Actions

Work Header

Third Year

Chapter Text

Karma P.O.V

The first thing that I did upon waking up was go an get the mail.

Really domestic, I know, but during the break, I had just gotten really used to it. After exams and talking with the cram class, I proceeded to spend practically the entire break either at my apartment or in the back at Purgatory under the careful watch of Class E. I may have enhanced healing due to my biology, but for some unknown reason, Mary’s wounds still lingered.

The pain and the fatigue that I’d pointedly ignored up until leaving True Cross Academy lingered and with those came certain complications. I had to take thing slowly while my body decided just how much it was planning on healing and how many scars it wanted to leave behind.

I head to my door and quickly scoop up the pile of envelopes that sat just inside my door. For some unknown reason, Izumo still preferred sending letters instead of emails (even though emails were much more efficient - texts even more so!) so of fucking course that’s the only other letter I get besides sensitive info packets (the shit that we can’t afford to have in a system and have to do on paper) and bills.

Dumping the rest on the coffee table I sit down to read through her note while I wait for water to boil so that I can make a morning cup of tea. I was still learning how, but Kayano was determined to teach me. I had been awfully bored while I was waiting for my body to heal. Tea making was an exact science and required a lot patience to do.

I had a lot of time on my hands.

Who knew how long my healing would take after all. I might not even be fully healed yet, but it would seem that everything was as healed as it would get. At the end of everything, I was left with quite a few additions to my abuse and self harm scars. My back was sort of a mess after the beating with the damn crowbar.

None of the scar tissue actually hindered my movement - it was just surface scaring - but it wasn’t exactly pretty to look at either. Later today I had an appointment with Sai to fix that actually. Well not fix it, but you know, hide them a little.

What’s one more tattoo?

I rip open the top of Izumo’s envelope and pull out a folded piece of fancy stationary. Two pens fell out of the envelope as I tossed it to the side and picked them up to have a look. Why did Izumo include pens? A quick look at the side of the pen revealed that one had the True Cross logo while he other one was a cram class one. What?

Confused, I unfolded the paper and began to read.

 

Hey Rin!

I hope you liked the SWAG I sent you, but I figured that you can never have enough pens! And hey… school pride. Gotta show off to those rich brats okay? Show ‘em up!

 

Anyways, are you excited to start school again? I know you secretly like it. And hey, it’s a chance for you to start fresh – get away from all this crazy. Honestly, I don’t blame you for leaving.

What I do blame you for is NOT TELLING US THAT YOU WERE A PALADIN? What the fuck??? Seriously, we found out from Yukio when some Vatican guy referred to him as being lucky for having met the new paladin. We had no idea there even was a new paladin, let alone that it was you. You better write back, mister! You have lots to explain.

(But we all hope that you’re feeling better. The others miss you too, so stop the radio silence okay?)

Love Your Friend

Izumo

 

Oh. Shit. That’s what I’d forgotten to tell them. Oops.

I’d really have to write her back at some point. I had sort of been keeping a distance though, although that was mainly due to the fact that it had simply slipped my mind and I was decently busy. Well, not really busy, but more like avoiding? Yeah… that sounds about right.

Speaking of avoiding, I have an appointment in an hour, so I should head out and do that instead of other stuff. I’m great at planning.

I dumped the letter and pens on the table beside the bills and went over to put the files in a safe before grabbing my coat and keys and heading out of the apartment. It’s been a while since I’ve actually been out.

The walk to Purgatory went quickly. It was nice just walking around in he fresh air again. I had trained as best as I could to make sure I kept in shape, but there was nothing quite like walking around in the city. I like nature as much as the next guy, but I’ll always be a city person.

I slipped into the back of the tattoo parlour Sai ran about a half an hour before I was supposed to be there, but that’s okay. Konoha Ink didn’t look to be all that busy. I’m sure he’d be okay with me being early. So as the bell at the door echoed through the small parlour I loudly announced my presence.

“Hey Sai! I’m here a little early - I hope that that’s okay!” I yell, waltzing into the main room and taking a look around the room. Last time I had gotten a tattoo from Sai, it had just been in the back room of the club. During the year we’d expanded a bit, working on Isogai and Maehara’s little cafe and getting Sai his own tattoo shop so that he could expand his business sector past members of our organization. As far as I know the business had been doing well - today must have just been an off day where no one but me booked a session.

Probably for the best too, the cover up for my scars is gonna be extensive.

I shoot off a text to Izumo while I wait in the front for Sai to come out.

 

[11:12]

You know you can just text me right? Sending letters is just inefficient

[11:14]

Who is this??? How did you get this number?

Also

Excuse you I like writing letters!!!

 

I let out a laugh at her response, quickly texting her back.

 

[11:14]

It’s Karma :P

[11:14]

Ew

Don’t use emoticons

Just don’t

I can’t look at you the same way ugh

[11:15]

Awww Izumo-chan~ you know you love me

You still write letters

[11:17]

First of all ew

Second of all

Bitch

Respond to my fucking letters asshat

[11:17]

I’m responding now

So what’s new with the cram school crew? It’s been like what? A week or so since the summer school/boot camp has started

[11:19]

Don’t even get me fucking started

Your brother sucks. He’s really showing that he’s also a son of Satan. It’s like he’s determined to get us to your level in a week

[11:20]

Speaking of your level WHY DIDNT YOU TELL ME EARLIER??? I thought I was ur friend. Why did i have to find out from the party pooper?

[11:21]

I just didn’t think it was that important

So what’s four-eyes doing rn?

[11:22]

Don’t think you can get away from this mister. But all in all we’ve been good. Finding out who you are has actually given the guys a motivator

Well more than before i guess.

 

He looked up from reading the texts as he heard footsteps coming from one of the back rooms.

 

[11:24]

Hey I have a meeting rn so i g2g srry

[11:25]

Ew never use text speak again you old man

 

Sai walked out of the back room, brushing his hair out of his eyes and securing it by tying a black strip of cloth around his forehead as a makeshift headband. “Hey Karma, I just finished up with a client. You’re welcome to come back.” And then he turned back to go to his room.

I hurried to follow him, shrugging off my coat as I went and shoving my phone in a pocket.

Upon getting into Sai’s back room, I sat down and let my eyes wander while he grabbed whatever he needed to grab. The room was small, but it wasn’t claustrophobia inducing. The walls were painted a nice dark grey - not a clinical white - and they were covered in framed paintings that Sai had done. Over on a counter there were inks and tools and other materials that were needed to do tattoo work.

“Well Boss, let me see those scars. I need to see what I’m working with. Is there anything in particular that you had in mind?” He asked me, breaking me from my thoughts.

I pull off my shirt and turn around so that Sai could examine my back. “Nah, I just want the worst of them covered up if possible. Something got rammed through my shoulder and it’s not exactly nice to look at. I kinda just want something to distract from them.” I explain, shivering slightly as cool finger reach out to touch the scars lightly.

“It’s just surface scaring?” He asks, gently turning my shoulder this way and that. I nod, tensing slightly at the foreign feeling. No one had really touched me since-

 

“Yeah.” I murmur, my voice thick. I close my eyes and breath calmly, trying really hard to just focus on what was happening right now.

Sai hums contemplatively. “I can’t promise anything, but I think I can make the worst of it less noticeable. Unfortunately, unless you want some full body ink, I can only do something about that shoulder blade and shoulder. It’s not on the side with the sleeve, so I have a bit more room.” He mused in that emotionless way that he does. He spins around on his chair and pulls out a pen to immediately begin sketching and within 5 minutes, he’s pressing the transfer paper onto my shoulder and pulling out his tools.

“If you’ll just lie down for me I’ll get started,” Sai instructed. “You’re lucky I have no other clients for today. This might take a while.”

And he was right. It took hours for him to finish and I was very glad for the fact that healing time wasn’t needed for me. Woo science!

I groaned slightly as I sat up, accepting the cup of water from Sai. He nudged me into a standing position before leading me over to a full length mirror that he had on one of his walls. “I wasn’t able to completely hide the scars, but I think the ones that I was able to cover are now significantly less noticeable.” He informs me as he leaves me in front of the mirror.

I place the now empty cup of water and turn so that my back and some of my left side are facing the mirror. I crane my head to the side so that I can see what Sai did, and I damn near gasp in shock. I knew Sai was a good tattoo artist but this… this was phenomenal. He’d done a lot for me with my roses, but this was a whole new level of detail and scale.

He had tattooed a single angle’s wing on the left side of my spine. The wing protruded from my back and then spread so that it went down nearly to my tail bone and extended somewhat over my shoulder. You could tell that the feathers were meant to continue long past what was there because of the way the wing was structured (and it was proportional to my body too) but it looked as if someone had burnt off the feathers and flesh so that the wings only extended so far as my hip and didn’t go past the summoners tattoo I had on my upper arm. Up along the wing there was protruding bone and burnt feathers. The feathers themselves (or what was left of them) were on the grayscale with black charred marks and ashes.

It was not only beautiful - in a morbid way - but the way that the wings were broken and burnt managed to interweave the scars so that they looked like they belonged there. “Sai, this is magnificent. Thank you.” He nods, smiling brightly and holding up a camera.

“You’re welcome. Now let me get a picture as an example for future clients.”

“Sai.”

“Karma-chan.”

 

“Fine.”

 


 

I had had Kyoya set up the paperwork for me with the school so that wasn’t an issue that I would have to deal with any of it. Entrance exams were a pain in the butt to do, but I passed them with flying colours and then aced their placement exams too. Kyoya handled my transcript and they were incredibly happy with having another certified genius attend their school.  

They were very accommodating with my situation - kidnapped from True Cross school grounds and tortured for days before being rescued - and offered me any help that I would need. I had skipped a grade after all, and I would only be staying a year at Ouran before graduating.

My transcript was pretty nice after all, and with recommendations from some of their best students (I had to laugh when I remembered the disgruntled expression on the principal’s face at receiving the email from Kyoya, Kayano, and Nagisa) they couldn’t even entertain the idea of turning me down.

And so, I would be attending Ouran Academy as soon as classes began in September. They had wanted to let me have some more time to heal from my trauma, but Kyoya argued that I needed something to do with my time and being held back was pointless. Since he was friends with the principal’s son, it was pretty easy for him to strong arm me the best position that I could possibly get. As long as my grades remained phenomenal, I wouldn’t have to pay tuition.

It’s not like I was low on funds (quite the opposite actually) but I still thought cheaply. Why pay when you don’t have to? I could invest those funds in some of my employees instead of paying for classes that I don’t really need.

And so, I grabbed all of my papers and packed a school bag. I had just enough time to get ready before I would have to leave for school. My schedule was to mirror that of Kyoya’s except for certain electives that I picked out myself. Kyoya had been a dear and dropped off everything I would need for my first day, so it was a simple matter of putting on my suit and I was ready to go.

With my bag filled with pens, blank black notebooks and my transcript, resume & transfer information, I finish tying my tie and swing my back over my shoulder and locking the door to my apartment. Ouran Academy wasn’t too far from my apartment, and unlike True Cross Academy, they weren’t a boarding school. So that means no dorm rooms for me! Yay.

However that also meant that I had to register my address as well as find transportation to school. I didn’t want to get someone to drive me, and the bus had next to no appeal to me - I could admit that even though I was all healed, I still had some issues with proximity to people. Hypervigilance. I mean, I was hypervigilant before all of this, but Mary’s appearance and my subsequent torture did nothing to help that.

It actually made it a whole lot worse.

I don’t really know how I’ll deal with this new environment to be completely honest. I just… Ouran was going to be a completely different world than True Cross.

True Cross Academy had been a school for rich kids yes, but it had a large population of smart kids and scholarship students. Plus, there was the cram class exception that made the school unique.

Ouran Academy was nothing like that. Sure it was a prestigious school (Kyoya wouldn’t stay there if it wasn’t) but that didn’t seem to be the main aspect of the school. It had a slightly better ranking than True Cross did, but that was due to the teachers. They were the best that money could buy after all. But the downfall of all of this was that the students were the richest that Japan had to offer. If your parents were rich as fuck, there was a good chance that you were going to Ouran Academy. It’s the ‘best of the best’ while still not making the kids work for it.

Or at least that’s what Kyoya assured me. We were on a similar intelligence level due to my IQ making up for the time the spent studying. Still Kyoya found the classes entertaining but also useless in the way that he had either already taught himself that already or he was able to pick up the material after a single lesson and wished to be done with it.

I was much the same, but I was just planning on going to Ouran because I would have part of my support system there and I needed to get away from the supernatural world. Kyoya promised that the only paranormal shit that happened at this school was the stuff that their resident occult club played with. Apparently some rich brat got obsessed with dark magic and a club worshiping a dark cat puppet was the result.

Go figure.

 

It didn’t seem like something that I had to be all that worried about. It was just the rich brats that would be the problem for me.

You see, I didn’t grow up into money. I had to work to get it. For the first six years of my life, I grew up in a poor monastery as an orphan before being shoved into a sketchy private orphanage for a year. Then I was adopted by shitty parents who literally only wanted me for the government money. The first time I actually had enough money for food, I was already deep into building my own personal empire, and that was because Kyoya is a gift.

Kyoya is different than your typical rich brat despite how he acts sometimes. As the third son, he gets the feeling of neglect and inadequacy. All the same, he doesn’t get the monetary struggles. Plenty of True Cross students were struggling just as much as I had been. There was that small understanding amongst students and a bit of added respect. It simply just was.

I don’t exactly handle arrogant pricks well. The way I see it, if you have the skill to back it up, then you can be arrogant. I don’t like it and it’s a different kind of dick move from the dick moves that I personally pull, but not something that I’ll pick a fight with someone for unless provoked.

However, the problem with dumbasses that lack talent is that they don’t want to admit that they fucking suck. Then there were those rich assholes who didn’t have a care in the world and thought that they could get away with anything as long as they had money. Newsflash kiddies, money could get you far, but never far enough when it mattered.

And with me literally looking like some good for nothing, I highly doubt that they’ll respect me from the beginning. They’re all going to end up like Shiratori Reiji - I can just feel it.

They probably got driven to school in limos. They better have actual parking spots though, Kyoya assured me that it would be fine if I drove my motorcycle to school. It was a rich school, so it wasn’t like anyone would steal my bike, but I still didn’t like the idea of leaving it on a sidewalk or something.

Oh well, I’ll figure it out when I get there. I carefully get on my motorcycle - only careful because the stupid uniform those weird black pants and it wouldn’t do to show up looking like a slob. I wasn’t even wearing my leather jacket or anything. Nope. Instead, I had on the powder blue blazer that the school prided itself on. God the male uniform sucked, but not as much as the female uniform. That gaudy yellow dress was awful and you wouldn’t catch me dead wearing something like that.

I really pity Nagisa and Kayano. Nagisa has chosen to go with his more androgynous appearance and since he didn’t really give a shit about the gender binary, decided that he preferred wearing dresses. Maybe the girl’s uniform was more comfortable? I didn’t get it personally, I would always be more comfortable in slacks. It’s just so much harder to kick ass in a poofy skirt and corset.

After making sure I didn’t scuff any of my uniform on my sleek black vehicle (y’all don’t even know how proud of that beauty I am, like) I slipped on my matching helmet. It would give me a wicked case of helmet hair, but my red locks were untameable on a good day, so it didn’t really make that much of a difference. It’s not like I was exactly collaborating with the school’s dress code anyways.

I have piercings, tattoos, and wildly coloured hair. There was no way that I was blending in even if I tried.

But the helmet would do the job of concealing my identity until I could make an entrance. Always loved a good dramatic entrance. I’m just that kind of guy.

First impressions were everything after all!

Chapter Text

Karma P.O.V

The first thing that I noticed upon pulling up to the school was that it was massive. Like, larger than a mansion - it was kind of horrifying. Apparently there was a decent amount of students that went there, but I had looked at the numbers that Kyoya had on the school registry and it was almost laughable.

If it didn’t have that weird modern-classic fusion design, then it would look like a damn castle. Like Palais de Versaille kind of castle. It’s pretty ridiculous - so of course only rich people went here. It turns out that there actually was parking (fuck yeah) so I was able to simply pull in and hope off of my motorcycle without too much hassle.

I wouldn’t be meeting up with Kyoya because his entire morning would be taken up by one Suoh Tamaki, so I was pretty much just heading to the front area (I’m reluctant to say it was a foyer, but it was totally a foyer) to see if I could find Nagisa and Kayano. When we’d all split up to go to high school, the majority of Class E had chosen to go to a public school. Name and reputation wasn’t as important to them because I had offered them a stable income, so they were now free to pursue their own dreams without fear of crashing and burning.

Like how Maehara and Isogai started up their little café/restaurant thing and Kayano starting up her acting career again. The others didn’t really have ideas on what they wanted to do yet – well other than to not want to continue to attend a preppy private school. Nagisa and Kayano were the only ones beside Sugino (who went to True Cross to be with Shindou), who wanted to further their education in a school with a uniform that had a higher price than the average student’s tuition. With the reward that the government gave them, they could more than afford the tuition of both high school and even a foreign university. With the side jobs they take from me, they had no need to worry about funds. Plus, it wasn’t like any of them spent their wages on anything extravagant anyways.

Korosensei had instilled responsibility in all of us. For some, it was a harsher lesson than others. Terasaka in particular hadn’t shown any inclination towards numbers at the start of the year, but soon enough, he was among the top 50 in one of the country’s most prestigious schools. Either way, Kayano and Nagisa were easily the best of us. They took to Korosensei’s teachings like ducks did to water, and they were the ones who had chosen the prestigious academy path alongside myself.

(Although my choice to continue this part of my education was sort of taken out of my hands by a long-lost twin brother. Talk about ridiculous anime-like situations…)

While I had gone to True Cross Academy for the secret-but-not-really-that-secret exorcist training, Nagisa and Kayano had stuck together and were attending the same school. Coincidentally… both as girls.

While in middle school, Nagisa had had a big issue with people thinking of him as a girl. In all reality, he didn’t really have that much of an issue with being androgynous, it was just the big deal that his mother made about it. He still preferred the male pronouns, but he identified much closer to the non-binary spectrum than anything else. I don’t really get why he chose to wear the female uniform (it was way gaudier than the male one and I already hated the bullshit that I was wearing), but if it made him happy then who was I to judge?

Kayano and Kyoya took care of everything with the teachers and principal anyways, so it wasn’t like it was an issue or anything. From what I’ve heard, the students just think that Nagisa is a girl and leave it at that. They’re too vapid and stuck in their own lives to really care about someone else’s issues.

ANYWAYS The former E Class knew all about my transfer and the reason that I was transferring, so Nagisa and Kayano had offered to show me around on my first day. They explained that Kyoya had his host club to deal with as well as a cover to keep. It wasn’t like a new student – who was jumping to third year and slated to graduate at the end of the year – wasn’t already going to gather a lot of attention. With some of my scars and body mods (namely my pierced ears and slightly demonic features) being visible as well as my bright red hair, having the two other noticeably different people on my arms wasn’t really going to make that much of a difference.

Right?

Oh well.

What’s done is done. They’ll know that I know Kayano and Nagisa anyways. It’s not like I’m just not going to sit with them. It feels like it has been forever since we’ve attended the same school and I really just want a sense of normalcy right now. It was nice to spend more time around the people that I considered my close friends. All of the Class E students were great, but Sugino had always been more Nagisa’s friend than mine. In that weird way where your graduating middle school class was both really close but also not quite actual friends. You know the feeling.

Nagisa, Kayano, and I had all bonded over having weirdly coloured hair, and I feel like no one at this painfully normal (by rich standards) school didn’t have anyone quite like us. I imagine that it’s more like a relaxed Kunugikaoka because they aren’t as obsessed with intelligence. The Kunugikaoka High School was known for its weird obsession with being perfect, True Cross was known for the Cram Class program, Aoba Johsai was known for its weird obsession with volleyball and its rivalries, and Ouran was a little iffy as to what it was known for. Mostly, it was the rich brat school – but it was still respected due to the academic prowess that the students had.

It had the weird shit from normal school – the overly religious kids, the jocks, the sexually active band geeks, the fangirls, the hot guys, a cult – and it did have a pretty strict dress code. You weren’t allowed to make any modifications to your uniform (I of course ignored this and had someone add inside pockets so that I could store weapons without having to be uncomfortable) and permanent body modifications were generally frowned upon. Bleached hair was something that almost no one did, and Nagisa and Kayano had both complained about sticking out like sore thumbs.

At least now we’d be a trio.

 

There was some different colouring amongst the students – a decent amount of them being at least half foreign and taking on those physical attributes – the principal’s own son was half French. All the same, Nagisa had blue hair; I had gold eyes. There was really no topping that if we were going to be completely honest. Maybe that cult kid. Maybe.

 

Nah.

 

I continue to walk through the halls, my gait even and predatory as I plastered on a smug confident smirk. It was a short walk to the front entrance considering that I had rather dramatically parked in front of the school.

Seriously, it was kind of dramatic. People were staring.

 

I had dumped my helmet along with my bike à la knight removing his helmet after winning a competition–

(I had a lot of time okay, reading stupid ass fairy tales was a thing that I did.)

–and then made my way without so much as bothering to glance at anyone else. I was used to odd looks, but this was definitely more than I expected. Maybe making a scene on my first day wasn’t the best idea. Oh well. This is fine.

A quick glance around the foyer revealed that Nagisa and Kayano had spotted me long before I spotted them. They were making a beeline towards me, and before I could even offer up any protest, Nagisa had launched himself at me and now I have an armful of Nagisa in a poofy dress to deal with. Figuring that I should just go with it, I swing him around a bit before letting go and waiting for him to fall.

He did so after 30 seconds with a large pout. “Karma-kun!” he whined briefly before smiling brightly again and tugging on my sleeve. “I thought that you weren’t going to come! You’re almost late!” he says cheerfully. I rolled my eyes at him and looked over at Kayano.

“Please, as if I’d ever be late to the first day of school.” I say sarcastically.

She laughed brightly, “Karma-kun, we all know that you ditched the first three days of third year middle school.”

I mock pouted at her. “That wasn’t my fault. I was suspended for assault.” That comment got some weird looks.

Nagisa huffs impatiently. “Karma-kun, no one cares about your excuses. Now let’s go! We need to show you where your classes are – I don’t care if you have a map, asshole – and we don’t have much time!” he whines as he drags me by my sleeve. Kayano, as always, offered no help and simply went along with Nagisa’s shenanigans.

 


 

Haruhi P.O.V

“So have you heard that there was another student who got into this school based solely off academics?” Hikaru asked excitedly, grabbing me by the shoulder and spinning me so that I could see both him and his twin. I had just been minding my own business – waiting until I had to go to my homeroom so as to avoid an overzealous Tamaki.

I looked up at him in confusion. “No? We’re getting a new student?”

Kaoru nodded, slinging his own arm across my shoulders and pointing towards the doors to the foyer where a striking figure was approaching. “Yup! His name’s Akabane Karma, and he’ll be joining third year. I heard from Kyoya that he’s slated to graduate at the end of the year too! The guy’s supposedly tough shit, and no one really knows all that much about him other than he went to Kunugikaoka and True Cross Academy.”

I frown. That didn’t sound like we knew all that much. Usually, the rich bastards were pretty up to date with the gossip, but if this guy was getting in off of a scholarship – despite having gone to two other prestigious schools – then he was probably a normal person like me. Well… maybe not personality wise but perhaps monetarily at the very least. If he had the money to pay for school then he wouldn’t have to get in based off of academics, right?

I focus my attention on the doors just as the new guy strolled in through them. He kicked the door open and then waltzed into the room like he was the ruler of it. He was completely unbothered by everyone staring at him, only looking around the room as if searching for someone. His posture was tensed, but not in the way that showed that he was uncomfortable. It looked more like he was ready to turn around and hit someone at a moment’s notice – like Honey-sempai or Mori-sempai had been.

I don’t really know what I had been expecting from the new guy when I heard that his name was Karma and that he was supposedly ‘tough shit’, but it certainly wasn’t the teen that strolled in. He had blood red hair, and were those gold eyes? As he swiveled his head to look around the room, I was able to catch a glimpse at his ears which were heavily pierced – the earrings that adorned them were all mysterious cult-like symbols – and seemed almost unnaturally pointed near the tips. The large self-satisfied smirk that he wore revealed that his canines were just a bit sharper than normal, giving him a rather demonic look all in all.

His uniform was perfectly tailored, and he looked completely at ease in it. It was quite the contradictory image, but there was nothing else I could describe it as. The guy was a freaking anime protagonist – Tamaki is gonna flip.

 

Who the new guy was looking for was quickly revealed when two girls ran across the room (in heels, freaking how) and the blue haired one launched herself (themself? Their voice was too deep for a girl…) at him and he swung her around, laughing brightly before striking up a conversation with the two oddly coloured girls. I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t seen them for the past year, but their odd hair colours were natural. The trio looked like power rangers. Seriously, what is this school? There was a ridiculous amount of foreigners, although I can’t figure out how bright blue hair was natural.

The two girls moved to drag him off, and everyone sort of went back to their conversations. I figured that this would be the last time that I’d see the guy – until Tamaki-sempai made a scene while trying to recruit him, that is – but of course, that’s when someone else chose to make a scene.

 

“Akabane, I didn’t know that filth was allowed at this school.”

A silence fell over the room large room as everyone turned to look over at the grand stairwell. There were a couple students that had frozen in their spot, and it became really obvious as to who had spoken. It was none other than Asano Gakushuu – the resident prince of the 2nd year. He had come from the elusive A Class at Kunugikaoka middle school. Only two other students had come from that middle school – Shiota Nagisa and Kayano Kaede – and they were part of the E Class, so no one really bothered with them until they figured out that the two girls were on the same level as Asano despite their origins.

However, Asano had a different presence about him. He was a smug asshole who enjoyed putting others down and being the best. As much as I’d love to hate him, he was smart, and he was the best in our grade. Quite the accomplishment.

…I still didn’t like him.

He was a complete and utter jerk to everyone that he deemed beneath him, and since he was first in his grade everyone was beneath him. He even treated the upperclassmen with a certain sense of disdain. It was like he couldn’t stand to be around us plebes. It was ridiculous. He was ridiculous. And the student body ate it up like he was a prophet relaying the words of God. They loved him, and he took full advantage of that. He rivaled Tamaki in the amount of girls he had chasing after him.

At this point it seemed like Tamaki only held the lead because he was much more receptive to affection and he was a cool upperclassman. When I told him this he pouted for a solid half an hour in front of the girls.

 

Asano strutted down the stairwell, his pale red hair glinting in the light and contrasting with the uniform much like the Hitachin twins’ hair. He had a smirk similar to the new guy, but the new guy wore it much better. He made it maybe halfway down the staircase before he stopped, looking down at the trio of Kunugikaoka students with a superior sneer.

The red head smirked devilishly, an odd glint in his eyes as he whirled around to look over at the descending teen. “That’s Akabane-sempai to you, Asano-san. In case you didn’t hear, I’m a third year – that means that I am an upperclassman. Show some respect.” There was a visible wince that rippled through the room at that comeback. Asano however, looked completely unruffled.

“You’re still trash Akabane. This school doesn’t need you to dirty up its halls. What? Did the whole kidnapping thing at your old school turn you off too much?”

At the murderous looks that Shiota and Kayano wore, it was evident that what he said had struck a nerve. But… kidnapping? What… how did Asano even know this? The new guy got kidnapped? Is that why he transferred here instead of finishing school at True Cross Academy? It’s a good school, and I’m not really sure that Ouran’s all that better.

Akabane’s smirk slowly slid off of his face; everyone stared at the two, no one daring to even blink. “Oh? You cared enough to find out about me? My name wasn’t mentioned in any press about it – it’s just word of mouth. I wonder who you heard it from…” his formerly teasing tone had dropped, making him sound much more dangerous as he stared down the other teen.

He didn’t so much as blink, staring at Asano with – well it wasn’t quite hatred, more like displeasure. He cocked his head to the side, a sudden inhuman glint taking over his eyes. In fact, there was just something about the way that he held himself… but he didn’t look…

human.

Was it an optical illusion? He looked otherworldly, and everyone else in the room took a subconscious step backwards at the sudden aura. Asano even looked affected by the stare. It was unsettling.

“I don’t sell out my informants, Akabane.” Asano sniffed, continuing his descent and stopping just past the trio, looking over his shoulder. No don’t turn your back, you fool.  He’s a predator if I’ve ever seen one. Asano was dangerous, but I had a feeling that Akabane was the kind of guy that would strike given any hint of an opportunity. This was a power move. “If you know what’s good for you, you’ll keep your head down and stay out of my way.

Having said his piece, Asano stalked out of the foyer, the large door echoing through the room. There was a beat of silence before Akabane sniffed and stopped his little inhuman thing. That broke the spell that was on the room and soon everyone was whispering. The new guy looked mildly bothered, but he hid it well. He turned to exchange a glance with the two girls behind him before he began to climb the staircase, elegantly making his way out of the foyer, the two girls flanking him without difficulty or hesitation.

 

What… what happened? What did I just witness?

“This year’s going to be interesting.” Hikaru murmurs, for once subdued. I nod, swallowing thickly.

“Yeah.”

Chapter Text

Karma P.O.V

As far as things go, the classes at Ouran weren’t actually that bad. It reminded me an awful lot of how Kunugikaoka had worked, and that wasn’t a bad thing. It was kind of nice to have something familiar, you know? High school is that big looming thing where you meet new people and have to get used to a whole new set of circumstances. Well, True Cross had been a special breed, but Ouran was something more like what I had expected from high school while I was in middle school. Well… before Korosensei.

They even had a fucking host club. This school was such an experience.

 

So yeah, my first day of school was going okay.

Unfortunately for me, I didn’t have any classes with Nagisa and Kayano, so after they gave me a quick tour, they had to rush to go to their own classes. They did promise to meet up with me at lunch however, so there was that. It was a nice thought, to eat not eat lunch alone at a new school and to not have to deal with every issue that comes with being a new student. Kyoya did what he could concerning True Cross, but it was simply the first year of high school. Of course there would be a lot of paperwork. Still, with Yukio involved, I had to do most of it.

That had been a pain and a half to do – especially since Fujimoto insisted upon sticking his nose into literally everything. He wanted to know all about my test scores and the different courses I was taking. It was exhausting! With Ouran, all I had to do was tell Kyoya that I wanted to go to Ouran. After that, it was a simple matter of attending the placement exams and then I was in. Kyoya set up all of my classes and handled all the registration information.

Heck… until I’d gotten my schedule this morning, I’d had no idea what classes he’d even signed me up for. All I know is that I want high school out of the way as soon as possible. I’m sick and tired of teenagers. It was frustrating to deal with people who lacked intelligence, and if my first class was anything to go by, then this school was filled with people who weren’t capable of not caring and getting good grades at the same time.

If you don’t want to work, then that’s your problem. As long as you’re not a dumbass and you maintain a high-grade average, I see no problem in slacking off and not caring about anything. But, there are far too many students here who are not capable of maintaining a good average with this course load and as such, are considered to be failures. Seriously, it doesn’t take all that much to be pass a fucking course.

Even at Kunugikaoka, grades weren’t an issue. Sure I wasn’t the best for a while, but I was never less than a genius. It wasn’t a thing that I had to worry about. I was a genius. Impatience with certain kinds of people was going to be a given – especially considering my personality type. So yeah, I was annoyed by people. Nonetheless, there were also some nice people that honestly wanted to learn – and kudos to them for not being insufferable. I know I was being a dick the entire morning.

 

My first class was a computer science class. They had this computer engineering one, but I had a feeling that that was more hardware than actual coding. Kyoya knew me well and signed me up for the one that might actually be a challenge depending on what the teacher wanted from us. Getting into the class, I just picked a seat at one of the tables in the middle of the room and pulled out my school safe laptop and booted it up. It was a laptop that I had only some school files on. I had my transcript and the school safe resume as well as all my projects from True Cross and Kunugikaoka 3-E. It was the laptop that I had worked with at school so that if someone were to either steal the laptop or look over my shoulder it would be safe.

There were computers around the room, but they were shitty apple computers, so I wasn’t about to approach that. Seriously, people are allowed to like Apple, but I’m just going to throw it out there now; Apple’s shit. It’s just not good, okay?

Moving on; people were beginning to file into the room along with their friends. A couple other kids pulled up a wheely chair to the table that I was at, but most ended up taking a seat around the room. However, only like, three kids ended up pulling up their profiles on the desktop. The others pulled out their own laptops and did the same thing that I was doing; fucking around with some random file. I was currently dicking around with Microsoft paint.

Because that’s the best program to work on. I love art.

 

I looked up as a teacher walked out of the closet. Seriously, there was a small closet in the corner of the room, and I’d previously overlooked it because you know, they have different materials that they need to store. I should have considered the fact that this was a giant ass school for a small amount of students and it was a rich private school. Of course, the storage closets were more than big enough for a person to make a dramatic entrance. At the very least, the teacher seemed like a generally normal person.

He looked a bit frazzled, but he was wearing a business outfit, so he looked the part of a teacher at a private school. He had some pens stuck behind his ear, but he looked like a genuine guy. He stood at the front of the class, fiddling with his hands and smiling awkwardly. “Alright class, welcome to your first day of 3rd year computer science. I’ll start off by calling everyone’s names, so I’m sorry if I pronounce any name incorrectly. I’m new to the country so I’m still a little uh, unskilled at reading kanji.”

I mean, fair enough? But you’re going to have to edit our code and read the notes that we make in kanji, man. His loss.

I sort of tuned out after he called my name and spent my time changing every pixel on the screen to a slightly different shade of blue. I tuned in when the teacher put down the iPad he was using to do attendance and began writing on the white board behind him. “So since this is a final year course and some of you will be taking this for university, I will be giving you some free time to work on an introductory project. It’s pretty simple. Just make a game – it could be anything. Seriously, anything. I have had someone submit a Waluigi dating simulator. I don’t care how weird it is, I’m giving you a month to show me what you’re capable of. Go.”

Well. That was… not a good way to start a class. First of all, can we actually be taught some things about code? Or maybe even offer some help? Can we do that? Nope. We got no instruction on what he wanted from us other than to ‘show him what we were capable of’. Fucking why.

(I’m starting to think that I’m just in a bad mood… maybe.)

Deciding to be a shit, I pull up fucking RPG maker and start going to town. I don’t give any shits right now. It’s the first day of new school and I’ve already had to deal with Asano. I thought that things were going to go great, but then they just started going downhill. It’s first period. How am I this pissy? It’s literally like, 10 in the morning, tops.

Oh well, the teacher apparently dealt with a Waluigi dating simulator, so he’s dealing with an RPG horror game. It’s happening.

And because I literally can’t think of anything else right now, I’ve chosen to release all my pent up emotions surrounding my past through code. Because that’s how normal people handle their issues. Yes.

Why not base a game off of the damn Fabricated World. It’s not like anyone is going to believe it was real.

 


 

Art class, I quickly discovered, as not much better than comp-sci despite being in a completely different department and therefore building. As soon as I walked into the classroom, I was greeted with the overwhelming smell of axe. Not just your normal teenage male musk either, no, it smelt like someone had sprayed an entire bottle of axe above the ventilation system. First of all, why? Second of all, why?

 

I quickly made my way to the desk as close to the window as possible and dug through my bag for my thermos. I’d made some tea this morning as an afterthought, but it was a strong tea, and therefore had a strong scent. While not favourable it was still better than smelling axe at the moment. I opened the thermos and breathed in the aroma quickly, glowering over the rim of the thing. The other students filed into the room without a care – like they couldn’t even smell the axe – and sat down with their friends and began to talk. Loudly.

A couple girls had sat on the other side of the table in front of me and they had all pulled out their phones and began to gossip about boyfriends or whatever. I didn’t bother paying too much attention to it because I was a bitter person and the scent of axe had put me in a fowl mood.

 

“Hellllooooo everybody!” A high pitched female voice yelled, and I jerked upwards, nearly spilling my tea as I jumped. I look up to see a petite woman standing at the front of the class. She was dressed in sharp business casual but with various art utensils placed in odd places around her body. Her perfect updo was held in place with paintbrushes, and she had what looked like a bendy pencil wrapped around her wrist. There was way too many pens shoved into the front pocket of her blazer too, and her makeup was bright and funky. She was really pushing the limits for professional appearance, but I really wasn’t complaining. She seemed like a pleasantly no stuck up person. Ehhhhhhh.

The class seemed equally as intrigued by this teacher as I was, because they perked up and looked up at her with big grins on their faces. “Ohayo, Hana-sensei!” the class chorused around me.

Hana-sensei beamed at everyone and walked awkwardly over to the front desk in front of a chalkboard. She was wearing very high heels and didn’t seem to know how to walk comfortably in them. I didn’t exactly blame her for not knowing how to walk in them – heels were not fun – but if you don’t know how and it’s uncomfortable… then why wear them? She was a strange one, wasn’t she.

“So I know that it’s the first day of school, and since I haven’t had many of you before, I want to start with getting to know you! By the end of the week I want you to turn in an art project.” Hana-sensei declared brightly, clapping her hands together and bouncing slightly. “It doesn’t matter what medium or technique you use because I want to get to know what I’m working with! I want to know how you do your art so that I can make this the best experience for you that I can. You can use the rest of this period to either plan out your project or work on it.” She waved her hand and then the students sort of just rushed around the classroom to grab supplies all willy-nilly.

I, being a sophisticated person, decided to wait until I got home to rifle through my previously finished works so I didn’t have to do anything else. I was already doing a bunch of shit for comp-sci, so there was no way that I would go out of my way to make some more shit for this class. The only reason that I have to do stuff for comp-sci is because I don’t have a game readily available. I didn’t take comp-sci at True Cross, and it’s not like I waste my time programming a bunny platformer.

Since I would be mooching off my previous work for this project, I decided to waste away my time by sketching some stuff for the comp-sci project. There has to be some art, and I might as well get started. I could always use some of the older sketches that I had, but I didn’t have anything else to do right now, so I mean, I might as well. Because I’m a glutton for punishment, I started with Mary first. I had an urge to draw hair. You know that feeling? Do the small details and make everything look realistic. So I started with a simple frame and slowly began adding almost ridiculous amounts of care into each stroke of the pen I was using.

Note to self; ballpoint SWAG pens aren’t fun to sketch with and they smear.

 

 

“I haven’t seen you around here before.” I look up to see the girl sitting across the table from me was no longer focusing on her own work and instead staring at me. Her pen was hovering lazily over a mostly blank paper in front of her. She had a surprisingly calculating look in her eye, but nothing that I’d be overly worried about.

I cocked my head to the side slightly and looked at her. “Well, I didn’t go to this school before this year,” I settled on saying, pointedly returning to the sketch that I was doing. It was rough, but I didn’t exactly have anything else to work with. I waive my pen a little so that she could see the logo and then add some more detail to the sketch of a young Mary. I figure that an RPG is like the minimum amount of effort that I can put in and not look like a complete dick, and if I add some good art, then the teacher might think I cared more.

I’m totally trying, teach. I promise.

The girl’s eyes widen, and she leans forward more, her breasts brushing the table as she practically crawled over the damn thing to look at my drawing. “Really? That’s so cool!” she gushes, “where’d you transfer from?”

I don’t bother to look up from my sketch. She was really being dense, wasn’t she? I was literally using some shitty True Cross SWAG and she still was confused? Why couldn’t people just mind their own business. (Okay, I know that I’m being a little unfair, but everything here was setting me a bit on edge. I thought I had a better handle on myself, but apparently, I didn’t.) I scratched at my shoulder a bit and fix a curve on Mary’s hair. “True Cross.” I respond stiffly, not completely wanting to be rude. It was my first day, and being an asshole was all fine and dandy, but that required more energy than I currently wanted to spend right now.

“Really? Oh… why did you transfer? That was a perfectly good school.” The girl says, pouting and sticking her nose right above my art, one of her legs going up in the air. “Oh wow! She’s really pretty! Is she your girlfriend?” she asks, rapid fire and not even waiting for me to respond before continuing. “I wish I could draw like that! That’s why I took this class.”

Okay, thanks for the information that I didn’t ask for.

“Hey so, uhh, can I get an interview with you? For the school newspaper, you know?” She asks, fluttering her eyelashes and looking at me curiously. I raised an eyebrow at her – she couldn’t be serious, right? Asking for an interview for the school newspaper wasn’t something that people actually did… right? I chose to ignore her and tugged my book a bit closer to me before moving it to my lap so that I could begin to sketch a version of me as a child (but like, female) and scooted my chair back when the girl continued to follow me?

This was going to be a fun year. I can tell.

 


 

Walking into the cafeteria was something that I’d done more than a thousand times at various schools that could be considered ‘rich’ schools. It shouldn’t have been anything new, and yet it still was. Literally everyone that attended this damn school could fit in the cafeteria like 5 times over. The sheer size of everything was honestly impressive. I’d seen training rooms smaller than this. This was bigger than the entire schoolhouse that Kunugikaoka gave the E class.

Wow.

I swiveled my head around to look around the tables until I spotted Nagisa and Kayano and then I made a beeline towards them, hoping that my long strides weren’t being mistaken as harried or anything like that. I was just taking long strides because I could. This room was too big and holy shit was that gourmet food?

Fucking rich people.

 

“Karma! How have you classes been?” Nagisa asks brightly, effortlessly shifting over to make room for me to take a seat and then offering me a plate of food off of his tray.

I rolled my eyes, but took the offered food, grateful that I wouldn’t have to do my own tests on the food. If Nagisa was offering it then it shouldn’t have any adverse effects on my system. I’d learned that I actually have some allergies – who knew – and combine that with the increased paranoia, of course I was overly cautious with food. Especially given my history with… parents. Besides with my profession I knew just how easy it was to take people out via food.

“It hasn’t been awful.” I concede, taking a large bite of whatever it was that Nagisa had shoved in front of me. “I had comp-sci and that was interesting, and then I was able to work on my project in art too since the teacher just wanted to gauge our skill. I’d already decided to just bring in something I’d already done, so she let me do whatever.” I didn’t mention the overly curious girl who had tried to sidle up to me just so that she could get an interview for the damn school newspaper. It was just a minor annoyance, nothing to be overly concerned with… right?

Well I hope so.

 

“Well that’s good, right?” Nagisa smiled, dipping a small spoon into a bowl of what looked like vanilla pudding. “It’s pretty calm here as far as I can tell, honestly. Much less drama than even at Kunugikaoka.”

Kayano laughed brightly, “I mean, 3rd year was interesting.” She joked, twirling her hair around her finger and flickering her eyes around the room as people slowly began to look away and go back to their own conversations. Then she began to whisper, smiling and picking up her utensils to eat with. “But in all honesty, it’s very quiet here. There shouldn’t be anything unexpected.” She mutters, grinning over at Nagisa. “If there is, I’m sure that Kyoya-san can help you. He knows the situation and is in some of your classes.”

I chuckle slightly, my nerves eased by the presence of familiar people – people that I’m comfortable with. “Yeah, but do I really want to get involved with the Host Club?” I snicker again, as Nagisa and Kayano smile softly at me.

“Probably not – at least, if you don’t want to draw too much attention.”

Fair.

 


 

I walked leisurely through the school grounds as I examined my schedule again, squinting slightly at the class that I was supposed to be heading to. Apparently, this school actually had its own personal greenhouse, and really that didn’t surprise me, if I was going to be honest. This was just another one of those weird courses that I had that weren’t completely academic. I had the advanced math and science courses as well as an English course, so it looks like Kyoya gave me comp-sci, art and botany as like a little break or something.

Either way, I now had to make my way to a fucking botany class. Seriously what kind of high school had botany as a fucking elective. What even. I mean… I wasn’t exactly opposed to the idea of planting some shit for class or whatever, but at the same time… fucking why?

My brain was occupied with these thoughts for ay too fucking long and before I even knew it, I was there at the greenhouse. I didn’t bother knocking – where would I knock? The doors were glass? – and I just walked right in without caring too much about what was happening. I was already exhausted, and the day wasn’t even over yet. It wasn’t even three quarters of the way done – I had literally just finished lunch.

Ughhhh, you know the feeling when the first day of school seems to never fucking end. I literally can’t right now.

 

Choosing a seat at the back of the ‘classroom’ I suppressed the urge to bash my head into the ‘desk’ in front of me. Really, it was a large desk sorta like the ones that are in the chemistry labs. They also had those really awful lab stools, so I couldn’t even slouch like I would’ve baCK IN THE DAY. So now I was just suffering and that was great. I dumped my bag on the ground and pulled out my phone, going through some reports while I waited for the rest of the class to fill in to the other seats in the room. Luckily, it didn’t look like there was more than 15 seats in the room including the one that I had chosen to occupy. This asshole was not about to sit next to anybody again, thank you very much.

I had to deal with that person trying to actually converse with me – like… why? What was this school? I don’t know if it’s a step up from True Cross or not if I was going to be perfectly honest.

I was just considering whether I should pull out my sketchbook or not when the teacher filed into the classroom along with the 14 other people. The teacher looked like your typical biologist; wearing a stained lab coat with a messy bun and nerd glasses. She was short and looked rather frazzled too, so you know… a stereotype. “Alright class, we’re just going to go over some basic biology for today…”

Fucking amazing. I could tell that I was going to love this class already…

 

What even was this school? It seriously couldn’t get weirder than this… right?

 


 

Haruhi P.O.V

When I walked into the club room after classes alongside the Hitachin twins, I was not prepared to see Tamaki not making a scene. It sounds weird, I know, but the thing is that Tamaki-sempai is an incredibly dramatic person. Big surprise, I know. He was almost always making a scene about seemingly random things. He was kind of just eternally a scene. It was kind of ridiculous. Tamaki was ridiculous.

Usually, he would be doing something like crying in a corner or whining at Kyoya to buy a really ridiculous costume. On bad days he would be brooding over a cup of ‘commoner’s coffee’ – or what was more commonly known as ‘instant coffee’ – and crying about someone not noticing him. Despite our weird romantic bonding moment at the end of last year, our relationship hadn’t really progressed more than that. It wasn’t exactly for lack of effort – Tamaki wasn’t subtle in any way, shape, or form – but he understood the ramifications of us actually dating. Well, Kyoya beat him over the head with the ramifications and how it would affect my scholarship and reputation (and even gender identity) here at Ouran and Tamaki went full overprotective boyfriend and insisted that the only people who could know was the host club.

It made sense – they were basically our only friends, so it wasn’t something that was so awful.

All the same, Tamaki was usually there to greet us at the door like a little lost puppy. Today, he was standing and looking out the window. Well, he wasn’t just looking out the window… he was… gawking. Tamaki had a stunned look on his face as he stared with an open mouth. He looked very ridiculous, and the twins were not afraid to tell him this. Surprisingly, Tamaki didn’t immediately go into a pouting phase where he sort of just fell apart and sulked in the corner. I know right? It’s crazy – it’s his typical go-to move whenever something happens that even slightly inconveniences him. For example, a tiny piece of tea leaf fell into his tea cup. He sulked for a solid half hour. It was almost impressive.

But the point is, this time, he didn’t do that. Instead, he continued to stare off into the distance dramatically. Well, not into the distance, but more out the window of the club room and down into the courtyard. The twins followed me along as I approached Tamaki and tried to look past his still form out the window.

Not just anything could get Tamaki to react like this. For all he liked to freak out, he was also a pretty collected guy. He was just dramatic and over the top – extra, if you will.

I peered over his shoulder and saw that the courtyard was emptier than I thought that it would be. Sure it was the first official day back and school was technically over right now, but usually the rich asshats like to hang around and make fun of people. The courtyard under the club room window was usually a popular hang out spot for people. Whether it was the clients that liked to try and see what stuff that we had up our sleeves or guys that were trying to pick up those girls.

But it was empty… ish. There were a couple first year students milling around and looking at the school grounds in awe. I remember what it was like to first walk around the campus, back before I had even heard of the host club. Ah yes, the good ol’ days.

 

I looked down at the courtyard, my eyes being drawn to the fountain in the centre of the courtyard. There were only three students standing there; two girls and a guy. The two girls were Shiota Nagisa and Kayano Kaede. The two pretty girls with the striking hair from Kunugikaoka Middle School. They were there to great the new student when he arrived this morning. An Akabane Karma, if I remember correctly. Huh, and sure enough, the third person down at the fountain was the red headed punk.

He was walking along the side of the fountain, balancing effortlessly and strolling around in circles while the two girls sat on the side of the fountain and looked up at him. He had folded his blazer over one arm and rolled up the dress shirt sleeves revealing that he was breaking the dress code in more than one way. Not only did he have visible piercings, but looking at the exposed forearms that were visible even from this distance, he also had some very vibrant tattoos.

He was like… 14, maybe 15? Why the hell did he have tattoos? Was he actually some delinquent? That Asano had really seemed to not like him, so I mean, he just might be. All the same, he had also attended Kunugikaoka and tested into the final year despite being the age of a second year.

“Who is that?” Tamaki breathed as his eyes clearly tracked Akabane’s every casual movement as he spun around on the fountain, maintain his perfect balance.

I frowned, peering up at him. “Well I mean, that’s Akabane Karma, Sempai. He’s in your grade; just transferred in this year.” I say simply, frowning at him. Surely he’d had some classes with Tamaki-sempai. It would only make sense… right? This school didn’t have all that many students, so the likelihood of Tamaki not having a single class with the guy. Maybe he did with his B schedule.

Akabane twirled dramatically on the fountain, casually walking up the two girls and without even breaking his stride, flipped over them and stuck the landing. Holy shit – there might be someone who’s just as extra as Tamaki was. Unbelievable.

 

“He’s perfect.”

I flinch backwards, deadpanning at the fool that I called my boyfriend. “I’m sorry, what?” I asked. What on earth was he going on about? I knew that Tamaki would be interested in the new kid – who wouldn’t be in a school like this? – but I wasn’t quite expecting this reaction.

He shook his head, looking at me with actual stars in his eyes. “Just look at him! We have to get him to join the host club!”

 

And this began one of the most eventful school years of my life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                      

Chapter Text

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?!”

Chapter Text

Karma P.O.V

When I first got to school today, I hadn’t expected things to turn out like they had.

Everything was fine at first; I got through comp-sci without any issues, and even art didn’t provide any problems. Really, the first piece of drama happened right before Nagisa, Kayano and I walked into the cafeteria. Just a day or so ago I had sent a second teenager crying because he thought that he was in the right when he demanded that I give him an interview because it would be rude not to. Like he wanted me to apologize for snapping at that girl from my art class.

You see, after that first day, the girl hadn’t given up. She had actually only gotten worse. She just wouldn’t fucking shut up about anything and wouldn’t take a goddamned hint. So yeah, I snapped a little, sue me. It was a bad day and I couldn’t handle the blatant stupidity that the girl was exuding. I seriously can’t handle it any-fucking-more. I didn’t think that what I said was all that mean or even unwarranted and unexpected. She had to know by how many times I shut her down that I wasn’t going to give her an interview.

But she just kept asking and asking and asking. I didn’t say anything too awful – just your typical Kunugikaoka Class A verbal warfare. They were rich brats! They should be used to the high society bullshit verbal warfare. If she can’t take someone insulting her intelligence, then she shouldn’t have gone to a school like this. Ouran values intelligence well enough, and honestly, she was only just passing her classes.

Of course that’s when the kids were like 'hey, that was mean, you made our clubmate cry'. Of course, because the newspaper club is a collection of the most intelligent people at Ouran Academy, they sent a fucking first year after me.

I was minding my own business and strutting down the hallway like I was a mean girl (I blame Kayano for that one) as you do, when the kid did his best to stalk up towards me. He started out confident, but that quickly fell apart when he realized that everyone was staring at him and waiting for him to fail miserably. After that it was easy to send the kid running. It was a first year – even talking to a third year can produce a sense of severe anxiety. The kid looked like a nervous wreck too.

So yeah, after all that bullshit people had taken to avoiding me for the most part. That was fine with me. I didn’t feel like dealing with people and I enjoyed the return of my Regina George status. Everyone likes feeling respected. Well, respected as in they know not to mess with me but because they’re dumb rich brats; they don’t fear me. Not that big of a loss. Things were okay.

But then we got almost to the lunchroom and were confronted with a wall of people. When I say ‘wall’ I’m being very generous. It was like 7 people tops and most of them looked like tiny little first years that didn’t want to be there. Only like 2 people actually cared. They were standing front and centre with their arms crossed in ‘disappointment’ and pouting glaring at me. I raised my hand causally to stop Nagisa and Kayano from continuing our approach. Maybe I was in a good mood, but I wanted to hear them out. I found it funny.

“Well, well, well, who do we have here?” I started off, you know, like an asshole.

The two ringleaders looked furious at this blatant disrespect and of course, instantly bristled. “You still have to apologize to two of our members.”

I raise an eyebrow at them, deciding to deliberately be a dick. You know, I was having a good day, but then this occurred and suddenly I felt the need to be my true self; an asshole. I was giving less shits about what people thought of me. Probably not a good thing to be doing in my final year of high school, but fuck it. I’m still in my denial phase of grief (even if I don’t want to admit it).

“I feel like it would be highly inappropriate of me to get anywhere close to any of your dicks so I’ll just… not do that, thanks.” I grin as they flinch backwards clearly not expecting me to react that way. I moved my hand to indicate moving aside and smarmily continued. “now if you could all move out of the way, I’d like to be able to enter the cafeteria, and I’m sure that the people currently trapped behind us would love to eat as well.”

The guy who proudly wore a badge proclaiming him the president of the newspaper had turned completely tomato red by now. He was almost redder than my hair, and for a boy of his colouring, that couldn’t be healthy. “Excuse me?!” he shrieked, his voice cracking amusingly halfway through his extended hold on the note that he was screaming ‘me’ on. “Um how about no? We’re not moving until you apologize!”

I rolled my eyes and assumed a power stance. No, not one of those weird squat ones – although I have a feeling that would be almost comically threatening in this situation – but the parade rest stable post. “Well you see, I don’t think I did anything wrong. Your club members were being assholes and they messed with the wrong person. No amount of money is gonna make me do something that I don’t want to – welcome to the real world! I did them a favour. Not everyone will be as nice as I was.” I sneer at them, crossing my arms and jutting out my hip slightly so that I can tap my toe impatiently. “And besides, it’s not like their actions have done all that much to convince me that they’re all that intelligent. I’m pretty sure pre-schoolers understand the concept of 'no' – that makes them dumber than pre-schoolers.”

They spluttered for a moment. It would appear that they hadn’t expected this outcome at all, and in their confusion as to what they should do next, I squeezed past them and made my way into the cafeteria, followed closely by Nagisa and Kayano.  

 


 

Botany; a very interesting and confusing class. First of all, we were in a private high school, so having a botany class at all was questionable. What was more questionable, was the fact that people were even taking this class. How did Kyoya even find this? Why was I signed up?

I like plants. Is that the only reason?

What am I doing?

 

I sit down on my lab stool and doodle in my plant related notebook – seriously… don’t judge me. Plants are my hobby, let me live. So what if I drew enough shit and had enough knowledge to warrant its own notebook. I’m blaming Shiemi’s mom for my lowkey obsession with fucking plants. (Wait no, not having sex with plants. 'Fucking' as in 'freaking', good golly gosh). I learned how to not kill anything I touch by neglect.

There’s a reason that I only have roses, hard to kill poison, and fucking succulents. Obviously, the research I have in my notebook now also contains some stuff about exorcism and exorcist shit like that, but I could probably just play it off as research for a history project if I was an idiot and someone managed to see the notebook. It all sounded like a bunch of fantasy anyways, and it’s not like there wasn’t thousands upon thousands of people believing in this shit.

Maybe I’m religious. Maybe I believe in demons. It’s not like anyone here knows me yet.

From what I’ve gathered of the first week and a bit that I’ve been attending this class, it was pretty damn obvious that this was that class. You know the one. It’s that class that has all the weird kids that either have a plant obsession (like me) or doesn’t have any idea how they ended up here. There was only 14 other people in the class and somehow I was still done with it.

The teacher wasn’t awful! Far from it – she was actually one of the better teachers at this school despite being a walking stereotype. At least she wasn’t like that one substitute teacher back at True Cross. The woman was some ‘plant disease doctor’ and she was fucking psycho. This teacher was just a well meaning nerd that didn’t quite get that at least 7 people in this class didn’t give any shits about what she was teaching us.

It’s a pity too, because she actually seemed to know her shit. I already had some knowledge on medicinal plants – treating various demonic injuries required a certain amount of knowledge – but I guess I’d just overlooked some of the more basic stuff that was apparently common knowledge? Either way, I’d filled many pages with the interesting information I’d gained from this class. So for once, I was actually looking forward to this lesson.

The teacher had promised to bring in something interesting today. With a scientist, that could mean anything.

The others in the class were buzzing with excitement. Even the kids that had no idea what they were doing were apparently looking forward to this class. There was just something about the teacher that really drew you into her lessons – it made you want to learn. For a teacher, I’d call that a success. And with how small the class was, she was able to pay attention to every one of us and we learned. She was also very observant, and she didn’t hesitate to call out the people that weren’t paying any attention to her lesson. She was determined to teach us, and for no other reason than she wanted to share her knowledge.

It was kind of sweet actually.

 

Shinrin-sensei was at the back of the class slowly unpacking a mysterious sealed bag and other materials. She had set up a projector to project onto the black board, and within a minute or two of the bell ringing to officially start class, she was ready. “Alright! So I did promise that we would be doing something interesting today,” she began, clapping her hands together and smiling brightly at us. “I don’t normally get the chance to bring in all that many of the plants that I have in my collection, so today is special. For the rest of this unit, we will be focusing mainly on medicinal plants, but this is one of the stranger ones that I’ve come across while I traveled.”

She grinned as she moved around the front desk and turned on the projector so that we could see a montage of pictures as she continued to introduce the mysterious plant that she is going to show us today. “I discovered this when I was training with a local doctor in India. It isn’t all that popular as an edible dish, but herbal doctors believe it has many properties that help it cure illnesses. It is a species of yam.” She flipped through a couple pictures of the yams prepared in a medical setting before stopping on what looked like a hand drawn sketch/diagram of the plant itself. I quickly copied down the sketch and labels, intrigued by the odd design of the plant. It kind of looked like–

“It’s called the amorphophallus paeoniifolius, or more commonly known as the elephant foot yam. It’s primarily grown in Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the tropical Pacific islands. It reproduces both sexually–” there was a snicker from the other side of the room, but Shinrin-sensei didn’t even pause in her explanation, “–and asexually because the ‘female’ and ‘male’ flowers are both on the same plant. The plant has also evolved in such a way that they bloom at different times, thus preventing inbreeding.”

She flipped through a couple more shots of the plant, this time focusing more on the flower itself. It was rather ugly; having a furled centre looking almost brain-like. There was also a variety of brightly coloured ones which was kind of interesting. She told us a stories of the different applications of the plant – citing the doctor that she learned from and informing us that we would be revisiting this plant when we got to the edible unit – but, she quickly ran out of pictures and we were left to stare at the opaque sealed bag that she had sitting in the middle of the table in front of her.

Shinrin-sensei grinned slyly at us before moving towards the bag. “I’ve probably bored you all by now, but I assure you, that I still have plenty more that I can talk about.” She was nearly bouncing as she held the opening to the bag and looked at all of us. “I do have to warn you though; this plant is known to have one of the foulest odors. It has been compared to that of a rotting corpse, although the smell only lasts a few hours after the flower blooms. Luckily for us, mine bloomed just before lunch!”

In one fell swoop, she unzipped the bag and dragged it down so we could all see the grotesque flower that she had brought into our class. The flower was wide open, and as promised, the smell was not only awful, but pungent and permeating too. I nearly flinched backwards at the sudden onslaught (mildly impressed at how good of a job the bag did at insulating the scent – even from my own enhanced nose) but I got a hold of myself. I had smelled many a rotting corpse, and it was an apt description of the scent that was currently all over the room.

Why the fuck a plant would do this, I don’t know. It probably had something to do with pollination, although why would bugs want this?

The rest of my classmates had significantly less self control than I did, and they were rather comical in their reactions. However, it was rather ridiculous how exaggerated their reactions were. I would be smelling this damn plant for an entire week on these clothes due to my sensitivity; I think they can handle this little hint.

Of course, I was quickly proven wrong when one of the kids kneeled over and promptly threw up all over the floor.

 


 

Hanging out in the courtyard after classes was something that was becoming a habit. I was a new student, and while Nagisa and Kayano were known to be quite striking, I was still an unknown and opinions were still being formed about me. I had one year to solidify my presence in the minds of the annoyances that attended this school – because we all know that I’m incapable of not being dramatic; I have a need to be important. It’s a thing.

Anyways, it was decided that the most efficient way for me to do this without being a delinquent and beating up Asano (I probably couldn’t worm my way out of getting expelled or at the very least suspended for that – I learned from Kunugikaoka, and since my half-brother isn’t the headmaster of this school…) was to just sort of insert myself into the student life. Having the reputation of the ‘new kid’ means that all eyes are on me, so it’s now or never to make that impression.

Now I am an asshole, but I don’t want the rest of the school populous to know that I’m an asshole. I’ve already began making my way towards that idea by being a dick to the particularly annoying students, and that was totally on me! Nagisa was just trying to do damage control. And that’s basically how I ended up fucking around one of the many courtyards around the school for an hour or so every day.

It was a lot of time, but a necessary sacrifice – or so Kayano seemed convinced.

 

We had chosen a courtyard with high walls around it so that I could fuck around and just sort of show off for a bit. My body was healed, but I still wasn’t where I wanted to be with my movement concerning all the new scar tissue. I’d been sparring and all that, but nothing quite challenged me enough. So the obvious solution was parkour.

Obviously.

 

After the interesting day that I’d had, I was walking around the fountain edge like a child and poking fun at Nagisa for some dumb shit that I’d head that he’d done from Kayano while I was at True Cross. There wasn’t too many people in the courtyard, but I was used to the ridiculous amount of students on the True Cross campus, so I guess it was a lot of people? The number easily doubled though when the infamous Host Club made their way to the courtyard and started talking with people. Yay.

Everything was going great up until the blond one – Suoh Tamaki; half Japanese half French son of the headmaster and Kyoya’s close friend – began to approach the fountain. Kyoya had not made me aware of anything happening today, so I just thought Tamaki wanted to do his little thing but in the centre of the area. The dude liked attention.

I didn’t exactly have room to talk.

Ugh.

 

He was just doing his thing right? Nope. As if on fucking cue, students pulled instruments out of fucking nowhere and began to play music while Tamaki strutted up and began 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 was confident, although with what I know of his character, that’s not exactly all that out of character. That however, wasn’t what I was focusing on. First of all, he was making his way towards me, going so far as to make fucking eye contact with me. Also, I actually did recognize the song that he had chosen to serenade me with.  

Kayano had gone through that phase – you know the one – where movie musicals were suddenly the greatest thing ever. And since the grand majority that Japan had to offer was anime musicals, she had turned to western films. Gotta make use of all those hours spent studying English. Fuck yeah. And that had started her long term crush on Zac Efron, and the next thing you know, she’s forcing everyone in her life to watch the Greatest Showman with her because holy shit isn’t he so hot?

That was the only reason that I even know that this song exists. Seriously, the only reason.

But then how did Tamaki know about this? How did he get the music to all the band kids? How did he manage all of this in less than a week? There were so many questions! Also, Tamaki knew English? Since fucking when? He wasn’t in any of the language courses here at Ouran… at least that I know of…

 

You run with me

And I can cut you free

Out of the drudgery and walls you keep in

 

I mean clearly there was a reason that he had chosen this song. It was becoming very apparent through both his oddly suggestive dance moves and the lyrics of the song that he either wanted me to join his cult, or he wanted to have sex. Considering Kyoya had been complaining about Tamaki dating Fujioka Haruhi for the past 6 months, I highly doubted that he was intentionally coming on to me. He was just French.

And a drama queen.

The first verse of this song was very ambiguous – almost worryingly so. And since we’ve eliminated the possibility that he was publicly propositioning me for sex, the only other possible conclusion is that he was trying to get me to join the Host Club. That hadn’t been in the original plan.

 

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.

By now, the older teen had made his way through the crowd until he was standing right in front of Nagisa, Kayano, and me. He was a lot taller than I had originally expected, but he was like the least intimidating thing I’d ever seen. Seriously, Shima was more intimidating than the blond. I don’t know what it was about Tamaki, but I really wanted to laugh at him as he brushed back his hair and winked at a very unimpressed Nagisa. I tilted my chin down slightly and stared up at him through my lashes with intrigue. He had clearly put thought into his song choice, and decoding what he was trying to tell me was rather interesting.

He was actually trying to imply that I was living a boring life and that there was a lot to gain from the Host Club. Dude. Has he seen me? I look like a fucking delinquent on a good day – the amount of comments I’d gotten about whether I bleach my hair or not was going to give me a Kurosaki Ichigo complex or something – does he really think that I don’t get out a lot? I have a life; a very adventurous one. What can his Host Club offer me in that way?

And that begs to question, what does he want from me? What does he think that he’ll gain by getting me to join his damn club?

He offered me his hand, grinning widely as the music picked up pace in preparation for the chorus of the song. I took a second to consider it, but I didn’t really have all that much time, and internally saying ‘fuck it’, I took his hand and he swept me into a dance.

 

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 lead me around the courtyard in a modified waltz. It was fast paced, and perhaps not the best choice for a song like this, but I highly doubt that Tamaki knew any dances other than things that a rich child would be classically trained in. I, like many others from Kunugikaoka’s class 3 E, am proficient in ballroom dancing, so I’m more than capable of keeping up with Tamaki.

Out of the corner of my eye I could see Kayano sneakily recording this entire thing and I resisted the urge to scowl at her. Why was I even surprised? She was always doing shit like this. It wasn’t out of character for her.

I subtly started to lead us back over towards the fountain, a certain smugness taking over my gait as I took in the impressed look on his face. He obviously hadn’t expected me to keep up with him – not in this. But joke’s on him. I was a dramatic little shit and I could keep up with his own drama queen ways.

He finished up his chorus, spinning me out until I was about a foot away from the fountain’s edge. I let go of his hand and jumped up onto the ledge beside where Kayano and Nagisa were sitting and watching along with a couple other girls. I spread my arms and grinned down at the slightly stunned blond. He started this, and now I was going to play along. Sure he had no way of knowing that I actually understood English; it might have all been a ploy to embarrass me or something. Nope. Not happening. I’m going to own this shit.

 

Okay, my friend,

You want to cut me in

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

 

I could see Kayano internally squealing at the fact that I had been saddled with Efron’s part. She was way too deep in her fangirl phase – I swear if I hear Bet On It one more time.

Tamaki also had an interesting look on his face as I sang the actual lyrics of the song. It was like he was taking them personally.

I mean, kinda yeah. The part that he had gifted me with was the part that denied him at first, but didn’t Tamaki know that he eventually caved? There was no need to look like a kicked puppy. Luckily though, the taller teen seemed to be able to get a grip on himself and soon all that was evident on his face was the surprise that he felt at the fact that a. I knew the song, and b. that I was capable of playing along and singing.

 

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, I then jumped off of the fountain and did a flip in the time that I had in between verses, landing just in front of Tamaki who couldn’t hide his flinch at the sudden move. My mouth twitched slightly at his reaction as I sauntered past him, throwing him a look over my shoulder.

There was some nice little intricacies to Efron’s part of the song. As musicals do, he had taken the same melody that Jackman’s character had used, but instead of inviting, his tone was dismissive and almost mocking. I was making more of a show of my rejection and disbelief than Efron’s character did, but that was almost purely because of the crowd that we had here. I was maybe a little overdramatic with my dance moves, but he’d made the original scene. Who can blame me for escalating?

 

Now I admire you, and that whole show you do

You're onto something, really it's something

 

I glanced over at the Host Club in the corner of the courtyard, watching with glee as Tamaki looked even more stunned. I’ve been here for less than two weeks, but no duh I knew about the Host Club. Even if I didn’t like to think about it, they were the most popular club in the school. Of course I knew who they were.

The lyrics I had just sung were originally more sincere than mocking, but I’m an asshole, and I found the entire idea of a host club rather ridiculous. You know, in the ‘it sure is something, alright’ kind of way.

I waved my hand and gestured to the both of us and the students that Tamaki had no doubt convinced to join in with his nonsense. This was very much a show and we were both playing our parts. I sneered at him and prowled closer, looking down my nose and sniffing slightly. My disdain for his stupid club was going to be known dammit.

 

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

I'll have to leave that up to you

 

There was a huge irony here about those lines. Not only was I in an insanely rich school run by Tamaki’s father, but I was also what people would consider a delinquent. I am a literal gang member, and I was telling the boy that had grown up with a silver spoon in his mouth to pick up peanut shells. How could I not find that kind of funny? It was very hard not to laugh right now, and I could tell by Kyoya’s shaking shoulders that he also found it a bit ridiculous.

I sashayed away, worming my way through the crowd until I found a tall wall and then proceeded to show off like a regular circus brat and flipped my way up to stand on top of the wall. Everyone else in the courtyard stood frozen, only their heads craning around to better see whoever was singing. It was amusing and I eagerly launched into my mockery of his 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

 

I belted loudly, moving smoothly across the wall and prowling around the courtyard. I sang effortlessly, heard by all with a strong and rich voice. I was kind of ashamed to admit that this was one of the few songs from that blasted movie that I actually enjoyed. Was it weird that I connected with the lyrics?

Everyone is always trying to convince you to follow your dreams and pursue your passions, but do I really have any? I’m moving through life in a state of contentment with brief flashes of glee and anger.

And, you know, depression.

I’m fine with the part that I play in this world. I don’t need some rich brat telling me that he knows what’s best for me. I got enough of that from teachers at True Cross telling me that I was ‘wasting my potential’. Bitch I was in first year – I hadn’t even fucking done anything yet. I am completely comfortable with who I am and what I do. Everything is fine.

 

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

 

I lunged around the courtyard, looking down at the faces of the observers of our little show. They don’t get the significance of the song chosen, they can’t possibly understand. I let a little bit of my barely contained bloodlust pass through my eyes, piercing into his bright blue eyes with my own golden ones. I’m dangerous, and no matter what I wanted the others to know, I wanted him and his little club to know that fact. I was a predator, and one that shouldn’t be trifled with.

I looked over at Tamaki over my shoulder, watching as his eyes narrowed with calculation as he observed my own theatrical show. I finished my chorus and threw the metaphorical ball back into his side of the metaphorical court. He could end things right here and now – take my rejection for what it was and give it up; play it off as nothing more than an impromptu Host Club activity. He had asked me to help or something like that. He could gracefully step away now and no one would be the wiser.

 

My face cooled until I had wiped all but my own calculating look off of it, relaxing my posture until I resembled my lazy but confident self rather than the predator that I was. I fully expect Tamaki to turn around and bow to the crowd, but that’s not what he chooses to do.

 

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 I had stopped on. He hadn’t given up, as much as I had expected him too. He clearly saw something in my little show. Was he still interested in having me join his club? Seriously? I swear, the expression that I was wearing now was bored at best. I was clearly dismissing him – why would he continue?

He didn’t modify any lyrics either, simply choosing to appeal to my boredom. He was trying to turn my own strategy against me. I hadn’t had a class with him yet, but he must have heard somewhere about my ease with the supposedly ‘advanced’ classes offered here. It wasn’t hard to tell that I was often bored by the high society shenanigans that entertained the vast majority of the school’s populous.

The question was, whether he was appealing to me as a fellow teenager, or whether he was smart enough to know that he was baiting a sociopath.

 

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

Disgraced and disowned, another one of the clowns

 

I didn’t bother with flipping off of the wall this time and instead simply stepped off and stuck the landing, standing nearly chest to chest with Tamaki. I looked at him with a challenging stance, a condescending smirk covering my face as I delicately arched an eyebrow.

I didn’t like the idea of caving – it would make me look weak. However, there was a certain advantage to caving. His Host Club was a mockery of people, but it would be an excellent opportunity for me, as much as I wanted to ignore that part. The Host Club were the most well known and well liked of the students, and they were often in direct opposition of Asano and his pose. The Host Club were powerful allies and far more likely to back me up instead of Asano if I was one of them and things came to blows.

Joining them could only help my reputation, and worst comes to worst, I could slip in some insults towards these annoyances while ‘hosting,’ just to see if they could understand me. I love to fuck with people, and if nothing else, it wouldn’t be boring, right? Tamaki was offering me a way of accomplishing what would have taken me months of careful handling in just a week or so of establishment. Plus, I would be able to spend more time with Kyoya without it seeming too weird.

Tamaki was either really good at reading my tells, or he was pleased that I didn’t back out of the performance either, as he 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. I met his eyes carefully, trying to figure out why he was doing this. What he stood to gain was still a mystery to me, and I suspected that that’s what it would remain. He met my eyes without issues, and he seemed to be paying just as much attention to every shift as I was. Both of us searching for something, and in a few seconds, it seems that we’d come to an agreement.

The next part of the song wasn’t something that quite fit this situation, and the performance had become much more than that by now. Hoping he would take the hint, I opened my mouth to sing the last chorus and he followed suit, harmonizing beautifully as we sang together. I took the higher part, deciding to show off a little more by belting the part 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

 

I 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 us sang the last two lines, dancing around each other and ending face to face with a final dramatic flair.

 

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

We're going to the other side

 

We were both breathing heavily as the crowd erupted into thunderous applause. There was a self-satisfied grin on Tamaki’s face, and my eyes subconsciously shifted away so that I could look over at the Host Club. Kyoya had pulled out one of his many notebooks and was holding it in front of his face, but it was obvious that the scene that Tamaki had made amused him greatly.

The small brown-haired teen beside him (it must be the infamous Fujioka Haruhi) looked both stunned and dare I say it, horrified. She seemed to believe that she understood what had happened here, and perhaps she did. I doubt it though. She may be academically smart, but my understanding is that her first real friends were the Host Club, and they were not a good bench mark for anyone.

“Oi! Kyoya! Did you have anything to do with this?” I called over as the applause began to die down and I could actually hear myself think.

Kyoya rolled his eyes, snapping his notebook shut and tucking it under his arm. “I’m afraid not, Karma-kun. This was all the brainchild of our illustrious leader.” I suppressed a snicker at the nickname he had given Tamaki. It was by far one of the better ones I’d heard. The fact that Tamaki calls him ‘mommy’ and Kyoya calls him ‘daddy’ in turn sent me laughing for like an entire month.

The words ‘daddy kink’ and anything related to that subject have now been banned from Purgatory and all affiliated fields.

 

I hear Fujioka turn to Kyoya and begin to question him quietly, but my attention is caught by Tamaki and I’m forced to trust that Kyoya knows what to say and what not to. The guy was meant to be a yakuza style guy, the third son of the Otori family could handle a teenage girl. He can handle Tamaki, right?

“That was some show that we put on! Thank you for joining in – it made the whole thing much less awkward. You’re a good dancer.” Tamaki declared as he turned to look around the courtyard as people began to filter out now that the performance is over. “I’m pleasantly surprised that you know the song. I had fun singing with you!” How was he so cheerful? Seriously, how? You could bottle that and sell it and make millions.

“Rather impromptu,” I stated cordially, inclining my head slightly. “What exactly were you trying to accomplish with that little show?” I wanted him to say it. I was giving him yet another chance to back down and just say that he was playing around. He really doesn’t want me in his club. If you think I’m awful now, then holy shit it will get sooooo much worse.

Fuck yeah.

“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.

I raised an eyebrow as my eyes flickered over to look once more at the assembled Host Club that had slowly begun to approach us. “Oh really? And what, pray tell, makes you think that I’d be a good… fit for your little club.” Maybe if I was enough of a dick then he would change his mind. That way, I wouldn’t have to cave and willingly join the Host Club.

(Terasaka will never let me live it down when he finds out. Heck, he won’t let me live down this little incident.)

“Well uh…” Tamaki seemed surprised that I hadn’t immediately jumped at the chance to be one of the ‘cool kids’. Honestly, he should have known this by now. “You are very charismatic!” he said finally, looking almost as if he was struggling to find a reason that he wanted me when there were countless reasons why it was a foolish decision. Poor guy. “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.”

Fujioka’s eyebrow twitched violently at that comment. Looks like Tamaki still had no tact when concerning the social status of his girlfriend. I was, however, surprised that he knew that I wasn’t a rich brat. To be fair, I’m sure that all the rich kids in Japan know each other by virtue of being rich, but still. I wasn’t exactly new to money…

I laughed, throwing my head back and full on cackling. “I’m charismatic alright. But I’ve heard about your little club, and I know I’m not exactly the right fit for it.” I smirk and take a step back so that Nagisa and Kayano could flank me. It was both a reassuring and a protective stance. Whether I can protect myself or not, it’s always smart to travel in packs. Well, unless you were trying to be sneaky, but that’s beside the point.

One of the twins – Hitachin Hikaru – peaked over one of Tamaki’s shoulder to look at me in confusion. “How so?”

The other brother then chose to pop up as well, looking like the Tweedled Dum to Hikaru’s Tweedled Dee. “Yeah. You’re attractive enough. I’m sure the ladies would love you.”

I resisted the urge to scowl as Nagisa and Kayano both burst into laughter behind me. Sure they were justified, but did they have to be so obvious. “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 waved his hand, seemingly not hearing what I’d just said – or at least not really understanding and comprehending the fact that I had just come out to him. Nope, the man was too focused on the last part of my statement. “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 just what I’d said. I suppressed my own loud guffaws as I saw his face twist into a comical expression as he squatted and pointed at me like an idiot.

“Wait, you’re gay?!”

Chapter Text

Tamaki waved his hand, seemingly not hearing what I’d just said – or at least not really understanding and comprehending the fact that I had just come out to him. Nope, the man was too focused on the last part of my statement. “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 just what I’d said. I suppressed my own loud guffaws as I saw his face twist into a comical expression as he squatted and pointed at me like an idiot.

“Wait, you’re gay?!”

 


 

Karma P.O.V

Fuck, that was pretty loud. The courtyard hadn’t yet been cleared of people, and with how loud Tamaki was, there was no doubt that at least one of the stragglers had heard Tamaki’s rather damning exclamation. I’d just have to roll with this and hope that whoever heard wasn’t fucking homophobic because that would suck. There’s so few students here; news travels fast.

 

I arch an eyebrow at him as if asking ‘are you serious right now?’ He just had this awestruck look on his face as he just ogled at me. I didn’t think it was all that worth being ogled at? I mean, from what I’ve heard the twins have their little twincest fan service thing going on, so it wasn’t like it was the first time he’d seen something gay. Heck, I wasn’t even acting overtly gay, but he was still looking at me like I was a space alien with four butts.

It was kind off ridiculous.

“Yeah, that is kind of what I said. You have a problem with that?” I challenge, actually beginning to get a bit annoyed with his reaction. None of the others in the Host Club dared to interrupt, although I saw Kyoya shift uneasily. He had never explicitly said anything, but he wasn’t as straight as his family wanted him to be. He made a point of keeping me out of his relationships, and since he was always incredibly discreet enough that I saw no need to intervene. He hadn’t gotten in the middle of my singular relationship (he’d actually treated Ga- him really well) so I would return the favour by not being a dick about Kyoya’s sexuality.

He definitely handled my gay crisis when I was 11.

Tamaki was surprisingly quick to wave his hands in denial and backpedal. “No, no, no! I assure you that your sexuality will never be an issue with us!” he said hurriedly, smiling awkwardly as his eyes darted over to the Host Club as if warning them to not say anything if they did have a problem. Heh. He really does want me to join his club, and he’s willing to risk his reputation to do it.

I’m under no illusions that everyone is as accepting of my sexuality as Class E or even the students at True Cross. If this information gets out, I’m going to end up facing some serious backlash from people. Probably Asano.

“All the same, do you really think that’ll work out?” I ask curiously, wondering if he had just charged into this without a plan as was his typical go-to technique. “Not only am I not into girls, but there’s also the fact that I’m not exactly… nice.” I say, beating around the brush only a little bit. Saying that I wasn’t nice was kind of a major understatement. I had been straight up sadistic back at Kunugikaoka, and I wasn’t about to stop now. Here, things weren’t life and death like with the Cram school. Here, I can be whoever the fuck I want, and the only casualties will be someone’s feelings. The only reasons I was even bothering to try and be top dog is because I knew it would annoy Asano (and I live to annoy people) and I have this thing where I need to feel important.

There’s no harm in giving into those wants every now and then. It’s certainly far from the worst thing that I’ve ever done.

“Yeah, I was kind of wondering that too,” Haruhi says conversationally, interrupting my train of thought and turning to look at the blond. “You didn’t exactly explain your reasoning to any of us.”

I cock my head to the side. “So you didn’t tell your girlfriend about your plans? How foolish.” I say, only a little bit snidely. “Oh wait, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t say girlfriend – which pronouns do you prefer, Fujioka? You do appear to be going by a more masculine appearance at school.”

Haruhi raised an eyebrow at me, ignoring her boyfriend’s spluttering just like I was. “I’m a girl, although I’m curious to know how you found out. As far as the students here know though, I’m a boy, and I’d prefer if the information that I’m dating Tamaki doesn’t leave this group of people.” Her large expressive eyes were impressively neutral as she stared at me. She was perceptive and observant, creating a nice duality with her incredibly oblivious partner.

Tamaki continues to splutter in the background.

I cock my head to the side and deliberately give her a once over. “It’s really in your posture and the way that you speak; it’s really not that hard to tell if you know what to look for.” I wink at her slightly and cross my arms over my chest. “And you and Tamaki aren’t as subtle as you think you are. Didn’t you know? The whole school’s betting on when you two get together – even not knowing about your gender.”

Haruhi looks a bit taken aback by my assessment, but she remains silent and doesn’t offer up any other comments. This, of course, allows Tamaki to sweep in and try to take over the situation once more. “You seem to know an awful lot about us. May I enquire about your own past? Quid pro quo, if you will.”

Nagisa sniffs behind me. “It would be more of a quid pro quo if he simply offered you the chance to figure it out on your own.” He grumbled under his breath causing me to snort a bit.

“Well, I’m not that deep,” I joke, “you’ve probably heard about me! I’m a transfer student and I’m in your year. Other than that, I’m not all that interesting – just your average studious guy.” I paste an innocent expression on my face. Tamaki looked like he wanted to respond but he sort of just stood there for a moment.

The two twins, of course, took this opportunity to be sassy little shits. “Yeah, you’re completely normal!” Kaoru scoffed, posing in a mirror image of his twin as they stood slightly in front of Haruhi as if they were moving to protect her. Ohhh, did one of the twins still have a crush on little Miss Fujioka? How cute.

“If you ignore how the first years are completely terrified of you and the fact that you’re getting away with breaking like 10 rules concerning dress code.” The other twin adds, glaring at me just like his brother was.

(Ew, it was weird to think that we were the same age.)

Haruhi shoved her way past the two twins, knowing what they were doing and wholeheartedly disagreeing with what they were doing – which I could respect – and planning on standing up for herself. She obviously didn’t agree with Tamaki’s idea to try and get me to join the club. She had good reasons to not want me in the club, however it would seem that what Tamaki wants, Tamaki gets. It didn’t hurt that they were short two members already. This was hilarious.

“You aren’t exactly what people would call a model student, and Asano-san seems to have an issue with you. As much as we don’t support him, we don’t want to draw his ire either. You’re in the public eye, and you draw a lot of potentially negative attention.”

This comment seemed to backfire on her though, because Tamaki proceeded to leap off of that comment only to take it in the exact opposite direction. “But he’d also be an opportunity to take the Host Club in a new direction!” he said excitedly, flapping his arms around, seemingly uncaring about the stragglers that still in the courtyard, although out of earshot of the quiet conversation we’d been having. Well, up until Tamaki began to rant, slowly getting louder. “Akabane-chan is new and interesting, and with our support, people are sure to love him! Plus, if Akabane-chan is making enemies like you said, then surely we’re good allies to have! No one attacks us,” Tamaki pointed out so helpfully.

“It’s not a bad deal,” I grudgingly admit, “but there’s still my concern about my sexuality. Not only did you just out me to those still in the courtyard – and don’t lie; you’re loud enough that people heard – but as I said before, I refuse to hide even if I’m not overt now.”

Tamaki waved his hand again. “And like I said, it’s not an issue. What the heck! It’s a bonus! We’ll be able to open the club to a whole new demographic. Men may visit the Host Club if they so wish to, and I have no doubt if no men wish to that there are plenty of girls that would love to spend some time having tea and getting advice from someone who shares in their interests.”

I resisted the urge to jump to conclusions and immediately assume that he was talking about "girly" shit. I would give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he meant liking dudes. It was a thing that unfortunately affected the perception of the interaction between gay men and females. The myth that every girl wants a gay best friend, and that obviously gay men and women got along. Obviously.

At the end of the day, this decision was a gamble. I didn’t know how this would end up turning out, but the pros seem to outweigh the cons. I would be playing nice with Kyoya’s friends and I would be making strong allies in the school’s most popular kids. With the eyes on me, I would be getting the publicity that I wanted, it might just not give me the end result that I am interested in. The cons are that I’ll be out to the entire school’s population. I’ve been assured by Suoh Senior that my sexuality isn’t an issue at this establishment, but there will always be assholes. This is still a high school, and rich kids are often more skilled with their rumours than your average public-school child.

“Fine. I’ll join your club – but I’ll be discussing my terms with Kyoya.”

Tamaki’s face lights up and he twirls around, practically sparkling like what I imagine the awful lovechild between Naruto and Sasuke to be like. “Alright! We’ll have our first gay host!!! I can’t wait to show you around the club room.”

 


 

Haruhi P.O.V

“Wait, Akabane-san! There was something that I wanted to ask you,” I asked, quickening my pace to catch up with the red head as we walked back to the club room with Akabane and Friends™. I honestly can’t believe that getting Akabane to join was that simple, it was almost like the (very valid) protests that he offered were just token. Like hallway through the song, he’d accepted that he’d inevitably joined us and just wanted to know how much we were willing to deal with.

I’m vaguely reminded of a scene from the Scottish Play.

Huh.

I shake my head and continue to scurry to match Akabane’s long strides. He was walking in step with Kyoya-sempai, and the two of them were whispering quietly to each other, however they stopped right before I fell in step with them. Akabane raised an eyebrow for like the 60th time as he looked at me expectantly. I flushed slightly but pushed ahead; this would continue to bug me until I knew. “Kyoya-sempai wasn’t all that specific, so I was wondering if you would explain how you know Kyoya-sempai?”

Akabane and the third Otori exchanged an odd look before Akabane gave me an assessing look. I met his eyes with the best of my ability, trying really hard to not show that he was more intimidating than I’d previously thought. From a distance, he had been a striking figure, but up close, it was much easier to see all the ‘flaws’ in his features.

His hair seemed a lot spikier than it should be, and the colour of it was so blatantly unnatural that he looked like some anime protagonist. How more people weren’t a little… concerned about how him and his two friends were getting away with the brilliant hair colours astounded me. We had plenty of eccentric people at this school – rich bastards had to get their kicks somehow, right? – but the teachers were pretty strict about hair colour. We had some international students as well as many mixed kids, so blonds weren’t exactly odd to see, but nobody dyed it a colour. From what I’ve heard, they’ve claimed that their hair is natural, but I didn’t quite believe it?

All the same, that colour was pretty impressive either way. It wasn’t blood red, but not fire truck red either. It was just a really rich in between colour. I want to say that it looks fucking dumb, but Asano’s hair – which is a weird orangey rust colour – was still worse and Akabane actually managed to wear it with confidence.

The way that he moved was already comparable to Mori-sempai’s graceful prowl, but it was the odd head movements that made it seem… stiffer? He cocked his head a lot like some shitty movie villain going with his ‘I don’t give a shit’ attitude. He didn’t quite jerk his head, but it was a close thing. With those kind of angles, I wondered if his neck hurt or not. Did he ever regret doing his subtle dramatic thing? I know that after a full day Tamaki would often complain about pulling something and then promptly pout when I pointed out that he didn’t have to do the splits during club.

I think that what made that little bit of unnaturalness that just a bit worse and more noticeable is the fact that his features were almost fae-like. The proximity to his person allowed me to see the tips of his pierced ears, and they were pointed almost like an elf’s. Every time he moved his mouth it was obvious that his canines were sharper. I don’t know who he thinks that he’s fooling, but those teeth do not look human. Calling him inhuman would be silly, but there was no denying how fucking unnatural he looked. Is he a full-time cosplayer or something?

Then his fucking eyes. He stared at me like he could see my very soul. In some lights, his eyes look amber – a natural colour – but as soon as you’re caught in his gaze, they suddenly look a lot closer to molten gold. Once again, pretty freaky. So yeah, I was a little freaked out by meeting his gaze, but people like him didn’t respect people who were afraid of them, so I did the only logical thing and challenged him with my eyes.

He looked a little impressed, but almost like he knew that I wouldn’t back down. And then, he answered me.

“Well Fujioka, since you asked so nicely,” he grinned showing off those fang-like teeth like he knew about the observations that I’d made. He totally believed he knew what I was thinking – he had the same cocky look that Kyoya-sempai did. “I met Kyoya when I was really young – I think the first time we really got acquainted was when I was 10. I had been getting more involved in some business and was attending a business gala. Kyoya saw the only other person that was close to his age – and of course I stuck out like a sore thumb with this hair and my first piercing – so he approached me thinking that I was lost. After finding out that I was decidedly not lost, he struck up a conversation, and as they say, the rest was history.”

His words felt sincere, although it was pretty obvious that he wasn’t telling the story quite like how it happened. However, it was more information than Kyoya-sempai offered so I guess that was a win?

I decided to press for more. “What kind of business? Isn’t Kyoya-sempai’s family a medical based one? I know that they also dabble in other sectors…” I trail off slightly as Akabane’s eyes fill with mirth. “You don’t have to answer, it’s just as a new member of the club I thought it would be smart to get to know you better.”

“Well I can’t blame you for being curious, Fujioka.” Akabane laughed, exchanging another more amused look with Kyoya. “As for the business, well I was getting more involved in… the family business. My foster parents were killed in a car accident, and I’d been making my way up in the world.”

 

“Woah! You were a foster kid?! Does that mean that you’re secretly Kyoya-kun’s long lost half-brother?” Hikaru said suddenly, popping up behind me and causing me to jump out of my skin. I shoot a glare over at Akabane who had clearly seen the twins but didn’t bother warning me.

Kaoru then chose to follow in his brother’s footsteps and popped up on my other side. “Yeah Kyoya-sempai! Is there secretly a fourth Ootori???” His eyes were filled with stars as he stared down at the new red head.

There was a pause for approximately 2.3 seconds before something absolutely phenomenal happened. Kyoya-sempai doubled over in laughter. I didn’t even think that that was fucking possible. His laughter was a catalyst for Akabane’s own laughter, and soon the two of them were crouching on the ground and laughing uproariously. This of course, caught the other’s attention.

Tamaki whirled around to look at us, confused. Kyoya-sempai and Akabane were rolling around on the ground (well, their equivalent of rolling around on the ground) while the twins and I stood looking down at them with confused expressions. Tamaki’s eyes widened comically.

“What did I miss?”

Chapter Text

Karma P.O.V

First things first; I knew that this would be a bad idea when I agreed to it.

Sure, joining the Host Club probably had its advantages that would pan out and I’d be able to say that this was all worth it in the end. However, just because there is some pay off in the end doesn’t mean that I was having the greatest time right now.

I’m a firm believer of the ‘the ends justify the means’ philosophy, but I had to admit, this kind of sucked.

Now I’m sure that it’s obvious exactly what the immediate causes of my… annoyance are; Tamaki’s breathing is annoying, let alone the rest of him, and I actually had to host people. I was not a people pleaser, so of course dealing with giggling, preppy, rich brats was annoying beyond belief. It wouldn’t be the first time that I’d done such a thing – I’m still a little miffed about that stupid café project that Korosensei gave us, not to mention the people at True Cross (even if they weren’t as vapid as the students here) – but that didn’t mean I liked it any better. It was just exhausting to deal with people. I’m no introvert, but damn hosting was a new level.

I had left all the people stuff to Nagisa back in the Class E days, so I mean, I guess that was coming back to bite me in the butt now.

Nagisa still hadn’t let me live that little impromptu performance down.

Because not only did I agree to join the damn Host Club at fucking Ouran Academy, but I had also done so in possibly the most dramatic way that the club has ever seen. That includes the fact that Haruhi only joined after smashing a vase so that she could work off a debt. Seriously… I participated in a theatrical duet with a guy that I’d never met before that moment. Sure I’d known who he was – who didn’t? – but even though I knew the song, that didn’t mean that I had to join in.

I didn’t even bother to change lyrics or anything all that much! I just sang Zac fucking Efron’s part and danced with the other teen.

Shit.

I can’t believe I did that. Why did I do that?

It was unbelievable. I’d made a complete fool of myself and only now was I realizing this. Normally, I wouldn’t give a fuck about what people thought of me, however this year was just different. I was the shit at True Cross Academy, and no one (save Shiratori Reiji and briefly the cram class kids) really had that strong of an opinion of me. There were simply too many people in the school and I was amongst the A Classes, so the masses mainly knew me by my ranking and the fact that I was part of the illustrious cram class.

Some people had known me because Yukio was my brother, but that was very much not an issue here. Well I mean, a little bit here… a rumour had begun to circulate around the school – no doubt the Hitachin twins’ fault – about how there was secretly a fourth Ootori. They apparently hadn’t let it go even though Kyoya and I had both insisted that I was not related to him by blood and had ranted about it to anyone who would listen. The current rumour that the students seemed to like the best was that after being publicly shamed for having a third son, the Ootori head of house had hidden the fact that he’d had a fourth child. The school couldn’t seem to decide whether or not they believed that I was a true son (my appearance suggested otherwise) or if I was illegitimate and that’s why the Ootori family (read: Kyoya) ‘adamantly’ refused to claim me.

This wouldn’t be too awful on its own, but that meant that rich whiny kids were doing their best to dig into my background. Now I was good with computers and I employed people who are even better than me, so it wasn’t like they were able to find anything important. However there were documents available because if I had no record at all it would be more suspicious than if I had a couple things pop up when you search my name.

The first thing that would pop up was my art which I had a website for under my name. The other stuff is some basic social media which consisted of your average teenager pictures (carefully taken and constructed of course) and a bunch that the Class E kids and Izumo had tagged me in. Nothing too special really, and certainly nothing that people would make waves over.

However, if they weren’t satisfied with that, then they would start to dig into school records. Records, which I had kept truthful out of some damn sense of pride. So it showed how I went through Kunugikaoka in Class A up until I got suspended for assaulting another student and then finished my third year in Class E before stealing the top spot. Then I went to attend True Cross Academy with scholarship worthy grades only to get involved in something near the end of the year and which caused me to be effectively bedridden up until exams because of serious physical and psychological injury.

Apparently Mephisto thought it appropriate to leave that in my official transcripts as if it was some excuse for possible mediocre grades. Oh no, the poor dear was kidnapped and tortured – you can’t expect too much from him.

Well fuck you, because I claimed the top spot in my damn year regardless.

 

And while some of those facts might actually interest some people, that wasn’t what I was all that worried about. It wasn’t a secret as to what the circumstances were when I transferred to Ouran. What was a rather unfortunate fact was that I was an orphan. My father was Satan, so it makes sense why he couldn’t be there (not that anyone knew that because the records simply indicate that no father was identified) and my mother was listed to have died in childbirth. My papers don’t mention Yukio or any names – so that’s a blessing I guess.

But that just left the fact that I spent a lot of time in an orphanage after being dropped off my a priest and then I was adopted by a sketchy fucking couple that turned out to have been killed in a car accident before I was even half way through middle school. There was a distinct lack of any kind of child’s protective services and I was just sort of suddenly emancipated.

All the same, there was a lot for the rumour mill to work with there. With the higher scrutiny and sudden approachableness making me both less and more intimidating causes mass speculation as to why I was adopted, what happened after my adoptive parents were killed? Why didn’t I just return to the system? How was I affording such good schools? All things that didn’t exactly paint a good image. Surely it helped a bit with what intimidation factor that I lost when I decided that ballroom dancing with Suoh Tamaki in front of like half the school was a good idea.

But none of that was the reason why I had a pretty big issue with all of… this.

Nope.

It was the actual Host Club and my role in things. I apparently didn’t understand fully what the fuck I was getting myself into, because next thing I know, Tamaki casually outs me to the entire fucking school and the news has spread like wildfire. Practically overnight, anyone who was ‘anyone’ knew that I was gay or at the very least, not straight. You couldn’t very well have your first gay host when nobody else knew that they were gay right? Tamaki had immediately set out to make it public – very much unlike Haruhi’s true gender. If she wanted to cross dress her way through high school then that was her choice but shit, did he really have to out me like this?

It was the school’s latest source of gossip, so of course Asano heard of it.

So I wasn’t exactly in the closet while at Kunugikaoka so if Asano had bothered, he probably could have found out that I wasn’t straight. But he had focused mainly on destroying me intellectually rather than ‘sinking to that level’ and going after me for something that was inherent – notice he never mocked me for having bright fucking red hair – he decided to show me up like the arrogant asswipe that he is.

However with that effectively failing and me showing him up yet again by skipping a year seemed to push the guy a little bit farther. Asano being at Ouran was already a little weird because Kunugikaoka did have a high school program but thinking logically it might have been due to the loss of reputation after I beat him. So of fucking course in his butthurt haze, he decided that he should go and hit below the belt.

It’s not like anything else worked, right?

Of course I didn’t know about this shit until fucking art class 2 days after the news had made its way through the entire student body – which was kind of slow for how little students there were but I’ll let it go due to how accurate and collected the rumours were.

 

So I walked into art class after a successful run through some individual comp-sci bullshit and all eyes were one me. Now that in itself wasn’t all that unusual for me, but it was the intensity that was beginning to bother me. We were allowed to work on our own individual projects, so I popped my earbuds in and got to work on sketching. Some other people in the class had followed suit, but there was still a good chunk that were staring. I didn’t bother turning on my music and just busied myself while waiting for someone to start whispering.

And whisper they did.

Somehow, the people in my art class managed to be some of the last people to find out because it was very obvious that the novelty of having an out and proud gay kid hadn’t yet worn off. They were looking out of the corner of their eyes like I was going to break out into song and dance at any moment – which after that two-person flash mob, wasn’t all that unwarranted, I’ll give them that. What did they expect to change though?

Now that everyone knew I was gay I was going to suddenly become freaking Leigh Damian or something? How about hell no? I don’t even understand where they were going with any of this, but at least they didn’t do anything other than watch me.

Until they did.

Here I was, minding my own business and drawing like the freaking art nerd that I secretly am, when someone decides that now is the perfect time to ask me questions.

“So are you like, really gay?” Some randy asks out of the blue causing the previous flow in the room to end abruptly – the only thing missing was a comedic record scratch. I turn around slowly to look at the teen that was sitting backwards in his chair so that he could lean towards me with open curiosity plastered all over his face. I was the only one that moved, and the other students that possessed some common sense immediately tensed up.

My movements were slow and only telegraphed annoyance. I reach up slowly and then violently wrench the earbuds from my ears. “Excuse me?” The kid didn’t look all that perturbed by the fact that I had responded so negatively. He just kept pushing, as if he saw it as a sign that I was eager to answer.

“I said; are you really gay? Like, was that a rumour that someone spread? Or do you really like to take it up the ass?” The kid had a weird look on his face, somewhere in between curiosity and sadistic glee. He was an asshole. Great.

“Well that’s none of your business, now is it.” I snap a bit. I’d escaped being judged to my face so far, but I wasn’t about to let people walk all over me for this. Bitch I will find all your dirty laundry and fucking air it to the world. What was his name again?

He grins at me and shifts in his seat, actually showing that he’s not a pansy by maintaining eye contact. That of course just means that he’s an idiot. “Well I think it’s my business if I’m going to be sharing a class with a fag.” He shot off, sneering and jeering. “I mean, you aren’t really, right?”

Well fuck you too.

“I feel like who I like isn’t any of your damn business, but to clear some shit up because you’re clearly an intolerant and stupid human being–” I sneer back, pointing at him with my pen before turning and beginning to ink part of the sketch while I went about roasting this kid while also confirming my ‘fag’ status. “I’ve seen your course load, you’re not exactly slated to become a doctor or even a business man – so yeah, I’m not straight. So fucking what? It doesn’t affect you.”

The kid stared at me in disgust and sort of just leaned back in his chair. All of my focus was on the teen at this point, but I could feel the tension amongst the other students. Even the teacher was tuning in now.

“Um? It totally affects me. My parents are paying good money for me to go to this damn school and now people like you are being allowed in.” The teen sneered, “first that charity case Fujioka came in to make all of us look bad and now they’re just letting fags in.” The teen threw his hands in the air and then made a show of looking around the room so that he could bring everyone else into this conversation. That was usually a move that I made, so I mean, kudos for that I guess. “Does anyone else feel threatened?”

I suppressed the urge to full on laugh.

Then I gave up on that and just fucking laughed at the guy. “Threatened?” I asked incredulously, “I’m sure you have plenty of reasons to feel threatened, but me liking guys isn’t one of them.” A couple students shift uncomfortably as the smile slips off of my face to leave behind a cold look. I lean back in my seat and look down my nose at the students in the room. “What’s your name again?”

The teen looked slightly taken aback but didn’t hesitate to puff out his chest and proudly proclaim that his name was Sen Akihiko. How fucking unoriginal of his parents.

“So Akihiko,” not bothering with honourifics which clearly bothers Sen but who gives a shit, right? I make a show of snapping my notebook shut and glaring at the teen. “I hate to break it to you – no, I actually don’t; you seem to need to be taken down a peg or two – but just because you have a dick doesn’t mean that I’m into you. I have standards, and you meet exactly none of them.” I pointedly ignore the soft mutter of ‘language’ from the teacher.

“Back the fuck off, asshole.” I finish with a sneer and move to turn around again thinking that I’d won this little impromptu showdown that this idiot had chosen to start. Everyone else followed my lead, evidently believing that the show was over. I’d gotten the last word and we were clearly done here, right?

Wrong.

Akihiko just could not let things go. Nope. He had to be high and mighty and try to establish himself as top dog.

“Hey faggot! We’re not done here yet!” he snarls, actually getting up from his seat and storming over to the table that I had situated myself at. I flicked my eyes up towards him lazily and glared for a moment before craning my head around to look over at the teacher in the corner of the room.

“Hey! As far as the school’s policy is, there’s a zero-harassment tolerance here at this school. So teach, you wanna intervene?” I call over, watching with satisfaction as she turns a bright red and she shuffles off of her seat in small half-aborted motions.

Finally, she decides to stand and awkwardly rushes over to the two of us before looking between us with uncertainty. “Well another rule of the school is that people are allowed to have opinions and express these opinions…” she trails off nervously, her eyes flickering up to meet Akihiko’s before immediately returning to the ground. Needless to say, I didn’t like that response at all.

“So everything’s okay because it’s his opinion, never mind the fact that he’s used a gay slur numerous times as well as blatantly indicated that he would be more than happy if I were to mysteriously leave the school–” I break off, not caring that I was arguing with a teacher. Apparently, she was just another damn example to prove that more money pumped into a school doesn’t mean that you get better teachers. This art teacher was such a fucking pushover, holy shit.

“That’s not what I said!” she insisted, looking very panicked, but Akihiko cut her off before she could continue to dig herself into a hole.

He turned to glare at her, “hey! Don’t you go taking this piece of trash’s side, remember that I wasn’t the first one to think this. I’m just one of the few who is saying what everyone is thinking,” he defends. “Asano-san is planning on speaking with the principal, so the smartest thing to do is just not get involved, Sensei.”

And wasn’t that just a little interesting piece of information.

The teacher looked thoroughly stunned and taken aback, so I didn’t hesitate to scoop all of my supplies back into my bag and shove past her. “Asano… huh.” I curse quietly as I stride towards the door.

The teacher managed to recover in the two seconds that it took for me to get past her and make it pretty far towards the door and quickly yelled out; “hey! What are you doing? You can’t leave the classroom!”

I look over my shoulder and grip the doorframe hard enough to cause the wood to creak audibly. “Well I sure as hell ain’t staying in a class where I–” and here I blatantly look Akihiko in the eyes, “–‘don’t feel safe,’” I sneer before leaving the room and slamming it shut behind me.

‘Calmly’ striding through the halls on my way to get the fuck out, I pull out my phone and casually place a call. “Ritsu-chan? Tell me what you can find out about Sen Akihiko.”

Chapter Text

Karma P.O.V

After walking out of art class, I wasn’t exactly in the greatest mood. Ritsu was looking into Akihiko for me so I didn’t really have to worry too much about that, but that didn’t mean that his little episode hadn’t put me in a foul mood. I just wanted to eat my food and then finish the rest of my classes before heading home and throwing some paint on a canvas.

Like just taking a bucket of paint and splashing it all over the canvas. I meant that literally.

 

(Let’s ignore the fact that this was all to cover up the fact that I had a major hunger for blood. There was just this ache on the back of my tongue, but I refused to be a vampire wanna-be and lick my knife after a kill.

Firstly, Nagisa would never let me live it down and neither would any of the others from Class E. Secondly, although I heal fast, I don’t want to cut my tongue on accident by getting a little too over eager. Have you ever cut your tongue? It’s legitimately the worst thing I’ve ever done. I was an absolute baby about it and Terasaka had harassed me about it for months before the idiot cut his own tongue and realized that it was the worst.

Thirdly, blood is unsanitary as all hell. I doubt that I’d be able to get any disease from it due to biological incompatibility, but I wasn’t about to take that chance so no blood licking for me. It’s not the worst taste in the world, but who wants to contract HIV by being a dumbass?)

 

So yeah.

That’s of course when the universe decides to shove an extra little ‘fuck you’ my way and my lunch was disturbed. Again.

Nagisa and Kayano were both signed out of classes for the next couple of days for a joint mission, so I was content to just sit at a corner table in the cafeteria and eat my packed bento. The lunches here at Ouran were very lavish, but with my weird ass taste buds, it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to subject my stomach to everyday. After the first week I had discovered that the rich food just wasn’t for me, so I began cooking for myself again. It was nice to get back into a routine even if it wasn’t the safest thing for me to do.

Lunch started out fine. Those who were in my art class hadn’t bothered me since walking out of class and they mostly kept their heads down, seemingly pretending that nothing had happened at all. Every now and then one would look over at me out of the corner of their eyes, but that wasn’t exactly new, and they weren’t even the only ones, so I let it slide. I was pretty invested in my small bento and honestly couldn’t be bothered to try and tell any of them off.

For the ones who actually wanted my attention, it was a turn off, and they returned to their own lives. That obviously didn’t include at least one person in this school, and not even hallway through lunch, my meal was disturbed by someone sitting down across from me and pulling my bento towards them.

I looked up to glare at them, expecting to see Kyoya or one of the other members of the Host Club. Nope. It was none other than my ‘arch nemesis’ (Isogai’s words, not mine); motherfucking Asano Gakushuu. Just the guy I wanted to see – honest. Here he was, the teen that had insulted my existence upon merely entering ‘his’ school. For some reason he found it necessary to speak with me right now?

I look up to meet his own uniquely coloured eyes – fucking violet, how pretentious – with a glare to match the intensity of his condescending stare. If he wanted to play this game then I was not going to be happy about it. Here I was, minding my own business and kindly not fucking with him, like, at all, when he decides to disturb the peace and sit across from me. How funny. “Hello, Asano. What the fuck do you want?” I ask, biting the bullet and snatching my lunch back from him so that I could scowl into it and shove another ball of rice into my mouth, making a point to flash my teeth at him.

To my utter disappointment, he looked wholly unperturbed. Damn.

“Well, Akabane, I’m here to find out if the rumours are true. You can’t really be a fag,” Asano sneered, rolling his eyes and leaning forwards as if to imply comradery, “I know you had a fondness for that dark-haired scientist in the failure of a class you were in.” He spoke as if he were trying to do me a favour by ‘clearing my name’ to the school’s populous.

“It’s called friendship, dipshit. You might want to give it a try.” I sneer, straightening my spine and narrowing my eyes even further at him. He responded by leaning delicately on his wrist and plastering a smug look on his face. Ugh, how I hate that face.

Ugh.

He raised an eyebrow at me for a moment before a smirk slowly slid across his face. “Friendship? Now isn’t that curious. I didn’t think a failure like you would even know of such a thing. Isn’t that too… sophisticated for a monster like you?”

That condescending fuck.

“Sure. However I, unlike you, actually have some friends.” I sneer right back, pointedly continuing to eat while I stared him down. I wasn’t uncivilized, so I didn’t speak while my mouth was full, but he didn’t do the uncivilized thing either by interrupting me until it was clear that my point was finished. Ugh, I almost hate arguing with intelligent bigoted people more than stupid bigoted people. Almost. “And you’re going to call me a monster. What ever gave you that idea?”

His eyes practically lit up with glee at that last statement and I could tell that he was eager to respond. “Now don’t be like that, Akabane. I have plenty of friends! Look around you,” he gestures elegantly to all the people in the cafeteria, most, if not all, now watching us with enraptured gazes. Fucking fuck.

“As for what gave me the idea that you’re a monster…” Asano continued, grinning with malice as everyone tuned in just a little more blatantly. “Well your behaviour back at Kunugikoaka is more than enough to give me that impression. Tell me, how many months was that boy hospitalized after you were suspended for attacking him?”

So he was going to go there then. Interesting.

“You know perfectly well that I only broke his arm, Asano. He didn’t even press charges.” I grumble, finishing with my bento and putting it away in my bag without much hassle. I was done with hiding behind my damn food to try and avoid conflict. He’s dredging up shit that happened legitimately years ago. Now I am possibly the biggest hypocrite here because I love to bring up shit that happened years ago just to throw it back in people’s faces but when it was lies I get pissed.

Asano sneered, “right, it was the teacher that you really attacked.”

It was really hard to resist the urge to say ‘fuck you’. Really hard.

“And that’s just one incident,” Asano’s voice was so falsely sweet and carried through the now silent cafeteria. Great, now literally everyone was aware. I mean, it wasn’t the worst thing that has ever happened. Everyone already knew that I had a short temper, and now I suppose it was just obvious that it wasn’t something new. Charismatic cool guy? That’s out the window. I’m going full asshole now – screw trying to be ‘nice’.

 

(Let’s just pretend that that ship hasn’t sailed a while ago…)

 

“Does beating up pieces of scum make you a monster?” I wonder aloud, meeting his eyes with my own calculating look. “The only reason that I even had to step in was because the teachers wouldn’t do their jobs. You can’t fault me for that…”

Asano wrinkled his nose delicately. “We both know that you’re a monster – you wouldn’t have killed all those people back at True Cross if you weren’t.” he sneered, clearly believing the rumour that the Cram Class was basically child soldier recruiting. (The irony in him thinking that it was True Cross that made me an assassin was not lost on me.)

“Whether or not you believe I’m a murderer isn’t why you’re here.” I point out.

He sighs heavily and leans back slightly, folding his arms across the cafeteria table with mock exasperation. “I suppose you’re right for once. Even a broken clock can be right two times a day.” He sighed again, “so, are you gay?”

After going through this already, I just decided to bite the bullet and push forwards. It wasn’t like I was ashamed of who I was, it’s just that life was about to become much more annoying much faster.

Fuck.

“Not that it’s any of your business, but yeah. I’m gay.”

The look of shear disgust on Asano’s face, I could practically smell the pheromones that he was releasing. It was palpable. From the looks of the people around us, they could tell too.

“You know, there was a time where I actually almost respected you. What a disappointment.”

And then he stood up and just walked away, his heels clicking against the polished tile floor.

 


 

Disaster after disaster; my day was effectively ruined. I have absolutely no hope for the Host Club session making this day any better, and I’m sure that even though we’ve fallen pretty low, it’s only downhill from here. There’s no saving this day. Too many fucking asshats have royally pissed me off and not even snuggling the cat that had decided to take up residency at Isogai and Maehara’s place would make this better. Fuck.

This day cannot end soon enough.

My foul mood wasn’t improved in the slightest upon walking into the club room and finding everything set up for what looked to be an English tea party. There were couches set up around the room with small Lolita like tables set up in the middle of the cluster of seating. The couches themselves were plush and pastel coloured, fitting the theme that the club room seemed to be going for. There was delicate china sitting on top of the table and small hot plates to boil water for tea. With a small range of tea leaves and empty bags sitting around the plate, I was lead to believe that todays event would be much more of a headache than previously suspected.

Don’t get me wrong, I like tea as much as the next person, but with all the different herbs sitting in little white dishes, I just knew that I was going to end the hour with one hell of a headache. My nose is super sensitive, and some of the fruitier smelling teas always made it burn. Not to mention that with all of the natural herbs, there were plenty that had medicinal qualities that people just liked to make into normal tea. With their unique aromas and tastes, I’ve seen plenty of people drink things just because it was available.

There’s also plenty of normal teas that people use as natural remedies. Of course, with the wide variety that was presented on the tables, there was almost guaranteed to be something that messed with my system in some way, whether it be through simple allergy or something that just didn’t sit well with a demon’s immune system.

Looks like I’ll be making my own tea. Fan-fucking-tastic. Just what I wanted to be doing today.

 

I stalked my way through the mostly empty room until I reached what looked to be a small kitchenette (why on earth was there a kitchenette in an old music room???) where I proceeded to dump my bag on the ground and moved towards the large metal sink. We’d been handling some dirt while repotting some basic house/cooking herbs for my botany class and I hadn’t had the time to thoroughly wash my hands like I’d wanted to.

I quickly removed my blazer and draped it across my bag before rolling up the sleeves of my dress shirt and scrubbing every inch of my forearms and hands. I’m not one to shy away from dirt, but the gritty feeling n my skin that gets left behind by the combination of soap residue and left-over dirt wasn’t something that I liked to deal with for any length of time. It was a simple manner of scrubbing aggressively for a bit, but soon enough I couldn’t feel it anymore and things were fine.

I could hear the others hosts yelling at each other as they messed around with the room and the overall set up. Drying my arms off with a hand towel, I move over and fold my blazer so that I can put it away in my bag. It was typical host protocol to wear the full school uniform on days like today, but fuck that. I’m the ‘gay’ host with a side of being the ‘bad boy – new guy’ à la JD from Heathers, so I highly doubt that any of the girls will complain upon seeing how I choose to present myself. Besides, I’ve never been one for wearing a school uniform properly. It just wasn’t my style at all.

In a fit of rebelliousness, I removed my tie too (wow what a rebel, right? I’m so bad…) and shoved that in the bag too. Undoing a couple buttons completed the look. I’d shown up to school today knowing that I’d have to host, so I went a little out of my way to look the part that I was to play.

No, I did not decide to go flamin’ gay. I went more with the JD vibe that I’d been carefully (ha) crafting. I didn’t bother with the metal armbands because there wouldn’t be anyone here who would understand the significance of them that I didn’t want to. I was only showing the lower half of my arms, so I didn’t really need to worry about the Trickster symbol or the summoner tattoo that I wore. It just showed the paladin symbol amongst roses and the little words across my wrist. I could’ve always covered them up with make up, but that took too much effort and had little to no pay off.

People knew I had tattoos, it wasn’t like it would be a surprise.

I had filled in all of my piercings too, putting in various crosses and loops through my ears and sweeping my hair a little bit more so that it was more windswept than bedhead. Just to add a little more flare – because if nothing else, I am one hell of a drama queen – by putting on some eyeliner. Well, a little more eyeliner than usual. My eyes were fucking great and everyone was gonna know. If I’m going to be whored out to the school I’m going to look hot, dammit.

 

Upon walking out of the kitchen with my bag lazily slung over my shoulder, I was met with the stares of the Host Club. Kyoya didn’t even bat an eye, and Haruhi was quick to recover and continue doing whatever she was doing. The Hitachin twins just sort of gaped for a moment while Tamaki full on began monologuing in the corner of the room. Haruhi proceeded to throw a book at his head, and he was quickly at my side like an overly excited puppy.

“What are you wearing???” He demanded, pulling at my arm and spinning me around with bug eyes. “Put your blazer back on! We can’t have people seeing your tattoos! And are those piercings?” He damn near shrieked as he stared at me like he’d never seen my body modifications before.

Haruhi must have thought that he was just as much of an idiot as I did because she whirled around and immediately began snapping at her boyfriend. “Sempai! He’s had those the entire time, you just like to pretend that you don’t know. Also, weren’t you the one that agreed that he should be a ‘bad boy’ type after he flat out told you two days ago that being called the ‘gay’ one was insulting?” Haruhi helpfully pointed out.

Tamaki immediately pouted, but he didn’t deny it. “But Haruhiiiiiii,” he whined, “he can’t wear his uniform like that! None of the rest of us are.”

I mean, fair point, but still.

“I’m the ‘bad boy’, it’s perfectly in character for me to not wear the uniform properly. The only reason that I don’t do that regularly is because it was one of your father’s conditions after he found out about my tattoos.” I helpfully add only making Tamaki’s pout worse. But like the bipolar idiot that he is, he immediately snaps out of it and proceeds to excitedly drag me over to what I would assume to be ‘my’ table.

He shoved me down onto the couch and I dumped my bag down by my feet so that it wouldn’t get in the way while the blond danced around the furniture. “I’m sure you can figure out what to do concerning the tea here, but you’ll be happy to know that there was plenty of girls who requested your time today! We decided to start out small and give you 5 clients for your first hour.” I damn near face faulted at that statement. Fucking really? 5 was starting it off small. Amazing.

Rich people.

I can’t believe it.

Deciding to just brush it off and deal with the situation at hand instead of what could possibly be wrong with Suoh Tamaki. Tamaki had flit off to do who knows what in the last 5 minutes before we opened the doors and the host club was in session, so that gave me some time to actually examine all the shit that I had on my table.

For the most part, there wasn’t all that much variety in the small ceramic dishes. The leaves that were there looked to be pretty basic and/or mild. There was some mint and even small collections of what looked like flowers. I didn’t really deal all that much with loose leaf tea, but this looked interesting? There was a small plate of sugar cubes and even a tiny little pot of honey. This was ridiculous. Holy shit.

At least the tea leaves provided didn’t smell like they were all that strong – no doubt due to Kyoya’s influence. They all looked to be more green tea (which, unpopular opinion, but I really hate Japanese green teas. Matcha can be very gross. I mean, give me some good ol' Earl Grey any day and I'll be happy. But tea ceremonies will always get me, man. At least Sencha wasn't the worst) than black tea, but fuck if I knew what I was doing. I had to do this and ‘host’ 5 girls? Why the fuck did they even request me? I’m so fucking confused…

I didn’t get much more time than that to prepare because suddenly, the twins were throwing open the door and fuckin rose petals were flying through the air as the hosts (including Haruhi???) posed dramatically and bowed to the assembled school girls that were waiting excitedly outside of the double doors to the music room.

“Welcome, ladies!” Tamaki cried happily before gesturing towards the dolled up room, and by extension, where I was sitting on one of the many couches. “Today is a very special day for some of you as we are welcoming a new host! I’m sure many of you have heard of him even if you haven’t met him, but today we are welcoming Akabane Karma into the fold.” He then proceeded to go on about some spiel about host types and how 5 of the ‘lucky ladies’ would be getting to spend the hour with me while the rest were welcome to join their regular hosts.

Somehow, when I signed up for this, I didn’t really think it would be like this. I’d read some of Kyoya’s reports, but in writing it didn’t seem this awful. Why did I agree? Why do I do this.

 

I was distracted from my thoughts by the arrival of four out of the five girls that I was told to host for the next hour. Two of them were buzzing excitedly and whispering to the third girl, while the fourth appeared to be trying really hard to appear poised and sophisticated. She sat delicately at the edge of the plush cushion and folded her hands in her lap while the two excitable girls crowded the third quieter on in between them on the couch across from me.

I shifted awkwardly for a moment before settling into the suave personality that had gotten me slapped back at Kunugikaoka. The girls of Class E absolutely hated the smarmy attitude, but they struck me as what you’d refer to as ‘strong independent women who don’t need a man’ while these girls were more the type of teenage girl that payed for fake romancing. Not that that was wrong, it’s just they were less likely to get me slapped. And even if they did go for a hit, it’s not like any of them could actually hurt me. This should be fine.

“Well as our illustrious leader said, welcome to the Host Club,” I grin, stealing some of Kyoya’s wording. I moved so that I was leaning forwards on my elbows, balancing them on my knees and clasping my hands in front of me so that I was subtly showing off my forearms. I was the ‘bad boy’ and that was probably half the reason that they’d even shown up to talk with me today. Judging by the bulging eyeballs of the trio on the couch, they very much liked what they saw. “Thank you for choosing me as your host today. I’m afraid I’m a bit new to all of this, so how about we introduce ourselves to get things started.”

I reach forwards and start up the hot plate to start bowling the water in the small kettle so that it would be ready once we finished introducing ourselves and got through a bit of small talk. “I’ll go first; I’m Akabane Karma, and I recently transferred to this school from True Cross Academy. Who are you?” I was trying my best to be polite, but if the slightly cool look Little Miss Prissy was giving me meant anything then some of my tone was coming off a bit sarcastic. Oh well.

“I am Arisawa Yuki,” Miss Prissy began, crossing her ankles and carefully arranging the edges of her skirt. She didn’t say anything else, prompting the others to begin to introduce themselves as well.

“I’m Tsukiko Aina, and these are my friends, Mitsuki Ayano and Ide Yuna.” One of the peppy girls introduced herself happily. She was bubbly, wearing her hair in tight curls and bouncing happily. Mitsuki was the other seemingly outgoing one, and she was really happy in this moment, nudging Ide excitedly. Ide looked a bit more unsure to be here and hid behind her bangs, but I was still able to see behind them to the light pink dusting of a blush across her pale cheeks.

I grin and lean back into the backrest so that I could sprawl lazily like a classic movie mob boss. I threw an arm over the back of the chair and tilted my head back to let the light catch my piercings just a little. If there was one thing that I was getting out of this it was a chance to act like an arrogant douchenozzle without repercussions because that’s what the masses wanted. It was great. “It’s very nice to meet you Arisawa-san, Tsukiko-san, Mitsuki-san, and Ide-san. What do you four say to chatting a little while we wait for the water to boil? It looks like Kyoya has set out a nice variety for us to enjoy today, so why don’t you tell me your preferences and I’ll set up some tea bags.”

I had spotted a curious little flower amongst the dishes and I was struck with an idea on what to do with it. It would just take a little bit of organization, but nothing too awful. And besides, we had the entire hour to do this. It wasn’t that big of a problem.

“Oh! You don’t have to do that, Akabane-sempai!” Mitsuki squealed, quickly grabbing a teabag and setting out to make her own tea, closely followed by the other girls. “This isn’t the first time that Kyoya-sempai has set this theme so we know what to do.” Figuring that they were capable of making their own tea I let them do as they wished. Making tea wasn’t my forté anyways.

 

(Huh. That might be something I want to work on later. Tea making was a valuable skill, especially when dealing with my more… old fashioned contacts. It helped with getting on their good sides.)

 

There was a beat of silence before Arisawa spoke up, starting a flow of conversation. “So what drew you to Ouran Academy, Akabane-sempai. True Cross Academy is a very good school.”

I actually had to think about that for a minute. How should I answer this? I’m sure the typical answer will work just fine. “Well I am old friends with Kyoya, so when things didn’t work out at True Cross, he convinced me that Ouran Academy would be worth my time. My half-brother is the Head Master of True Cross, so it was nice, getting away from him for a bit – you know, branching out and being my own person.” I spin my tail of bullshit, throwing in some shit about Mephisto in case some things popped up. Mephisto had ever so kind forged documents to go along with my school transcripts, so if someone went digging it was a plausible story.

However, that answer apparently wasn’t good enough because Ide shyly spoke up, and since she looked about ready to faint I figure glaring at her would be the wrong thing to do.

“I heard that you were kidnapped and to cover up the incident you chose to change schools.” She whispered hesitantly.

I hold back a sigh as the two girls beside her looked at me with interest. “So you must have been there when I first walked into the school.” Ide simply nods so I continue. “Yeah. There was an incident with some… less than savory people. One thing lead to another and my half-brother was a little… overprotective.” I said slowly, weaving more and more bullshit into my story. Arisawa already looked like she didn’t believe what I was saying, and it was sad because there was so much truth in this.

Just goes to show that telling half truths really is the best strategy. Right up there with telling the truth because no one will believe you anyway.

Wait… isn’t that what I’m doing now?

Oh well.

Fuck it.

 

“Wow! That must have been scary!” Mitsuki gushed as she moved forwards and grabbed the kettle to poor the hot water into the tea cups in front of all of us. I take the kettle from her and casually place the remaining hot water into a teapot and threw in some loose-leaf flowers. I’d let it steep for a bit before putting it in the mini fridge in the kitchenette to chill for a dozen or so minutes. “Can you tell us the story? I’m sure you were very heroic!”

Well shit.

I use this moment to dodge the question by (subtly) escaping and put the tea pot in the fridge. When I came back, it was to see that there was a fifth girl sitting with my circle of friends, and unlike the other girls who were whispering quietly to each other. Instead, she sipped at the mint tea that I had left in the other place because I wasn’t a mint kind of guy.

“I see we have a new guest here,” I open with a smile at the other girls as I retook my seat and prepared to spin another story for them if they didn’t back off. “And what’s your name sweetheart?” I asked, making eye contact with the new girl. She looked rather plain, but not ugly. She had pretty eyes and her hair cut complimented her heart shaped face. Unlike the other girls here, she also didn’t bother all that much with makeup, and what little she did wear was expertly applied. She looked foreign, or at least half foreign. Like Tamaki, she had pretty blonde hair, although her eyes were green instead of Tamaki’s intriguing shade.

Instead of opening her mouth to speak, she delicately placed her tea cup on the small table and began waving her hands around in various formations. I’m a little embarrassed to say how long it took me to notice what she was doing. She was signing.

I’m Emily Deans, or I guess, Deans Emily here. Do you understand SEE?

Right off the bat I recognize that it isn’t the sign language dialect that is commonly used in Japan. This fit with my deduction of her being foreign. She probably just moved here and wasn’t yet used to using the dialect that we do. With the money this school has I’m sure they are more than capable of providing an interpreter for her when she requires it, so I’m not surprised if she doesn’t even know what dialect we use. The slight hesitation I had before moving had her looking uncertain and immediately opening her mouth to start to try and croak out some Japanese but I quickly stopped that train of thought by quickly signing back.

It’s lovely to meet you, Emily. I am fluent in English, and I learned SEE a couple years ago, so forgive me if I’m a bit rusty. Are you new to the country?

I signed in my admittedly rusty SEE or Signed Exact English. I had learned this particular dialect after Kyoya found out about my English lessons. He insisted that signing was a valuable skill, and since a lot of my career relied on stealth, it was something that I’d had everyone learn. Admittedly we used a different short hand similar to Pidgin, but the ideas were similar enough to make learning them manageable. I was good at languages, and those that I usually went on missions with quickly adjusted to our own version of short hand.

I was a wee bit nervous that I’d fuck up and accidentally throw in another language or even fuck up the grammar, but the way that Emily’s face just lit up as soon as I signed back made that insecurity worth it. She had a pretty smile and she was so genuinely happily surprised. It was kind of sad actually.

You’re really good! I’m so happy that we can properly communicate. My interpreter wasn’t available for this afternoon, so I was just going to cancel, but then Ootori said that you might be familiar.

She made a face before signing a bit slower so that it was easier to understand.

Sorry. Sometimes I just get a little too excited. Yes, I moved here from England just last year and I’ve been struggling, but with Ootori as a tutor I’ve been doing well enough.

She smiled and picked her tea back up to take a sip, the smile not leaving her face. I inclined my head and turned to look at the other four girls so that I could catch them up to speed. “This is Deans Emily, and due to her condition, I’ll be signing along as I speak, so I might be speaking a bit slower. I hope that’s alright with you.” I say, signing as I spoke and made eye contact with the other four girls.

Arisawa looked a bit put out, but she didn’t offer up any complaints while the others simply nodded excitedly. “Alright, now where were we…” I begin, theatrically putting a hand on my chin as I tried to remember what we were talking about. I totally knew what it was, but you can’t blame me for trying.

“You were going to tell us about the er… incident…” Mitsuki said enthusiastically, trailing off awkwardly as she realized that it might not be all that good of a topic. “Or you could not,” she quickly amends, “it mustn’t be a fun topic for you to talk about…”

Before I could respond properly, Arisawa – who I was beginning to see as a Queen Bitch – cut in and showed that she was tactless at the best of times. “I would still like to hear the story. Asano-san has been very clear in what he found out, and I’m interested to see what your side of the story is.” And that throws out the idea that I can work my way around this. Mitsuki, Tsukiko and Ide might have let it go, and with Emily not knowing what was happening. Arisawa wasn’t going to let me weasel my way out of this, and I’m questioning as to whether she chose to be here just for the experience or to find out information.

Either way, I can’t just flat out lie. If word gets out that I lied to the clients, not only would Kyoya be disappointed at the bad PR, but Asano wouldn’t hesitate to use that against me. If Arisawa turns out to be in his corner, then Asano won’t hesitate to use whatever tale I tell against me regardless of its truth. But then again, he also dug enough to know that I was kidnapped to begin with. That was something that everyone kept hush hush. Regardless of how much they liked me, the True Cross students knew better than to talk about what happened in more than soft whispers with each other.

I would actually have to be honest. Here we go.

“Of course, Arisawa-san. It would be my pleasure,” I said, inclining my head and settling into my seat to begin. “As you’ve probably heard, I was a student participating in the Cram School element that my half-brother instilled in the school. I’m afraid it’s a trade secret as to what we learned, but we did leave the school frequently to learn in other environments. It on one such trip that we encountered gang activity.”

The girls gasped in tandem as I continued to weave my tale. “Unfortunately, I was a casualty of the ensuing panic, and I was held for three days. I wouldn’t want to frighten you with reality, but I was hospitalized upon my return. My half-brother encouraged me to simply take my exams and then get a change of scene. Somewhere safer.”

It was a very simple explanation, and definitely very watered down, but with the way that Tsukiko was crying, I figure it was enough for them.

But not for Arisawa.

“And do you happen to know what gang it was? Or even what area this occurred? My father has friends amongst the police force and this kind of information could stop it from happening to someone else.” She said, leaning forwards but managing to keep her expression cool.

I arched an eyebrow and tilted my head slightly. “I’m afraid the only time I was able to see my captors was when the rescue team came to burn down the building. I was unconscious when we left the building.” My tone of voice shut down any further questions from the girls, and my expression took care of Emily, although she did begin to hesitantly sign in the following silence.

I’m sorry that happened to you.

I blinked slowly before inclining my head once more and stood up.

Me too.

 

“Moving on from that rather heavy topic, I’d like to show you guys something that I learned a while back, before our time is up for the day.” I say casually, rising once more to grab some things from the kitchenette and leaving the girls a minute to process things and drop the unspoken tension that was beginning to clog up the air. While there I grabbed a small tray so that I would be able to carry things without dropping one or more glasses. Wouldn’t that be a disaster.

The tray itself was wooden, so I actually made an effort of grabbing a coaster (crocheted into a floral pattern even) and carefully placed the china tea pot on it. After that I grabbed some clear glasses from a small cabinet and adding that to the tray. Some spoons and a small pitcher full of lemonade were quickly added to the tray, and then after a moment of consideration, I filled the glasses half full with some ice from the fridge. Rich people like to splurge, so the ice was crystal clear and shaped perfectly. Presentation was everything after all. I made a note to grab some flowers as I threw in some straws.

Deciding that I had everything that I would need I returned to the main part of the room and set down my tray on the clear space on the table. “This is something I learned in a science class,” I say, giving a little prelude as I swirl the tea pot a bit and begin to pour the chilled tea into the glasses so that it was filled about ¾ of the way up. “This is a tea from Thailand that is called the Butterfly Pea Tea. It is widely known for its royal blue hue when steeped in hot water.” I explain, showing off the colour of the transparent liquid to the awed girls.

Holding the spoon so that it hovered over the surface of the liquid and the ice that had risen to the top, I flipped it over and carefully began to pour the lemonade over the spoon so that it dispersed and layered on top of the tea instead of mixing right away. With both the ice and the spoon allowed the pour to be smoother, there was a pretty solid separation. I was just a little bit smug that some of the bartending techniques had taken root.

(Bartending was a great covert way to get information relatively painlessly. People are always willing to spill their guts to their bartender, and the people that we usually go after are those that could spend hours at a bar. Bitch-sensei did make a point of teaching the girls how to flirt over liquor, she just didn’t expect that the girls would turn around and proceed to teach us the techniques too.)

“The unique thing about Butterfly Pea Tea other than it’s numerous theoretical health benefits, is that it changes colour depending on its pH level.” I explain as I top off each glass with a straw and one of the little blue flowers. “I’ve added lemonade which is acidic, so all you need to do is give it a stir.” I gesture for them to each take a glass and they do, although some with more eagerness than other.

 

Due to my preparations, I hadn’t had the time to sign what I was saying to Emily, but she seemed eager to try what I’d made regardless. She was actually the first to grab her glass and take a big sip. Her eyes widened in surprise as she looked at it before hesitantly swirling her straw around before moving to take another taste. By then the other girls had also grabbed their drinks, each of them stirring it and reacting in shock when the drink turned a lovely shade of purple.

Wow – cool – Karma!

Emily signed excitedly with one hand, switching to Pidgin and using the sign for karma – as in the Buddhist belief – for my name. I grinned and calmly sipped my lemonade. Even Arisawa didn’t have a complaint, so I have to say, today was a success.

I smirk over the rim of my glass at them. “So, what made you ladies choose me as your host for today?”

Chapter Text

I smirk over the rim of my glass at them. “So, what made you ladies choose me as your host today?”

 


 

Karma P.O.V

For a moment, no one responded as they drank the glasses of tea and lemonade. Admittedly we didn’t have all that much time left, and that question was kind of a loaded one… if they had a deep reason for choosing me over their usual hosts. If they just wanted to play with the metaphorical ‘new toy’ then this would be pretty boring all things considered.

So maybe this wouldn’t be all that long after all…

“Well, my usual host is Tamaki-sempai, but whenever he introduces a new host I make it a point to be one of the first people to officially meet the new host. I’ve been going to the club ever since it was founded after all! My older sister liked to bring me here after school and take me around to look at all of the clubs so that I would know what I wanted to do without having to deal with the stress during first year.” Tsukiko said honestly.

Mitsuki nodded in agreement. “Me too. I thought that your concept sounded interesting, although this was not what I expected to be perfectly honest.”

Ide downed half the drink in one go as if trying to down a shot for liquid courage or something. “I’ve never been here before but Mitsuki-chan said that it was fun. The others just looked so overwhelming, so I let Aina-chan and Mitsuki-chan pick for me.” She looked rather embarrassed to have admitted this, but I had to give her kudos for confidence.

“You’re valid,” I laugh lightly before turning to look at Emily.

And what about you? Is this also your first time here at the Host Club?

She laughed quietly, delicately setting down her glass and settling further into her seat to begin signing, and I know I’m in for a long one. The others look vaguely uncomfortable, and I briefly think a small ‘fuck you’ because language barriers were always going to be a thing and they needed to learn to live with it – might as well start now.

No, this isn’t my first time here. I actually come every week to have a small sit down with Ootori. He also knows SEE and he helps me get used to the culture shock of living in a new country with my disability. He helped me with some other problems too… He told me about you once, and when I heard you would be a host here, well I decided to have a sit down with you.

I cocked my head to the side curiously at her. I’d had no idea that Kyoya had talked about me before. It seemed rather odd to me, but I suppose that Emily wouldn’t be the worst to talk with about me. She couldn’t exactly share things with many people. But… what on earth did Kyoya have to say about me???

Oh? May I ask what kind of problems? And how exactly do they concern me?

Her cheeks turned even redder and the trio of girls on the couch beside me shifted uncomfortably. From the outside this conversation probably looks pretty bad – or at least awkward. I had stopped with the whole speaking while signing because I figure that she might not want the other to know what she’s saying. Privacy and all that – or whatever.

Well, Ootori told me how you’re… you know… gay. This country isn’t exactly the most accepting of that – although it’s not like anywhere else is all that much better. Sometimes the hate is just quieter or less country wide. The school I used to go to was great with LGBT+ people and I thought that it would be similar here. I was wrong. Everyone was just that subtle kind of homophobic, you know?

She looked down, avoiding eye contact as she continued to paint me the picture of what she was getting at. I could quickly see where this was going.

No one outright attacked anyone – at least not until you came out. It was more just a liberal usage of different slurs and other degrading language. It was just really uncomfortably, you know? I don’t exactly have all that many friends either… and while Ootori is great, he just doesn’t understand. He’s very logical. My dad likes to joke about how the entire Ootori family reminds him of the Vulcans. But you strike me as a pretty emotional guy, and with all the backlash you’ve received and deflected, I felt like if I was going to be able to find someone to confide in, it would be you.

 

I…

I don’t really know how to respond to this.

It wasn’t that I didn’t understand what she was saying, it was just… people didn’t really come to me for serious things. I had enough struggle when I was the one who went to Izumo. Sure that was technically much more serious then this because, hey, immediate danger to her life and all that.

The point is, I’m just not all that approachable. Sure my people know that they can come to me if they have issues, but I’m kind of blunt – and an asshole. I’m not all that sensitive and my solutions are often violent and not necessarily the best long term solutions.

I am handling my trauma amazingly what are you talking about.

 

People just… you know… go to Nagisa or some of the other friendlier Class E students. Even the adults were open and available for whatever issues people wanted to talk about. Kyoya had approached me once about discretely hiring a psychologist or something, but I turned that down real fast. Now I’m not saying that psychologists can’t help people, but I’ve personally had zero success.

Over the course of my schooling, I’d been sent to many psychologists due to adults being concerned over the ‘pressure’ that I was under because I was a genius and how that would effect my mental health. In my experience, the entire system was bogus and it didn’t help me at all.

On the other hand, Nagisa has had plenty of success with psychiatrists and got over how shitty his mom was. Maybe I was broken or something. Oh well, I can handle my own problems, and if I can’t, I have people who are more than happy to help me. Almost too eager. It was like I shut people out and hid all my problems until I self destructed or something.

So yeah, no one came to me for things. I would sometimes worm my way into other people’s problems, but I typically preferred to just let others handle things. The fact that Emily heard about me from a conversation with Kyoya (and holy shit, Vulcan was a good description – although I do believe that Kyoya would at least be half human; he can feel and does express emotion when it counts, after all) and decided that she would confide in me was… inconceivable.

It wasn’t like Kyoya didn’t get how difficult it was to be not straight. His family was the strict family from hell and he’d been the family disappointment from birth due to the simple fact that he was born third. Being the not straight son only made it worse; not that the Ootori clan knew that though. I guess he just didn’t tell her about his massive crush on Tamaki, not that I blame him. Who wants to spill about a 3 year long crush on your straight best friend to some stranger?

 

(Oof, I can tell this is going to come back to bite me. Fucking karma.)

 

He doesn’t trust her enough. Interesting. I let out a huff.

Yeah. Being gay around ignorant people is tough.

Fuck that sounded awkward as fuck. Luckily for me, Emily wasn’t disappointed in my response. She just full on laughed, and after a moment I joined in. It was the kind of laugh that was both a little hysterical and that laugh that you do when someone was just brutally honest in a really awkward situation.

You’re right.

There were tears streaming down her face by this point and she was letting out small cracky laughs, her voice breaking as her typically unused vocal chords were forced to produce sound.

Arisawa actually had the audacity to look pissed off. “Are you done yet?” she snapped, clearly unhappy with me asking Emily before I bothered to listen to her answer. Instead of waiting like a polite and civilized person, she just pressed on and shared with us the reason behind her choosing me as a host. “I heard all about you from Asano-san and I wanted to see for myself what kind of person you are.”

I raised and eyebrow as my snickers died down. “Oh really.” How curious. Of fucking course she was one of Asano’s lackeys. That’s just how my life goes. “Didn’t you hear? I’m an asshole, sweet cheeks. That ain’t changing anytime soon. Go on and report back to your master. I’m sure he’ll be ever so pleased with your little reconnaissance mission.”

Ide, Mistuki, and Tuskiko remained silent as they watched the awkward stare down between me and Arisawa. Arisawa for her part, had turned a bright red as she puffed out her cheeks in anger and prepared to give me a no doubt scathing lecture but because sometimes the university has mercy on my soul and provides me with an out. This time, the out took form in a student wearing a rather dramatic dark cloak bursting through what I had thought was a closet door and causing a commotion.

“THE DEVIL IS HERE! HE HAS SENT HIS SON TO DESTROY US ALL!” The teen wailed, only the lower half of his face visible under a mop of black hair and the hood of his cloak. He was clearly very distressed by ‘the devil’ and he was holding a cat puppet in one hand? The cat was shivering and cowering while the teen continued to rave. “He walked among us. The devil shall take your soul for his own and the vessel he has chosen to use is one of his son. The golden eyed demon is here.”

There was a moment of silence as everyone took in the cowering dark figure in the room and then everyone’s eyes slowly slid towards me and my very distinct gold eyes. First of all, did he actually know or was he just crazy? Second of all, if he did know, then how the fuck did he find out in the first place?? It was bizarre to say the least.

“Dude, if you don’t like me, you can just say so,” I blurt out before really thinking about how I was planning on spinning this. ‘Looks like I’m going with religion. “You don’t have to hide behind religion or anything like that. I have some weird features – genetics suck, I get it. But just because I don’t look like you doesn’t mean that I’m the anti-Christ. That’s like, racist or something.”

Now everyone was shifting awkwardly. Great.

The teen shook both his head and the puppets head, the puppet extending so that it was clear that it was the puppet that was supposed to be speaking. “Not the anti-Christ, but something much worse,” he hisses sharply, slowly beginning to approach me. “You and your ilk are not welcome here. Begone, foul beast.”

I snort, “okay, rude. If you’re going to continue insisting that I’m a demon of all things – seriously, where did you get that idea because newsflash; demons don’t exist – then I’m going to have to ask you to leave. You’re disturbing the clients.” The teen has the audacity to look offended. Just to be a dick, I decided to throw caution to the wind and I let out a low growl. It wasn’t loud enough for everyone in the room to hear, but Emily and the unknown teen were the only ones close enough to hear and Emily was deaf. As expected, the cloaked teen practically threw himself and his little cat puppet away from me.

He started hissing something in broken Latin, but because it literally translated to what I think was instructions on how to make pea soup, it wasn’t having much effect on me. I opened my mouth to let rip another no doubt scathing little response when a snapping notebook cut both of us off.

I whirled around to see Kyoya being Kyoya as he adjusted his glasses and took moved to take over the situation that I could see quickly devolving before my eyes. “Unfortunately, that is all the time that we have today. If the lovely ladies would begin to gather their things, we will see you out shortly. Thank you for coming today and we hope to see you all at our future events. It was truly a gift to serve you today.” His pleasant smile didn’t leave his face as he turned to look at the cloaked teen and ordered; “Nekozawa-san, a word.”

Everyone was quick to move after that.

The cowering cloaked teen – who I was to assume was called ‘Nekozawa’ – scrambled away and followed Kyoya into the little kitchenette while the rest of us moved to begin cleaning up for the day.

On autopilot almost, I begin to clean up the tables, grabbing the tray that I had used and then stacking glasses and tea cups until it looked like a Tetris screen and balancing it on one hand so that I could grab other things with my left hand. I had done my fair share of balancing act exercises back with Class E, and honestly I did help out in the little place that Isogai and Maehara had set up. They preferred to only be staffed by Class E graduates and hey, who was I to judge. We all helped out in shifts anyways, so it wasn’t like it was all that bad anyways. An hour on homework and then the rest of the night spent on business. Weekends were the times I usually took a kitchen shift, but sometimes I’d pick up a couple hours clearing the tables with Nagisa and Sugino.

Tamaki and the Hitachin twins were ushering the ladies out the door and distracting them from the mess that Nekozawa had effectively created. Haruhi was simply helping me gather the different things from the tables, albeit a bit slower and more cautiously.

She got burned once with that damned vase and she wasn’t about to make another similar mistake.

 As I walked around the room, I tuned in to the quiet conversation that was occurring in the kitchenette while I slowly stacked more and more cups and spoons onto my stack.

“What was all that nonsense about Karma being a demon? You greatly disturbed our guests. You know we have a deal, Nekozawa-san.”

“Ootori-san, you know I have a great respect for you, but you do not see the truth. I have been sent visions before the school started of a great evil coming to dwell amongst us. Death and sorrow follow his presence and at first I thought it a mere coincidence that the new student had the golden eyes of hell but I know now that that’s not true. He is here to stir up trouble, mark my words.”

“Karma hasn’t done anything wrong, Nekozawa. He is merely here for his education after an incident at his last school made him feel unsafe.”

“Yes, but do you know what he did to cause that incident?”

“He wanted to get a good education.”

“You can’t know that.”

“I was the one the hospital called when they found him. I know what happened better than anyone but the ones that were there.”

“You’re blinded by your connection to him, Ootori-san. You haven’t seen what I saw. If he stays too long… I fear what his presence may bring upon us.”

“He’s here for less than a year, Nekozawa. Leave it alone.”

A silence fell upon the room at Kyoya’s icy replies and I took that as my cue to confidently march over and enter the kitchenette. I didn’t even bother looking around too much as I went over to the sink and unloaded so that I could set up a soapy basin and begin to wash the delicate china. Kyoya usually likes these kind of things to be done by hand despite the perfectly good dishwasher literally 2 feet away from me.

“You got a problem with me, Nekozawa-san.” I say quietly as I slowly wash each individual cup and saucer before placing them in another pile so that I can dry them later. I don’t bother turning around, looking up at the small window that overlooked yet another courtyard above the sink. In its reflection I was able to see what was happening behind me.

Kyoya stood leaning against a counter as he flipped through his little black book and pointedly didn’t make eye contact with Nekozawa. The teen had removed his hood, revealing that the dark wig that he was wearing didn’t actually cover his entire face. It had just been the hunched over position that he was in. Currently, he looked less like an eccentric nutter and more like some guy pretending to be an emo teenager to win a bet. He was slumped over, but the cat puppet on his hand lay almost forgotten. In this moment, he almost looked like he was a normal teenager.

He shifted awkwardly and looked away from me. “It’s nothing personal. You’re bad luck, I know what you are.”

“Do you?”

And wasn’t that the question of the hour.

Nekozawa shifted again. “I’ve seen it. You were born of blue fire and cruelty. If your past follows you here it would mean disaster for all of us. I refuse to remain blind.”

I shook my head and wiped off my forearms so that I can turn around to look him in the eye. “I assure you that I’m perfectly human, Nekozawa-san. But that does not mean that I am not dangerous. You have nothing to be concerned about as long as you don’t cross me. So don’t. Push.”

There was a beat of silence.

“I believe you have overstayed your welcome.”

Chapter Text

Karma P.O.V

So the first week of hosting went by without much fanfare. Things were pretty normal; classes passed without much incident and things were pretty routine. There wasn’t much of note really–

 

(Well there was this one incident at the restaurant with a customer who decided to be the dumbest person on earth. First they threw a fit over the fact that they ordered ice on the bottom of their drink and they didn’t understand that since ice was less dense than water it fucking floats, then they got pissed when they saw the menu and insisted that they wanted things not on the menu. After demanding to speak to the manager, they got me – and mind you I was blatantly balancing two trays on my arm and wearing a small pocketed apron over my business casual outfit and my name tag proudly displaying the title of manager. I’m sure they were expecting someone legit but since we trade around the name tag every hour, they were stuck with me for now.)

(So of course, I show no mercy and make that fat little spoiled brat cry. When you’re fourteen and you’re whining about what colour your cup is, you need to re-evaluate your priorities. You could tell that the kid was just trying to be difficult.)

 

–it was just a normal school week which was kind of a novelty, to be honest. Not going to lie, that was nice. All the same, I’m a paranoid piece of shit and I was constantly waiting for the other metaphorical shoe to drop. When it didn’t fall within that week, I decided to take matters into my own hand and create my own shit because boredom doesn’t appeal to my sociopathic tendencies.

I mean, it wasn’t like I was just starting my own shit because I could. I was getting back at a homophobic asshole. He was honestly asking for it. He shouldn’t have challenged me without knowing what he’d be up against. He was a fool to assume that he could get away with trying to humiliate me! Now because this school was a bit (oof understatement of the year) prissier than the last one so I couldn’t outright smack this kid – because he was a fucking child; I wasn’t giving him the satisfaction of being deemed a worthy opponent – but while that was one of my strong points, I always did enjoy a good verbal smack down.

This wasn’t just me dicking with strangers anymore, I now had people that had my back and would do things for me if I just asked it of them. Of course my pride didn’t want me to ask for help so I was still mainly doing it by myself, but the point was that I could have used them and then he would have been even worse than screwed over. As it was, using Ritsu alone was kind of overpowered. Still, this guy really pissed me off.

So yeah, here I was, planning my revenge on the guy who tried to embarrass me in art class. Sen fucking Akihiko. That bitch.

Throughout the week, Ritsu had been doing some online digging to try and find everything possible on this guy. If it was online or on any piece of technology, then Ritsu would find it. In the past couple of days I had done some subtle digging in the files that I had to see if I could find anything that we kept on paper about his family, but I had no doubts that Ritsu would be the one to find the thing that I would use.

I didn’t know what I was going to do yet, but I was going to ruin this asshole’s life.

Because I’m an unstable teenager asshole and I believe in mistakes following you for the rest of your life.

 

Mine do.

 

So yeah, digging through papers didn’t really bring me all that much information that I could use to destroy this guy. I found some little bits of information about the Sen family being connected to a branch of the Yakuza, but that wasn’t exactly incriminating or even embarrassing. It wasn’t all that unusual for the students of Ouran Academy to have some shadier connections. They were rich brats who were heirs to giant fortunes, of course some of them had ties to Japan’s underground. Come to think of it, I think the heir to the Trickster’s biggest rival goes here…

That might be worth looking into later…

Moving on; basically, having a connection to the Yakuza wasn’t a big deal. If anything, that would make the students think he was cooler and the smarter ones would try to stay out of his way. There was a reason that Kyoya inspired so much fear and respect amongst the older students despite being the third son. He was amongst some of the best and brightest, so his intellect only inspired so much respect and some of that was canceled out due to being the third son. There were rumours still going around about Kyoya’s involvement with the shadier sides of business due to how successful and aloof he was, and it wasn’t like Kyoya did anything to dissuade those ideas.

But I couldn’t let people in on the fact that I had those connections because I like to make life harder for myself. This was supposed to be my normal year dammit. It was like a grieving period or some shit. Fucking whatever.

I have to fuck with Akihiko without letting on that I’m a fucking gang delinquent, so my normal kind of intimidation wasn’t going to work and people already didn’t respect me because I’m both the new kid and gay. Whatever I find to use is going to have to be very good and gang related shit just wasn’t going to cut it.

So that left Ritsu. She had been sending me a steady stream of emails for the past few hours and I had been putting them off because I was writing an English essay, but this couldn’t be avoided any longer. Time frames were messy, and I needed to know if this was going to have to be a long-term plan or if I could just get this over with in one go. Things were complicated like that. I would prefer to just sort of expose the guy and then move on, but my life usually wasn’t that simple, so I had to actually plan ahead.

I miss the days when things just sort of fell in my lap and chaos ran rampant. Now chaos was basically nonexistent, and I had to be the one to create it. That was more effort than I was comfortable with making to be honest. Kyoya promised entertainment. Well he actually promised that I wouldn’t have issues here but look where that got me.

And now I had 15 emails from Ritsu. Goddammit.

Okay, so opening the first couple emails revealed that this guy’s life was relatively boring and that he didn’t do all that much. He was the only child in a traditionalist family and the heir to some unimportant tech company. They were well off, but they weren’t making extravagant amounts of money but it was enough for them to afford to send their kid here and live comfortably. I wasn’t the type of person to make fun of someone because of their money so that was out. And it wasn’t like he was poor either – not like Haruhi. So that was pretty much out then.

In fact, there really wasn’t much about Sen Akihiko that was any kind of remarkable in the first couple of emails and I was starting to give up hope. I was beginning to think that I’d have to actually make up something for this asshole. That’s when I came across one email that didn’t look all that much like any of the other emails. At first I thought that this couldn’t possibly be true, but Ritsu had managed to build a case against Akihiko, and that’s when I lost every bit of possible pity for this guy.

You know, I might have been out to humiliate him in retaliation, but I hadn’t been planning on running him out of the school. Really, it was just a bit of vindictive revenge. I’m a cold blooded murderer on the best of days, but even people like me have things that we frown upon.

Rapists and child murderers were the things that I absolutely deem irredeemable. My main job for a while was to kill for money. I killed and didn’t ask questions. Of course I did my research and I turned down jobs that I didn’t believe in, but for the most part, there was always a purpose to the murder that I committed. I didn’t really bother thinking about the families of those I murdered – because some people just needed to be taken out.

 

(The whole idea that if you murder a murderer then you’re no better was just false. Sure there was a vigilante serial killer type, but the law was corrupt and everything just sucked. Sometimes people slipped through the cracks and innocence was subjective.)

 

Akihiko was a homophobic dick – there was no denying it. I just hadn’t known that when he was 13 years old, he and two of his friends kidnapped an 8 year old girl from a train station and brutally raped her before murdering her and hiding her body in the bushes. Due to a lack of evidence and suspects, the case had remained unsolved – but like I said, I was a murderer; I knew what to look for, and Ritsu was made to assassinate and she helped cover my scenes so she knew what she would cover. Through this, she had managed to find the bits of police had overlooked.

And with that, she’d solved the case and provided more than enough evidence to prove that it was Sen Akihiko behind everything. The other culprits weren’t in this email but looking at the subject line of the other 5 emails, I would have that evidence soon. Fuck.

How was I going to explain how I found this?

 


 

Consider what I’d just discovered the night before, getting to school a week and a half after I started hosting wasn’t meant to be anything special. It was halfway through the week and everything should have been normal, but of course that was when thing began to happen. Because I am a main character, and who needs a fucking break. Let’s just forget the fucking bombshell that Ritsu had gifted me with (I still had no idea how I was going to handle that information or whether this would be time sensitive or not), it’s not like that was important or anything.

Nope, couldn’t even catch a break. Not on a Wednesday. It was hump day.

 

I walk into the school expecting to see the usual pristine hallways and lockers. I head to mine and move to open it like usual, expecting to grab my binders and be on my merry way. As you can probably guess, that is not what I happened.

After walking a mere 5 feet down the hallway (and with the size of the school and its individual hallways, that’s saying a lot) I could tell that something was wrong. Maybe it was the way that everyone was staring at me, maybe it was the eerie silence that hung over the entire holiday, or maybe it was the bright pink words spray painted all over my damn locker.

 

Fag.

Fairy.

Homo.

Go die.

 

All painstakingly spray painted across the formerly pristine metal of my assigned locker. I say painstakingly because someone went to a lot of effort to make sure that not even a little bit of spray made it onto the neighbouring lockers. Nope, they chose to specifically graffiti those lovely messages accompanied by crude pictures of dicks drawn in sharpie on my locker.

I knew that me being gay didn’t sit right with a lot of people, but I didn’t think that these rich brats would resort to this. Trying to convince Suoh Senior to kick me out of the school, sure, but not something as low and barbaric as fucking graffitied messages. That just seemed… low.

But if it was Akihiko, then why am I surprised? Nothing is below that bastard. He’d hit rock bottom a long time ago. If it wasn’t then I was going to have more problems than just figuring out how to deal with Akihiko. Fuck, when did things get so complicated?

I stood in front of my locker for a moment and just sort of absorbed the fact that someone had taken the time out of their day to do this. Like, it’s one thing to hate someone, but it’s another thing to hate someone enough that you go out of your way to spray paint someone’s locker in a high security prep school. Like that takes effort.

 

(I am of course that level of petty, but I like to give others the benefit of the doubt.)

 

Without even bothering to open my locker, I spin around and head to my class. I have other notebooks and I can survive one day without a binder. You know what? Fuck it. I can afford to skip a day of school. I pointedly stared straight ahead as I strode through the hallways with long purposeful steps. I wanted out of this damn building, now.

I can’t fucking believe this.

 


 

With the rest of my day now open, I make a few calls.

 


 

“Hey, Akabane-chan!” Hikaru yelled excitedly as I walked into the school building on Friday morning. “Tamaki was very put out by your absence and Kyoya didn’t even know why you were gone. So, what were you doing?” He continued excitedly, bouncing to a stop in front of me as his twin brother and Haruhi trailed after him.

My mouth was kind of permanently stuck in a scowl for the day, and I wasn’t exactly about to stop glaring, so as the trio approached they quickly jumped back a little at the absolutely poisonous aura emanated from me. “Not that it’s any of your business, but I had some things to take care of. A friend needed some help with looking at evidence and my expertise was needed.” I say a little stiffly. “You might want to stick around for a little bit.” I continue, peering over their shoulders to look over at the doors of the foyer.

As usual, people had congregated around the walls and open areas of the front foyer and were chatting before class. There was a decent amount of traffic on the stair case too, but the volume of students didn’t stop me from being able to see everyone in the room. And because sometimes, sometimes, things worked out for me, Sen Akihiko and his pose were gathered right in front of the stair case and not even 10 feet from where I stood. I practically had front row seats for the show that was about to go down.

 

Before either of the Hitachin twins had the chance to respond, the doors opened and in walked in 5 police officers covered in body armour. Everyone fell silent in that way that teenagers do when confronted with an uncomfortable situation involving authority figures. All eyes were on the calm and imposing police officers as they walked deeper into the foyer, their thick boots stomping on the polished floor. They came to a stop right in front of Sen Akihiko and his group.

“Sen Akihiko,” The burly police officer leading the pack said seriously glaring down at the arrogant teenager. “You are under the arrest for the murder of Shibi Yuna. You have the right to–” he began to give his speech as the other officers moved to cuff Sen’s hands behind his back but the teen interrupted him before he could continue his memorized spiel.

“What? You’re accusing me of murder? Where did you get this proof, huh?” Sen demanded, glaring down the police officer and shaking off the others. He had puffed up his skinny little chest and was trying to make himself look bigger. Based on the look on the leader’s face, he wasn’t impressed by the teen’s insolence anymore than I was.

The officer proceeded to puff up himself and loomed over the teen. “I’ve been the lead investigator on this case for the past 4 years and just recently, a third party has come forwards with a new analysis on the evidence that we had collected. For their protection, names will not be stated.” Then he nodded at the other police officers to continue with the arrest.

One of the other officers sneered down at the teenager as he roughly grabbed his arm. “We’ve been hunting you for years, scum.” He hisses quietly, no doubt only audible to the group of teens that surrounded Akihiko nervously. They were all glancing at each other as if unsure as to what they should be doing right now. The remaining two officers herded them away from Sen and the direct area of the scene. Unfortunately, Sen was making everything much harder than he had to be, and he proceeded to try and put up more of a fight.

“Tell me who it is,” he growled angrily, struggling weakly in the grasp of two police officers. His damn near feral eyes scanned over the crowd of stunned students until he came to rest on me. I wasn’t even bothering to hide the fact that I was smug as fuck, and I’m sure my eyes had begun to gleam in that dark way they did when I really hated something. As soon as his gaze met mine his struggles doubled and he immediately made the correct assumption. Well, pretty close to correct. “You!” He shrieked, “you framed me! I’m going to kill you.”

The police all exchanged faces before they began to lead a still struggling Akihiko towards the door. One of the officers began to prattle off the rest of the pre-written and memorized speech as they dragged him towards the entrance of the building. I took this time to be a bastard.

 

“I can’t believe people like him were allowed to attend this school!” I say loudly to the Hitachin twins. My voice carried across the large room and everyone heard. Especially Akihiko, which was my goal. I couldn’t help but be a little smug as I parroted his own words back in his earshot. “I pay good money to go to this school and now they’re letting rapists and murderers attend?! I feel threatened.”

I had timed this phrase absolutely perfectly, and of course the police were escorting Akihiko past me just as I finished my sentence, making him in the perfect spot to hear every word that I said. As expected he reacted violently and despite having his hands cuffed behind him, he lunged for me. He didn’t necessarily know that I was very good at fighting, but did he really think that he’d be able to do much while his arms were unavailable? Really.

For once, the police actually did their jobs and grabbed Sen before he could get more than 2 ft away from them, but he was hissing and spitting the entire time. He was so angry that he was practically frothing at the mouth as he struggled to get out of the police’s grip. “Whatever you have on me is a lie! I’ll get you for this Akabane! You’ll hear from my fucking lawyers!” He yelled as one of the police officers shot me an apologetic look as they left the building.

A silence fell over the front foyer as everyone sort of just absorbed the fact that they just witnessed an arrest of a fellow student. For murder.

“Nothing to see here!” I call with false cheer, plastering on a grin on my face although there was a no doubt a dark glint in my eyes. Everyone stared at me with small hints of fear, and I know that the smarter ones had made the connection between my reaction and Akihiko’s words. They knew that I had done something, and it was up to them to speculate how much of that evidence I falsified. I bared my teeth in a grin so wide that it could be mistaken for a snarl.

“Move along, folks. The show’s over.”

Chapter Text

Karma P.O.V

After the Akihiko Incident™, things quieted down surprisingly fast. It came to no one’s surprise that I was somehow involved in his arrest, and as such, the rumours about my involvement ran rampant. It ranged from the victim being family and me taking my revenge to me framing Akihiko to get him out of the way. Some people were even considering the possibility that I was the real murderer.

If these people actually knew what the case was about then I’m sure that it would bother me more, but as of now, they seem content to merely speculate about what caused that event. I didn’t really care all that much – everything was working out for me regardless. After the arrest and the fact that none of the Host Club members so much as acknowledged that it happened, no one really bothered me about being gay anymore.

Don’t get me wrong, there were definitely still people who were highly displeased with my mere existence, but they knew better than to speak about it now. With how much I was involved in the arrest being up to speculation, no one really wanted to chance incurring my wrath. It was a nice touch too, having removed the graffiti by the class after the Incident™ happened. That was almost impressively fast since I doubt anyone here actually knows how to clean and it wasn’t like the janitors did anything when it initially went up…

 

So basically, that peace that Kyoya had promised, I actually got. Who would’ a thunk it, right?

Certainly not me – upon getting here and facing immediate bullshit, I had assumed that this would be how the rest of the year would go. But nope. It was Halloween, and ever since the Incident™ I didn’t have any issues. Not even from teachers to be perfectly honest too. Sure, everyone was a little cautious, but there were no issues with students or faculty. The students were surprisingly open and hosting went pretty well. Emily came back quite frequently and we had many thrilling discussions about LGBTQ+ in popular media. This mostly boiled down to us debating about Takashi Shirogane but hey, it’s a gay Japanese man in a popular kids show.

(It’s crazy that we got that much.)

Luckily for me, Asano’s little spy didn’t show up again and I just had earnest girls showing up to talk about silly little things like music taste and art style. Some people knew that I was into botany and wanted to talk plants because apparently none of the other hosts knew anything about that. No one tried to ‘turn me straight’ so that was great. It was a pity that no guys showed up, but I can’t blame any of the potentially closeted for not outing themselves. The only reason that I wasn’t getting attacked for this is because of my connection to the Incident™. They would have no such protection.

Classes were quiet and there were only enough things happening to stop my classes from being completely awful and boring. So here we are, at Halloween and…

 

I was a damn fool for believing that things would remain peaceful.

 

And surprisingly, it was one of my three elective classes that I hadn’t expected any problems from that brought the illusion crashing down. In comp sci we hadn’t really passed anything that I needed to pay attention to get. We were still learning some basics because it was a mixed class and we had to cater to the bottom of the class but that didn’t bother me as much as it used to because comp sci is a very independent class. In art class? Without Akihiko it was a breeze because it was basically a free period where I can draw. (Even in the rich schools the arts are underfunded – who knew?)

I’ve had issues in both of those classes with either the teacher or the students. However botany had been perfectly fine because plant nerds didn’t hold all that many prejudices. I really didn’t expect for it to be a problem. And you know what? Credit to the class for the problem not being about me being gay. Or if it was, the gay factor was more collateral than anything. Heck, if I’m going to be fair about this, then a lot of the issue was probably caused by me.

But you know what really grinds my gears? What really gets me going? It’s fucking religion.

 

Now don’t get me wrong, people having their religion and comforting themselves with ideas of benevolent higher beings (although based off a lot of the stories that people have told me, their gods don’t seem all that benevolent because the second you do anything wrong you are basically destined for whatever version of hell that particular religion has). There are plenty of people who are absolutely great about their religion. And then there are the people who insist that their religion (and even sometimes that their singular church) is the only religion that is true. Like, dude, don’t do that. Just let other people have their religion and stop yapping about how they’re going to hell for not worshipping the same god as you.

I haven’t had to deal with many people who were so radical about their chosen religion. Sure there was that one guy that swore up and down that he had seen the spaghetti monster that the pastafarians worshipped, but he wasn’t annoying to deal with. He had the dubious honour of being one of the few people who I could not for the life of me tell whether they were lying or not. He was convinced. The other radical ones I’ve dealt with were through the Vatican and exorcism stuff. I swear, they hissed at me.

As a literal demon, I feel like I have the right to hold a certain amount of disdain for religion. I am the son of what people dub Satan so I am like literally the anti-Christ. When I get those people knocking at my door and preaching about how Jesus will forgive all of my sins if I just come to their church and shell out a bunch of money to their corrupt priest, it’s sometimes really hard to suppress the urge to just whip out my tail and hiss at them like a cat demon.

Sometimes I do and then Nagisa yells at me because priests keep swinging around my apartment to exorcise me.

As you can probably tell from the above statement, I am also pretty loud about my opinions. I won’t begrudge anyone from the comfort that religion brings them, but I put my foot down when they try to shove their religion and its manifesto down my throat. For example, I have a permanent ban from Sugino’s parents’ house because I wasn’t thinking and I brought up the fact that the current bible likely has very little of the original content left because some Roman guy rewrote it to control his people. They didn’t take too kindly to me pointing that out and I can’t really blame them for that, but they totally deserved it for threatening to kick Sugino out if he didn’t stop dating Shindou. I don’t like Shindou but threatening to kick out your son because he is dating another boy is not okay.

So yeah, I’m a dick and really insensitive. I never claimed otherwise.

ANYWAYS, I’m considerably less loud here at Ouran Academy, but that’s more due to circumstance than to actual effort on my part. All the same, botany was the last class that I expected this topic to pop up on. Then again, with Halloween being constantly referred to as the Devil’s birthday, it was bound to pop up in one class or another. But botany.

I was five kinds of surprised when five minutes into the class (because Shinrin-sensei had been late again) Shinrin-sensei finally set up the projector and pulled up a presentation that was Halloween themed. And by Halloween themed, I mean it was about how to ward off evil spirits and demons. Oh boy. This is exciting.

“Alright, as I’m sure you’re aware, today is Halloween. Since all your teachers will inevitably be doing something, I thought that I’d be a little more original and teach you some real-world applications.” Shinrin-sensei began as she clicked through the presentation to begin to explain what those real-world applications were exactly. “There are plenty of ordinary plants that can be used to help protect against evil spirits, such as Clover, Amaranth, Daffodil, and even Dandelions. They are all readily available and have reasonably strong protective qualities. They can be used to banish spirits from your home and as protective charms.”

She continued to rant about how to use those plants to make protection for your home, going so far as to pull a couple examples out of her bag. She was rather spirited (forgive the pun) in giving her speech, and I could tell that some of the others were getting pretty into this little activity. If I was going to be honest here, I was also beginning to get into it. She had even taken the time to buy some daffodils so that we could make some of the charms that she used. She had the other mentioned plants stashed around the greenhouse, so we have a pretty diverse selection to work with, if you will. She passed around the bag of ingredients and after that it was a simple matter of working things together so that we could make out own protective charms.

After that one throw away mission at the swamp, I’d seen some pretty advanced demon protection art, so this was almost laughable in comparison. She had provided us with some basic arts and crafts materials and it felt like first year middle school art class all over again. To be fair, there were some more advanced arts and crafts supplies like clear resin, wire and sharp things to cut said wire. But there was also popsicle sticks, white glue and Crayola markers. It was kind of odd because Shinrin-sensei clearly believed in what she was saying but she was providing us with joke like materials. I wonder if she got them from the art department…

We were invited to grab some of the dried materials she had provided or harvest our own from around the room while she lectured about the qualities of Angelica. Everyone stayed pretty far away from the harder to use materials, but I was nothing if not a try-hard, so I went straight ahead to grab the wire, a key ring, some parchment paper, and the UV resin and a small hand-held UV light to cure it. Figuring I would just make a little charm to slap onto the zipper of my school bag, I simply chose some dried clover and fresh clover for the charm.

After that it was a simple matter of curling the wire into a swirled clover patch thing and slipping the clovers into different spots. Then I could use the resin pen to apply the resin onto the clovers and cure it. The parchment paper made sure that there was no mess and I had a place to actually lay the liquid so that it didn’t drip. Sure it made it so that I had to cover both sides, but if I didn’t have it I would just have to defy the laws of physics to instantly freeze a liquid without fucking up the placement.

It was a pretty simple little charm and took like 15 minutes, but I was proud of the little thing, and I tuned back into the lecture just in time to hear Shinrin-sensei begin her lecture on demons. And that’s where it all went downhill from there.

“Now evil spirits are a typical topic discussed on Halloween, but I’m sure that the next topic might interest you more.” She grinned before switching the slide and looking at us eagerly for a response. On the shitty powerpoint default slide background, there was a rather dramatic picture of what I would assume was meant to be either a demon or Satan. “You’ve no doubt heard that this particular holiday has been referred to as the Devil’s birthday, and for good reason. Today is the day that the Devil is strongest, and he sends his minions up to tempt people into betraying God. Many of the plants that I showed you are mainly focused on spirits, however certain ones can also be used as demon deterrent. Anise is highly toxic, so it must be handled with care–”

“I’m sorry, but may I interrupt?” I inquire suddenly, sitting forward in my seat. On another occasion, I might have left well enough alone, but that entire little spiel about the ‘Devil’s birthday’ was a bit… intense and I have a problem where I feel the constant need to prove people wrong. I do wait for the teacher to give me a rather stunned nod before I go ahead though. “I don’t mean any disrespect, but isn’t it impossible for Halloween to be the ‘Devil’s birthday’? According to the myth, the Christian God is the one who created Lucifer who later fell and was branded as Satan. Halloween was not created after Lucifer fell and it actually has some of its roots from the Pagan religions.”

“All Hallows Eve was a day where the veil between this world and what can be considered the underworld or even the spirit realm, is at its thinnest which makes it easier for demons and spirits to mingle amongst us. Many of the traditional western Halloween, well, traditions came from the idea of hiding oneself from the supernatural beings that walk amongst humans for one night. For example, Jack-o’-lanterns were meant to protect a house by scaring off spirits, and the reason that kids dress up is to fool monsters into thinking that they aren’t human so they don’t kidnap them.”

Shinrin-sensei looks almost impressed with my little speech, but she was quick on her feet and seemingly eager to respond. “You know what? Let’s open this up for some discussion. You seem very knowledgeable on this subject, Akabane-san, and I’m sure that everyone would much rather have a class discussion than listen to be blather on about plants for another half an hour.” She turned to face the rest of the class and clapped her hands together. “Raise your hands if you would rather have a debate about religion and Halloween.”

It was basically unanimous, and to be a good sport, even I raised my hand. I love learning about plants as much as the next guy, but some of the shit she was spewing was just blatantly wrong, and I’m not even talking about the emphasis on religion and how it’s the damn Devil’s birthday or whatever. To her credit, Shinrin-sensei didn’t seem all that disappointed that this was where the class was going.

“Alright, to kick things off, I’ll start.” She began, moving around the desk to sit on top of it and stare at the rest of us. “As you know, I’m a Christian and grew up in a Christian household. I believe in the Lord and His ways. As such, I will have to disagree with you about the belief of the Devil. He exists and today is the day where humanity is at its most vulnerable. We must trust in God and the tools He has given us to protect ourselves from those who forsake Him.”

Holy shit, is she serious?

One of the other students seemed to agree with me, because they actually raised their hand to speak up. “Sensei, you can’t be serious. Ghosts don’t exist, and I highly doubt that demons do either. And I didn’t know that you were so… trusting in God. It’s a bit contradictory, isn’t it? You work in science…”

Shinrin-sensei shook her head. “I don’t think that’s quite fair, Ichirou-san. Science and religion have many crossover points and just because I believe in God doesn’t mean that I don’t also believe in science. If God didn’t want us to grow and discover the things that He created for us, then He wouldn’t have rewarded us with success in our discoveries. That just proves His love for us.”

“But is it really all that responsible to be teaching the ideals of a religion to a class that has nothing to do with the subject?” I counter, “you don’t know our beliefs and like all religions, the proof presented is circumstantial and never enough for those that don’t believe. This brings to question whether religion has a place in a classroom, especially one of science which fundamentally relies on concrete facts. Not everyone can see or feel God like some claim too. The proof you hold dear is nothing more than someone’s faith and belief.”

Shinrin-sensei smiles, “and that’s your opinion, Akabane-san. But I trust that God is there for us.However I do see your point in religion perhaps not having a place in a classroom setting.” She acknowledges. I incline my head and lean forwards, balancing my elbows on the table.

 

“Akabane-san, isn’t your opinion a little hypocritical? You’re wearing a cross earring right now.” Someone calls from across the classroom and from my angle I’m unable to see who. I internally wince a little because that unknown student did have a point. I had chosen to wear the earring that Yukio had gotten me a while back when he found out I basically wore one pair of earrings and he deemed that ‘unbelievable’ and ‘inappropriate’. He was like ‘you were the ward of a priest for a summer and I’ve been the ward of that same priest for all my life – you’re getting some cross jewellery’ or something like that.

And as such, about halfway through the summer, he gave me (well threw at me from a safe distance) a pair of cross shaped earrings. They dangled from a small chain and didn’t appear to be made from any kind of harmful metal. They didn’t burn when I touched them, so I figured that it was pretty safe. Because I’m edgy as fuck, I only wore one, but with my hair cut and the long chain, it was still noticeable. I was honestly surprised that someone hadn’t mentioned it earlier. As such, I was prepared to answer my classmate without looking flapped at all.

“I wear it for protection and because it was a gift from my twin brother. I identify as an atheist, and I don’t believe in any higher powers, but I’d be a fool to not believe in evil. The cross is nothing more than a symbol, but my brother and his guardian work at the Vatican. I may seem harsh about religion, but I respect my brother’s faith. It’s just not something I can believe in.” I conveniently leave out the fact that certain kinds of people are more likely to find you trustworthy if you’re wearing a cross. With my delinquent look, sometimes I can use all the help that I can get. I know I’ve noticed a difference in people based on whether or not I’m wearing some symbol implying that I follow the ‘right’ path.

(When I pointed that out to Yukio, he rolled his eyes at me and insisted that I only saw the worst in people. When all people show me is their worst, who can blame me?)

“Your brother works at the Vatican? And he’s your age?!” Another classmate demands out of turn. Seeing that Ms. Shinrin seems alright with the students basically ruling this discussion, I don’t hesitate to respond.

“He grew up at a monastery. He’s following in his guardian’s footsteps, although he still goes to True Cross.” I reveal nonchalantly.

That shuts everyone else for a while as people sort of just looked at each other. Then, Shinrin-sensei spoke up, breaking the silence. “Forgive me if this is too forward, Akabane-san, but if you don’t mind me asking, why aren’t you also religious? You claim that your twin brother works with the Vatican along with his guardian, and you seem to have a friendly enough relationship based off you choosing to wear his gift. But you are an atheist?” She has this small frown on her face and my posture softens as I recognize that there is no bit of malice in her words but merely confusion. Sure she could sometimes be a little radical about her religion, but she wasn’t horrible about it.

“That is correct. Most often, parents forcing their religion onto their kids results in the kids rebelling, but that’s beside the point because I didn’t grow up with my brother. We were taken in by different people.” I answer simply. “We reconnected a year ago, so I had no idea that they were such devout Christians.” Well Father Fujimoto was, but Yukio was swaying more towards agnostic now.

Ichirou cocked his head to the side and turned to look me in the eye. “Wait, you said you were an atheist, but you believe in quote unquote ‘evil’?” He looked rather dumbfounded and like he couldn’t comprehend both of those things existing at once. Admittedly it did sound a little weird though…

“Well evil is a pretty universal thing, buddy. Evil is ingrained in human nature, and you don’t have to be supernatural to be a monster. Humans get by with that just fine.” I point out bluntly, “but sometimes there are evils that transend humanity and I don’t fancy seeing them more than I have to. Humans are difficult enough to deal with as is.” At the blank looks I received from parts of the class, I figure that I had to elaborate.

“Have you ever seen something out of the corner of your eye that you can’t explain? Have you ever been doing something and seen a shadow disappear into the darkness? If you haven’t, I don’t recommend looking for it. When you feel the hair rise at the back of your neck, don’t look out of the corner of your eye – you might not like what you see.”

 

There was a beat of silence.

 

“Well thank you for your contribution, Akabane-san!” Shinrin-sensei said weakly. “And that’ll be all for today, I’ll see you tomorrow!”

 


 

Honestly, at this point, I should have known to not expect too much from today. It was Halloween, and of fucking course shit was going to happen. Here’s to hoping that after this little ‘cheat day’ if you will, things would go back to being boring and easy.

 

Walking into the third music room was honestly the closest thing I can compare to a religious experience.

As soon as you enter, instead of being assaulted by a barrage of roses – when I found out that that was a thing I very nearly lost it and screamed right then and there – you were assaulted with what I can only assume was black bat shaped confetti and the sounds of the fakest scream that you can hear. Seriously, it’s that cheesy Halloween scream – the full-on Wilhelm scream in full affect. My ears were fucking ringing seconds into entering the room, and that sets the tone for the rest of the ‘meeting’ that Tamaki had insisted was mandatory.

The club room was decorated from floor to ceiling with gaudy but somehow still semi-tasteful Halloween décor. There were skeletons and fake rats as well as various feather boa monstrosities scattered around the room. Everything was black and orange with some hints of purple and lime green placed artfully to accent certain areas of the room. Fake cobwebs hung from old fashioned almost Victorian style lanterns and there appeared to be a suit of armour in the corner of the room. In another corner, there was a large black cauldron that was lazily spewing wisps from what must have been dry ice and water.

There had been an event today that I had elected to skip out on. The Host Club had all been signed out of their classes so that they could host a fundraiser for some charity or another. It was a day of hosting, and as much as I liked to play along for Kyoya’s peace of mind, I tended to skip out on missing days of school for trivial things.

 

(I know that this is very hypocritical.

Give me an assassin or literally anything Trickster related, and I will be gone in a heartbeat, but other than that I tended to be pretty studious. Things were less delicate in upper management now that I had so many people that I trusted to not run my gang into the ground. I didn’t have to be monitoring everything constantly, and Kyoya being readily available made everything much easier. Honestly, the only reason that I skipped out so much at Kunugikaoka was due to Korosensei seemingly knowing everything about what I did without my having given anything away – that was unsettling, and I didn’t want to reveal anything else or have him question me about anything – and the fact that I simply had other matters to sort out.

There had been some internal issues going on that my presence was required for, so as much as the others would like to say that I was just ditching, was ditching because of decently legitimate reasons.)

 

Things had been going decently and I didn’t want to fuck up that streak by dealing with people and actually having to try to please people.

Kyoya knew me well enough to let it go.

Tamaki… not so much.

“I still can’t believe that you wanted to go to class instead of spending the day here with us! You really missed out.” Tamaki pouted loudly as he nearly bowled over a table in his haste to greet me at the door. He had put up a bit of a fuss when I’d told him I wasn’t planning on joining them in hosting for the day, but he’d gotten his wish in making an after school Host Club only meeting mandatory. I could be at home, or terrorizing kids, or even helping Yukio and the exwires with the demons that were no doubt beginning to crawl around town. Instead, I was here about to have what would probably be one of the longest hours of my life.

“I have important classes that I didn’t want to miss,” I tell him simply as I move past him deeper into the room so that I could dump my bag over against one of the walls that was a bit sparser in decoration. I took this time to both examine everyone’s costumes and appreciate my own lack of a costume.

Tamaki was wearing a tailored suit with a deep ruby red cloak draped over his shoulders. He had some fake fangs in as well as red contact lenses and some drops of blood from his mouth. He was clearly dressed as some sort of Dracula or vampire, although it blatantly clashed with some of his… personality traits. The dude was like walking sunshine.

Kyoya was lurking in his corner wearing a trench coat type thing and some white gloves. It took me a moment before I recognized it as a Vatican issue exorcist coat and I had to suppress a laugh. He had gone for a more anime style type of exorcist sure, but it was a costume that both looked refined and required minimal effort. Very Kyoya.

The Hitachin twins had gone for something uber cheesy and were dressed as an angel and a demon respectively. To their credit, their costumes were actually pretty well made. Kaoru was dressed in a white pinstriped suit with some delicate silver glasses perched on the tip of his nose and a circlet of silver resting on his brow to represent the halo. He had in some unsettling sky blue contacts that minimized the look of his pupils and made him look vaguely unnatural. Hikaru was done up in punk like clothes that were burgundy and red based along with some black jewellery dangling off of every available limb almost like chains. Like Kaoru, his own makeup was minimal, but he had gone for fake fangs and kohl around his eyes to make them pop more. It really emphasized the red eye contacts that he was wearing. To finish off the look, he’d placed some horns delicately amongst his messy ginger locks.

(I’m vaguely reminded of that time that we had a costume contest with Class E. The class had gotten together to design costumes for me and Nagisa as sort of a team’s competition. The class split in two, much like what we would do later for the decision on what we should do about Korosensei, and then we designed some pretty badass costumes. I had ended up a demon king – the irony is almost too good to be perfectly honest – and Nagisa was a snake. For middle schoolers, our costumes looked pretty sick.)

Together, the twins really did have the best done costumes. Especially taking into account that Haruhi simply took some girls clothing and a wig and was clearly ‘pretending’ to crossdress. She hadn’t even bothered with any facial make up. Although in comparison to my own school uniform, I suppose that it wasn’t the worst. She actually put in some effort after all. Hey, maybe I could pull an Adam Wednesday and claim to be dressing up as a psychopath or something because we ‘look like everyone else’ or whatever.

“You all look nice.” I offer as I pause to greet everyone. Kyoya was still writing in his book, although he had at least acknowledged my presence. The 2nd years had quickly followed Tamaki in his odd little rampage however and joined him in standing in front of me.

“You’re late, sempai.” Haruhi pointed out, “and you aren’t even wearing a costume. Even I put in more effort.”

The Hitachin twins laughed loudly, “burn!”

I let that one slide and inclined my head. “But Fujioka-san, can’t you tell? I’m dressed as a rich brat!” I grin at her, making sure to flash my slightly elongated incisors. She rolled her eyes and crossed her arms, but there was a small smile on her face as Tamaki squawked loudly.

“Karma-kun! How could you!” he wailed theatrically, draping himself over a nearby table and pushing all the silverware into a mess at the side of the table. However, he seemed to recover in seconds flat as only a moment later he bounced back up and began to pace excitedly. “Well no matter! Now that you’re here, we can get started on the event that I have planned for us.”

That didn’t sound good.

I reluctantly followed the club members over to a table that was cleared and set up in the darkest corner of the room next to a closet door. The table was simply covered in a black cloth and had a single large box sitting in the center. The box was about the same size as a board game, and when we got closer, it was easy to identify it as a Ouija Board box. I groaned quietly as Tamaki urged us to all sit down around the table.

“Because it is Halloween, I though that it would be a good idea to try a Ouija Board!” He called cheerfully. “I’ve always heard so many cool stories about them actually being able to contact spirits, and I thought that this would be a good bonding experience for us.”

Haruhi rolled her eyes, “yeah right. You were just too scared to try it on your own.” She scoffed.

Tamaki gasped and leaned back in his chair. “I was not!” he declared with false bravado. “ANYways, I decided that since this would be our first time doing this, I would call in a resident expert. And so let’s all give a warm welcome to Nekozawa-san!”

Oh goody. Just the person that had a massive problem with me. Good going Tamaki. You’re really killing it here.

 

Nekozawa, being just as big on dramatics as Tamaki evidently was, chose that time to make his grand entrance by walking out of the closet that sat behind Tamaki and managing to scare the shit out of the second years and Tamaki even though Tamaki was the one to announce his presence.

“Thank you for allowing me to lead you in this spiritual encounter,” he says, his voice low and silky as he took a seat next to the still scared Tamaki. His eyes flickered over to glance at me briefly before returning to the board on the table. “Let’s get started then.” He reached for the board and began to open the box to set the board down on the table along with the planchet thing that supposedly pointed to a letter. I almost spoke up to stop this whole thing, but what was the point? It wasn’t like we would actually summon anything.

The board itself was rather pretty, if a little bit plain. It was your typical beige tone and had the alphabet, ‘yes’, ‘no’, and ‘goodbye’ scrawled across it in an elegant font. There were some pretty ink drawings on the corner of a sun and a crescent moon, but other than that it was blank. A pleasant design, if not a little traditional.

“I have gotten quite a good response from the spirits that roam this area, so do not be alarmed if we get a strong response,” Nekozawa warned as he turned to make eye contact with everyone around the table except for me. “Alright, now everyone please place a finger on the planchet so that we can begin. I will make the initial contact, but after that, each of you may have a chance to ask a question of the spirit. When this is all over, we must say goodbye to the spirit so that it does not remain.”

I rolled my eyes but followed his instructions with the attitude of a true skeptic. This ritual was completely stupid and there was no way that it would work. Please, why would a spirit bother with some pathetic high schoolers?

The others seemed somewhat apprehensive (well Kyoya just seemed bored) but they also placed a finger on the planchet after Nekozawa and I did so first. Nekozawa proceeded to speak in tongues for about a minute before jerking in his seat and closing his eyes. His whole schtick really seemed to be convincing, because Tamaki and the second years appeared to be really invested in what would happen next. “Thank you, kind spirits for answering our call. Would one of you step forward and let us know that you are here.” Nekozawa spoke softly with reverence and then waited.

I could see the twins’ eyes flickering around the room as if waiting for something to happen. Nothing happened for a moment, before suddenly the planchet began to move. It wasn’t like in the movies where it jerked violently towards letters or even anything specific, but there was a noticeable displacement of the small plastic piece on the board. It just happened to be moving vaguely in the direction of the word ‘yes’ printed on the board.

The planchet moved about halfway towards the word when Tamaki practically threw himself from the table screaming. “Holy shit there’s a ghost!” he shrieked as he fell to the ground with wide eyes. The Hitachin twins looked equally as shaken as their ‘king’ and Haruhi didn’t look much better. Kyoya just looked bored and to my great satisfaction, Nekozawa looked annoyed.

Yeah that’s right, you smug fuck, you’re the one who made the mistake of dealing with this blond idiot.

“Do you want to continue or not?” He asked stiffly, looking down at the blond on the ground beside him. “Because if not we need to say ‘goodbye’ now if you don’t want to be cursed. That was rather rude.” This only made Tamaki squeal harder and sort of crawl backwards until he had settled into a corner and began rocking.

I gave up on all pretenses and slammed my head against the table.

Chapter Text

Karma P.O.V

In all honesty, autumn was my favourite season. Well, I truly loved the Halloween season because you could be an asshole to someone and claim you were just being spooky. Or well… I suppose I just did that and got away with it because reasons. However as soon as November 1st hits it’s suddenly Christmas season… my least favourite season and for obvious reasons.

Now I like Halloween because of its history and its darker side. Christmas is the family feel-good time where good will is supposed to be spread liberally. In my experience, that’s simply not the case. I was given up as a child, but if I think hard enough back into my earlier childhood, I had vague memories of birthdays celebrated along with Christmas. I had grown up in the care of a priest who was in the know that I was the son of Satan. To have the fact that I was born on such a holy day (I had the fortune of being born on December 25th while my twin brother was born nearly 20 minutes after me which pushed him over to December 26th – the bastard) just rubbed everyone the wrong way. I didn’t so much mind that we celebrated our birthdays and Christmas together, but Yukio was just more loved in the monastery.

To be fair, I was an asshole.

Still, they gave me away at 6 years old and I was put in an orphanage. I spent my 7th birthday there with no one even remembering that it was my birthday. Heck, they barely even celebrated Christmas. My 8th birthday was spent with my adoptive parents who didn’t give two shits about me. They had been religious folk, and with how I looked and acted at that age, they didn’t take too kindly to me. It wasn’t surprising, but I didn’t like it. I was treated like shit and a family season just wasn’t a thing. In fact, the Akabane’s liked to vacation during the winter months so I was left to my own devices.

So much for family, right?

I liked the cold just fine, but I preferred the slightly cool air of fall and light jacket whether that made up the entire September and October months. Don’t get me wrong, I’d come to love the spring too, but the summers were always gross, and I’d never been a fan of snow. I’d let my guard down a grand total of one time around Nagisa and the rest of Class E and I’d gotten a shirt full of snow for it so yeah, I didn’t like snow. Needless to say, winter wasn’t exactly a time that I liked even without the aggressive in-you-face Christmas season.

I had a family to spend the season with now, and that one Christmas with Class E had been a blessing. All the same, I’d sort of been lucky to bypass that whole mess with the Cram Class. Mephisto was understandably not all that psyched about the holiday so True Cross Academy as a whole hadn’t really done al that much with it in general.

Ouran Academy was a completely different story though and everywhere you turned you’d see Christmas decorations. However, Kyoya had gotten around and thankfully all the decorations could be considered ‘tasteful’. The halls of the school were covered in elegant silver garlands and tall green pine trees. Silver and green were the colours that the school had apparently deemed appropriate, and I was kind of grateful that they hadn’t chosen red and green. Even gold would have been a little too tacky at this point.

Silver was elegant and high class which is of course what they were going for. It went well with the light dusting of snow that covered the grounds and bare trees. It was a right winter wonderland, all things considered.

The students were all excited about the holiday season and the short break they would get to spend with their families. They would be no doubt going on exciting vacations and coming back with a bounce in their steps. I wasn’t left out in this either – all of Class E was planning on helping out around Maehara and Isogai’s little restaurant for the big boom that the holiday season brought. It wouldn’t so much be a vacation, but it would be a time to spend with family and friends, and I guess that’s really all that matters.

Still, I didn’t like Christmas as a whole. It inspired such a toxic atmosphere and it was no surprise that suicide rates were always the highest around that time of year.

 

All the same, despite being rich spoiled brats, the school was planning on opening its doors for one day so that each student could bring one person to them to see the beauty of the school grounds. It was kind of a free day where attendance was still a thing that was required. Kind of like the reverse of bring your child to work day. There weren’t to be normal classes but depending on the teacher there would still be lessons.

The rule was that it was supposed to be family members, so bringing any of the Class E students was out of the question. I couldn’t even ask Izumo if she would like to come and make fun of the upper upper class. As such, I had to actually send Yukio a message. He’d need Father Fujimoto’s permission to have the day off of school, but I can’t really see that as being too much of an issue. Yukio was actually quite excited to come and spend a day with the true rich brats. It was kind of funny. He went to what could be considered a rich school, but he wasn’t among the rich. He was a scholarship student, like Haruhi.

I’m sure that was to be quite funny to everyone once they had a chance to talk to him. It wasn’t like I acted like I came from the lower class even though it's how I grew up. Like Yukio, my greatest fortune came from my intellect. It would be quite funny to see Tamaki shriek at someone else for a change. It would be a relief to Haruhi, at the very least.

Speaking of Haruhi, she was planning on bringing her father, whom I’d been informed was quite the character. Tamaki had of course chosen to have his father, the headmaster of the school tag along, so all the classes I shared with Tamaki were sure to be quite the event. Ever sensible, Kyoya had chosen to invite his sister seeing as she was his only sibling that actually cared for him. Kyoya was the third son, not exactly a great place to be in, in upper society at least.

The Hitachin twins had decided that they were both bringing their mother and to save everyone the headache of arguing with them, we just let it be. Kayano and Nagisa were in quite the situation though, with Kayano’s sister being long dead and Nagisa’s mother being less than receptive on a good day. The both of them were legally emancipated and as such in charge of themselves. All the same, the school required guardianship papers even if the students were legally their own guardians. Suoh senior seemed to be an old fashioned man and insisted that an adult be in charge of every teenager’s affairs. Most teens just slapped on a name and handled their own affairs regardless.

However there was still a need for names, so Kayano and Nagisa had asked Karasuma-sensei and Bitch-sensei to stand in as their guardians when necessary. Considering the fact that they took care of themselves for the most part, the two teachers had agreed. This meant that for an event such as this, for the better or the worst, Karasuma and Bitch-sensei would be gracing the halls of Ouran Academy with their presence.

Honestly I give it five minutes before the boys are all drooling over Bitch-sensei’s breasts and the girls are swooning over Karasuma-sensei. They didn’t exactly get all that many chances to see muscular dudes (seriously the uniforms hid any kind of muscular definition if there even was any to begin with) and no matter what Karasuma wore, it was always very obvious that he was built like a bulldozer. He looked like he could knock you flat out without breaking a sweat. It was kind of hilarious actually. The teens of the richer community (True Cross Academy students did not escape this one) seemed to just have a lower sense of self-preservation.

They took a look at Karasuma and all of his brawn and seemed to assume that he was just a dumb grunt that they, tiny little twinks, didn’t need to worry about. Like??? What??? Unbelievable.

There was the possibility that the teenage boys of Ouran Academy might stare a little more at Bitch-sensei. I may be gay, but I can recognize when a woman is a bombshell – and that was ignoring the fact that she was very well endowed. Even if she wore business casual – hell if she wore business-like attire at all – her boobs would just sort of jump out at you. I can’t blame her because I mean, it’s her job so seduction was to be expected, however she was just incapable of not being seductive.

Kayano had a theory that she was on a mission to have all straight men under her bidding. She bemoaned the fact that she herself was not gifted in the breast area.

I tried not to think too much into that.

 

Either way, with Yukio, Karasuma-sensei and Bitch-sensei coming to spend time at Ouran Academy, things were bound to get exciting. Even the others who had no idea of the chaos that Nagisa, Kayano, and I would bring with us come Friday morning were excited about this Friday. The entire school was abuzz with activity as students bustled around, talking with others about who they were planning on bringing. The teachers and members of student council as well as select club leaders were involved in the planning of the actual day and how things would go when the school’s population was essentially doubled for a day.

The school was large so size and capacity wasn’t an issue. They just needed to add some extra chairs in every classroom, and since this school was known for having its balls – like actual medieval balls with butlers and footmen and 7 course meals from around the world – and other social functions every year, they always had plenty of chairs available.

There were some issues with deciding what to do in the classes when there would be parents and other family members watching with intense scrutiny, but most classes had decided upon work as usual with a bit more emphasis on participation. This essentially meant that every class that possibly could, would be focusing on class discussion. In the maths we told to do research on theories from famous mathematicians and in business we were planning on discussing major scandals. In art I doubt we’d be doing anything interactive, but with botany we would just be doing whatever we would be doing without this special event. We were already a little behind so lollygagging for the parents wasn’t a priority for Shinrin-sensei.

However I was pretty excited for English literature studies. It wasn’t a large class – although it was larger than any English class at True Cross because there was a higher interest at Ouran than anywhere else. All the same, there was only 17 students including myself. We had just finished a book when our teacher suggested that we read two short stories and examine that while all the upheaval is occurring in other classes. It was a busy season, now that it was November. We had tests to worry about and second semester classes to argue with the school about. Or have the family lawyer argue about.

Rich people were ridiculous.

 

The story that we had chosen to read was called How to Get into Medical School Part 1 & Part 2 by Vincent Lam, a Canadian author. Those two short stories were part of a larger collection called Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures and all in all it was quite a good read. We’d read the first part aloud together in class, and today we were planning on talking about it a bit more while also forming our groups so that we can discuss part 2.

When I get into my class it’s to find that the desks had already been set up in a circle in the centre of the room. Most of the seats were already filled although the teacher was still puddling around at her desk while she waited for everyone to arrive and take a seat. So I walked over to the back of the class and took a seat before pulling out my stapled story and a pen. Despite the number of people in the class, there was only enough seats for those who were actually a part of the class, so I was only left in peace for so long before someone plopped down next to me and began bugging me.

“So what did you think about Ming and Fitz? I thought that they were really cute together and I hope that they end up together in the second part.”

I deliberately place my pen down on the table in front of me and turn my head to look at the guy that usually sat up at the front of the class when we weren’t in circle formation. We literally sat at opposite ends of the class and while we are small, I don’t really see the point in interacting with the people here. Sure it made group projects pretty unpleasant when you weren’t ‘friends’ strictly speaking with anyone in your class, but at least the people who took his class valued intelligence enough that I wasn’t an outcast.

They just knew that I didn’t like to be bothered by trivial things. It wasn’t like I was looking to make friends. These kinds of people wouldn’t exactly be all that useful to have in my corner. They were for the most part, a little too airheaded and there was no way that I was trusting anyone here with my secrets. Like this class wasn’t too bad with the kind of people, but I still get annoyed by some of them.

I can’t really help it when we have contradicting views. For example; this.

I was going to respond – really, I was – but then the guy kept talking. “My name is Shinji Youtaro, and I sit up at the front so you might not have seen me, but of course I know you. You’re Akabane Karma, right? The kid that should’ve been in second year but was too smart.” He was grinning like a lunatic and leaning against his desk so that he could stare at me without me having to turn all that much to see him.

I still wasn’t pleased.

I decided I wasn’t going to dignify his inquiry with too much of a response. “I actually disagree. I think that they are both awful for each other. Ming still isn’t over her trauma that she went through with Karl and Fitz clearly isn’t all that sound. He has an obsessive personality as shown by the fact that he drinks to deal with his family issues. She doesn’t need someone else to latch onto her when she’s already struggling. Add on the fact that they’re aggressively different in personality, I don’t believe that they’d be good for each other.” I deny.

Shinji pouts and looks like he’s about to talk when Abernathy-sensei decides that now was the time to start the lesson. She was a plump woman of some European descent, but she spoke Japanese very well for a foreigner. Although she did her best to not speak in Japanese because ‘this was an English class, so you should act like it’. “Shinji-san, Akabane-kun! I’d prefer it if we spoke in English. You all took this course for a reason, so please exercise your skills. We are working on expanding our vocabulary past just the basics.” She said in English, causing audible groans to echo around the small room.

She beamed at us and settled into the empty seat that was beside me. Great. It wasn’t like I disliked her, but you know the feeling when a teacher sits next to you. It’s very… ahh. “Alright, let’s get into the story now. First, I’d like to touch on the setting, so qas there anything that you noticed in particular about it? Anything noteworthy?” Abernathy-sensei asked as she pulled out her own stapled copy of the story. She looked around the room for a moment before pointing at someone.

“Uhh, it’s set in Ottawa.”  Kurogi, Ms. Abernathy’s unfortunate victim of the day, said awkwardly, clearly not having expected to be picked on.

I resisted the urge to slam my head down on the table in front of me. Oh my god, how is this guy real.

“Brilliant observation, Mr. Kurogi. Anyone else? Have anything they’d like to remark on?” Clearly, Ms. Abernathy was also done with Kurogi’s shit.

For a moment, no one fucking spoke up or even raised their hand so I bit the bullet and shoved my hand in the air while plastering on a resting bitch face. If there was one thing that I tended to dislike about language and literature focused classes it was that no one ever wanted to be the first. Once someone broke that barrier discussion was good, but until that moment...

Ms. Abernathy waved her hand and I took that as a signal to begin to speak. “Well, as I was beginning to elaborate on with Shinji, I noticed some reflections of the relationship through the setting. The story starts off in winter, as shown through the reference to a “snowstorm” on page 1. There’s also a really cold and dispassionate atmosphere. It is set in the dead of winter in a gymnasium with broken tables and a blue tinged light from xenon lamps. It’s in the middle of an exam and it’s just very impersonal. Later in the story, we pass from January to March where we’re on the cusp of spring which is synonymous with growth and new love. The relationship between Ming and Fitz has the potential to be sweet and healing, but I’m just going to throw this out here now, but I don’t think that they’ll be good for each other. Sweet love can only last so long before it fizzles out, and when both partners have their own issues to deal with.”

Ms. Abernathy smiled brightly and turned to the rest of the class. “Excellent insight, Mr. Akabane. Does anyone else have any thing to say about his comments?”

“Well I would have to disagree with Akabane-san’s comments on Ming and Fitz’s relationship. While it’s very evident that Ming has a bunch of issues surrounding her cousin and her past, I think that she needs someone to help her heal.” Shinji cuts in, looking past me to make eye contact with Ms. Abernathy. “Fitz clearly cares a lot about Ming and it becomes evident that Ming cares for him a lot too. The ending of part 1 was incredibly hopeful and like Akabane-san said, it ends in spring which would promote the idea of a budding relationship. I think that Fitz can really help Ming with the trauma of Karl and Ming can help Fitz with his own potential ‘abandonment issues’ as Akabane-san phrased it.”

I arched an eyebrow and turned to look at the rest of the students. “All I’m saying is that based off what character traits have been revealed to us, I don’t think that they can be good for each other.”

“How many people think that Ming and Fitz will be good for each other?” Abernathy-sensei said suddenly, “raise your hands.”

Surprisingly, the class seemed to be rather split evenly. There were about 8 people who agreed with Shinji and the other 8 agreed with me. Interesting. I don’t truly think that they’re point of view has no merit, but from a story telling standpoint, there is still a second part of the story and them ending up together just wouldn’t be that interesting of a plot point to carry the story for another 20 pages. I mean with my own experiences… well I just can’t see it working out.

 

(I’ll never be grateful for the fact that Garry is dead – I’m not that awful of a person – but I have to admit, that at most, we’d be settling for each other. I met Garry when I was 9 years old, and we got together when I was 14 and he was 18 only because he’d been dead for 5 years. In hindsight, that might not have been the healthiest decision that I could have made. I loved him, and I’m sure that he loved me, but with the ages and the circumstances surrounding our relationship… I don’t know how good of a relationship that could be in the long run.

I’d like to think that we were good for each other, but now that he’s dead… I can’t help but wonder if he might have been happier with someone else. Did he have someone that would have missed him or was it just me? Did we end up together as just a product of our circumstances?

If he had lived, would we have eventually fallen apart and ended in disaster when the puppy love fizzled out? We were together for less than a year. For all I know, I had just imprinted on the guy.

It’s a scary thought.)

 

“Can I just bring up the topic of Karl? Both Shinji-san and Akabane-san mentioned it when talking about Ming and her trauma, but can we talk about that?” A girl named Shimura Yuri spoke up as everyone slowly lowered their hands. “He is Ming’s cousin and was trusted to help her succeed only to have proceed to abuse her in one of the worst ways that a girl can be abused. She trusted him. She was 12 years old, and he was at least 18. It was rape, no matter how you look at it. That’s just… appalling.”

There were titters of agreement around the room as everyone looked vaguely uncomfortable. No one wanted to make eye contact as Shimura brought up the elephant in the room. So far, we’d sort of just skirted around the issue, but at the end of the day, we read a story about rape and loss. It was a mature subject, and if the silence and awkward air in the class meant anything, then everyone knew it too.

“Sometimes people are more awful than any demon we can conjure.” I said softly, breaking the silence. “Humans are their own worst enemy and are needlessly cruel. Hell’s empty, the monsters are all up here.”

There was another beat of silence where everyone just sort of stared at the papers that they had collected in front of them. Ms. Abernathy grabbed all of her papers and lightly tapped them against the table. “Take home Part 2 tonight and tomorrow, we’ll separate the class into 4 groups to prepare the material to present and discuss for the family day.”

Chapter Text

Karma P.O.V.

Before I even knew it, the preparations for the little ‘family day’ thing were over and done with and the day itself was upon us.

Yukio had arrived the night before and had enjoyed dicking around my apartment greatly. He hadn’t been there when Shura first visited my set up, so to be fair to him, this was his first time seeing the way I kept things. A dorm didn’t really count because technically, it wasn’t mine. It also wasn’t like I had done all that much with the dorm room despite appearances. You’d be surprised at what a simple wall of canvas could do to a space.

Father Fujimoto had originally been rather opposed to Yukio missing a day of school for this, but with Mephisto’s backing (and therefore the school’s backing - all under the explanation of school ambassadors and networking) there wasn’t much that Fujimoto could really do. Yukio wanted to go, and he was nowhere near as easy to manipulate as before. Before, he was content to follow Fujimoto’s every whim, and after my disastrous year, he’d discovered that his idol wasn’t perfect and wasn’t right all the time.

Oh how that must irk Father Fujimoto. It brings me glee.

 

As far as the actual morning of went, there was a little bit of confusion as to what was to be worn - I was supposed to wear my uniform so that wasn’t an issue but Yukio was in a little pickle. You see, most of the people that would be coming were adults and would therefore be dressed in business attire because rich people and their reputations. Yukio on the other hand was a student at another school so there was the dilemma of whether he too should dress in business attire (a little hard to do when he didn’t actually own anything like that and if he had told me sooner I could have gotten something tailored for him) or whether he should just wear his uniform.

Unfortunately that was another issue in itself because suddenly there was the dilemma about whether he should wear his cram class uniform or the True Cross one. On the one hand, school pride and the fact that people did know I transferred from True Cross Academy, and on the other hand, the cram class was a point of pride for True Cross Academy even if most people had no idea what it even was. The added Vatican bullshit also gave Yukio another layer of credibility. He would be associating with many people that he would have never even dreamed of seeing so I would imagine being even that little bit closer to equal footing would be a comfort for him.

As such, it was decided that he’d wear everything from his True Cross Academy uniform but his blazer and instead wear the exorcist trench coat and added paraphernalia. It was the best of both worlds and honestly all that I could muster this morning. I swear, we hadn’t even gotten to the school and I already knew that the day was going to be interesting.

 

I was almost ridiculously happy at the fact that for the most part, art and biology went swell. Art was a fun little arts and craft project sort of like the bullshit stuff you make for father’s day and mother's’ day in elementary school. Yukio had fun and wasn’t too nervous so that was a good way to start off the day. I mean, it didn’t change the fact that almost everyone had been staring at him curiously due to his drastically different outfit. As predicted, all of the other additions to the class today were adults who worked in offices and definitely looked the part. I swear, some of them looked horrified at the mere sight of craft glue. It was hilarious.

Lunch had been a bit awkward since we ate with 4 Class E people and Yukio still wasn’t comfortable around Nagisa after they rescued me. It wasn’t like Nagisa was trying all that hard to not intimidate him either. In fact, I would say that he was going a little out of his way to make Yukio uncomfortable. Luckily, there was no incident and no other students bothered us.

Yukio also had yet to put his foot too far into his mouth. Botany was a little touchy because Yukio was like really passionate about plants now that he was dating Shiemi and he knew some alternative methods for plant care and science that he deemed to be superior. This, of course, encouraged him to confront the teacher on the subject. Yukio got in a good rant about the religious properties of the aforementioned plants and this sparked curiosity in the rest of the students as they realized the conflicting views that my twin brother and I had. They definitely still remember Halloween.

It was like in that moment they suddenly remembered the information that I’d let slip about my brother. Of course it was great that Yukio’s Vatican issue jacket only helped to further play up those ideas and assumptions that they no doubt made. Fortunately though, no one actually confronted Yukio about this, instead allowing him to rant unchallenged. Shirin-sensei actually looked moderately impressed when he was done and asked where he got his knowledge. Everyone expected him to say ‘the Vatican’ or some bullshit like that, but everyone had to suppress snickers when Yukio turned beet red and sheepishly said his girlfriend told him.

However, other than that little dalliance, everything went swimmingly.

 

And that leaves the afternoon classes of English Lit. and various maths, sciences and businesses. Very riveting even if Yukio complained that a. he didn’t really understand that much English and b. he was disappointed that there was no biology or health related classes other than botany and that apparently didn’t count enough to truly comment on.

We quickly strode into the classroom, Yukio doing his best to imitate my long confident strides and only succeeding because he was taller than me.

I swept into the room, ignoring the looks that the other students were giving us as I directed Yukio towards a group of students and what was no doubt their parents. I’d been partnered up with Shinji Youtaro, Shimura Yuki, and Omorashi Yachi, and together we’d worked on the informal oral presentation that we had scheduled for today. Unfortunately, the other two groups had gone before us, so we were left with the time slot for today.

Not ideal, but such is life.

 

Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for everyone to settle into a chair and for Abernathy-sensei to wave us on to present. Without further adieu, we pulled out our notes and the examination began.

“We were given pages 70-77 of part 2, so I’ll start off with a quick plot summary.” Shinji began as he pulled out the stapled print-out of the story. We’d taken time to painstakingly annotate our own personal copies and were pretty into discussing the character stuff for this part. Or at the very least, I was. We had split up the questions that Abernathy-sensei had given us, but ultimately we’d ended up deciding that the person who came up with the idea would explain it and the others were free to jump in whenever.

“Essentially, we got the pages where Fitz’s interview with Dr. McCarthy and Karl which lead into Fitz blackmailing Karl and then breaking into Ming’s apartment and being very creepy in general.” I push my annotated text over to Yukio and he eagerly takes in the neatly printed kanji in the margins. Like the others, I had annotated in Japanese purely because it was more familiar. I was confident in my English, but the aesthetic though. And I was grateful that I did because Yukio can now maybe understand what is going on.

Seeing the others following my lead and passing their own notes to their guests, I decided to continue. “This shows an interesting departure in character in Fitz from the Fitzgerald we got to know in part 1. As I’ve commented on earlier, the signs of Fitz having an unhealthily obsessive personality are there in part 1 - for those who were not there I will quickly recap  Fitz is an alcoholic and Ming remarks numerous times that he would be a better student if he could focus his focus on the broad and not the specific. When he finds something he likes or deems important, then he latches onto it.”

I lean forward in my seat, folding my hands in front of me and making eye contact with some of the other students. “The other two groups before us covered the noticeable shift in Fitz, so I’m afraid that I might sound a bit like a broken record.” That got some titters out of the class and I continued with a smirk. “Fitz has latched onto Ming, whether if it is a simple infatuation or in fact something deeper like a substitute for his dead mother is up in the air at this point, and it is definitely to a very not okay level. He sends letters nonstop despite receiving no replies and called her so much that she changed her phone number. To Ming’s credit, she did try to ease him out of the relationship but she cheated so she’s no saint either and I will delve further into that later.”

I saw Shinji mouth the word ‘delve’ with a confused look on his face and I wanted to bash my head against the wall.

“At our point in the story, Fitz has done a bunch of things that would seem rather odd and out of character but it can all be lead back to his proclivity for obsession.” I quickly read through the paper where we had organized our thoughts, pointedly ignoring Shinji’s scandalized look at my choice of wording. “He’s so obsessed with Ming that it has overridden his will to help people to the point that the only reason he is working so hard to get into medical school is just so that he can see Ming after she cut him off. He has lost his spark and it shows.”

Yachi beamed at me, almost bouncing in her seat as we arrived at her point. “Jumping off of Akabane-san’s point, the Fitz we got to know in part 1 wasn’t rude or even flippant really. In just the 7 or so pages we were given he demonstrates dangerous behaviour in the form of violent thoughts, flippant attitude in a life altering interview, and eventually blackmailing Karl with the knowledge that Ming gave him. He has nothing to lose since in his eyes he’s already lost the most important thing; Ming. This is the instigator for his reckless behaviour.”

“Back to everyone’s favorite character; Karl, our resident rapist.” Shimura interrupted before we could go off into another tailspin into Fitz’s character. “So this is the first time that we actually meet Karl. We don’t really see a change in character because he is still a douche wipe and isn’t really afraid of hiding it. He has literally done no growth outside of academic knowledge. We just got to see that he’s not only a douche canoe behind closed doors; he’s just like that naturally apparently.”

That got some laughs out of everyone. Although to me, the funniest reactions were from the guests when Shimura opened by introducing Karl as a rapist.

After everyone got in a good little laugh, Shinji cracked his knuckles and got a gleeful look on his face. “Now let’s talk about the one main character that doesn’t actually make an appearance in our 7 or so pages; Ming. Bet you thought that we wouldn’t be talking about her, but we can and we will.”

“Yes, thank you, Shinji-san.” Yachi grumbled, rolling her eyes theatrically and loudly slapping her notes on the table to express exasperation. “We may not see Ming in person, but as previously stated, Fitz breaks into her apartment and takes a little look around. There’s a miscellaneous black pump - not your traditional sensible shoe, a half finished cup of tea, a smiley face on her notes, and even some art on the walls. This all sounds like a normal person’s apartment, but this is actually a sign of growth and comfort. Ming is letting loose and acting like an actual person which is a sign that she is moving past her trauma and by extension, Fitz.”

I quickly glance up at the clock to make sure that we weren’t running too late before pushing forwards with the next topic.

“We’ll go chronologically for the settings and how it’s relevant to the story. The first setting we have is the doctor’s office where we couldn’t really say much. It’s impersonal and clinical as well as a private setting. However it is the elevator where things actually get interesting.” I’ve got most of the class actually interested right now, so that’s quite the accomplishment if I do say so myself. And I do. “The elevator is where Fitz decides to strike up a conversation with Karl and Karl tries to insult Fitz and beat him down as bullies do. Fitz decides that it’s a good idea to blackmail Karl and then they depart.”

Shimura nodded and continued off of my point. “It’s interesting that this scene happened in an elevator because it is a small closed in space and there is a set time limit on how long the interaction can be. Fitz only has so much time to accomplish what he needs to do, and it’s an effective way to sort of trap them in the moment.”

Shinji nods, a large grin slowly beginning to form on his face. “It can also be a metaphor for Ming because, you know, both characters have been inside Ming.”

“Not relevant, Mr. Shinji,” Ms. Abernathy reminds as she scribbles in her notebook.

Shinji pouts.

 

“Moving on,” Yachi says awkwardly, “we have the train station. It’s a bit of a stretch but I can compare the line where Fitz compares a seat cushion to a square mushroom to Alice in Wonderland. Now hear me out, I know it is a stretch, but it could be an interesting view on Fitz. It’s an almost whimsical way to look at life and reality. We’ve seen that Fitz lives his life trough delusions - convincing himself that Ming still loves him and is expecting him so it’s totally okay for him to enter her apartment while she’s away - and this is sort of the start of when he sees reality as it is. It’s his departure from his own Wonderland as he is forced to come to terms with reality.”

“The railroad can also show how Fitz is stuck. He like watches a couple trains go by and that’s sort of like Ming and everyone moving on without him while he remains stagnant.” I add, nodding.

“Good vocab.”

“Thanks.”

Shimura actually smacked her head off of the table in front of her. “You all suck.” She groans before rubbing her forehead and snatching her notes from what appeared to be her older brother (he was too young to be a parent to someone Shimura’s age). “Finally we have Ming’s apartment which was basically covered in the character analysis section anyways. The only thing I can add is stuff about the painting because I found the way that Fitz described it to be odd. Now this painting is kind of like Starry Night except it is a bridge over water. It’s the same melancholic colour scheme, but your eye is naturally drawn to the centre and upper third of he painting. Fitz chose to focus on the bottom right corner where two figures do a really good job of blending into the background. I just thought that that was interesting.”

There was a beat of silence as no one wanted to talk. We had already gone on longer than the two previous groups. At this point, I figure it’s just a ‘go big or go home’ moment.

 

“I suppose we can start talking about themes at this point. Let’s start off with the fact that love is obviously one of the themes that is very apparent throughout the story, but not necessarily in the way that we would expect. There’s a unique duality to this story that I don’t think we’ve seen in some of the other books that we’ve read. That duality is the idea that love can both hurt and heal. It’s something that we hear about a lot in the media but don’t necessarily see all that much in pop culture at this point. It’s all one or the other, but this story shows us that love isn’t equal and that one person comes out on top at the end of a relationship.” Yachi began, before throwing the metaphorical ball to Shinji.

“In part 1, I can honestly say that I thought that the love between Ming and Fitz was going to be something that truly helped them.” Shinji continues with gusto, gleeful at the act of ripping apart the story and playing with its innards under the excuse of education. “While I disagree with Akabane’s dislike of Fitz’s character, I can agree that he is a flawed guy. He had a lot of issues stemming from his parents and I believe that we all thought that Ming would be good for him. She is independent but she could also provide that support that Fitz was obviously seeking.”

I decide to cut in there before Shinji tries to undermine my opinions (that I hadn’t even voiced… that much) with his own. “For Ming, the good in the relationship was obvious. She had a bunch of trauma that she hadn’t been handling, and with the confession of those perceived sins to Fitz, she was able to address the issue herself and work through it to the point where she could grow as a person and no longer need Fitz as a crutch. Yes, Fitz was helpful in this process, but he was only integral in the first part in the way that he was like a sounding board. He gave Ming the reassurance and affection that she needed in order to address that trauma rationally. For Fitz, however,” I grin and shift in my seat slightly, “his involvement in her trauma had the opposite effect. Being with Ming only heightened his own issues to the point where he latched onto Ming and suddenly nothing else mattered. He engaged in detrimental behaviour such as open rebellion and an extreme fixation on being with her. Suddenly, getting into medical school wasn’t about becoming a doctor to help people, it was about getting to Toronto to be with Ming.”

“He couldn’t even take ‘no’ as an answer by the time his interview came along. He sent her countless letters and called her so much that she changed her phone number. Then, after his interview, he had the audacity to go to her apartment, break in to said apartment, and then drink her half finished tea. You can argue all you want that it wasn’t technically breaking and entering because he had a key, but you’re wrong. He was unwelcome and uninvited and Ming had no idea that he would be there.”

Shimura nodded along, agreeing eagerly. “I don’t know about any of you, but I would certainly hate it if I came home to find out that someone had not only gone through my things but also finished a cup of tea that I had obviously drank from, then I would be majorly freaked out. That’s very not cool.”

Yachi half raised her hand, a quirk to her eyebrow as she barreled ahead despite her little show of formality seconds before. “Can I just comment on how Fitz and Ming sort of trade traits? Like, it’s a trope that we’ve all gotten to know really well that after spending enough time around someone you begin to act more like them.”

“It’s not a trope, Ms. Omorashi. It’s an actual thing that happens; with enough time, you start to subconsciously imitate their habits.” Ms. Abernathy remarked, continuing to scratch notes

“Sure.” Yachi allowed, pursing her lips slightly before continuing. “Regardless of what it is, it’s apparent in the details of the story that this did occur. You can see how Ming let go a little and learned to be a bit more human and less robotic - which I remember us all praising Fitz for when we read part 1. And we can see at the end of part 2 that Fitz had become a lot more like pre-relationship Ming. He uses Karl’s study methods and is rather robotic. All that matters to him is getting into medical school. It’s like he’s lost his spark, and that’s incredibly sad.”

“There was also that neat little throwback to when he was practicing with Ming for her interview.” I tack on helpfully. “She says something about no one actually being honest in interviews before Fitz derails the conversation. In Fitz’s interview, he blatantly stated “ ask me anything and I could make up something that would sound good ” which sort of creates a neat little tie in. Fitz is being honest by saying that he can lie, which in turn, makes it hard for McCarthy to know whether or not she should trust him. Remember, this was in response to her asking if she could trust Fitz and then he just flat out introduces uncertainty in his own character. This could also be a reflection of our own uncertainty in Fitz’s actions and character.”

Just as I finish speaking the bell announcing the end of class rang loudly as if to punctuate my sentence. “And with that, I believe we are done here.” I conclude in Japanese before gathering my papers and waiting for Yukio to stand. And then, we were walking out of the room in tandem without a backward glance.

 

Chapter Text

Karma P.O.V

Almost immediately after leaving the English class, Yukio dropped whatever facade of being put together that he had. He stumbled as he rushed to follow after me, an odd look on his face as he began to speak. “Dude! That was so cool!” he gushed, his eyes sparkling. “I knew you were smart, but wow, Karma. I had no idea that you were that into English. You talked like twice as much as the others in your group.” he continued as we walked down the halls towards my next class. They were empty in this part of the school - I took this way because even with the small number of students, somehow the corridors managed to get very blocked up. I preferred a slightly longer walk alone than to risk being held up by gross first years.

Seriously, you know what I’m talking about. Not only do they walk around like they’re the shit (yes, I know that I am a hypocrite), but they also stop walking in the middle of the halls. The halls here are big enough that it’s not really an issue for traffic, but it’s the principle of the manner that bothers me.

“Yukio, not only did I basically live with you for a year, but I also took classes at your level. You literally saw my English in action with Bitch-san.” I pointed out helpfully as I swung my bag off my shoulder so that I could shrug out of my blazer again. We wouldn’t be hosting clients today due to the arrival of parents - even Tamaki realized that perhaps it would be a bit odd for adults to see what their children were getting up to as an after school club activity - and instead would just be having a regular meeting where we plan the next event.

This next event happened to be the Christmas Ball that was a fundraiser for orphanages to have a Christmas celebration. That would require a lot of preparation because it was such a big event and it wasn’t even being run by the school. This was almost completely Kyoya’s brainchild, and it would be very much apparent based off of the presentation of the event. There was no way that I was going to let him fade into the background about this again. Not like the last year’s party. The Ootori family might not recognize him as all that great, but the rest of the community is gonna know that he’s more than just the third son.

Either way, this was something that we could discuss while we had… uninvolved guests. I’m sure that the parents and other family members would be plenty eager to help along with this. There was something about fundraisers and events that just drew the upper class. Sometimes it was honest good will, but other times it was simply the press that drew people. The press, was a necessary evil because it drew in guests and more attention which in turn garnered attention for the cause. Yeah there’s the whole turning the charity event into something more like a spectacle of the upper class and oh look they are helping the poor little orphans.

But you can’t be perfect and this is still so much better than nothing. Honestly, at least there is some money to throw at orphanages. Not all of them are like the one that I got shoved into. I’m sure there’s someplace that will use the money that they receive for the better.

And if there’s a lot of people that will take advantage of it? Well at least there’s one person that this could help. It’s better than nothing, and sadly that’s all we’re going to get.

 

So yeah, we would be assembling the Host Club (and apparently the two former Host Club members that had graduated would also be stopping by today) and their guests to chat over tea about a fundraiser. If that wasn’t already incredibly high society…

Yukio was going to lose his mind.

That sounds like a mean thing to say, but remember that Yukio had grown up as a ward of a fucking monastery. I didn’t exactly have as glamorous of a childhood either but at the very least Kunugikaoka prepared me for assholes that have money. Yukio got bullied by a rich kid, but he had gone to a normal public school before getting accepted on a scholarship at True Cross Academy because they thought he had a real future in medicine. Mephisto has a lot of sway because you know, it is… his school, but he can’t just pick a student to give a full ride to. The board had to accept him too.

But the point was that Yukio was always on the other side of this spectrum. Just looking at the two different schools (Ouran and True Cross) there was such a grand difference both in the architecture and in the attitudes. True Cross Academy was much closer to a public high school than a private one. Yes, it did have the separate city aspect of everything, but it reminded me a lot of a university campus actually. True Cross was on a small island all its own, and it was built like a real life moving castle from Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle. It wouldn’t surprise me if Mephisto had actually based the design off of that castle.

Everything was on a steep incline and there were plenty of buildings. Almost if not everything was student or alumni run with only a couple things being run by True Cross alumni who had chosen to return. It was kind of cool actually. Shiemi’s mother had actually moved her shop onto the island due to the promise of higher traffic with her clientele, and had so far been incredibly successful! The architecture was beautiful in the way that when you looked at it, it looked like a junk heap and you were asking yourself how it even stand as a structurally sound thing, let alone function and house thousands of people. It was kind of funny that way. The streets were very old fashioned and reminded me of the historical areas of London, England. It was li

In contrast, Ouran Academy had a very modern feel to it. There were certain parts of the interior design that lent to a more grandiose European design. There were proud stone arches and large staircases everywhere. It was like a cross between a castle and a business building. It didn’t look like a school, let alone a high school. I swear when Yukio had first walked into the building he hadn’t stopped gawking for like 10 minutes. It was hilarious.

Then there were the people. There were obviously some people who had been stuck up and snotty about their money at True Cross, but it wasn’t the main populace of the school. There were simply too many people for that to be the majority. At Ouran however, there are the ever so little people and all of them were over-privileged assholes. Yukio had been struck speechless when he’d been greeted by an underclassman asking why his clothing looked so cheap.

So yeah, seeing the Host Club was going to be an experience for Yukio. Hell, it was going to be an experience for me!

I’m usually a pretty cool and collected guy, but here I am, lowkey stressing about meeting rich folks. Tamaki’s father was the headmaster of the school, and Kyoya’s sister would be there. After getting over trying to impress his father, Kyoya basically only cared about one member of his biological family and that was his sister, whom I had never met before. Exciting.

(Oh and also those other two Host Club guys. I can’t remember their names, but apparently they were badasses or something. And you know me - I’m going to pick a fight with someone today and it’s only a matter of time until we figure out which one of the guests it’ll be.)

 

Yukio blushed heavily, “yeah but I didn’t know that you liked English to this extent! What are you planning? Running off to Oxford or the USA when you go to university?” he protested loudly, his entire face going a bright bright red. I laughed loudly and glanced over shiftily at Yukio threw my eyelashes.

“Just you wait, Yukio. Host Club today will be exciting!” I tease brightly.

 


 

Luckily for us, entering the host club room was rather normal. There was no fanfare or cloud of rose petals like there would be if we were entering on a normal service day. Instead there was just a round table set up in the middle of the room. I knew about half of the people sitting around the table and the other half I recognized from pictures that were in the files that Kyoya gave me because he didn’t want me to offend anyone. He should know better by now. I’m going to go out of my way to piss someone off today. It’ll be fun.

There were two empty seats in between Kyoya and Suoh Senior, and I would assume that those are meant for me and Yukio. Everyone was sipping tea casually and looking vaguely uncomfortable so I took that as my cue to make an entrance much to Yukio’s chagrin. Embarrassing him was just too funny sometimes.

“Kyoya! I’m so glad that you guys all waited for us!” I called cheerfully, dumping my bag on the ground and flopping into my seat dramatically. Yukio followed suit, except he sat like a normal person and gazed pointedly at the table. Ah, my twin is too awkward.

Kyoya pushed a full cup of tea towards me without even bothering to open his eyes as he sighed. “Yes, Karma-kun. If you could arrive more promptly from now on, that would be appreciated. Now if we could get introductions out of the way,” he said stiffly, taking a sip from his own tea cup.

I picked mine up and sniffed it experimentally. “Earl Grey, right?” I pout a little, not unlike the pout on the blond that was sitting across the table from me. “You know me so well, Kyoya. Would you pass the sencha though? It’s Yukio’s preferred tea; that heathen.” I scowl theatrically and Kyoya can only roll his eyes again, although his sister did giggle delicately behind her hand. Kyoya did as asked and I coaxed Yukio to drink his tea while I did the talking. “It’s a pleasure to meet all of you! Now my name is Akabane Karma and I’m a third-year student here at Ouran Academy. I started here this year after transferring from True Cross Academy where my twin brother currently attends as a second year.” I turned to make eye contact with Suoh Senior. “Our half-brother Pheles Mephisto is the headmaster there.”

I look over pointedly at Yukio and he smiles sheepishly before setting his tea cup down and raising his head to stare down those around the table with his teacher's face. “As Karma-kun has already said, I’m his twin brother, Okumura Yukio. I attend True Cross Academy and I’m actually a teacher for the cram school. I also work closely with the Vatican due to my foster father’s job. It’s very nice to meet all of you, and I’d like to extend my thanks to Suoh-san for making this possible.” Suoh Senior grinned at him and laughed boisterously.

“It’s my pleasure, my boy. I’m sure everyone knows who I am, but I’m Suoh Yuzuru, the headmaster of this fine establishment and Tamaki’s father.” the man was taller than Tamaki and didn’t have Tamaki’s striking blond hair which was in itself unusual. He had light brown hair which lead me to believe that perhaps in his youth he had been a blond which would explain where Tamaki got his genes.

 

...then again I have bright red hair completely unlike both Yukio and my mother’s hair. Perhaps Satan has red hair, but I’ve never actually seen him so there’s no way of knowing. Of course, I’d like to keep it that way.

 

Tamaki beamed at his father and hurried to introduce himself as well. “Hello! I am Suoh Tamaki and I’m the founder of the Host Club and a third year here at Ouran Academy.” And blessedly, Tamaki didn’t say anything else and let the others introduce themselves.

Beside Tamaki sat Haruhi, looking just as uncomfortable as Yukio no doubt felt and beside her was her… father. He (?) was completely dolled up like Bitch-sensei was on a regular basis and he was chuckling to himself happily looking around the table without a single glint of suspicion that something other than a tea party was afoot. I had no doubt that the man was probably good at conversation, but he was unused to high society and the social dangers that came with it. Pity.

Haruhi inclined her head respectfully and waved her hand at Ranka. “Hello, my name is Fujioka Haruhi and this is my father, Fujioka Ryoji. Thank you very much for having us here today - we are grateful.” She said respectfully with a pleasant business face that rivaled Kyoya’s own.

Her father immediately brightened up as he waved and winked. “Call me ‘Ranka’! I’m just so happy to meet all of my darling child’s friends!” At that remark Haruhi’s irritation and internal struggle became very visible, but because everyone here was ‘polite’, no one called her out on it. All the same, I couldn’t help but remark on the fact that Ranka hadn’t called Haruhi his daughter; just his child. Wasn’t that interesting? He seemed like the kind of guy who liked to rave about how amazing his daughter was, and from the stories that Kyoya would tell when he got really drunk, he sure did. But here he was, making an effort to not expose her secret to the strangers in the room. Perhaps he wasn’t as oblivious as I thought.

Interesting.

Beside Ranka sat, a woman who looked rather young for what her age was. She was dressed in proper high fashion business attire and had rich ginger hair. Beside her were the twins, giggling behind their hands and doing a poor job of hiding it. This means that she could only be the relative that the twins brought with them.

“My name is Hitachiin Yuzuha, the owner of Hitachiin Fashion and these are my sons, Hikaru and Kaoru. I hope that they haven’t given you too much trouble, Suoh-san.” She said brightly, laughing. With the subdued looks of happiness and approval on the other parents’ faces, she was well respected and well received.

I turned to put my focus on the two strangers that sat in between the twins and Kyoya’s sister. One was short, probably only coming up to Haruhi’s shoulders at most. He looked like a child, with his wide doe-like eyes and floofy blond hair. The other, was easily taller than Garry had been. He had dark spiky hair and was somehow managing to scowl without displaying emotion. It was hard to believe, but he was frowning while remaining blank faced. I was almost impressed.

Both of them were built and held themselves like people who were used to fighting. All the same, I was a bit perplexed. They must be the two hosts that graduated last year.

“Hiya! I’m Haninozuka Mitsukuni and this is Morinozuka Takashi, my bodyguard.” The little blond yelled brightly, acting like a child half his age. He grinned as brightly as a child without worries as he continued to introduce himself. “We both used to be hosts here when we attended Ouran Academy. We graduated last year.” So I was right then. Interesting indeed.

But there was another piece of information that jumped out at me. He had called Morinozuka his bodyguard. These people were ridiculous rich brats, but so far not even Kyoya’s stuck up family had bothered to assign any of their children a bodyguard. That was just… odd. But then I remembered where I’d heard the name Haninozuka. They were a famous family here in Japan; well known for their incredible and seemingly inhuman fighting abilities. It was said that Mitsukuni was the prodigal son and warned against demonstrating his full potential by the government due to how superhuman he seemed.  

Thinking about that fact now made me wary of him. What was he hiding? Was he actually human or was he… something more? I’d never had the chance to interact with any of the family - either the Haninozukas or the Morinozukas - due to the fact that they were both closely associated with the government they were. This Haninozuka was the heir to the clan as well, which made him all the more impressive. Then you also have to consider the fact that it was a Morinozuka. The Morinozuka family had some kind of blood pact with the Haninozuka family so like all of their children were some kind of bodyguard partner thing to one of the Haninozukas. It was weird to me, but hey I can’t fault family loyalty. It’s just something I’ve never had the pleasure to be faced with before.

I mean, in my line of work, loyalty is much more selectful than what your family has been doing for decades. Nope, it was a very confusing combination of intense loyalty and equally intense backstabbing.

The Haninozuka then turned his eyes towards me and smiled brightly. “I’ve heard so much about you from Tama-chan! It’s very exciting to meet you! We should spar sometime.” he grinned without fear like a child. I resisted the urge to flinch - this teen made me incredibly weary. He was an unknown and therefore dangerous. I also didn’t like the look of the Morinozuka. He reminded me a lot of Karasuma-sensei, and in this case that wasn’t a good thing. He was too watchful, too powerful for a normal person.

Humans were so confusing.

“I look forward to that, Haninozuka-san. I’ve heard a lot about your capabilities. It will be an interesting spar.” I said diplomatically before turning to the last people who had to introduce themselves. Kyoya and his sister were the only ones left, and immediately that set me on edge again. I hadn’t really had a chance to relax since getting to school today due to the anxiety surrounding Yukio even being here - because so much can go wrong with that despite it being a normal school - but now it had just upped again. While I had been a bit worried about the Haninozuka and Morinozuka, I was considerably more worried about this first impression.

Of course, it was already going to shit. Because that’s just how my life goes.

Shiduo Fuyumi, Kyoya-kun’s older sister sat all prim and proper between Kyoya and Morinozuka. She was dressed in a delicate dress which made her look almost doll-like whilst still remaining professional as fuck. Her black hair was swept into an elegant updo, and she looked every bit the Ootori that she had been born as. It was a pity that I had never had the chance to meet her before, but now being confronted with her I can see why Kyoya had been reluctant to introduce us.

Up until this point, there was simply no need for us to ever interact. It would look very odd for someone of her status to meet the nobody delinquent that I appear to be. And since she wasn’t in the know about anything about me other than I was a close friend of Kyoya’s, she would have no reason other than Kyoya’s word that I was worth her ‘precious time’. From what Kyoya has said she is very progressive for a rich girl, but even I would balk at meeting someone under those circumstances and I was literal garbage at times. But this ‘bring a family member to school day’ was the perfect excuse for us to mee. I trust Kyoya, but I don’t necessarily trust his sister. I doubt that she’ll ever truly be aware of Kyoya’s job for after university, but she was the only person in his biological family that he actually considered as family. I wasn’t going to rob him of that just because I was a bitter piece of shit.

And she was decently involved in his life, so it would make sense that we’d meet at some point. This was just the most neutral ground, so it was kind of ideal really. And if she continued to be important to Kyoya it was important that I didn’t make things difficult when we inevitably encountered each other by being a dick. Like I’m normally a dick, but here I had to actually care about first impressions. It was still somewhat foreign to me and this wasn’t like any of the games that I played before. Nope. This was so much more important than that. This was Kyoya’s sister.

 

“I’m sure you’ve all met me at some point, but I’ll introduce myself again just in case the memory escapes you. I am Ootori Kyoya, the third son of the Ootori family and I handle most of the financial planning for the events hosted by the Host Club. This is my older sister, Shiduo Fuyumi. I’ll let her introduce herself further.” Kyoya said very formally as he pulled out his notebook and began to pull out his laptop and other hard copies of the data for the Christmas Ball.

Fuyumi blushed brightly before waving and smiling serenely at the people around the table. “It’s very nice to meet all of you and I look forward to discussing the Ball with you. As you know, I’m Kyoya-kun’s older sister and I’ve worked on this ball many times before. In fact, I was one of the main organizers back when I attended Ouran Academy even though then it wasn’t run by the Host Club. I’m very proud of my little brother.” She smiled again before like Haninozuka, she turned to look at me. Unlike the blond though, she showed her interest a little more blatantly and didn’t even bother to hide the fact that she was trying to figure me out. “I’ve heard a lot about you from my brother. I’m glad that he was able to make such a loyal and… helpful friend. We’ll have to meet up for lunch sometime.”

My smile tightened and I simply chose to avoid saying anything at all at this point lest I break some unspoken rich person rule. I had come to learn that the Ootoris had very different standards than almost every single other rich family in the world. Going undercover with those paranoid asshole would be an absolute nightmare.

Kyoya pursed his lips but said nothing more concerning his sister and instead immediately dived into the actual subject of this meeting. “I’ve asked that the hosts bring their guests here for this meeting because I was interested in hearing some outside opinions on how this year’s Christmas Ball will be run.” And then the meeting actually became serious and soon we all dissolved into heated debates surrounding the logistics of the event. And of course because it is a logistics meeting, it dragged on for approximately 2 hours instead of the planned thirty minutes.

 


 

I let out a huge ass sigh as soon as we left the fucking club room. The meeting had dragged on way longer than it should have, but by the end of it we had hammered out the date of the event, the sponsors, the outside guests, and I’d organized both a lunch with Kyoya’s sister and spar at the Haninozuka dojo. Considering that this was all accomplished in 2 hours, this was actually very productive for a logistics meeting.

All the same I was annoyed and tired and I just wanted to go home. Yukio would be having dinner with me before taking a train back to True Cross Academy and I still had to cook and answer any of the questions that I just knew that Yukio would have alongside any stories that he felt compelled to share with me about the exwires and how they were faring in the aftermath of the year with me and the sketchy Vatican being sketchy.

 

We were walking through the practically empty halls when the worst thing possible happened.

No, Satan didn’t appear. And no, no one decided to accuse me of murder with actual evidence that could unravel my life. It was arguably worse.

We encountered not just Asano, but his father as well.

Fuck. My. Life.

 

I mean, what are the odds?

(Actually not that horrible if you calculate it but STILL)

 

“Akabane-san! I’m glad we bumped into you!” A deep voice called rather cheerfully. I froze in place causing Yukio to bump into me and nearly bowl the both of us over. I turned around slowly, my hands still folded behind my head and the strap of my bookbag handing off the top of my head just like the delinquent that Asano Sr. would remember me as. Fucking perfect, right?

“Ah, Asano-san.” I said as pleasantly as I could muster. “It’s been too long.” It really really hasn’t, but Asano Sr. took it to be genuine - or at least that’s how he visibly chose to interpret it. I’m not going to insult him by assuming that he didn’t see my very poorly hidden distaste.

His grin was straight up like one of a Bond film villain and I was ready to crawl out of my skin and die right here, right now. It was wholly unpleasant and I could just tell that Asano Sr. was enjoying this far more than I was. Amusing, I guess.

“How have you been? I have to say, I was rather disappointed when both you and my son chose to not attend the Kunugikaoka High School. I was rather looking forward to having you in one of my classes again.” he says as he approaches me alongside his son. To his credit, Asano looked like he’d rather be anywhere but here, and he was oddly enough unusually pale. I wonder why. “I heard that you went to True Cross Academy before coming here. The circumstances surrounding your transfer were rather colourful, I sure hope you aren’t returning to how you were during second year. You had so much potential - it would be a pity to see it wasted.”

...And there’s the passive-aggressive guy I was expecting.

My smile tightened and took a step forwards, internally beating myself up for so blatantly telegraphing my urge to protect Yukio, but Yukio could be thick at times and wouldn’t have recognized that he needed to be careful otherwise. Yukio trusting for once that I know what I’m doing, decided to remain silent and he took a step back, further putting himself behind me despite being many inches taller. I could see the glint in Asano Sr.’s eyes and cursed inwardly again as he picked up on my body language with glee. “Outside influence, I’m afraid,” I said simply, raising my chin in a slight challenge. “It was no longer safe for me to stay at that school.”

Shit, that revealed far more than I’d like to, but I would be a fool to think that Asano Sr. didn’t already know everything that he could about my leaving. He wouldn’t have bothered to tease me otherwise. Fuck.

“Well, well, well, is this your brother? I’m terribly sorry to hear about your adoptive parents, but at least you were reunited with your biological family. It must have been a fun summer.” Asano Sr. mused before grinning at Yukio slyly. “And it’s a pity that you weren’t safe. Death seems to follow you, Akabane-san. First your parents and then your… boyfriend .”

I tensed. That information wasn’t involved in the statement that Mephisto made. Where the fuck did he find that out? I forgot just how insufferable Asano Sr. was.

What a drag.

 

Before I could say anything else to piss someone off, Asano Sr. decided to go in for the kill and be a homophobic dickwad. “It’s unseemly to be involved sexually with the same sex. His death was only a matter of time. As is yours if you don’t change your ways. People don’t take kindly to things like this for all that long after all.”

Out of my control, my eyebrows shot up to my hairline in surprise at the fact that he’d just blatantly said something like that. Like, it’s a sentiment that is shared by a great deal of the populace but that doesn’t mean that people - especially people who fancy themselves as proper and high class - just blatantly come out and say it. This is… unbelievable.

“Was that a threat, sir?” I hiss softly, my features closing off and I let out a bit of my demonic nature. I make eye contact with him, no longer concerned with keeping up appearances. Out of the corner of my eye I catch a look of Asano’s face and I almost flinch out of shock at the look of panic and terror that had taken over his face. He was standing behind his father and therefore out of the sight of the man, however I had a clear view of his facial features being twisted into one of horror. What was he so afraid of? He was one of those that had thrown slurs and death threats at me…

And then I fucking remembered.

 


 

I was taking the long way to my English class again because the halls were inexplicably crammed full of first years and I was tired of arriving late. I know, what a shocker. Sometimes though, I actually get into what is being taught. I am considerably less busy and I actually attend class now, so I mean, I kinda don’t want the teachers to hate me any more than they already seem to. It just makes things more difficult and I don’t have the energy necessary for that bullshit.

So yeah, the long way. I know that it sounds stupid, but believe it or not, it’s actually faster by virtue of the fact that there was legitimately no one in this hallway. Or that’s what I thought.

Maybe if I’d had human ears, I wouldn’t have heard it, but fortunately - or unfortunately, really - for me, I did, so I heard the sound of people frantically necking from the little alcove by the lockers. It was kind of an ideal spot to neck if I were to be completely honest, but then again, I had never seen anyone there before today so, you know. Because I’m a glutton for punishment, I decided to be a dumbass and continue walking. I just want to get to class, fuck whatever horny teenagers are trying to get it on inside of a school. Seriously, y’all’re rich, why don’t you just do this literally anywhere else???

Not making any attempt whatsoever to hide my footsteps, I continue to walk down the hall at a leisurely pace. I belong here, they don’t. If they have the gall to be offended I swear to the demons in Gehenna…

And then I actually get to the alcove.

I told myself that I wasn’t going to look and then I saw a fucking flash of ginger hair and I just knew, that this was gonna be good.

Sure enough, there was Asano, shoving someone up against the locker and hungrily snogging like his life depended on it. First of all, gross. I have never in my life wanted to see Asano making out with anyone and now I have. How dare he make me see this with my own two eyes. Truly shameful. However, the thing that really took the cake about this horrible experience? The fact that he was making out with a dude.

Asano, the guy that encouraged people to hate me for being gay and proud, was making out with a guy in a corner. Phenomenal. Truly. You can’t make this shit up. Wow. I can’t even.

 

Because I’m an asshole, I clear my throat pointedly and watch in amusement as they jump apart and look around wildly. I make eye contact with Asano and raise a single eyebrow before beginning to meander back down the hall, ignoring the fearful spluttering from behind me.

I honestly wasn’t expecting to see that when I was just trying to get to class. It would seem that even the rich schools aren’t free from the shenanigans of teenagers. Who knew?

 


 

Shit, Asano was gay - or at the very least into dudes enough to make out with them periodically (because there was no way that that was his first time). I caught him snogging a dude. I am his enemy in all ways. He thought that I was going to out him.

Fuck, he thought I was going to out him.

That’s why he was so terrified. My scowl deepened as I stared up at Asano Sr. Of course he was a homophobic dickbag and Asano was just trying to hide his not straightness by being an equally large homophobic dickbag. Of fucking course that’s what it is because this is my life. That’s how things go for me.

Alright so first of all, I’m not going to fucking out him. I might be an asshole, but I don’t believe in outing even if I hate the guy. I’m all for wrecking people’s lives, but just like I wouldn’t go after someone for their race I’m not going to go after someone for their sexuality no matter what it is. I’m an asshole, but I have standards. It actually pisses me off that Asano thinks that I’d stoop so low. Of course he would but that’s not a me problem thank you very much. I like to think I’m better than that, thanks.

Second of all, this explains soooo much. For example, why Asano has always had a stick shoved so far up his ass that when he speaks you can see it. And why he lashes out so much. His dad was already insufferable and now fear has been introduced to it. Asano is just trying to survive and I am finding it harder than usual to hate him. I mean it’s gone from a zero to a one, but it’s enough that I notice. Fuck him though. He’s still a dick and while I feel sorry for him, this fucker hasn’t done anything to help his situation. All the same, I’m not about to make it worse. I get it, despite how unbelievably fucked up all of this is.

Fuck.

 

“Of course it isn’t a threat. I’m merely commenting on today’s society. It simply isn’t safe for people like you. I’m beginning to wonder if any school would be safe. I’m simply warning you that you should be careful.” Asano Sr. says with the same amount of pleasantness in his tone as ever. It’s irritating beyond belief.

I sneer at him before turning around and continuing to walk down the hall. “Have a good day, Asano-san, Asano-san. I look forwards to seeing you never.”

There was a dark chuckle from behind me. “Until the Christmas Ball then, Akabane-kun.”

I scowl harder. Today just keeps getting better and better.

 

Luckily, Yukio at least has the propriety to wait until we’ve walked for about 5 minutes before he decides to say something.

“What was that all about?”

I sighed loudly. “Will you shut up if I say it’s nothing?” I try in vain even though I know that answer to that question already. Yukio shook his head emphatically. “Of course not.” I sigh again and shove my hands in my pocket, looking skyward as the strap of my bag shifts towards my forehead. “It was just an old rivalry coming back to bite me in the ass. Nothing that you should worry yourself about.” I scowled at him and glared out of the corner of my eye as I saw him opening his mouth to protest. “And that’s all you’re going to get out of me on this topic, Yukio. It’s none of your business so stay out of it. You wouldn’t understand anyways.”

He purses his lips but does the wise thing by saying nothing more on the subject.

Chapter Text

Karma P.O.V

In hindsight it was stupid to think that Yukio would go uncommented on.

Normally, I’m not this stupid, however. I guess I was a little too hung up on that little interaction with Asano to really care all that much about what happened at the relatively quiet meeting. That was stupid because the next thing you know, I’m being ambushed by the Hitachiin twins and bombarded with question after question about Yukio.

“You were a twin? I had no idea why didn’t you tell us-”

“He looks exactly like Kyoya did at our age so-”

“Are you sure that you really aren’t an Ootori? Because-”

“Why weren’t we allowed to talk more with-”

Despite my own high processing power, I was still unable to hear everything that the twins were saying. They were talking over each other and sort of just flapping their hands wildly. It was making a scene and I felt my face settle into a scowl. “Will you two shut up long enough for me to answer you?”

In sync - you know the way that twins do; the irritating one that I have never participated in, thank you very much - they shut their traps and stared at me with their wide eyes like I held the answers to the universe. I sighed heavily and turned to begin walking towards the club room. “I’ll answer your questions but I don’t want to do it where there are people that can hear. The walls have ears, Kaoru-kun, Hikaru-kun.” I lectured as they eagerly followed me, picking up Haruhi as we went.

The others in the hallway looked like they wanted to follow, but luckily they had the common sense to simply return to their own conversations and leave us alone to ours. I still haven’t seen Asano, but that wasn’t exactly a surprise. I doubt he’d want to talk to me after the incident at the end of family day. I don’t even blame him for that - it was an uncomfortable situation for everyone involved. Well maybe not Asano Sr. but I doubt anything can shake that man.

 

We made it to the music room quickly and without too much issue. Luckily for me, Tamaki wasn’t there and Kyoya had a conference that he would be sitting in on today so we had the room to ourselves. I decided to take out procession to the small kitchenette because I’m an asshole and I like picking places that are just surprising enough to get people off of their rhythm. You know, the good ol’ J. J. Bittenbinder method. It also helps when what gets them off their rhythm is what makes you more comfortable.

(Did it count as being taken to a second location if I was the one taking people to a secondary location?)

I like kitchens because cooking is something that I do effortlessly and haven’t yet associated with anything bad happening.

Well I mean there was that one time but it was more the building itself than kitchens and cooking.

I begin knocking around cupboards and grab various things while putting on a pot of tea. If I was going to do this then I was going to get some tea while I do. Hikaru and Kaoru were staring at me with an intensity that could burn the sun, I decided to actually start speaking. “Alright, so what are you questions exactly? And please say them slowly and one at a time or I’ll just leave after getting myself tea and you’ll never find out what you want to know because Kyoya will not help you and he’s probably the only one capable of finding it out.”

Hikaru actually pouted. “Fine,” he whined childishly before suddenly turning serious again. “Why didn’t you tell us about Yukio or that you were a twin.”

“Um? It was kind of public knowledge and I could swear that I told you guys this before. I thought everyone knew since you guys like to gossip so much.” I quip, steeping a tea bag in a mug that I’d found.

Haruhi rolled her eyes. “Forgive them, they’re idiots,” she snorted. “But they do have a point. We had no idea that you actually had a twin. You know how rumours are.”

I mean… fine.

“Yeah!” Kaoru yelled, “and are you sure that you aren’t secretly an Ootori? Your twin like looks exactly like an Ootori. You probably would too if you didn’t dye your hair.”

I scowled and my left eye twitched. “My hair is natural,” I hiss, pouting. “And yes, I’m sure. Yukio and I were born Okumuras. A completely different family tree. We come from an Italian branch of the family and everything. Dude we were orphans.” I point out much to the twins disappointment.

“But Yukio looks exactly like Kyoya-san and you’re twins so if Yukio looks like Kyoya-san then you must also look like him. And you both act like him!!” they protested.

“That doesn’t mean we’re related!” I nearly scream at them. Oh my gods why were they so stupid and still hung up on all of this? I thought for sure that they had let things go. It was ridiculous! Sure Kyoya was family but that doesn’t mean that I’m blood related to him. In fact, besides Yukio (and including him for a long time) I hated my blood family. I hated most of my adopted family too. Well I guess all of my adopted family were scum so, eh. The only family that I need is my found family. The comrades that I made while fighting. We bonded over shared loss; shedding blood, sweat and tears together. Those are bonds stronger than any mere familial relation.

“Still you should have warned us!” the twins continued to whine much to Haruhi’s annoyance.

“Have you ever considered I don’t owe y’all anything?” I snapped, sipping my tea with barely concealed annoyance. The twins fell silent as they stared at me with wide eyes. For a moment, I was almost worried that I’d hurt their feelings or something. But then they snapped out of it and started grinning like I’d just dropped my pants and shit all over the floor right in front of him.

“Did you just say ‘y’all’?” Hikaru whispered in disbelief.

I inhaled sharply, closing my eyes and setting down the delicate china before cracking my neck. It’s been a while since I’ve yelled at some morons.

 


 

School, went on as normal. Well as normal as it could be at a preppy private school.

You see, even though I’d gone to Kunugikaoka and True Cross Academy before Ouran Academy, I still hadn’t had that many outlandish assignments. Anything odd that happened at Kunugikaoka could be blamed on the fact that the government had gotten heavily involved in our education due to wanting us to assassinate our teacher. Our teacher had worked as an assassin for the greater part of his life, and our other teachers were another assassin specializing in seduction and a government military agent. Quite literally, that was a hot mess and there was no way that we could reasonably expect to have a normal school year. It didn’t help that the whole rivalry with class 3A made everything kind of a mess. But to be fair, all of that technically happened outside of class even if it hadn’t happened outside of school grounds.

Arguably, weird shit happened at True Cross Academy too, however that was all due to the fact that we were involved in an eternal struggle against Satanic forces. We got involved in a lot of weird shit because of the Vatican and Mephisto, but none of it was strictly school related. It was only school related as far as the fact that it happened on cram school excursions and we were getting licenses through the course.

But Ouran Academy was a different beast all together. It wasn’t odd in a supernatural way or anything like that. Nope. It was plain old normal people weird. Teacher weird. I couldn’t even blame all of this on the fact that it was a rich school. This is just the kind of project that some wacko art teacher would come up with and think it’s a good idea. However, since they were rich, the extra-ness of the students was so much more than it ordinarily would have been. This is not technically the fault of the project, but I’m going to blame the teacher for the entire mess that this had turned into.

You see, in art, our teacher thought it would be a brilliant idea to put together a project for the class involving making a collection and having it be made public.

For an assignment, it’s not exactly all that out there and I was probably overreacting.

Probably.

But the issue here is, this is done for an art class. First of all, artists as a whole tend to fall into two different categories; you’re either very out there, or you’re shy as all hell. Most of the people in my art class fell under the second category so the problem with this assignment was obvious. If you are a typically shyer artist, then typically you are more likely to not want to show it off to people. Maehara is an excellent oil painter but he will throw projectile weapons at you if you even look like you’re going to try and sneak a peek at his work. I, am of course a better weapons specialist than him, so I have seen the paintings.

This assignment calls for us to not only make a minimum of 5 connected art pieces, but for those art pieces to readily be on display. This means it either gets put up in the classroom or in public. Obviously, most people opt for the classroom, but for some people that was still a lot.

I’m generally pretty out there even though I am introverted so I’m not pissed about this for me. I’m pissed because it’s not really a fair project for the mental health of some students. This could be damaging!

 

Who am I kidding? I’m not pissed because of that. I’m pissed because it’s a fuck ton of work. I very literally don’t have time for this and now because I’m pissed I am going to try-hard this assignment so hard you don’t even-

So yeah.

Oh wait, it does get worse. We only have a month to do all of this. A fucking month. I have a month to work my ass off out of sheer spite. This is going to be the best fucking piece of work I’ve ever done in my entire fucking life. Fuck you, Hana-sensei I don’t want to deal with all of this bullshit.

I swear I grumbled under my breath for the entire class after her announcement.

However, I was only going to do so much work for this bullshit project - also out of spite. It sounds contradictory but hear me out. I’m still try-harding this, but with minimum effort. Think ‘most efficient’ and all that.

As soon as I got back to my apartment, I immediately began to go through my art stock. I’d painted a lot of shit over the years and since most of them seem to have a running theme - at the very least enough for me to string together a vague concept to title the collection with - so I figure I’ll just pick a few pieces that I have made and then oh I don’t know, slap something together. If I’m doing this I’m going full mile so…

...what if I just rent out some art gallery space and just put mine up. You know what I’m gonna fucking do that.

So, I call up Nagisa.

 

“Yo, Nagisa. I need you to organize something for me.” I say as soon as he picks up the phone. He lets out a loud drawn out sigh and I can practically hear him rolling his eyes. It’s glorious.

“What is it now?” He asks in an annoyed tone.

I roll my eyes. “Well my art teacher has decided to be an idiot, so I’ve decided to be difficult-” I begin, pointedly ignoring Nagisa’s grumble of ‘why am I not surprised’ and just continuing to plow ahead with my request. “Is there any way that you can get me some space at a local but reputable gallery with some decent traffic?” It was kind of a lot to ask, but go big or go home. But realistically.

There was yet another loud sigh from the other end of the line. “So, what you’re saying is that you finally want to display some of your art?”

“No,” I sniff haughtily, “my teacher just made a project where I am forced to do that.”

Nagisa snickered. “Well we weren’t going to tell you this until it was already done,” he began in that long suffering way of his. “But I guess now is as good a time as any. For your birthday Class E has actually already started set up at an art gallery. The gallery was finally deciding to replace the Guertena exhibit and when we heard we bought some space to replace it. Installation was supposed to start tomorrow but we can still change some of the pieces if you want… advertising has yet to go up…” Nagisa trailed off awkwardly as if suddenly aware of my silence.

I paused.

Nagisa and the others… bought the place where Guertena’s exhibit used to be? They were going to show off my art? They… did this… for me?

Unbelievable.

I felt a lump gather in my throat and did my best to act as if I wasn’t touched in the slightest. “That’s perfect actually. Let me see what you guys had planned and I’ll fix whatever needs to be fixed.”

Nagisa nodded in the affirmative and explained that they could hold a meeting tonight and we could manually go through the pieces that I had stored at Purgatory. It took a couple minutes to hammer out some details, but we’d all be meeting up in about an hour. Before he hung up though, I interrupted.

“Nagisa? Thank you.” I said softly. There was a pause before Nagisa responded, a smile audible in his tone.

“You’re welcome.”

 


 

That night we spent a lot of time going through every piece of art that I had stored there. There wasn’t a lot of large pieces, so it was a matter of picking which ones were best and then picking smaller pieces that complemented those big ones. We had two rooms rented out for the next three months - one larger and one smaller but interconnected with a nice doorway that I can work with.

In the end, the only suitable large painting were my darker ones so I guess that the theme I was going to sloppily slap onto the show would be ‘sacrifice’ or something equally as edgy.

The bigger room would hold paintings of a more mixed nature while the smaller one was supposed to be a bit darker than the big room. It would hold only one ‘big’ painting and multiple medium paintings as well as a singular sculpture in the centre of the room. The smaller room was themed a bit closer to Guertena’s and the painting that had been selected was one that I’d actually done recently during my down time. It was a painting of a painting sort of.

It was in a dimly lit gallery setting with dark walls (much like the charcoal and dark lighting that we’d chosen for the actual room) with a single painting on the wall in an elegant frame. The painting had Garry laying slumped against a nondescript wall looking like he’d just passed out. Rose thorns had begun to grow from the blackness and were reaching towards him. In one limp hand, he held a rose devoid of petals, the delicate blue petals all lay on the ground beside him. In front of that painting sat a girl in a school uniform. She was kneeling hunched in front of the painting, one hand reaching up as if to touch the painting. Tears were visible on her face and in her bright red eyes.

I’d actually made a digital copy of this painting to add to one of the possible endings for my compsci project so it set the tone for this ‘Ib’ themed rooms. I was considering advertising part of the showcase using the game title. The game had reached indie status rather fast and while it hadn’t blown up incredibly there was a decent number of people who would want to come just to see some more art from this story.

On the other wall there was a medium sized painting of Mary, but not like the one that I’d put into the game. This one was a more gruesome depiction of her. It was actually painted from memory from the incident that caused me to leave True Cross. She was standing in a wooden shack with a pallet knife clenched tightly in one hand while the other was ripping hair out of her skull. Half of her features were beautiful and angelic like a porcelain doll. The other half of her features were on fire and melted in a gory and gruesome fashion. Everything was in picture perfect detail and I know that Yukio had thrown up the first time that he saw it. Her limbs were twisted and torn and on her face was an ugly expression of hate. Even the background was set on fire - although it was a sickening shade of blue.

On the wall across from the painting of Garry I was going to paint a mural mainly done in black except for a small section just slightly off centre. There was to be a small halo of dark blue light coming from a small metal lighter. It would be clenched tightly in a large masculin hand with a jagged coat sleeve just barely visible. Kind of a searching in the dark kind of image. The doorway was on that wall too, so we were planning some basic paint spill over from the other room. I was thinking some kind of summoning circle done in a shiny black paint while the wall is a matte black. It would only be visible from certain angles.

The final wall would hold a collection of canvases that fit together to make a bigger picture. It was Garry walking down a hallway with eyes peering at them from the dark. The canvases near the edges were all fractured and oddly shaped, pulling away from the main haphazard shape like it was breaking apart and fading away.

In the centre of the room in a small glass case on a pedestal was the final piece. It was a sculpture of a royal blue rose floating in a very similar way to the rose in the case from the Beauty and the Beast . The difference is that is was held by a small collection of the dolls from the Fabricated World. They were frozen in time, tearing at the flushed petals and grinning sinisterly at onlookers.

The bigger room was a bit harder to design, but there were more large pieces that we could work with so it was okay. This one was a collection of more recent art as well as old art from back when I was attending Kunugikaoka. There were two twin paintings taking up nearly the entire wall across from the entrance. It was the full colour version of the art of Nagisa being half snake and myself being half demon king. They were large and immediately eye catching while fitting the theme in a deeper way. I had a feeling that Hana-sensei would appreciate the thought behind all of this.

It was certainly eye catching, however the centre of attention was an art piece spread across the ground in the centre of the room. It was meant to mirror Guertena’s Abyss of the Deep and that entire art piece. Of course, I was planning on having it be a completely different design, but it’s close enough in concept to be reminiscent I guess. Same idea of abyss, just ya know… instead of the ocean it’s a literal portal to hell. So I mean I guess it’s the same thing…

It was going to be an interpretation of Satan’s Hell Gate so lots of totem pole gargoyle things amidst a sea of skulls and set on fire. There were even 3D sculpture parts of the art rising from the floor like they were stuck in the pit of skulls. In each of those sculpture pieces were alcoves where I would stick candles lit with blue flames. Very extra, but heyyyy it’s who I am okay.

On the wall across from the doorway to the smaller room there would be a hanging piece sort of like a tapestry but actually just a watercolour piece. It was of True Cross along with the village around the base of the island mountain thing that it sat at the top of. At the base there stood a figure in a trench coat with a long tail and horns of fire on his head. He held a katana loosely by his side as he looked up at the buildings in front of him. The buildings too were on fire and smoke drifted up into the sky. Since it was a watercolour piece, the background was a light colour and provided and interesting contrast from the dark imagery that the rest of the room held. Heck, in the corners of the room there were blue lanterns providing another source of light besides spotlights at the top of each piece of art. Everything looked rather demonic.

The final wall containing the door to the smaller room had the other half of the summoning circle painted there in the same shiny black paint as well as various other ‘occult’ symbols and things written in the demonic tongue. I had basically just translated the lyrics of Rick Astley’s Never Going to Give You Up because memes, but it looked cool and I was willing to bet that someone would assume that it was a summoning charm or something. I’m in it for the lols.

All in all, it would be a very large undertaking, but if I really put my mind to it I could have it all done in a couple of weekends. That was just enough time for everything to be completed and actually open for about a week before the project was due.

It was a lot, but I had to admit that I was excited. This was going to be interesting at the very least.

Chapter Text

Karma P.O.V

Brunch with Shiduo Fuyumi was not something that I had planned for.

Well, that statement was technically false. Technically, I did plan for it because eventualities and all that. It was going to happen at some point, however I just hadn’t expected that that some point would be now.

After the entire messy family day event, I just wanted to forget about it. It was my last year in high school and suddenly it was like everything was happening all at once. I am usually a low stress kind of person ‒ I mean who gives a shit about life right? ‒ and I just sort of fuck around. But suddenly I’m just stressed? Is this what it’s like to be a normal teenager?

Fuck. Look at what normal high school has done to me. Now I have anxiety.

Oh well. Moving on.

So yeah, I’m suddenly a lot more stressed about the various projects that I used to run effortlessly. Reading missions reports? Fuck you, I have physics homework that I actually need to do because the bitch is checking the homework like the overpaid fuck she is. I haven’t accepted a fucking mission in so long because now I have to delegate. These rich brats were kind of dumb as shit, but somehow, somehow, they noticed when I missed a single day. Kyoya just found it amusing and continued to be a perfect robot and finished all of his constant work with no stress. At one point he sort of just watched me have a mini meltdown and had the nerve to snicker to himself and claim he was watching a cat video.

I know it wasn’t that. Fuck you.

Fuck.

There was just so much to do. Missions to assign, homework to get done, people to manipulate, shifts to take at a fucking bakery, and a museum exhibit to install. You know what a museum exhibit means? I have to actually finish bits of art that I’ve half assed in the past. As soon as I finish the art though I can just send it to Kayano and she handles most of the installation stress. That’s nice.

The point is, I didn’t exactly have all that much time to stress about the vaguely mentioned meet-ups with the Haninozuka clan and Fuyumi. Unfortunately, Fuyumi didn’t forget, and that means Kyoya didn’t forget. Kyoya just went ahead and scheduled shit for me ‒ speaking of that, I have a fucking planner now. That’s how basic I’ve gotten. I need a fucking planner to be able to organize my schedule. I mean it basically boils down to a really weird combination of Microsoft Excel and like a shitty calendar. Nagisa had made it and one day he just started having Ritsu send me updates. I mean, it’s useful, but the security risk. Having a schedule is very not good and can get me murked.

Well I’d do the murking first but that’s beside the point.

 

I woke up on a Saturday morning expecting to be able to spend the day in my apartment finishing up a painting for the exhibit only to get a notification from Ritsu that I had a bunch meeting scheduled with Fuyumi and then 2 hours after that brunch I had a meeting at the Haninozuka dojo. I would assume that this was for the spar that the Haninozuka heir had requested. Wonderful. So not only would I have to deal with a brunch with Kyoya’s sister (without Kyoya), but I would leave that and head to the Haninozuka dojo to do my best to kick ass without revealing that I was a demon and possessed inhuman strength and abilities.

Also I have a tail.

Because there was no arguing with Kyoya especially when dealing with the last bit of family he actually cared about, I had to actually care about this. That means instead of lounging in bed like the lazy teenage genius that I am, I had to get up and shower. Then I had to pick both a functional and a fashionable outfit because impressions (even though it wasn’t the first impression) were important. I had to look fashionable in order to associate and be seen with a high society rich lady.

Ew. I just said that.

So with the help of Ritsu, I ended up in black skinny jeans, with a simple black belt and black button up. On top of that, I wore a bright red blazer. I had on a pair of red high top converse and a black duffle bag. I didn’t plan on stopping back at my apartment before heading to the dojo ‒ the two locations were simply too close ‒ which meant that I had to bring a change of clothes with me. It was a spar at a dojo, and as much as I’d love to spar in skinny jeans and a blazer, I wasn’t about to do that today. In the bag I had a pair of black sweatpants and a black under armour shirt. The sweatpants were loose enough that I could hide my tail without too much struggle. Hiding it in my shirt would be too suspicious and likely to be hit.

I knew that I could beat Haninozuka no matter what skill the human had. He didn’t know the weaknesses that I had, while I knew him to be fully human. The Haninozukas weren’t slouches though, they were known to be almost demon-like, especially when angered. However all investigations and family history revealed that they were human. Back in the past they had some lineage related to spiritualists, but most old Japanese families did. Back in the age of spirits a lot of the old money families had something to do with them.

All the same, I knew that he’d get a hit in somewhere. I wasn’t so arrogant as to believe that I was untouchable. Everyone had bad days and maybe he was skilled enough to get some hits in. Skilled enough to beat me? Unlikely.

But not impossible.

And because I liked to be prepared, I had the emergency shit on my person as well. Kurikara in its sheath attached to the duffle bag, guns and other weapons stashed both on my person and in the bag. It wouldn’t be good if someone looked too deeply in the bag, but that’s beside the point. As always, I kept some stuff that was usable in exorcisms, but it was nothing of too much consequences. I mean at most people would probably think that I was a weirdly religious paranoid loser. I look like a delinquent regardless.

Even with my classy outfit that made me look like some wannabe base player in a rock band, I still looked kind of like a delinquent. It’s all in the facial structure. I just look like I take pleasure in your pain. I mean, I do. But whatever.

 

The brunch was scheduled at a fancy fine dining restaurant in the Shinjuku prefecture called Ishikawa. It was this neat little hidden restaurant and highly rated. It would provide us the privacy that would allow facades to drop halfway and it had good food. The downside of it not being in the public eye was that kidnapping would be easier and so would poisoning attempts. However this place was elite and Fuyumi would no doubt be traveling with some kind of bodyguard. Besides, I was there. The subtext here was that Kyoya trusted me with his sister, which was a sweet sentiment.

I mean, I could be reading too much into it, but it was Kyoya.

If I were driving a car, I’d leave my bag in the car, but unfortunately, I travel exclusively by motorcycle (because I’m pretentious) and I wasn’t going to leave my bag with the motorcycle. Too easy to snatch and grab. Therefore I would be forced to bring in both my helmet and the duffle bag. At least I could put the helmet in the bag but that didn’t mean I didn’t look suspicious. Remember how I said that I look like a trouble maker? Well this makes it worse. People tended to assume that I was carrying a bag of weapons or a bomb or something. While that wasn’t technically incorrect, that didn’t mean that it wasn’t bothersome.  

It made sense as to why we weren’t simply going to the bakery/restaurant that Maehara and Isogai ran. It was popular, but that didn’t mean that it was exactly upscale. Fuyumi would definitely ask questions that neither Kyoya nor I wanted her to ask.

 

I arrive with approximately 15 minutes to spare, but apparently Fuyumi was already waiting for me because the hostess simply smiled at me and lead me to a table in the back of the restaurant. Fuyumi sat prim and proper, no body guards in sight which caused me to raise an eyebrow. She wasn’t wearing anything blatantly expensive, but she was still dressed fashionably. She looked up from where she had been scrolling on a sleek black cell phone, a demure smile on her face.

“Akabane-kun! I’m glad you came,” she said politely. “Please sit down. The waitress will be with us soon. I understand that you’ve been here before?”

I sat down, gently dumping my bag by my feet and pulling the menu towards myself. I had eaten here before, but I didn’t exactly have the menu memorized because I have more important things to be remembering. All the same, it only took a quick glance to re-familiarize myself with the menu and select what I would order.

Preferably, before a sparring session, I’d eat something light, however I would also apparently be fighting worthwhile opponents, which meant that I’d want to have a lot of energy. I decided to go with light because then I could just eat a couple lemon candies on the way from here to the dojo and have the necessary energy.

I wave over the waitress and we order before getting down to business. “How have you been, Fuyumi-san?” I enquire, using a more familiar term of address as my first power move of the day. She was Kyoya’s sister and the only family member that Kyoya actually respected. There had to be a reason that he liked her other than the fact that she was probably the only family member that was nice to him. She would be smart, and I looked forward to word play with her. If she was anything like Kyoya, then this would be fun.

“Things have been great, and yourself?” she responded pleasantly, taking a delicate sip from the tea she’d been nursing before my arrival. “Anything new and exciting going on? This is you last year of high school right? You must be looking forward to university. Anywhere particular in mind?” She spoke calmly, but everything stated was rather rapid fire for a typical conversation.

I laughed, “well nothing too exciting really. You see I’m part of the school’s art program and we have a pretty big project coming up. Our instructor wants us to ‘show off our art to the community’ for some reason, so I struck a deal with a local art gallery. Nothing too major,” I state humbly, smiling at the waitress as she drops off our food without a word and leaving us once more. “As for university, I have to say that I haven’t been thinking as much about it as I probably should have. I’m 15, you see, so I was planning on perhaps taking a year off before university. Maybe I’ll study abroad for a bit before locking something local in. I’ve always fancied traveling.”

Fuyumi lights up at that admission, looking appropriately shocked. “Oh wow! You’re only 15? When Kyoya told me about you I’d had no idea that you were a prodigy. That’s incredible.”

I incline my head, “thank you.”

“Do you know what you’d like to study abroad?” she asks curiously.

I shrug. “Perhaps culture? I’m not too sure. I’m fluent in English, but perhaps I can add other languages to my repertoire.”

“I studied in England at Cambridge for a bit. Their psychology program is fantastic, even if there seems to be an odd focus on parapsychology.”

That had me intrigued. “Parapsychology?” I ask curiously. I’d never heard of the term before and it sounded interesting. I suppose she was right after all, I would have to start thinking about what I wanted to study in university. Nagisa and Kayano were already stressing about university which, to be quite frank, was ridiculous since they were both incredibly intelligent. They weren’t geniuses, but that didn’t mean that they wouldn’t get into the university of their choice. They didn’t even need to stress too much about being able to pay for it. Perhaps they wouldn’t have the same freedom in studying abroad, but I doubt that anyone, perhaps other than Yada, would like to study abroad.

“Parapsychology is the study of psychic phenomena,” she explains. “The students study the phenomena of ESP and PK to understand what causes psychic abilities and how they can be manipulated. It’s an interesting concept, and it’s mostly sponsored by a ghost hunting company. They call themselves spiritualists.”

My eyebrows rise almost involuntary. “Definitely sounds interesting, why on earth wouldn’t you have chosen that?” I joke. She rolls her eyes in a rather unladylike manner.

“My father simply wouldn’t hear of it.” She responds. “I was lucky I even got to study abroad. I’m his only daughter after all.” I resist the urge to flinch slightly. But you know, I can’t show weakness at all. That’s simply unacceptable.

“Yes. It can be considered fortunate.” I said diplomatically, taking a bite of the food before me. We fell into a slightly awkward silence before she broke it once more with more questions.

“So how did you meet my baby brother?”

Now that… that was a tough question to answer. There was always the possibility that Kyoya has already told her a story and she could be prepared to call me out on my bullshit. But I like to play with fire, so I decide to lie. Well, lie by omitting details and being vague in certain areas. “Well, we met an event. He needed some help taking care of some business, and I happened to be able to help him.” I answer simply.

Fuyumi pouts at me, acting years younger than her age. “Aw, come on. There has to be more to it than that!” she points out indignantly. “What kind of business was my baby brother conducting? I haven’t heard about this.”

Ah. Roadblock. Time for damage control.

Okay, so, understandably, Kyoya doesn’t want his sister involved in the shit he’s neck deep in. I get it – I really do. I mean, technically there isn’t really anyone who strictly speaking isn’t involved in some part of my shit. All of Class E basically knows everything about me – they’ve been with me through the thick and thin – and they were all more than capable of protecting themselves and completing the kill. I didn’t have to worry about their safety. However, I could technically relate via the exwires that I’d made friends with during my year at True Cross.

They were capable of fighting off low level demons, but nothing like a demon king, which is the enemy that they are liable to fight. Even without power ups or a basic knowledge of demons and Gehenna, I fully believe that the former Class E students would be able to get out of any kind of demon fight with minimal injuries. I mean, even I’ve been injured pretty severely on cases. To be fair, I wasn’t exactly using my true abilities (because I was technically limited – shut up) but all the same I had to resort to stitching myself up so the point still stands.

It’s just… the exwires weren’t all that… world wary. The Kyoto Trio might have witnessed the Blue Night, but for some reason they seemed to lack basic street smarts. As much as there was a time where I hated them, I still don’t want them to get involved in the shit that they were never meant to know. Just because I was getting involved in shit didn’t mean that others around me needed to get involved in shit.

Fuyumi was an innocent. Every avenue I’ve gone down – every avenue that Kyoya has gone down – has shown she’d involved in nothing. Her husband is completely clean. There’s no reason for her to be targeted other than money or by simply being related to Kyoya and by extension, me.

There’s only so much that I can say. I can respect that. And so, I lied again.

 

“He was looking into branching off from the Ootori family business. He has two older brothers, and as the third son, it’s unrealistic to hope that he’d have any bit of control in the inheritance that he is owed as an Ootori. Kyoya knows this, so he was looking into his own… business ventures. I happened to be there, and I was starting up my own… empire, if you will. It was just good timing.”

Fuyumi looked curious, her eyes becoming decently guarded. She was aware that I was deliberately avoiding the topic and not just being myself. Either I wasn’t as subtle as I thought I was, or Fuyumi was sneakier than she looked. I was willing to bet on the second one, although unfortunately, not willing to discount the first.

“He was? How interesting.”

She ate her food delicately, a calculating look in her eyes. I followed suit, eating my food at a sedate pace. Neither of us spoke for a while, and I wasn’t willing to break the silence lest I reveal more than I should, even unintentionally. When things got personal, I got a little… sloppy. It had been too long since I was in the field. I’d been negligent.

“I suppose it was lovely meeting you, Akabane-kun.” She said finally, patting at her mouth with a napkin and folding her hands in her lap. “I trust that you will look after my brother whilst he conducts his… business.” And then, without even waiting for me to say anything more, she gets up and strides out of the room and the restaurant.

Fuck.

She even left me with the bill.

Chapter Text

Karma P.O.V

It was finally time for the Christmas Ball.

Kyoya had actually bothered to take time off of work in order to properly plan the gala, and for good reason. Not only was it to be open to the students of Ouran Academy, but it was also supposed to be open to the rich and powerful at Ouran. It was a publicity stunt and it was also meant to draw in investors. 

It was a similar event to the one in which I met Kyoya. 

 

Of course, with my lieutenant taking shorter hours, I was required to be present a lot more than I had originally wished to be. That was fine, it just meant that I was more uninvolved with the actual ball. In all fairness, I was pretty sure that Kyoya had everything handled just fine, and if he didn’t, he had the other hosts to help. 

Tamaki was rather disappointed seeing as I was a fellow ‘heir’ if you will, and I was new. He had taken a weird interest in me, especially since his girlfriend was suspicious of how I was and what my motivations are. Admittedly, I wasn’t doing myself all that many favours. 

But I wasn’t going to make the same mistakes that I had made at True Cross. They weren’t going to find out and get involved. 

It wasn’t like they were training to fight the forces of evil or anything. They were simply attending high school and flirting with girls in order to make a profit. There was no reason for them to be overly suspicious. They didn’t need to get involved. This was just temporary. I would graduate and then they’d probably never think about me again. It wasn’t like I would ever really have a reason to visit them or see them alongside Kyoya for any reason. 

That was good. I’d… I’d gotten too attached these last couple of years. 

In a world where everything is life and death and I seem to be followed by an unusual amount of tragedies, getting close to people is only a liability. If I care then I make mistakes and they can be used against me. 

They’d also die, so that’s bad.

But I’d been stupid and hadn’t learned shit after I’d been betrayed by someone I thought I could trust. I grew to like Class E and put my faith in Korosensei. That stuff hurt because even then, I knew that it would only be temporary. And then I thought that I would lose everyone as soon as our civil war broke out and that hurt more than I thought that it would. And then they didn’t leave me and we had to deal with the fact that we were the ones to take Korosensei from ourselves. 

For teenagers — and really just kids on the cusp of teenagehood — that’s a lot of loss that we don’t know how to deal with. To be perfectly honest, no matter how much I hold my experiences over all the others, I don’t know how to deal with loss any better than the others. Yeah, I’d lost more, but you never really get over that. To make matters worse, I never dealt with that loss. In all fairness, I was like 9 years old, so it’s not like anyone could expect me to know how to deal with grief. But at that age, I don’t think I even understood what grief was.

For all these years, I’d thought that I had understood what grief was, but after these last two years… I can honestly say that I had no idea. Even after Korosensei, it was like I’d become numb. It was what we had been gearing towards all year and yet at the time of finally accomplishing our goal, I wanted nothing more than to have lost to Nagisa that day so that we could have at least tried to look for another way out. Even if the end result would have been the same, that’s a regret that I’ll have to live with. 

Every time I send one of the Class E graduates out to take care of business for me, I have to live with the possibility that that could be the assignment that kills them. What if their target is more dangerous than they are? Sure, most contract assassinations are routine and rarely involve any element of danger. But if it’s something that involves taking out… enemies… then there’s a lot of risk. 

And then there’d been the year I spent with the cram class kids. There they’d been practically running towards danger at any opportunity trying to prove themselves because they were butthurt over something or another. It was infuriating and then they’d sort of fixed themselves in the wake of my capture. I don’t think I could ever be close to them, but almost dying in front of people tended to make you bond with them. To a certain degree at least.

They saw me at arguably my weakest, and that was a thoroughly awful experience that will never be repeated again because my childhood trauma has finally been closed with only a few reminders. 

 

So yeah, these people? These rich shits that think instant coffee is the peak of human suffering? They’ll never find out more than the fact that I have a shady past. None of them have it in them to search — hell, Haruhi is probably the only one who would even know what to look for in the first place. 

And as much as it sucks, I’m rich. If she kicks up a fuss, I can make it go away.

But if it doesn’t have to come to that point, then why should I push it along? For now, I play nice. 

Which means…

I have to dress up in a suit and play nice with a bunch of rich brats. 

In fact, I was already essentially running late, and Kyoya would kill me if I wrecked this networking opportunity for him. He wanted to try and create a face company to operate the Tricksters under other than the bar. Part of that was a personal ambition, and another was to have something that was publicly accountable and therefore less suspicious. Really, it would be almost entirely independent, only crossing over into darker territory when someone needed a cover that was inconspicuous. Hopefully it wouldn’t show up as a red flag by being something too common. The amount of normal employees would hopefully combat that. 

I wasn’t crazy about the idea, but it was something Kyoya wanted, so I was going to let him try. It’s not like the failure would really impact me or my people all that much. Hell, even a failed company could be used as a cover piece. 

But while it would be Kyoya’s baby, I would also be involved as a shareholder and therefore my presence at the gala was more important than just Tamaki’s whining. 

 

While the entrance hall of the school was grand enough to be used as a place to host the gala, it just didn’t make too much sense long term. Besides, the school had a ballroom, so that was what Kyoya had managed to secure. It was done up beautifully — Kyoya really had outdone himself this time. 

If I actually liked events like this, I would no doubt be impressed. 

Embarrassingly, this was one situation where I wasn’t as good at feigning comfort. This wasn’t simply fooling teenagers and convincing them that he was charming and harmless. I’d never been all that good with making adults like me. I was always seen as a troublemaker or someone to be feared. It was just based off of my appearance at this point. They always assumed that I was a delinquent or Yakuza because of my hair, tattoos and teeth. The worst part is, that’s what I totally was, so it wasn’t like there was dissonance there.

That didn’t mean that I wanted them to know that.

It totally wasn’t my fault that I naturally had bright red hair. Sure, I could always dye it, but where’s the fun in that? I rather liked how striking my features were, even if sometimes they were a dead giveaway for my lineage. If I had to go undercover I wore a wig and coloured contacts. 

(Being part of the Host Club had helped me a lot with being charming instead of shark-like. I would never say it out loud, but it certainly gave me a more attainable behaviour to mirror.)

But it is what it is, and dammit I was at least gonna look good while I did it. 

 

I chose a simple black suit with thin red accents, plastered on makeup and made my way to the ballroom with 10 minutes to spare. Sure enough the entire Host Club was already there and watching the waiters begin making their final rounds before the doors opened and the ball officially began. The orchestra was warming up, filling the room with sound. 

“Karma-kun! We thought for sure that we’d have to track you down!” Hikaru yelled, waving at me aggressively and grabbing the attention of everyone in the ballroom. 

I smirk, making my way over to them at a slightly quicker pace. “As if Kyoya would let me miss this for anything.” Well, he would if it was a matter of life and death, but he would still bitch about it. I glance over at Kyoya, suppressing a laugh, because with the expression on his face, you’d think that someone had just pissed on the floor right in front of him.

“You’re lucky you’re on time.” He sniffed, adjusting his glasses and continuing to scan through his ever-present black notebook. I rolled my eyes and turned to the others, taking in everyone’s pristine appearances and subtly matching ensembles. 

Well, it certainly was showtime, wasn’t it. Time to charm the pants off of these fuckers. 

 


 

Yeah… easier said than done.



“You know,” I said testily, glaring at Tamaki as he dragged me down the hall in an overeager urge to show me something or whatever the hell he was ranting about as he tried to get me away from the crowd of rich parents that I was ‘networking’ with. “Sometimes I really hate you. Seriously, what do you need no⸺”

“You’re a disgrace to this family.” 

I stopped in place, causing Tamaki to almost fall over. I whirled around, scanning the area to see who had spoken. It certainly hadn’t been Tamaki. The voice had been low, self—assured and confident, but filled with disgust all the same. It was a smooth, low, tenor, while Tamaki’s was a flighty, rising, high tenor at best. He was dramatic where this voice was low and not wasting a word. Spoken so softly, I had no doubt that other than me, only the intended audience had heard those words. The perks of superhuman hearing. 

It was a voice I recognized too. In fact, I’d only heard it a month or so earlier. 

“Asano.” I breathe, shaking Tamaki’s hand off of my arm and beginning to make my way over to where the voice had come from. I had a bad feeling about what I would find, but I couldn’t bring myself to leave it alone and walk the other way. Tamaki squawked something fierce, but stumbled after me, asking question after question; all of which I ignored. 

Luckily, the Asano’s weren’t that far away — just tucked into an alcove. Asano Sr. seemed to be holding court, blocking the exit of both his son and the boy whom I had caught Asano Jr. making out with only a month or so earlier. The other boy (whose name was still a mystery to me) looked absolutely terrified, and for good reason too. 

I’d only seen Asano Sr. look like this a couple times before, and the most notable time I could remember was when we had that stupid baseball game against the actual team. Things had been going so well and then Asano Sr. had come in and turned the team into drooling attack dogs hungry for blood. The man himself, had been nothing short of Satanic in that moment as he sat and watched from the bench in a full 3-piece suit. 

He exuded a similar aura now, but like… opposite in energy. Where with the baseball game, the energy had been smug and confident, now it was dark and dangerous. If I didn’t know any better, I would have compared it to something not unlike a demon king. He’d always had a similar aura to Mephisto Pheles, but I did know better, and I was sure that Asano was nothing other than an extremely dangerous human. Seriously, I wouldn’t be surprised if the guy carried a gun on him at all times. His eyes were too sharp for him to not be a good shot. 

Just as they came into eyeshot, Asano Sr. raised his hand and with a resounding ‘clap’, slapped his son right across the face. Asano’s head flew to the side, the pale skin of his cheek which quickly reddened with a perfect imprint of the middle school principal's hand.

“Hey!” I barked out sharply, coming to a stop a few feet away from them. “What do you think you’re doing?” I demand. 

Asano Sr. pauses, his hand frozen in the air before a soft smirk graces his features and he calmly looks over his shoulder at me and Tamaki. “Akabane-kun. What a surprise. Just handling some… family business.”

I ground my teeth together and glared cooly at Asano Sr. “Now, I’m not sure that I believe that.” I said. “I believe you are dangerously close to making a scene. I would suggest you leave the premises. You’re no longer welcome at this gala.”

For a moment, Asano Sr. looked like he was going to challenge me, but then his eyes flashed over to see Tamaki standing behind me — silent, for once. That moment passed, and Asano Sr.’s smile widened. “I suppose I’ll see you at home then, Gakushuu.” He spun on his heel, folding his hands behind his back and seeming for all the world like this was exactly how he planned the entire evening to go. 

The worst part about him, is that for all I know, it was.

As soon as I could no longer hear Asano Sr.’s footsteps in the hallway, I turned to look at Asano. “Are you okay?” 

Asano touched his cheek lightly with his finger tips, looking down for a moment and letting his rusty bangs cast a shadow over his eyes. “Tch. As if I’m ever not okay, Akabane.” he sneered, grimacing as that action pulled at his smarting cheek. “This is none of your business.”

I grit my teeth. I never liked Asano, but that didn’t mean that I ever wished this on him. Everyone knew that something like this had to be happening behind the scenes, but no one ever said anything. If anyone could get away with it it would be the Asano family. Asano himself was also fairly convincing in proving that he could handle himself. This reaction though, makes me question just how true that was. 

“Will you be safe?”

Tamaki takes my question as a chance to jump in. “If there’s anything we can do⸺ I mean, I’m sure my father would be more than happy to… accomodate you. Karma-kun said you were the second in your year only behind him, so I’m sure you would qualify for a scholarship⸺”

Asano looked up, his eyes cold and filled with hatred. “I don’t need any help. ” And then in true Asano fashion, he stormed off, ignoring the call of protest that his companion offered. I stopped Tamaki from following, knowing that he would only make the situation worse. 

“I’ll handle it.” I murmur. Ordinarily, I would just leave things how they were — Asano could handle himself well enough and there really was no reason that I should get involved. But in this moment, he reminded me of Izumo and how hopeless she’d been when Paku had died. Even if it was Asano, I couldn’t just let this destroy him. I’m sure he’d be fine but… it feels wrong to leave this how it is.

 

I catch up to Asano rather quickly, but to keep up appearances, I leave a couple feet in between us when I stop and call out. “Asano.” He pauses, but he doesn’t turn around. His shoulders are shaking almost imperceptibly. I expect that he’d just about reached his limit of composure.  

“What could you possibly have to say now?”

“It gets easier, ya know. You aren’t the only one who’s parents are complete scumbags.”

Asano froze, turning to look at me over his shoulder. For once all of his composure was gone — any sign of a mask nowhere to be seen. His eyes were wide as they stared at me, searching for who knows what. 

After a beat, he turned away and continued walking without uttering a word in response. I watched until he disappeared around a corner. 

Chapter Text

Haruhi P.O.V

Surprisingly, things hadn’t collapsed around us like I had expected them to during the Christmas Gala. It appeared that Kyoya-sempai thought the same thing because he didn’t even bother hiding his relieved sigh when nothing of particular note happened. Sure, Tamaki and Akabane disappeared somewhere for a little while, but soon enough, they reappeared and Akabane was circling the floor under Kyoya-sempai’s careful supervision. Tamaki hadn’t even made a fool out of himself either, which was a relief in itself. It was almost too good to be true really.

Akabane had acted a fair bit closed off during club meetings after that though. He’d always been distant and difficult – almost like he was untouchable. He existed in another world than we did (but not in the crazy kind of way). It was just like… nothing that we did really mattered to him. Like this was all just some in-between place where he could ‘rest’ before the next adventure.

It was in the way that he spoke sometimes. He held eye contact for too long, like he was challenging you to look away. His grip was a little too tight on things and he jumped at sounds. I knew better than to assume that he was scared though. He could take Honey-sempai in a fight – and hadn’t that been a strange phone call to receive.

 


 

I had been staying over at Tamaki’s house while my father was out on ‘business’. I didn’t really feel like asking too many questions and Tamaki’s father never noticed. The house was way too huge, and Suoh Sr. was way too busy with work to bother checking in too much on his son. No one would ever know.

Well, no one that really made a difference.

We were snuggled up on the couch in Tamaki’s room, watching a crappy anime on his laptop, when his phone rang. Tamaki rarely received calls, but figuring that it was just Kyoya, Tamaki went to check. While I was his girlfriend, Kyoya had been friends with him forever. There was something about that friendship that I would never be able to touch. I could respect that, and I would never begrudge Tamaki of Kyoya. I know that there will never be anything happening there that I should be concerned about. Tamaki was safe in Kyoya’s hands. He’d always watch out for him.

But Tamaki’s face told me that it wasn’t just Kyoya calling.

“Honey-sempai? It’s unusual for you to be calling at this time of night.”

I tense as Tamaki answers the phone. Honey-sempai? Why would Honey-sempai be calling Tamaki? It was… unusual. Admittedly, we’d kept in contact with both Mori and Honey-sempai, but not as often as the semester progressed. They got busy with schoolwork, and we had to get used to not having them as part of the Host Club. It’d been a while since we’d talked to them all together.

“Tama-chan! I’m so glad that you picked up!”

Tamaki hadn’t put his phone on speaker, but Honey-sempai was loud enough that I was able to hear things perfectly fine. “Is there something that you needed to tell me? Not that I’m not happy to hear from you–”

“I sparred with Akabane today.”

That gave me pause. Honey-sempai referred to almost everyone with a cutesy nickname that belied his childish persona. But not only has Honey-sempai essentially foregone any pleasantries that were typical of a phone call of him, but he’d also referred to Akabane by his last name. Every time we’d called before, he’d always referred to Akabane as ‘Karma-chan’ or even ‘Karma-kun’. But here… he didn’t even bother with an honourific. Just ‘Akabane’.

Apparently Tamaki thought that that was a red flag too, because he suddenly got a lot more serious, sitting up sharply and his face turning serious. “How did that go?” he asked carefully.

“He was actually able to beat me. I was impressed.” Honey-sempai took an audible breath. “That’s a curious one that you have there. It was an interesting choice for you to pick Akabane as a Host, but I didn’t know just how interesting. He’s got a lot of secrets. You’re going to want to watch out for him.”

“What?” Tamaki hissed. I slapped a hand over my mouth to avoid making any sounds. This was… crazy! Honey-sempai sounded so serious… and he was talking about Akabane like he was something dangerous. Like he was… dangerous for us. But that’s completely insane. There’s no way. He’s 15 years old and kind of skinny. Hell, he was the same height as me! He liked to be a jerk, but it wasn’t like he was a threat to any of us.

“When he leaves after graduation, don’t try and contact him again. It’s better that he becomes just another story in your lives.”

“Honey-sempai you’re not making any sense.” Tamaki says, furrowing his eyebrows and looking rather concerned. “Why are you saying these things?”

Honey giggled softly, “don’t mind what I’m saying too much. Just act like I never said anything. But don’t chase him. Don’t dig too far. You won’t like what you get.”

And then he hung up, leaving the two of us in silence.

 

We didn’t end up talking about what Honey said after that. Tamaki was in one of his brooding moods, and for once, I didn’t bother him about it. I wanted to do a bit of brooding myself.

 


 

Akabane was definitely a mystery and that’s honestly why I was surprised at the lack of incident from the Christmas Gala onwards. It was just a normal couple of months for us. So when Akabane actually suggested a place to go during our biweekly mandatory club bonding session, I was reasonably shocked. He tended to remain a little aloof with us and keep quiet; often ditching the bonding session halfway through after receiving a phone call. Sometimes he’d spend the entire outing on his phone – a fact which normally would have been an issue with Kyoya, but wasn’t with Akabane. With Tamaki taking his cues from Kyoya (and Honey-sempai’s concerning phone call that no doubt sat at the back of Tamaki’s mind like it did with mine), no one mentioned the phone.

Tamaki wanted to go somewhere that ‘commoners’ frequented, while the twins wanted to go somewhere with good food. Kyoya didn’t seem to care where we went as long as it was within our budget – which to be fair, was technically most places. We had quite a lot of money at our disposal, so one outing for food couldn’t be that draining on our resources, right? Right.

Akabane was actually the one who provided us with a solution. He claimed that he knew of this small bakery that made the best everything. After tasting the food that he made (during midterm season, Akabane tended to stress cook and we just happened to reap the benefits along with his ‘friends’ Shiota-san and Kayano-san), we were all inclined to trust him. Kyoya-sempai offered up no comments, only a slight smirk and the dubious honour of actually putting away his black notebook.

Unfortunately, it was far enough away from campus that we had to take the limousine to get there. We parked a block or so away since there was no parking on site and Akabane claimed that he wanted to be inconspicuous and not draw unwanted attention towards the bakery. You’d think a bunch of rich people visiting the bakery would be good publicity, but I wasn’t willing to question Akabane and disturb the still waters.

Walking with Tamaki was, as always, an experience.

He flitted around without a care in the world – almost as if they were the only ones on the streets. He was elegant, as he always was; somehow managing to dodge every passerby and completely ignoring all of the odd looks that he was getting for acting so childish in public. He was the son of a principal of Ouran Academy – even if he hadn’t started the Host Club, he would be more than used to the stares of the public. It didn’t bother him all that much anymore, or so he claimed.

I don’t think that I’ll ever get used to the looks that people give me. After joining the Host Club, I got many more looks not only at school. Part of that could be that I regularly went out with Suoh Tamaki and as such was held to a similar standard, but it was also in the way that I held myself. I was far more confident, and that really made a big difference, or so the twins assured me.

It was nice to see Tamaki so carefree. He normally didn’t act like things bothered him, but I know that sometimes there were nights where he worried about what he was going to be doing when high school was over. The Host Club was really the moments where he was the freest. He could be and play whoever he wanted without having to worry about what his father wanted for him. ‘Acting as a commoner’ did the same thing for him. There, he was free of the expectations of the people of high society. I’ve found that normal people cared a lot less about what people did than even the most laidback of the rich folk. They just… were a whole other species.

 

Eventually though, we did come across the little bakery. It was in the style of a typical European bakery – small and wish light pastel colours. All the same, there were tables visible through the large front windowpanes. It was quite There was a large painted sign across the front done with a cute yellow octopus along the sign. It had some English writing below the words ‘E-Class Bakery’ which was clearly the name of the bakery. The name itself wasn’t all that reassuring, but from what little food I could see through the windows, it looked amazing.

Akabane also seemed to almost undergo a physical change the closer that we got to the quaint little bakery. His shoulders straightened and his almost ever-present smirk softened slightly into a more honest smile. In the sunlight and out of uniform for the first time, Akabane actually looked like a person. I know it’s not a great way to look at someone, but he’d always been this untouchable thing. He was my age, and yet a year ahead in school and very much aware of just how smart he was. His smiles were too fake and held much more malice in them than Kyoya-sempai’s ever had. He was a delinquent through and through, even if he somehow managed to fit in with all of the high society people. He was the very definition of contradictory.

And yet, even knowing all of that, I couldn’t help but think that he looked incredibly young. He walked with a lazy gait, like he was suddenly unworried about watching his back. I’d never really understood just how tense he was before. For all of his devilish looks, he really was just a 15 year old kid, wasn’t he. He still had so much to learn about life, about how people were supposed to act. It sounds stupid to think all of these things, but it was something that I’d noticed the more I really got to know the Host Club. There was just so much that they’d never had to learn.

It made me wonder about all of the things that I hadn’t had to learn as a kid.

 

Walking into the bakery, you were immediately hit with the wonderful smell of baking bread and fresh pastries. The front area was separated by a counter with a glass display filled with baked goods. Behind the counter was a teenager with hair so dark that it was almost black that fell limply to just below his ears. His eyes were just a few shades darker than Akabane’s, leaving them a nice warm honey brown. He wore a simple 3 quarter sleeve grey shirt beneath a black apron lightly dusted with flour. There was a small clip in the front of his hair, holding back his bangs. He was smiling and chatting happily with the customer at the counter. Behind him was another teen around the same age. He had sunny orange blond hair that matched the light brown of his eyes. He was snapping back at the black-haired boy and laughing brightly when the other boy blushed. Somehow, despite the pleasant warmth of the shop, the blond boy was wearing a cardigan. He hadn’t bothered to pin up his hair.

“Oh you big flirt, Yuuma-chan! Why don’t you see what the next customers need while I fill out this nice lady’s order.” The blond said, winking over at their group. He turned away for a second, but then did a massive double take and whirled around to stare at us. “Karma-kun!” he yelled happily, startling the black-haired boy – Yuuma? – so badly that he dropped the change that the customer he had been flirting with had handed him.

It took me a moment to understand exactly what I was hearing. By then, we’d all whipped around to see that Akabane was damn near beaming at the two teenagers.

“Maa, it hasn’t been that long since I’ve seen you two, eh Maehara?” he said lightly, his voice taking on a slightly more nasal tone as he teased the other teen. It sounded more natural on him than the slightly rough but personable tone that he usually spoke with. The slight lilt in his voice was more snake-like and certainly made me think of nothing but mischief. It was odd, to see Akabane change almost everything about himself, and yet do so in such a subtle way. It was like watching a snake shed its skin and knowing that almost everything about it was the same, but you couldn’t help but know that something was fundamentally different about it.

The blond – Maehara – laughed. “It’s been too long all the same! After all the time we’ve spent together, I can’t help but feel like something’s wrong if we don’t see you everyday exactly where you’re not wanted at the time.” They weren’t exactly kind words, but Maehara seemed to mean them in a fond way all the same. “But no matter! Who have you brought with you today?”

And now the attention had returned to us.

Tamaki automatically stepped up and began introductions, being his usual charming self. “I see you know our darling Akabane-kun! It’s always wonderful to meet any of our dear host’s friends!” He gestured with a wide sweep of his arms, “we are the host club from Ouran Academy. I am Suoh Tamaki–” he was cut off by the black-haired boy giggling softly and turning to look at Akabane.

“’Darling’?” he scoffed before laughing a little louder. “Well I can honestly say that I’ve never heard anyone refer to you as their ‘darling’ before.” He seemed to completely disregard the fact that he’d cut Tamaki off. On his part, Tamaki looked rather put out, but he skillfully his it behind his host smile.

“And Ouran Academy? That’s the school that you, Nagisa-kun and Kayano-chan go to, right boss?” Maehara piped up, smoothly handing the customer a paper bag filled with baked treats as he moved over to stand beside Yuuma. “What are you guys doing all the way out here?”

Tamaki opened his mouth to answer, but Akabane cut him off yet again. “I can’t just visit you out of the goodness of my heart?” he teased, smirking at the deadpanned looks that he got from the two teens. “I just wanted to introduce you to all my friends! You’ve both been asking so much about each other, I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone.”

Yuuma rolled his eyes. “Yeah, that and you wanted some baked goods and were too lazy to make them yourself.”

Akabane mimed being hit in the chest with a weapon as he dramatically collapsed against the glass display case. This earned him no sympathy as Maehara was quick to throw out a “get off the glass, you’ll get stuff all over it,” which in turned caused Akabane to whine like a little kid. It was quite disconcerting to see. He’d made a point to be mature, and stuff. I had a feeling that some of it had to do with the other students judging him for being a year younger. But now… well he really was just a kid.

“None of that now, boss. You’re better than that. Stop making a fool out of yourself,” Yuuma teases before turning to address us. “I’m Isogai Yuuma, and this is Maehara Hiroto. We really are happy to meet all of you. Just ignore them.” He jerks his head to gesture to Akabane and Maehara who were bickering quietly. “Is there anything I can help you with?”

As Tamaki began to chatter Isogai’s ears off with inane questions about what the bakery offered (Kyoya only loosely policing the ever-curious Hitachiin twins), I turned my attention back to Akabane. I could see Tamaki and the others act like fools any time I wanted to, but Akabane acting like a person? That, I simply couldn’t miss.

The two teens seemed to be at a break in their argument, just staring each other down, waiting for the other to make a move. “Terasaka! Boss is here!” Maehara hollered, not breaking eye contact with Akabane once despite the clear displeasure on the redhead’s face.

“Must you?” Akabane grumbled darkly. “You know he’s still pissed at me about–”

And because everyone was just cutting each other off today, a burly teen proceeded to poke his head out from the kitchen door. He had bleached the top of his head and had an eyebrow piercing. If Akabane looked like a delinquent, then this guy looked like a straight up Yakuza grunt. It didn’t help that his biceps were on display due to his tank top and apron ensemble. The guy was absolutely ripped and looked angry to boot.

“Akabane!” he yelled, loud enough that it caught the attention of the customers that sat around sipping coffee, eating pastries and having quiet conversation. “The absolute nerve–” the angry guy cut himself off as he pulled Akabane into a bone crushing hug. I could swear that I saw his eyes bug out just a little.

“Maa, Terasaka-kun! You’re crushing me just a little.”

“Well you deserve it, you shit.”

I winced slightly at the choice language. Of course Akabane would be friends with such characters. Honestly, seeing Maehara and Isogai was more of a surprise. They seemed almost too nice just like Shiota-san and Kayano-san. Maybe I was just overthinking things.

“Haruhi? Is there anything that you want?”

I jerked, looking back to see Tamaki looking at me. His expression was oddly blank – I couldn’t quite tell whether or not he’d noticed that I was staring at Akabane or not. He didn’t say anything to tell me either way. I forced myself to ignore whatever interaction that Akabane continued to have with the guy who was obvious part of some kind of mob and smiled softly at my boyfriend.

“Yeah, sure.”

Chapter Text

Karma P.O.V

After the Christmas Gala, I didn’t hear much from Asano.

Normally, he didn’t go out of his way to get to me, but now he just seemed to be nowhere to be seen. It wasn’t unusual since we were in different years, for me to not see him at all some days. But this felt more deliberate. I couldn’t exactly blame him. I’d caught him being a massive hypocrite (that in hindsight I really should have seen coming) and then proceeded to have an interaction with his father. I could essentially ruin him. I wouldn’t do it – well, actually I probably would have a year or two ago. I mean, I never liked Asano, but it wasn’t like I hated him either. It took a lot more than his pathetic name calling and arrogance to get me to hate someone. It just took a lot of energy that he didn’t deserve for me to waste on him.

Back in middle school, I might have done pretty much anything to destroy him in the eyes of his peers. But we were at Ouran despite us both being the top two at Kunugikaoka which really was telling, now wasn’t it. The thing is, I would probably still go out of my way to use stuff that I learned about Asano because a. it was fun and b. I’m still not that great of a person. What can I say, being a dick was fun, and he really shouldn’t dish what he can’t take.

That being said, I wasn’t about to destroy him by outing him. Not to his father, and not to the rest of the school. I was an asshole, but I refuse to be a monster. I’ll be plenty a monster in any other circumstance, but everyone has limits. This was mine.

But Asano didn’t know that.

He didn’t know that I wouldn’t stoop that low. I’m sure that after middle school he honestly expected me to. It wasn’t like I hadn’t given him a reason to believe that, and he’d given me more than enough reason to lash out. I just didn’t take Asano for a coward. He’d always met me toe-to-toe whenever we challenged each other. It’s actually why I respected him somewhat back in middle school. We’d been peers for two years before when I was in Class A and not Class E. I’d only been transferred in my last year, after all. Hell, they would have expelled me had it not been for the extenuating circumstances.

He knew me. Well, he knew what I was like in middle school. I’d like to think that I’d changed an awful lot in the last two years. Maybe I’d been a little stagnant in ‘changing’ this year, but that really wasn’t the point of Ouran Academy was it. It wasn’t meant to be character building or life changing. It was merely meant to refine what was already apparent.

I don’t think that I’ll really miss this place after graduation.

 

There were days that I missed the life that I had at True Cross Academy, but I don’t know if it’s just because it was so familiar to me. The fighting, the intense focus on academically destroying each other; it was so similar to the atmosphere that permeated Kunugikaoka, and yet it was somehow less toxic, which admittedly wasn’t all that hard.

 

In the end, I didn’t bother to pursue the Asano route because I had other things to put my attention into. For all the mediocrities of this fucking school, there was still challenging classes and assignments. Not challenging because they were beyond my ability but challenging because the teachers decided to give the weirdest fucking directions. They didn’t seem to necessarily have a grasp on what instructions and requirements were reasonable.

For example, art class.

That massive project that was supposed to take a month? Well, people quickly began to complain about it and lucky for me, it actually got extended. I had been a damn fool to believe that I could get all of it done in a couple weeks. I’d really underestimated the amount of time that it would take to get everything set up, let alone painted.

 

You know, as much as I hated how chaotic my time at True Cross Academy was – and believe me, there were so many times where I just wanted to burn the entire school down and be done with it all – it was still within my comfort zone. I bitched and moaned, but that’s just because the situation was honestly so annoying; but ultimately so familiar.

I’m not going to lie and say that I’m easy to deal with. I’m a bitch on a good day and the devil’s adjacent on a bad one (literally). This was simply a fact. I’ve never been a nice person, and no matter how nice I can seem – which is not often because that’s so much energy – and believe me, I can seem nice, people can sense that about me. Even humans still have instincts after all. They knew and some even understood when a predator had them outclassed. These simple facts mean that before Class 3E I didn’t have friends.

Oh, I had Kyoya eventually, but I wouldn’t call us friends. We were brothers. Most would consider this to be a higher level of trust than friends, and while that can be considered true, it’s not the full story. There were definitely days that we hated each other, but we also sat at an impasse where technically if either one of us made a move to take out the other, we’d both be going down. That being said, if anyone threatened one, the other would do everything in their power to destroy that enemy. It was just in our nature. We both preferred a more hands-off approach to caring.

To Kyoya, I represent power and freedom. To me, Kyoya represents something equally important: the First Real Ally.

At Kunugikaoka, my intellect made me an obvious member of the A Class. The A Class was, and would always be, a cut-throat environment. The hierarchy was textbook and well known. Alliances were fragile and ever shifting. The class was in a constant state of unrest as everyone salivated over the top spot. The only uniting forces between them was the fear of the principle and the hatred for Class E. E Class was scum and not worthy to breathe the same air as them.

I really hadn’t given a shit because they didn’t bother me and Nagisa had potential. They flew under my radar for the most part. Class A, however, did not. I contributed much to the rabidness of the A Class. I encouraged the betrayal of allies and sowed the seeds of chaos. It was fun. This, of course, garnered me nothing but enemies. Fortunately, they were too distrusting of each other to ever fully rally against me. It was pathetic. I thought I was invincible.

And then I was betrayed, and it all came crashing down.

Class E was both a new environment, and something that I was familiar with. The people there were still so weak, but they al had an edge to them not unlike Nagisa. There was potential. It was a weird contradiction. Unlike me though, they never accepted the fact that they weren’t good people. Anyone eager to kill for personal gain was not good. I didn’t judge them for that – I could be considered an awful person – but for all that I loved toying with people and acting, I hated when people remained in denial about their own ‘goodness’. It just frustrated me. Especially when the little pukes held that perceived ‘goodness’ over people like it was even worth anything. Class A had been under no illusions about what they were.

But somehow the atmosphere was similar. I knew where I stood and how to act. It was still enough of a puzzle for me to not get bored at all, and even if I got close, Korosensei was there to throw in a curveball. It was a careful game of cloak and dagger and who was the most dangerous and why.

It was safe for the very same reasons that it was so dangerous.

True Cross Academy had followed a similar pattern even if at first the other cram class kids didn’t know. How quickly they turned against me spoke so much about the cruelty that only teenagers really possessed. For all the hell that I unleashed it was still something I knew how to deal with.

Losing Garry…

That had been something that I hadn’t calculated. I hadn’t expected it, and that was just such a huge and pathetic oversight. I’d already lost him once. I guess I just took for granted the invincibility of demons.

That incident had hit hard. And in my moment of weakness, I’d allowed myself to be talked into attending a normal school. I couldn’t just drop out of cram class because there were still so many damn memories at the school. Sugino and Shindou were there, and while Sugino was in the know, appearing weak before Shindou just wasn’t something that I could afford. Ever.

So, new school, new scene. Of course, Nagisa, Kayano, and Kyoya were there – and how it burned me to appear so weak that I had to be babysat – so I wasn’t completely thrown into the deep end. It always made me wonder how I’d do on my own completely. It’d been a while since I’d been alone.

At first, I thought that things might actually be interesting. I hadn’t wanted it at first, because I was ‘healing’ or whatever But then Asano showed up and a half-French honest to god host had proceeded to publicly serenade me in hopes of recruiting to be an unpaid gay best friend for the school’s population. The saddest part of that was that that was the weirdest that it got. There was barely anything of note for entire months at a time. It was normal. A very different normal than what Kunugikaoka pretended to be.

Kunugikaoka was all competition and subterfuge and bloody sharp grins. At Ouran Academy, it was only looking proper and being appropriately upper class. And they were all teenage rich kids. They had none of the sharpness that the Kunugikaoka teens had. Heck, they didn’t even have the coldness of their parents. It was just kind of sad.

There was so much nothing that I was more on edge than ever. I was just waiting for the other shoe to drop. All that I wanted to do was leave. I can’t fucking want until I graduate. Then I can just fuck off back to where things actually happen.

 

But that was beside the point. Nagisa and the others from Class 3E had done me a huge solid with all the organization that they’d accomplished. They’d only rented out a small part of the Guertena exhibit, but it was more than enough. It was a pretty well-known gallery, and the space was beautiful to behold.

It was something that was just my own. My art, I mean.

Yeah, the subject matter was all related to the shit that I had to deal with, but it was still somehow removed from everything. No one but the people who were there would know what the art pieces were even about. Most people would just assume that the pieces took inspiration from Guertena or Gothic art. Some would simply think that I was just another artist being ‘fake deep’ which was absolutely phenomenal. It was just so normal.

I talk a lot of shit about my life and other people’s lives, and for the most part, I don’t want to live a normal life. Hell, the amount of struggle that I was going through to wrap my head around how normal Ouran Academy was just went to show how well I dealt with normal. But not everything in my life could be crazy and life threatening and thrilling. Sometimes it was nice to have small chunks of normalcy. It was why I liked working shifts at the café with the other Class 3E students despite the fact that I had no need to ‘dirty my hands amongst the plebes’ and such. They were the bridge between my life and normal. It was easy with them, and that… kind of sucked.

It made me vulnerable.

But the normal was nice. Art was my normal. It was a plain hobby that almost every teen dabbled in at one point. It wasn’t something people looked too deeply into – besides rolling their eyes and ranting about ‘teenage angst’ – and it was something not influenced by any of the other shit in my life. It was superfluous and served no military advantage. It was mine.

And now I was sharing it with people.

It was weird to think about, but there really was no stopping it now, and I absolutely can’t wait until I see the look on Hana-sensei’s face. She’s a nice teacher and everything, but ineffectual at best.

 


 

Walking into class, I felt super fucking smug.

Every other student had various set ups that they were struggling to drag into class, and it was honestly so funny to watch. It was like those vlogs about advanced placement North American students dragging 2 meter tall trebuchets through their narrow school hallways.

 

 

…I know I have weird hobbies, but no one has yet to call me out. In fact, Nagisa has a particular fondness for North American school project videos. They are usually unique and puzzling. Once, there was a condensed version of the Shakespeare play ‘Hamlet’ but it was done completely in a Southern accent with various cultural references. Another time, there was an ‘undesirable propaganda’ project and the group of teens had chosen to explain that dihydrogen monoxide had contaminated the water supply and that 100% of people who consumed it died. They then went on to suggest that a solution for this was to drink fire because it was pure energy. It was utterly brilliant, and a good way to practice English comprehension skills.

Or at least that was the excuse that I told everyone. I just thought that they were funny. There was something about the story arc of the videos…

 

 

There was a wide variety of collections of art. One kid had an entire trolly that he was carting in various canvases on, another kid was clutching a large sketchbook to his chest possessively. One girl even had a wheeled chair that was stacked high with sculptures of various sizes. All in all, I was genuinely impressed. All of these kids had been rather quiet kids, so to see this wide variety was refreshing.

I, myself, had just waltzed right into class holding nothing more than a flier, of which I promptly laid face down on the table in front of me.

As if summoned by the general chaos in the room as everyone tried to navigate around each other to set up their pieces like they were at a science fair (that one kid with the trolly managing to take up the entire back wall of the class and even then he had fit his pieces in like a mosaic), Hana-sensei appeared, wheeling in on what appeared to be a scooter. Where she’d gotten it and how she smuggled it into the school remained unclear, but I did have to give her points for style.

The fact that she gave this project in the first place still had her sitting comfortably in the negative though.

“Good morning class!” Hana-sensei cheerfully exclaimed as her gaze swept over the various collections of art. “I’m so glad to see everyone’s beautiful collections! Now, as you know, there is an added spoken component to this project due to the extension that I gave you. I will be pulling names from the cup unless anyone decides to volunteer.” She reminded us, grinning brightly and seemingly impervious to the stares of death that she was getting from the more introverted of the artists.

The cup in question was a simple coffee mug. In true art teacher fashion – really, she was a stereotype and perfectly comfortable with playing that up – she’d written all of our names onto popsicle sticks and placed them in the cup. Earlier in the year, she’d chosen exercise prompts through a similar process. It was… irritating and felt very juvenile.

Still…

And I typically hate when teachers pull the whole ‘is there any volunteers’ shit, but it actually provided me with an ideal opportunity to speak up about how if I got picked, I would not be in a good position to do my presentation due to the absence of my art pieces. I could, of course, rattle off an explanation and some mumbo jumbo, but why do that when I could do that while in front of my art?

So being the smarmy ass that I was, I raised my hand and waved to catch Hana-sensei’s attention. Her entire face brightened up, and I had suppress a wince at that. “Oh! Akabane-kun! Would you like to go first?”

“I’m afraid that that isn’t quite right, sensei,” I drawled slightly. I pulled a paper out of my book bag and waved it slightly. It was a copy of the rubric that we’d finally gotten her to print out and given to us, wherein which she’d detailed just what was required of us. “I followed the rubric, and you said that it was allowed to have our ‘collection’ set up at a different location. No one else seems to have chosen that option, so may I speak with you after class to make arrangements?”

Hana-sensei’s smile froze on her face for a moment. It really shouldn’t have surprised her that someone would do this. I was far from the richest student that she had, and it was no doubt only due to their temperaments and confidence that they hadn’t chosen to do so.

“That’s wonderful, Akabane-kun.” To her credit, Hana-sensei had recovered quickly. She clapped her hands together and grabbed the mug. “Well then, unless anyone else volunteers or has something important to say, why don’t we get started?”

 


 

I’d taken the day off of school in order to make a public appearance at the gallery. Nagisa and Kayano had joined me in skiving off of school, and together we were hosting an event. It would be an opportunity for gallery visitors to meet and speak with the artist. Kayano had originally been the one to suggest the idea, so when I went to approach Suoh-san about it, I had a preplanned event to add a bit more incentive. I didn’t necessarily mention that it was my showcase – the artist name that Nagisa had put down had been ