This story is the joint work of Stella Malodi and CatrinaSL. The excellent cover art was commissioned from SF; you can find his work on DeviantArt (pm CatrinaSL for the link to his page). Special thanks to fringeperson and My Ashland for their beta work.
Disclaimer: We do not own Ouran High School Host Club, but we do own glue, which is good for putting broken pottery back together.
It seemed odd to Haruhi that someone as strange as this would be allowed to attend Ouran Academy. It was as if he was living in a separate- and decidedly more dramatic- world. She should have closed the door the second the rose petals washed over her. As he welcomed her into their "world of beauty," she could tell he had a few screws loose. She tried to leave, tried to explain that she wasn't interested, but he continued speaking; he wasn't listening to a word she said. He started to list off the types offered by the club, asking which she liked best.
She couldn't care less if the twins in her class were "Little Devils" or what having glasses had to do with being a "Cool Type." He just blathered on, ignoring her attempts at interruption. Finally he paused, and she tried, once again, to protest. "It's not like that! I just wanted some quiet!"
He stopped short, cutting off whatever he was going to say. Is he finally going to listen? she wondered.
"Ah! Mori-sempai's type, then. Why didn't you say so in the first place?" The tallest of these absurdly attractive men nodded and stepped toward her.
That would be a no.
"With Mori-senpai as your host, you will be able to bask in the richness of companionable silence as you enjoy tea and cake!" An idea struck the blond man. "Why, as a poor person, you have likely never partaken of the delicacies you will enjoy today! Oh, what an honor! To be able to witness a commoner's first taste of quality!"
Haruhi twitched. How was it possible that such an annoying person existed? Well, he said she'd get tea and cake. She didn't particularly like sweets, but free food was free food. Still... was it worth putting up with the Annoying One's presence? He was already making a spectacle of himself, waxing eloquent on her heroic poverty, and she cringed when she noticed that his exaggerated arm gestures only just avoided knocking over a pretty- and most likely expensive- blue vase. Luckily, she was already being led away from him and his overly dramatic monologue, and she was pleased to see that Tall, Dark, & Silent's destination seemed to be a table on the other side of the room.
Although she was grateful to be getting away from him, she'd rather left the room altogether. She glanced longingly towards the door, but gave up any thoughts of escape when the smallest host- who looked like he should be in the elementary section, though he was wearing the high school uniform- dragged her the rest of the way to the couch. Apparently he shared it with the tall, quiet one. He sat her down, telling her to "Have a good time, Haru-chan!" then dashed off to greet a small group of girls who had just walked through the door.
She remained in her seat and observed as the table slowly filled with girls. This corner of the room seemed to be calmer than the others, where the squealing of girls reached dangerous levels. She wondered how often the Host Club had to replace windows.
Luckily, the girls she was sharing a couch with seemed content to limit themselves to exclaiming over the cuteness of the smaller Host and shyly smiling at the quiet Host. She wasn't inclined to do either, so she settled in and listened to them chat. From their conversations, she was able to surmise that the smaller Host was called "Hani," while the taller Host was called "Mori." She also learned, much to her astonishment, that Hani and Mori were in the same class: 3A. She already knew the twins, but they seemed to create more excitement and chaos in this room than they did under a teacher's watchful eye. The one with the glasses was Ōtori Kyōya, and the Annoying One was actually the director's son. His name was, unless Haruhi was much mistaken, "Tamaki *sigh*." (The sigh was apparently very important; his name was considered mispronounced without a sigh of admiration and longing at the end of it.)
It seemed rude to take out her schoolwork, but she really did need to study. It was, therefore, a relief when the other occupants of the couch went off with the louder of the two Hosts to get some cake, leaving her alone with the quieter one. She glanced up at him as she pulled out the book she needed and found him looking at her.
"He... misunderstood me," she tried to explain, and opened her textbook. "What I meant was that I wanted a quiet place. You know... to study." He nodded serenely, not looking the least bit offended at the confession that she wasn't there simply to enjoy his company. Well, she hadn't exactly been quiet about not wanting to be there. Suō-sempai was an oblivious idiot, but that didn't mean any of the others were.
