Taking the first step in any situation has got to be the hardest decision you can ever make. I know the thought of changing itself is scary, and you immediately miss the lifestyle you led before but…if we never changed, wouldn't that mean that we're stuck in whatever small, suitable life we led, never knowing what's beyond that black, frightening abyss?

Well, my abyss ended up being an actual step forward. Into the grounds of Ouran High School, where everything was almost as eccentric and bourgeoisie as I assumed it would be, from the garish pink clock tower to the bubbling fountain bubbling smack bang In the middle of what I assumed was the quad.

I know it's immature to think that everything is going to change with this one step when really it all changed when I even considered the idea to begin with.

I still hesitate though.

This would mark the beginning of a new part of my life. Would I like it? Would I absolutely detest every moment of it? Or would I be in the middle—which I usually am in about important stuff like this. Only one way to find out I told myself.

I took that step forward.

And as my legs led me away I can't really say I felt any different, I guess it was okay, walking down the grounds across this huge quad with people I have never met before, or have only seen in those dishy celebrity magazines…and then there was little old me.

I don't like to wallow in self-pity, really, but next to these guys, I was about as insignificant as the dirt—which probably cost more than my allowance—under their pricey school shoes.

I lugged my bag across, receiving strange looks and the rare demur greeting now and then. I stared down into the mesmerizing pools of the fountain and saw my reflection. A normal girl, wearing a bright yellow dress with poofy shoulders that hardly accentuated the long hair that was basically untameable that ran down her neck and halfway down the back. Hidden behind these bangs were my olive-ish eyes—deceivingly calm but totally panicked on the inside. I mean, what if I didn't like it here? What if I made a whopping count of zero friends? But then, I exhaled calmly…

But then Haruhi is here.

Yeah, Haruhi is my only friend. I can count of good ol' Haruhi, right? Who needed these rich folks anyway? Haruhi was here.

I closed my eyes excitedly. In fact, when I was done putting my bags away, I was going to look for Haruhi straightaway. Maybe she could show me the workings of this place and help me not get lost—which was, let's face it, inevitable.

Right, I felt my pocket for the torn piece of paper Mr Fujioka had written the words Music Room 3 on. Yup, I'd find Haruhi there for sure, he assured me.

Now, there was something else totally weird Mr Fujioka had also added. Something about Haruhi being in danger, surrounded by dodgy, lecherous men. That was why it was up to me to protect my best friend from middle school. That's right.

Come snow or sleet I'd be right by Haruhi's side, fending off all those creepy perverts in this school.

I stopped finally when I saw the overhead sign: MUSIC ROOM 3.

It was strange, but Haruhi never struck me as the musical type. For one, she couldn't sing to save her life at karaoke night and instruments couldn't be an option because her singing clearly illustrated how tone deaf she was.

I shrugged, placing a hand on the golden door handle.

Perhaps she'd changed…we're all allowed to, right?

As soon as even a crack availed itself, thousands of red rose petals swirled out of Music Room 3.

I shut the door.

That was so weird.

Maybe a window was open on the inside and some flower petals were coming out here?

I opened the door an inch. More petals.

"Welcome to the Host Club!"

A choir of male voices rang, greeting me. I can imagine my expression was halfway between derisive and panicked because…well, that's kind of what I was hoping my face came across as. As a bright light dimmed, I noticed a line of male students all beaming at me, welcoming me in.

"Oh, you must be new," the tall blond one moved forward. I widened my eyes in recognition.

"Tamaki Suoh?"

"Mais oui…my reputation must be exceeding me," he murmured, gripping his forehead dramatically. "I don't know what I'm going to do with myself, you see," he grasped my hand in both his palms and appealed to me with his large purple eyes. I seriously could not look away. "I can't help how handsome I am."

"And who might—" a shorter boy peered down at me over Tamaki's shoulder. He had orange hair and topaz eyes that sent a shiver down my spine—what is it with all their eyes?

"—you be?" on Tamaki's left, an identical face popped up, grinning wickedly.

I must not freak out.

I must not freak out.

I must not—

"AYA!" I blustered, taking my hand out of Tamaki's and rushing past him. I must clear my mind.

"I'm HONEY!" a child-like—no, this has got to be a child—lifted up a pink bunny into my face. "This is Usa-chan!"


"And this is Takashi!" I'm having trouble trying to figure out why I looked up at the child with the sandy hair before noticing the tall student he was perched on. He nodded somewhat curtly.

"And who are you looking for?" Tamaki's voice queried.

I backed away from the child and the other guy, keeping my hand clutched firmly to my chest. I was starting to hyperventilate.

I closed my eyes. "Haruhi Fujioka," I rushed.

"Here I am."

I widened my eyes.

That had to be Haruhi's voice I heard just now. It had to be. That same light, kind of impartial tone that my best friend had always possessed. HARUHI!

I looked over my shoulder.


That is not Haruhi.

The Haruhi I know?

Yeah, she's a girl.

NOT a boy. I think I'd remember that. But the face, the stance, the voice! It all belonged to Haruhi…but instead of a yellow poofy dress? She had on the men's uniform.

Oh my God. Haruhi is cross-dressing.

"Haru-ch-chan?" I felt my face grow pale. Don't ask me how I felt it, I just know it did.

Haruhi stared at me for a while, like a stranger. Before I saw the proverbial light bulb light up, that is.

"Aya?" she asked derisively.

Which is about the time I felt my legs give way under me and the scene before me tilt sideways.

"Uh-oh," Haruhi's voice rang.

Then there was a huge crash.

And thus…began my real step forward. Or backward…it's difficult to tell with the Host Club.