't show, "Kaoru, don't be silly. I love you and only you. Nobody in the world could be a better brother."
He pulled his twin close, snaking a hand around his waist and bending Kaoru backwards just enough for their eyes to meet. Kaoru smiled and hiccupped a little as he appeared to recover. But it was in that moment that Hikaru noticed the disconnection—the smile didn't reach Kaoru's eyes.
There was no mischievous gleam, no silent laughter that was usually displayed when they won over the hearts of their guests. Of course, the girls swooned as Hikaru pulled Kaoru into a tight embrace. So Kaoru should be smiling. He should be happy. But he wasn't.
"You'll tell me what's wrong later, right Kaoru?" He murmured into his twin's ear as they embraced.
Kaoru stiffened, "I'm fine."
Before Hikaru could reply, Kaoru pulled out of his embrace and began to apologize to the girls about his tears. They swooned over him, apologizing for making him think he wasn't good enough for Hikaru and everything seemed to go back to normal.
Only now, as the guests surrounded them. HIkaru made sure to be by Kaoru's side the entire time. He wasn't letting his twin out of his sight if it was the last thing he did. But no matter how close of attention he paid to Kaoru, he couldn't figure out what was wrong. The only thing he ever noticed was the way Kaoru's eyes didn't seem to light up like they usually did.
Finally, music room number 3 emptied out and everybody went their separate ways for the night. Hikaru intentionally stalled as everybody left so he and Kaoru would be alone and it would be harder for his twin to avoid him. Once they had all left, he cornered Kaoru, who was sitting on the sofa waiting patiently.
"Are you finally done?" He asked, a hint of impatience creeping into his voice.
"That depends," Hikaru replied, "Are you done pretending to be fine when you're not?"
Kaoru met his gaze steadily, "I don't know what you're talking about. I think you've had too much of the commoners coffee."
"Oh, do you? Is that why I don't think your eyes light up anymore?" He bit out, a twinge of anger darkening his voice.
"Seems logical to me."
But Hikaru was not about to be convinced. Not even a little bit. "And what about that act earlier? We threw that one away ages ago. Why bring it up now? And with no warning?"
"Well, she suggested that you had moved on. It was perfectly fitting for the moment, really. Plus, the genuine surprise on your face made it even better." Karou's face betrayed no emotion but he couldn't keep his voice steady. Nobody would notice the slight tremble to his words. But this wasn't nobody, this was his twin, the person who knew him better than he knew himself. And make no mistake, Hikaru caught the waver.
He knelt down on the ground before his twin, bracing his hands against Koaru's knees and meeting his gaze, "Kaoru, please."
He could see the tears that welled up in Kaoru's eyes and he realize, with sudden clarity, that the tears earlier in the day hadn't been fake either. He reached up and gently grabbed a hold of his brother's face, but Kaoru pulled away.
"Just forget about it, Hikaru. It doesn't matter."
"Of course it matters, Kaoru! I love you!"
"No! Kaoru rose suddenly, "No, you love Haruhi."
For a moment, Hikaru was flabbergasted. "What? Kaoru, you can't compare the two, they're nothing alike. You're my brother and Haruhi is—she's—"
"She's what, Hikaru? Just admit it. Admit you love her."
"Does it matter?"
"Yes, it matters. It matters more than you'll ever know." And with those words, Kaoru yanked his backpack off the ground, threw it over his shoulders and stalked out the door, wiping the tears off his cheeks. He didn't pause to see if Hikaru was following, either. He simply walked out to their car and climbed inside.
They didn't talk for the rest of the day.
Kaoru gave Hikaru the cold shoulder for damn near a week and he was getting frustrated. Of course, when they were at club, everything seemed normal. And it was in those times that Hikaru felt like he could breathe again. The tension between them seemed to suffocate him every other moment of the day.
He had given a lot of thought to what Kaoru said and how to properly reply to it. Finally, he had formulated the right reply. So, once again, he took his sweet time changing and waited until everyone was gone and cornered Kaoru.
Only this time, when he cornered him, he literally trapped him in a corner. There would be no walking away this time. No, Hikaru decided when they were done talking.
Hikaru flinced and Kaoru dropped his eyes, apologizing for his attitude. Hikaru, of course, understood. Kaoru was hurting and he always tended to lash out when he was hurting. Usually when he did, it wasn't Hikaru he was mad at. But this time—this time it was different. "I've been thinking about what you said—"
"Just forget I said anything, Hikaru. It's okay, really." He moved to walk past his brother but was stopped when Hikaru threw his arm out.
"Damn it, Kaoru. Listen-listen to me!" Kaoru met his brother's amber eyes—the ones that he knew so well. The ones that matched his. His other half. Hikaru took a deep breath before diving head first into what he wanted to say. "You said I love Haruhi and I've thought a lot about that. At first, I thought I didn't know what love was. But then I realized that I do know what love is."
"What are you trying to say? That I'm right?"
"No. Quite the opposite. That I don't love Haruhi. Maybe you thought I did. Maybe everyone thought I did. But I didn't. I don't. I never will."
"Then how do you know what love is?" Kaoru looked somewhere between confused and frustrated and Hikaru couldn't blame him.
"I'm not explaining this right. Kaoru," He took another deep breath, "It's you. You're the one I love. Yeah, Haruhi is cool. But if she left my life, I'd be okay. You're the only person I can't imagine my life without. When I saw you crying the other day, I panicked. I care more about you than anything. I don't want you hurting anymore."
Kaoru could feel tears spring to his eyes but he wasn't going to cry. Not again. He had done enough of that. "Hikaru."
"I'm sorry, Kaoru. For hurting you. For not noticing I was hurting you. For not noticing I loved you. For everything. But please, please stop pushing me away."
For a moment, Kaoru didn't know what to say. But then he realized something himself. He loved Hikaru. He was jealous of Haruhi. For a moment, he laughed. How dense could he be? He always said he was frustrated at Hikaru for not understanding his feelings when he, himself, had not understood how he loved his brother.
God, he was such a hypocrite.
At his laugh, Hikaru smiled and pulled him into a hug. Kaoru didn't hesitate to hug back, feeling a weight lift off his chest. Hikaru was still his. He didn't need to be bitter or jealous anymore because he had his twin's heart, just like he was supposed to.
Hikaru pulled back and, without hesitating, kissed his twin. Neither were prepared for the warmth that spread from their lips and through their whole body. They had come close to kissing so many times, in front of their guests and not, that they figured they would know what it felt like. Boy, were they wrong.
But then again, who really knows what true love's kiss feels like before it happens?