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Third Year

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Haruhi P.O.V

After that first day, Tamaki didn’t say too much about the new guy. He was back to normal, and things returned to how they always had been. Kyoya seemed a little distant, but that was pretty in character for him too. What this normal behaviour hid, was Tamaki’s ‘master plan’ to get the new kid to join the Host Club.

Honestly, I didn’t really understand the appeal of having him join. We should be going after second years of first years if we really want to expand. With Honey-sempai and Mori-sempai being absent this year, I get why we need people, but Tamaki-sempai and Kyoya-sempai would be graduating this year. That leaves us down far too many members. As much as some people might not like the idea, we need to recruit freshmen. The problem with the new guy is that he will also be graduating this year. At most, he’ll be able to host for a year. Is that really worth the effort? I would’ve thought that Kyoya-sempai would be less inclined to go for something so illogical.

I can’t say that I’m for or against him joining, but we don’t know this new guy. We don’t know why he moved schools or why he is so at odds with Asano. There’s a lot of questions surrounding his appearance and what we could come to lose if he were to join. Usually, Kyoya-sempai is the more cautious one who does obsessive background checks – if I was going to be honest, I was still a little sore about Kyoya digging into my background and knowing everything there was to know about me on paper.

You’d think that he’d be able to dig up something on Akabane. He looked like a delinquent – it wouldn’t surprise me if he had gotten in to the school based off of money. Not to think anything bad about Suoh Senior, but if Tamaki’s temperament was anything to go by, I highly doubted that he did so much as a background check. He probably didn’t even go past the transcript that was submitted. I say 'transcript that was submitted' because who knows if what he submitted was the truth.

Oh god, I’m judging him based off stereotypes. I never wanted to be that person, but there was just something off about the guy. He walked around the school like he ruled the world and we were all beneath him. Hikaru kindly informed me that he’d heard that Akabane managed to make a girl in his art class full on bawl her eyes out. He apparently refused an interview with her in a very callous manner. Now I don’t like the school newspaper anymore than the next guy, but making one of the kids cry? That was low. I don’t even believe all that much in rumours because they’re almost always incredibly exaggerated and faked.

However, I’d witnessed the guy make someone cry just yesterday. He was stalking down the halls like some wanna-be mean girl with Shiota and Kayano, and some guy from the newspaper club was trying to confront him about making what’s-her-name cry. He had mustered up the courage to stalk up to Akabane in the middle of the hallway, but despite Akabane not being the tallest guy in this school, he still managed to tower over the – what I would assume to be – first year. The guy stuttered out maybe half of a sentence before Akabane held up his hand and with a smirk, tore the kid a new one.

The guy ended up running out of the hallway after being fully humiliated.

Shiota had her typical… not quite vapid, but more uncaring look plastered on her face, but there was hidden concern there. Not enough to indicate that Akabane’s behaviour was too out of character, but enough to know that perhaps he’d been a bit harsher than he would have in another situation.

That kind of behaviour was concerning! It didn’t paint him in a good light, and it had been a little over a week of school. That kind of reputation could be… detrimental to the Host Club. Lord knows that I’m not necessarily all that into the whole hosting thing, but I have grown close with the guys, and the club means a lot to them.

Tamaki’s brilliant idea of getting him to join us was concerning and risky beyond belief. We have no way of knowing what the pay off would be.

 

(Huh. Kyoya-sempai has rubbed off on me. I hope he doesn’t make me take over for him next year.)

 

Tamaki was very secretive about what his plan for everything was, but all the same, we knew that it would be stupid. He had never had a good idea in his life, and his planning skills were less than stellar. Sometimes he could execute someone else’s plan, but that was a hit and miss. There was a reason that it was really Kyoya-sempai that was calling the shots, albeit behind the scenes. However Kyoya-sempai hadn’t stopped Tamaki from scheming yet, and he didn’t appear to have taken over either…

 

Well… that’s how we ended up spending our club time standing awkwardly out in the courtyard that Akabane and his two lady friends spent their after school time in. It was good PR for the club to make public appearances, but I didn’t quite understand how this correlated with getting Akabane to join the club. Tamaki was just being creepy over at the side while the rest of us talked with the girls that had begun to fill the courtyard.

