The door shuddered, booming against its hinges. Kaoru bounded away from the entrance and crawled onto his bed and into the far corner. It was the furthest he could get away without jumping out the window. Kaoru breathed heavily and shakily wrapped his arms around his knees, watching the door as it bang, bang, BANGED!

"I know you're in there, boy," Ryota roared gruffly.

Kaoru's heart stuttered and he squeezed his eyes shut. What could he do? Surely, the door would break any second and Kaoru had never been more terrified in his life.

"Ryota, goddammit!" Emi screamed outside the door.

The banging stopped but Kaoru was more afraid than ever. He opened his eyes and stared at the door. "Stop scaring him," Emi whimpered softly.

Ryota snorted but said, "I'm going to bed. Out of my way."

"You can't keep doing this anymore. We have a son now."

"Out my way!" There was a hard smack of skin hitting skin and then a thud. After that, Ryota's footsteps disappeared down the hallway.

Kaoru sat perfectly still, not daring to move, not even to breathe. What if he came back?

A soft knock rapped across the door, making Kaoru flinch at the noise. Still he did not move. "Kaoru?" a tentative voice called.

Letting out a shaky sigh, Kaoru unfurled himself and slid off the edge of the bed. He took his time crossing the room. At the door, Kaoru slipped the knob so it was unlocked and opened the door just a crack. "Yeah?" he said breathlessly.

Outside, Emi was standing with watery eyes and her lips pressed together. Kaoru felt his heart drop, looking at her reddening cheek. "Are you okay?" she asked Kaoru quietly as her eyes darted down the hallway and back again.

Kaoru opened the door fully. "I'm fine," he said. "Are you?"

She lightly graced her fingers across her sore cheek and looked away. "It's not as bad as it seems…" Emi looked back at him. "I promise that he won't be like this all of the time," she explained in a rush. "He just needs to take his medication and he will be fine again. I promise."

He nodded slowly. "I understand." He didn't.

They stood for a moment, just looking at each other curiously, until they both opened their mouths at once. Kaoru shook his head. "You go first."

She wrung her fingers together nervously. "I just wanted to say that I very happy to have you here and I will do everything in my power to make sure you are safe." Her eyes hardened. "I'll make sure Ryota stays in line."

Kaoru smiled sadly. "Actually, I was going to say that you don't have to protect me if it gets you hurt. I can take of myself."

They looked at each other awkwardly. "Well then," Emi said, "I'll let you get to bed. First day of school tomorrow and all."

"Yeah…" Then Emi turned away and Kaoru closed his door. He took a deep breath to slow his beating heart.

Kaoru pulled a shirt over his head and rechecked himself in the mirror. Good enough, he supposed. He quirked a small smile and tried to feel optimistic about the day, but somehow it wasn't cutting it. But he wore that smile as he descended the stairs and into the kitchen where Emi was setting out cereal and milk for Kaoru. Kaoru glanced around the room cautiously.

"He's already at work," Emi said, pouring herself a bowl of Chex Mix.

Kaoru placed his hands on the counter and eyed the backpack sitting on the stool by the counter island. "And that's for you," Emi said, stirring her spoon into the cereal. "You just need to give the slip from the front pocket to the office girl. She will direct you what to do next after that. And don't be worried, I have you all enrolled. You just need to pick out your classes with the counselor before school begins today." She crunched into a bite. "Oh!" she said with her mouth full. "The bus comes in ten minutes, so don't be late going out. It's at the corner."

Kaoru pulled the backpack towards him, feeling the odd heavy weight of it. Emi must have gotten him all of his school supplies already. "I'm going to skip breakfast," Kaoru announced. "I'm going to… get used to getting on the bus. I used to walk to school."

Emi waved him away. "That's fine. There is a key to the house in the middle pocket. You will probably be home before me or Ryota."

Pulling the bag onto his shoulders, Kaoru gave her wave before leaving through the hallway and front door. He closed it behind him, feeling a blast of fresh air against his cheeks.

By chance, Kaoru glanced over to see a girl, about his age, closing her own door. She looked up at him and froze. For a second, they just stared and then Kaoru promptly looked away and walked down the front path. She did the same.

At the road, Kaoru turned right onto the street and began walking towards the corner. Kaoru had the strange sensation that the girl was watching him. Casually as he could, he stole a peek behind him. She was a short, little thing with chopped short brown hair and a wicked glare. Kaoru looked away again.

When he reached the corner, Kaoru slowed, coming to stand by the road sign. She came to stand next to him and they both looked straight ahead. "New kid, huh?"

Kaoru turned to her. She had her dark brown eyes on him curiously. "Yeah…"

She looked away again. "Ouran isn't a big town. It's easy to notice who is new."

"It didn't seem small when we drove in…"

"Welcome to small-town suburbia," she said simply and just a second too late, she cracked a smile at him. "I'm Haruhi."


Looking at each other again, Haruhi said, "Look lively, Kaoru. You are going to be the talk of the town."

Kaoru scoffed. "Especially since I have a twin brother."

Haruhi nodded. "Yeah, I can see that today is going to be an interesting day."

Sorry guys! I've been busy- this semester is so much more stressful than any other yet. But if you keep up the reviews, I will update more often! Thank you!