Breaking the Camel's Back

(OHHC is not mine.)

They were drawing straws. Of all the ridiculous, inane, childish things, they were drawing freaking straws.

"Honey-senpai," trilled trilled Tamaki-senpai's voice, "hold these for me, will you? I want to make sure that these dopplegangers have no opportunity for their tricks." Honey-sempai, for his part, looked only too happy to help, flouncing across the room with youthful abandon, "Hai, Tamaki-san!"

Haruhi mentally chastised herself for not seeing this coming. Of course it had to become a thing. She couldn't just drop a confession like the one she had without repercussions, particularly not with these guys. At least they'd gotten past the idea of rock, paper, scissors. The twins and Tamaki- senpai competing with closed fist and open palms seemed extremely dangerous.

"Boss, it's not fair if you get to do it," Hikaru interjected. "Yeah," chimed his twin, "you got to do it last time." Both sets of golden eyes swung to her in perfect synch, "And we have just the perfect thing for her to wear."

There was no repressing the shiver that stabbed between her shoulder blades. The glint in the Hitachiin brother's eyes was a thing she'd learned not to underestimate.

Tamaki waived away their protest. "No,no, it's impossible. As my darling Haruhi's devoted father, I could never leave her education in your shady hands. It would be irresponsible."

Oh for the love of, Haruhi tried in vain to head off the banter, "Guys, it's really not that big of a deal…"

Tamaki's finger was on her lips before she could even finish her thought, "Hush, dear Haruhi, there is no need to be embarrassed over the gaps in your education. A commoner just can't be expected to know these things, and I, as your dearest daddy, am more than willing to help."

Haruhi took a half step back, partly to separate herself from Tamaki-senpai, but mostly in defeat. "Why does this even matter?"

It was Kyoya who spoke up from the depths of his notebook. "Tamaki-san has decided upon a Latin theme for this year's ball. So instead of waltzing this year, you must tango."

And the simple admission that she had no idea how to tango had triggered another seemingly endless argument over who would teach her. But in the midst of disaster, brilliance struck. "Can't Hani-senpai teach em? Surely he knows how to tango."

"I don't know how to tango, Haru-chan, I'm not tall enough." Honey frowned, "I don't think Mori knows how either."

The silent man's head shifted a subtle assent to Honey-senpai.

"Then why do I have to know?" Haruhi demanded

"Frankly, Haruhi, no one expects the boy Lolita to tango." Came Kyoya's calm and insanely, frustratingly, logical response. "And it would ill-suit Mori-sempai, the wild type if he were tangoing on the dance floor. Our clients' expectations must be upheld."

"Mother could do it." The words sounded oddly thoughtful in the silence that fell at the suggestion. A burst of confidence shot through the second year as his idea rooted, "After all, to whom does a little girl turn when she is in need and Daddy can't help?"

Somehow Haruhi found the reigning silence at the president's suggestion slightly stifling. It couldn't be that bad, Haruhi thought. After all, Kyoya-senpai wouldn't insist upon a ridiculous outfit like Hikaru and Kaoru would. And the lesson would be drama free without Tamaki-senpai's involvement. All in all, it was nearly as safe to dance with the vice president as it was to dance with Honey-senpai, right?

Memory flashed briefly in her mind, moonlight on a shirtless chest, and was ruthlessly quashed. There was nothing for Kyoya to gain in the encounter, she reminded herself, except teaching a host needed steps. Her hesitation was minimal when she nodded her acceptance. "Kyoya-senpai? …Would you mind?"

His eyes were unreadable, and his eyebrow arched at the question. Surely the request hadn't thrown the shadow king, had it? He was unflappable.

With deliberate care, Kyoya-senpai closed his notebook and rose from the desk. A long slim finger adjusted the sliver glasses on his nose as he crossed to her. Somehow, at least to Haruhi, he suddenly seemed dangerous and a frission of awareness raced through her.

An enthusiastic clap from the Suou heir broke the spell. "Excellent. Now Haruhi, when dancing the tango, as in any dance, one must communicate through the body. The waltz is romantic. The tango is all about unfulfilled desire." He helped himself to her hands, placing them both on Kyoya-senpai's chest. Haruhi resisted the urge to leap back from the upperclassman as once more, memories from that night at the beach assaulted her. It didn't help when the Ootori heir (or at least, potential heir) mirrored her position with his own hands.

"The tango is a complicated dance, Haruhi, and we don't expect you to master it in the short time we have until the ball. But Daddy is sure that his little girl can learn the basics." Apparently Tamaki-senpai was determined to remain involved in the lesson, and he seemed to glory in his instructive role. "Eye contact is important. A proper host cannot cast his eyes around the ballroom while dancing with a beautiful princess. For this first lesson, I think it's enough if you simply practice walking with Mother. Eyes on, and start with the right foot!" With a flourish worthy of any circus performer, Tamaki turned started the music and stepped away.

She couldn't really understand her reluctance to meet Kyoya's eyes. Frustrated with herself over her own nonsense, she forced her eyes to his. Ever unreadable, they still pinned hers in place. Trying to ignore the warmth seeping into her chest from his hands, she gamely stepped backwards. It would be best, she figured, to get the lesson over quickly and move on. He followed right behind her, timing his step to maintain the distance between them. One more step back brought him with, his grace and apparent ease with the dance making his movements fluid, and somehow inevitable.

The intimacy in this dance was alien and dizzying, as was her dependence on him. He led them around the room and she was left to trust, to… submit to him. Each step grew more disconcerting as she was walked backwards through the music room. A tempered anxiety built within her; a restlessness that tingled beneath the skin and itched her fingertips. Her hand fidgeted on his chest slightly, drawing a half smirk from the cool upperclassman.

Embarrassment burned through her. Rich bastard! He was laughing at her! She steeled herself anew, determined to get through the lesson and back on solid ground. Her eyes flashed with determination.

Gentle tension pressed her shoulder, Kyoya turned her gently, guiding her back from whence they came. Without being able to see the other hosts, the spell of intimacy was returning. Maybe it was the light from the afternoon sun, or more likely, her own imagination, but there seemed to be a glint in the older boy's eyes, a strange light that held her gaze. It seemed sudden when he halted at their starting point and executed a neat bow.

"Excellent job, Haruhi, very nicely done." Tamaki-senpai crowed. "Daddy's very proud."

She accepted his praise with a nod. She felt like she was just waking up from a nap, disoriented. "Thank you, Tamaki-senpai." Turning to her dance partner, she nodded again, "And thank you, Kyoya-senpai."

She chose to ignore the humor in her senpai's eyes. Spine straight and eyes averted, she took a seat on the couch and promptly engrossed herself in whatever textbook had been at the top of her bag. It was easier to just ignore.

If she seemed a little out of it the next day, no one said anything. Any chance she had at forty winks was banished at the memory of too warm hands on her person. For what had to have been the hundredth time, she rubbed her chest, trying to scrub herself of the memory. She was grateful that unlike yesterday, this afternoon was business as usual at the host club. No dance lessons.

She really didn't want to think about the madness of yesterday. She actively chose to ignore any aftershocks today. There was no profit in examining anything. Hormones. It was all hormones, and Fujioka Haruhi was not going to be their victim. After all, she'd seen him without a shirt on, looming over her like he was going to… she shook her head fiercely to reign in that thought. Anyway, the next day she'd had no problems. This was obviously just the side effects from hormones.

The day passed in its usual blur of school work and assignments. Certainly, she felt the effects of her missed shut eye, but she had yet to find herself drifting off in class, and she certainly wasn't doodling foolish little hearts on her notes. Obviously, whatever had happened the previous afternoon was nothing to get concerned about.

It was an ordinary day at the club, no cosplay, no dance lesson, no trouble. She smiled in relief. "Haruhi! You're late! Daddy's disappointed."

She shuffled her bag back on her shoulder, "Sorry, Senpai. I'll put away my stuff and be right out."

But Tamaki just waved her off, "Kyoya is waiting for you back there. Your appointments have been canceled for the day so you can get the tango down." Her eyes flew to the corner, newly partitioned off.

Maybe her pulse went a little faster, but she quickly subscribed that to surprise. She simply had not see this coming. Surprise was normal.

Naturally, Kyoya-senpai was punctual. Naturally, he was composed.

She could be the same. Settling her bag on a conveniently placed couch, she turned to face her partner. "Good afternoon, Senpai." Perfectly in control.

"Good afternoon, Haruhi. Shall we continue the lesson?"

She stepped closer, placing her hands back in their positions from the day before. She was smooth. She was in control… she was getting laughed at again.

"Yesterday's lessons were supposed to be for your feet. While I appreciate your… enthusiasm, I must insist that we take this a step further." She ignored the burning of her ears, a sure sign that her embarrassment was visible. For his part, Kyoya also ignored her blushes, and wrapped his right arm around her, splaying his fingers gently against her back. She was drawn to him slowly till her hip brushed his thigh. His left hand grabbed her arm above the elbow. Her eyes were locked on to his as his fingers gently slid to her wrist. "Your hand," he murmured, raising the appendage, "rests on my shoulder." He settled it in place, brushing her hand smooth with his own. Now otherwise unoccupied, his hand trailed to her hip, framing its crest. "Your left hand should be in the middle of my back."

Without breaking eye contact, and with only a hint of a tremor, she placed her hand. She could feel the warmth of him through the fine linen of his shirt. Her right hand, wrapped around his upper arm, could feel his strength. Haruhi had never stopped to consider the height of her senpai, but now, in this position, she felt as though she were draped on him.

The glint was back. And there most certainly was a glint. Somehow, it made her feel bold, "What do we do now, Kyoya-sempai?"

His hand, the hand resting so low on her back, twitched slightly. "We use our hands to communicate." Perhaps it was the blood pounding in her ears, but his voice sounded oddly thick. "For a turn, I will press here," he applied a gentle pressure to her back. "Do you understand?" She could only nod.

Slowly his leg slid forward, and like the day before, they walked together. This time, the trust, the submission, came easier. Beneath her hands, his muscles moved, telegraphing each step. Her body seemed to react of its own accord. Slowly they slid across their limited dance space, turning about in wide turns. When he changed his footwork, stepping to the left, she followed naturally. Soon, the chatter from the host club faded and her world became small and finite, completely centered on the man in her arms. He had a small freckle, one that she'd never noticed, beneath his eye like a tear.

There was no marking of time. There was no thought. There was only the movement. The hand on her hip tightened gently and she whirled as he turned sharply. The hand on her back pressed her close as they changed direction once more.

"Wow, Haru-chan, you really are a natural!" The bright voice broke the spell, thrusting the dancers apart to face their newly acquired audience.

"Th-thank you, Honey-senpai." Her voice felt strangled. "Kyoya-senpai is a good teacher."

Kyoya bowed. This time, there was no humor in his eyes, but something else, exciting and intangible. With efficient gestures, he donned his uniform jacket and straightened his lenses. The transformation was sudden and complete. "Did everything go well?"

"Mother, you fret too much," was the theatrical response. "Every princess was well tended."

"Hm." The vice president, for that's what he'd once again become collected his notebook from a nearby table. "Then it is time to go. Good night."

He left without so much as a backwards glance, and Haruhi tried not to feel the chill his departure had left. Later that night, as the memories of their dance played in her mind, she tried not to burn.

To her great relief, she had been able to sleep. But her dreams had been dark and roiling, impressions rather than images, feelings rather than faces. That tempered anxiety from the first lesson, that anticipation crawled along her nerves, leaving her once more, unsettled.

If she seemed a little short tempered the next day, no one said anything. Her hands still felt warm from the day before, her fingers still remembered the feel of linen wrapped muscle. Her mind kept conjuring up memories from the previous day: Kyoya's secret freckle, the slow pressure of his hand on her hip, and the way his scent had hung on her clothes, even after she'd gotten home. She knew that there would be more lessons in the music room, and she tried desperately to slow her pulse.

She couldn't think about the day before. The school day was passing by in a blur, and she struggled to stay with it. I'm being an idiot, she fumed. There's no way I'm going to let myself get sidetracked because of… because of stupid hormones. That's all this was. She still felt no compulsion to litter her notes with hearts, and she certainly wasn't heaving great heart-felt sighs. She would get through this, the lessons would end, and she would be back on solid ground.

She found herself at the host club's doors early. Certainly she had intended on cramming in some time with her books in the library. She had intended on making up for her difficulty focusing. She had intended… she had intended on having enough pride to not coming running back. This was Kyoya-senpai, shadow king ruler of the host club, the man who manipulated adoring girls into spending money on things like her pencil to pad the coffers of the obviously wealthy club. She was behaving no differently than the silly, bored little rich girls who had nothing better to do each afternoon than pine, giggle, and sigh over fantasies and playacting. She was supposed to be better than this.

Her fist clenched in anger. If she kept going like this, she was only going to make a fool of herself – the last thing she needed. She was already an oddity in the club, the commoner, the toy, the daughter. The last thing she needed was to turn into the idiot as well.

She pushed the waiting doors open. It was like stepping into a magnificent abandoned castle. She was, for the moment, alone. A benefit of being early, I suppose, she mused. She ignored the partition that loomed at her from the corner. She heard subdued voices from the changing rooms and surmised that her friends were already here.

Occasionally she would amuse herself with trying to guess the other host's costumes. Obviously Tamaki-senpai would be a prince. Honey-senpai would be adorable dressed as a little jester, though that costume would be equally good on the Hitachiin brothers. It was easy to assume that Mori-senpai would be a knight, perhaps a bandit, but personally, Haruhi thought knighthood suited him better. The trouble was, this time the game wasn't amusing.

Nor was it making it easy to ignore the partition. She most certainly did not heave a heart-felt sigh when she turned to face the inevitable. She'd wanted to, though.

Kyoya-senpai was already here. He'd shed his jacket and notebook, both neatly placed on the couch. If he'd heard her arrival, he gave no sign. He seemed to be lost in thought. "Kyoya-sempai?"

She watched, rooted to the spot as he crossed to her. She offered no resistance when he took her books. Distantly, she remembered her promises to herself about remaining level headed, but with his dark eyes locked on hers, those promises fell away. His hands went to her hips, dragging her passed the few steps that remained between them. Softly, but insistently, those hands traced the gentle curves to her arms, then slid over her shoulders, taking her coat. Still frozen, she watched him prowl around her till her neck would twist no farther. His hands wrapped around her arms, his long fingers forming complete bands above her elbows.

She gasped when he pulled her to him, "Tamaki said that the tango was unfulfilled desire." The words were no more than whispers dropped into her ears, his breath traces a warm path down her neck. His foot pushed hers out, spreading her leg straight out to her side. "He was right." Her left knee buckled at the knee in a wild attempt to accommodate her new position. His leg was right there, molding itself to hers, allowing her to regain her equilibrium. "The body communicates the need in angles, in tension" He brought her arms in wrapping them to her trembling from with his own arms, "and in contact."

Once more, he secured her wrist and sent her spinning out. His catch was solid and abrupt. "Mind your feet, Haruhi." The smirk was back, his eyes burned. Her body responded reflexively to the position of his hands, and she assumed her form from the previous day. The slow pace from the previous lesson was abandoned. Today, he demanded her surrender. She felt like she'd been swept up in a whirling storm; she was buffeted by the winds. His scent, warm, spicy, and defiantly male was intoxicating.

It would be easy to lose yourself in this, Haruhi. It would be so easy to become the fool. Anger crackled dangerously in the volatile atmosphere. Her hand slid to his chest, her right heel planted, she brought him to a halt. His eyes glowed, and she could hear the ragged edge to his breath. Gamely, she took a step forward. Their legs moved in tandem, and now she was asking for his submission. Never allowing her eyes to waiver from his for a moment she forced him back step by shadowed step. She could feel the hand on her back clutching at her shirt, she sensed more than saw his surprise.

She drove him back until he was pressed to the wall, her hand slid down his chest, feeling the rise and fall of each breath – they matched her own.

Something in his eyes shifted, broke, like a log in a fire. He captured her mouth with his own, his tongue seeking entry, his hands clutching her to him like a lifeline. His kiss was wild and consuming and she leapt at the challenge of answering it. Her fingers tangled themselves in the impossible silk that was his hair while he lifted her from the ground, fitting her to him. He carried her to the couch, sweeping their possessions to the floor in a careless crash.

Reality came swamping in. The host club and a large portion of the female student body were on the other side of a thin divider. The crash may have attracted attention, and they did not need to be found like this. Sensing her tension, Kyoya pulled back. The regret in his eyes was expected, she was sure there was plenty in her own, but the sharp shard of… something was not.

She sat up on her knees abruptly and combed her fingers quickly through his hair, righting the damage she'd done to his normally flawless hair then sat down properly on the couch. There was no way that Tamaki-senpai would not come and investigate.

She barely managed to position herself when not only the prince, but all members of the club came rushing in.

"Haruhi! Are you alright?" She wanted to wince at the concern in Tamaki's voice. She disliked herself for the lie she was about to spin.

"I'm fine, Tamaki-senpai," she said, grateful that her voice sounded normal, "I tripped and crashed us into the couch, that's all." She didn't dare look at Kyoya. She didn't want to know what she'd see.

"Are you hurt? Let Daddy take a look." He grabbed at her hands attempting to examine her for bruises.

She pulled away in frustration, "I'm not hurt, Senpai, I promise."

Tamaki's face twisted into a pout, "But how is Daddy supposed to kiss and make it better when his little girl won't tell him where she hurts?"

"Uh, boss, I think you took the 'daddy' thing too far." Hikaru said.

"Yeah, that was weird, even for you," added Kaoru.

Tamaki had at least the grace to blush. "Well, if you're sure you're fine, we were going to leave…"

"I'm fine, Senpai, I'm just embarrassed."

"Well alright then, if you insist. Have a good night."

Neither Kyoya nor Haruhi stirred from the couch until all voices faded and the doors clicked shut. Haruhi felt awkward at their sudden isolation. Fingers encircled her wrist, lips pressed on her thudding pulse point, "Uh, Kyoya-senpai?"

"Kyoya" The correction was almost an afterthought, tossed out between soft kisses.

"Kyoya, I, uh" she swallowed nervously as his dark eyes once more held hers captive.

"Yes, Haruhi?" His eyes flashed playfully.

"Wh-what are you doing?" she asked, hating herself for stuttering under his ministrations.

The smirk was back, "I'd think that was obvious, Haruhi."

By now he'd moved to her neck, placing butterfly soft kisses on the delicate flesh he'd found. All she could manage was a strikingly intelligent, "Huh?"

"My job, Haruhi. Don't you remember? 'After all, to whom does a little girl turn when she is in need and Daddy can't help?'"

Alright. It's been about half a decade or so since I've even attempted to write a fanfic, but this one just jumped out at me and wouldn't let me go. Thank you so much for your patience with me, since I'm rusty as hell.