The club activities were winding down, and she was satisfied with the studying she'd managed to do. It hadn't been as quiet as she might have preferred, especially once the others came back, bringing their tea and noise with them. She certainly wouldn't have described the experience as one of "basking in the richness of companionable silence," but it had been nice to be served for once, and even with their chattering, the company wasn't as bothersome as she had feared. It seemed that everyone was paying attention to the smaller host, even the girls who were sitting closer to the "Wild Type." Since Haruhi herself was sitting on the edge of that group, she was free to glance at Mori-sempai from behind her glasses without being observed.
Still, she didn't think she'd come back. Getting stuck in here today meant she'd have to spend even more time looking for a place to study. She shook herself from her thoughts and was surprised to realize that she was the only guest still there. She closed her book and gathered up her notes and pencil, preparing to leave. She'd just stood when a hand on her shoulder halted her progress.
"Fujioka-kun." This was the first time she'd heard her host speak. He had a deep and pleasant voice; it was a shame he didn't use it more often. She looked up, and was surprised to find what might have been a smile on his face, though it quickly disappeared. He said nothing else, but removed his hand from her shoulder and indicated that he wished for her to follow him. She hesitated for a moment, then did as he directed.
She wasn't quite sure where they were headed, and as they exited the building, she wondered if it was Host Club policy for members to walk their first time clients home. It didn't seem very likely, but she couldn't think of a better explanation, and since Suō-sempai was nominally in charge of the club... well, there wasn't a limit on what she'd believe he might come up with. And wouldn't it be fun to explain this to her father...? Then again, he had been pestering her with questions on whether or not she'd made any new friends. She wasn't sure that an hour of sitting quietly near one another made them "friends," but Mori-sempai was the first person not to annoy her with his very presence. Her classmates, when they deemed her worth bothering, simply pestered her with questions, asking her opinion about the newest video game she couldn't afford, or wanting to know which of the clothing designers she'd never heard of was her favorite. She didn't really mind socializing, but they were from such different worlds that it was hard to relate. She was sure that she could cross that culture gap, if she wanted to put in the effort, but the fact of the matter was that she would rather put that effort into maintaining her grades.
She didn't realize that she had been lost in her own thoughts until he stopped walking and she nearly bumped into him. They were on a hill overlooking a good portion of Ouran's grounds, and there didn't seem to be anyone or anything around except a tall tree with broad branches that looked like they had grown specifically for an adventurous climber's enjoyment. She supposed that if one sat in the branches, one could see most of the Academy. Directly below were the sports fields, where she could see the kendo club diligently practicing.
Haruhi stood with her Host in silence for a few minutes before she felt obliged to speak. "Beautiful view," she commented.
"It's quiet," he responded. She looked up at him with a question in her eyes. "For studying," he clarified.
She beamed at him, and the next thing she knew, her feet were no longer touching the ground. She let out a little squeak of surprise, and found herself being held above his head. He looked at her for a moment, head tilted to the side as he seemed to puzzle something out, then nodded and set her down on the lowest branch of the tree. It was smooth from wear. Many people had both climbed and relaxed on this branch. A thought occurred to her as she glanced between the branch she was sitting on and the boy who was attempting to make her comfortable.
"The 'Wild' type?" she questioned, glancing up into the branches of the tree pointedly.
One side of his mouth twitched, and he nodded, confirming her suspicions. "What did they call you before they knew that you like to climb trees?"
His lips twitched again. "The Silent Type. The Strong Type; because of kendo."
He looked over her and her textbook, assuring himself that they were stable, then turned and started to make his way towards the fields. Because of kendo, he'd said. He was probably in the club- and had made himself late so that he could help her. She couldn't help but smile.
"Mori-sempai!" she called out, and he stopped and turned. "Thank you!" He gave her a parting smile and again began to make his way down the hill.
Neither of them knew how close she had come to incurring an 8 million yen debt that day. As Morinozuka Takashi practiced kendo and Fujioka Haruhi studied with a smile on her face, the vase sat unharmed upon its pedestal in the Third Music Room.
Author's note: We hope you've enjoyed the first chapter of the first ever jointly authored story by CatrinaSL and Stella Malodi! Hopefully it will be the first of many. No plot bunnies were intentionally stolen, but one might have followed Stella home; that being the case, this chapter is dedicated to fringeperson, the author of the wonderful story "To Change One Thing." You should check it out.