Of course, that’s when Tamaki decided to do the dumbest shit. Not only did he decide to approach Akabane in the courtyard in front of literally everyone, but he also apparently struck a deal with the orchestra kids because before I could even fully grasp what was happening, kids had pulled instruments out from behind bushes and other students to start playing quiet accompanying music.

 

As always, the students parted like the red sea before Tamaki, and he had a clear path to Akabane. The redhead's ears had visibly perked up at the sound of the music and he looked up to see everyone staring at him and the blond prince of the school. Tamaki for his part, looked completely comfortable under the scrutiny of the students, but Akabane looked like he was ready to parkour his way out of this situation.

Tamaki strolled up, turning to wink at me briefly before extending his hand in invitation towards Akabane and beginning to sing.

 

Right here, right now

I put the offer out

I don't want to chase you down

I know you see it

 

He sang confidently, grinning at Akabane’s raised eyebrow and beginning to move around the courtyard, weaving his way through the student body. He grins and winks as he goes, playing the part of a performer perfectly. There’s this odd almost dare I say seductive undertone to his voice as he lays on his host image thick. He was in his element alright.

However, Tamaki wasn’t singing in Japanese - he wasn’t even singing in French. If I remember correctly, he’s singing a song from that American musical movie, so that means that it’s in English. This is a private school, and it is pretty reasonable to assume that everyone here has at least a basic understanding of English, no one really knows if Akabane does. The words could be completely flying over his head. I know that I’m struggling slightly with understanding what’s happening.

Tamaki had been talking about trying to recruit Akabane, but I hadn’t thought that this would be the way that he would try to do it. In what world was singing at people a foreign song the best way to recruit someone?

 

You run with me

And I can cut you free

Out of the drudgery and walls you keep in

 

He was inviting Akabane to join through song and confusing lyrics. He’s… implying that Akabane is missing something in his life and that that was the Host Club. Kind of not the greatest plan? Akabane no doubt got a lot of flak concerning his hair, so I mean… I’m sure that he had dealt with more than enough drama. He seemed to have that old school drama thing going on with Asano, so I mean… What was he going to get from the Host Club exactly?

Also, Akabane was almost constantly breaking like 5 school rules. This ‘freedom’ that Tamaki was promising? I’m pretty sure he already has it...

 

But he did seem to have some walls up. He practically bit the head off of whoever tried to approach him for anything that wasn’t about schoolwork. Clubs very obviously didn’t count.

 

So trade that typical for something colorful

And if it's crazy, live a little crazy

You can play it sensible, a king of conventional

Or you can risk it all and see

 

He crooned every single note as if he was trying to seduce everyone. The squeals of the girls beside me were telling me that it was working. Ugh.

He was now standing in front of Akabane, Shiota, and Kayano. He towered over all three of them, but none of them looked even mildly intimidated by that fact. Akabane even looked unimpressed. He stared up at Tamaki through his bright red bangs with an odd glint in his eyes and Tamaki dramatically began to dance around the three, pleading with puppy dog eyes and blatantly inviting Akabane to dance with him. Surprisingly, the younger teen actually accepted Tamaki’s hand and allowed himself to be pulled into a dance as Tamaki hit the chorus.

 

Don't you wanna get away from the same old part you gotta play

'Cause I got what you need

So come with me and take the ride

It'll take you to the other side

'Cause you can do like you do

Or you can do like me

Stay in the cage, or you'll finally take the key

Oh, damn! Suddenly you're free to fly

It'll take you to the other side

 

Tamaki seemed to be leading Akabane in a modified ballroom dance, but the redhead was following as if he knew every move to the dance. Even from this far away I could tell that Tamaki was impressed by the other teen. That intrigue clearly only made him want the redhead to join the Host Club more.

That’s when Akabane grinned and pushed Tamaki away from him and jumped atop the edge of the fountain in the centre so that he was looking down on everyone that was watching. Shiota and Kayano had both managed to take a seat on the edge of the fountain and Kayano was sneakily recording Akabane seemingly without his knowledge. She wore a slightly mischievous smile and exchanged glances with the girl beside her. Akabane, for his part, had on a cocky smirk and he swept out his arms in preparation to… join in?

What.

 

Okay, my friend,

You want to cut me in

Well I hate to tell you, but it just won't happen

 

I could practically feel Tamaki’s hope get crushed as Akabane sang what I would assume was the next verse of the song. If I was understanding what was happening correctly, then he had just, point blank, turned Tamaki down. I don’t really know if what he’s singing is the correct lyrics, but there was a glint of surprise in Tamaki’s eyes. It was merited – Akabane had just gone with this… thing and continued as if he actually knew what was happening all along? What were the odds that Akabane knew this random English song? It wasn’t that well known, was it?

 

So thanks, but no

I think I'm good to go

'Cause I quite enjoy the life you say I'm trapped in

 

Just to be an asshole, he jumped off of the fountain and did a flip, landing just in front of Tamaki who couldn’t hide his flinch. The corner of Akabane’s mouth twitched upwards even further at the blond’s reaction.

But there was symbolism in his words as well. He was making a show out of his rejection of Tamaki, but he was really just mimicking Tamaki’s own show. Tamaki started this entire mess, so while very extra and perhaps unnecessary, Akabane’s reaction wasn’t necessarily unwarranted.

 

Now I admire you, and that whole show you do

You're onto something, really it's something

 

He waved his hand as if gesturing towards what they were doing right now before twirling and prowling around Tamaki’s still form. He had a sneer on his face, letting everyone in the area know that he didn’t think all that much of the show that he was currently participating in. Maybe he changed the lyrics, maybe he didn’t, but either way, he seemed to know enough about Tamaki to be patronizing towards him concerning the Host Club.

Admittedly the concept was kind of stupid, but it worked, and it was popular here at Ouran Academy. That’s just… how it was for us, yeah? I thought it was unbelievably dumb when I first got roped into this thing, but it had grown on me.

Would there even be enough time for… him to warm up to the idea of the Host Club?

 

But I live among the swells, and we don't pick up peanut shells

I'll have to leave that up to you

 

Akabane sashayed away from the blond and moved through the students until he found a higher wall to jump onto in an impressive and overly done demonstration of acrobatics. Everyone seemed too awed by the spectacle in front of them to do more than simply observe. They remained rooted to their spots as the music picked up once more and it was clear that Akabane would be performing his own version of a chorus.

 

Don't you know that I'm okay with this uptown part I get to play

'Cause I got what I need and I don't want to take the ride

I don't need to see the other side

 

He belted loudly, moving smoothly across the wall and prowling around the courtyard. He sang effortlessly, heard by all with a strong and rich voice. The words he sang seemed to have a deeper meaning to him than the one that they currently applied to. There was an almost conflicted look in his eyes, but it was gone in a flash, and I assumed that I just made it up. He had taken the chorus that Tamaki had sung and twisted the words so that in was a response to Tamaki’s questions. Tamaki had offered him a way out – a life that was ‘more exciting’.

Akabane was indicating that he was just fine with how he was living now. The pinched look on Shiota’s face though, spoke differently. Perhaps, Akabane wasn’t as okay as he showed he was. On the outside, he looked every bit as confident as the lovechild between Kyoya-sempai and Tamaki would be. He looked completely comfortable performing spontaneously in front of a good chunk of the school’s population, and that wasn’t easy.

I knew how much it sucked to be put on the spot by Tamaki, and Akabane was handling it well. But there was just this… look about him; this thing about his posture. There was a slight tremor in his leg, but it didn’t seem like nerves so much as excess adrenaline. It sounds like a stupid observation, but I don’t see him as someone who is unused to being in front of people. Every other bit of body language indicates that he’s completely comfortable in this situation.

Being within touching distance of so many people on the other hand…

 

So go and do like you do

I'm good to do like me

Ain't in a cage, so I don't need to take the key

Oh, damn! Can't you see I'm doing fine

I don't need to see the other side

 

You know, I didn’t get it before now, but in this moment, his smile was the furthest thing from okay. The look in his gold eyes – it was slightly hysteric. None of the audience seems to notice, merely laughing and staring in wonder at his nonchalant posturing. The two girls at the fountain exchanged a significant look, each of them shifting in their positions until it looked like they could leap up over everybody at any second if it meant getting to the redheaded transfer in time.

…In time for what?

 

Tamaki seemed to notice too. There was a theatrical pout on his face, but that was far as his showmanship extended. His eyes and even his body language spoke of careful observation. He had caught on to the slightly off balance feeling about the transfer student, and he was preparing himself for action. Akabane had finished his verse and had thrown the metaphorical ball back into Tamaki’s court. It was Tamaki’s move now.

He could end things right here and now – take Akabane’s rejection for what it was and give it up; play it off as nothing more than an impromptu Host Club activity. He had asked Akabane to help or something like that. He could gracefully step away now and no one would be the wiser.

 

The hysteric glint in Akabane’s eyes was gone, leaving behind cool calculation that mirrored that of Kyoya-sempai’s. He had deliberately shown his instability to us. But why? He was showing a stranger his weakness. Perhaps he saw this show for exactly what it was. Tamaki was trying to recruit him, and in an effort to not be recruited, the other teen had chosen to show Tamaki why he wasn’t a good choice.

He was unstable… it should be a simple decision.

 

Now is this really how you like to spend your days?

Whiskey and misery, and parties and plays

 

Tamaki sang, slowly approaching the wall that Akabane had stopped on. He hadn’t given up, as much as I wanted him too. He clearly saw something in the redheaded teen that I didn’t. To me, he had shown no promise in being something that the club needed. Tamaki saw different, and he was now appealing to Akabane’s boredom.

Was this like, appealing to a sociopath’s need for stimulation?

 

If I were mixed up with you, I'd be the talk of the town

Disgraced and disowned, another one of the clowns

 

Akabane didn’t bother with flipping off of the wall this time as he simply stepped off and stuck the landing, standing nearly chest to chest with Tamaki. The challenge was back in his eyes, a condescending smirk covering his face as he delicately arched an eyebrow.

I winced slightly at the blatant job although Tamaki shook his head and smiled surprisingly softly.

 

But you would finally live a little, finally laugh a little

Just let me give you the freedom to dream and it'll

Wake you up and cure your aching

Take your walls and start 'em breaking

Now that's a deal that seems worth taking

But I guess I'll leave that up to you

 

He paused for but a moment, taking one, two, steps back as the band stopped playing and a deafening silence took over the courtyard. The two stared meaningfully into each other’s eyes. Both of them were searching for something, and in a few seconds, it seems that they’d found it. All it took was Akabane opening his mouth and then the both of them were off again, harmonizing as they sang a final chorus together, Akabane showing a surprising vocal range as he belted the higher parts without strain.

 

Don't you wanna get away to a whole new part you're gonna play

'Cause I got what you need, so come with me and take the ride

To the other side

So if you do like I do

So if you do like me

Forget the cage, 'cause we know how to make the key

Oh, damn! Suddenly we're free to fly

We're going to the other side

 

Akabane grinned, singing by himself while Tamaki jumped in every now and then. “So if you do like I do. So if you do like me,” Then the both of them sang the last two lines, dancing around each other and ending face to face.

 

'Cause if we do we're going to the other side

We're going to the other side

 

They were both breathing a bit heavily as the spectators burst into thunderous applause. Kyoya-sempai had his ever-present black notebook carefully held in front of his face so that it hid his mouth from view, but I could see that he was amused by the situation that Tamaki had just created. Shiota and Kayano were clapping delicately, but Akabane hadn’t taken much notice of them. Instead, his strangely coloured eyes flickered over to look at the Host Club.

“Oi! Kyoya! Did you have anything to do with this?” Akabane yelled suddenly, startling Tamaki although the gossiping girls didn’t seem to care about what was happening. I couldn’t help but notice though, that Akabane didn’t use any honourifics when he yelled over at Kyoya-sempai. They might be in the same year, but not only was Kyoya-sempai older than him, but he was also no doubt of a higher status. He should at least be using ‘san’ if nothing else. Just to be respectful. He also addressed him by his first name.

Almost no one did that and got away with it. Akabane was being very rude, although that wasn’t exactly all that surprising.

“I’m afraid not, Karma-kun.” Kyoya-sempai called over, snapping his notebook shut and tucking it under his arm. “This was all the brainchild of our illustrious leader.” Was he… joking?

I turn around to face Kyoya. “Do you know Akabane-san, Sempai?” I asked curiously. Kyoya-sempai must have been in a good mood because he answered me without being a sarcastic asshole. “He’s a work associate. I’m quite familiar with him and his… family.”

“Oh, so his family does business with the Otori family?”

Kyoya-sempai just smiled enigmatically. “No.”

Well that definitely gave me more questions than answers. Great.

My attention was drawn away from the older teen by Tamaki grabbing Akabane’s attention and loudly starting a conversation with the transfer student as people began to file out of the courtyard now that the show was ‘over’. “Well, I’m pleasantly surprised that you know the song. I had a fun time singing with you!” the blond said cheerfully.

Akabane inclined his head slightly, his eyes never leaving Tamaki’s face despite the increased height difference. “Rather impromptu,” Akabane agreed cordially. “What exactly were you trying to accomplish with that little show?”

“I’m so glad you asked!” Tamaki perked up like a dog that was about to get a treat. “Well, I wanted to officially invite you to join the Host Club. I think we can both gain a lot from each other.” Tamaki grinned at Akabane.

The other teen raised an eyebrow and flickered his eyes over to look at the assembled Host Club that had begun to approach them. “Oh really? And what, pray tell, makes you think that I’d be a good… fit for your little club.” Somehow, he managed to sound condescending, and it just reaffirms the fact that I don’t think him joining the club is a good idea.

“Well uh…” Tamaki seemed surprised that Akabane hadn’t immediately jumped at the chance to be one of the ‘cool kids’. Honestly if I didn’t genuinely like people then I would be out of the club as soon as I’d worked off my debt. “You are very charismatic! Despite people not knowing you, you’ve managed to become respected by everyone practically overnight. That’s quite the accomplishment, as we are unlikely to do anything but look down on commoners.”

My eyebrow twitched and I resisted the urge to walk up and smack my boyfriend right upside the head.

Akabane let out a loud laugh, “I’m charismatic alright. But I’ve heard about your little club, and I know I’m not exactly the right fit for it.” He smirked and took a step back, the other two former Kunugikaoka students flanking him and wearing surprisingly cool facial expressions.

“How so?” Hikaru butted in, peaking around Tamaki’s shoulder as his twin brother did the same with the other shoulder.

“Yeah,” Kaoru agreed, “you’re attractive enough. I’m sure the ladies would love you.”

Shiota and Kayano proceeded to full on guffaw behind their friend much to his chagrin. He seemed a bit embarrassed, but the redhead continued on nonetheless. “Yeah, about that… you see… Damn, how should I say this? I’m very gay – and since I’m not about to hide in the closet again, I’m not going to play romantic prince.”

Tamaki waves his hand, “well of course you’re not playing Prince. That’s my role, I was more thinking like bad bo–” he cut himself off, suddenly seeming to realize what Akabane had just said.

“Wait, you’re gay?!”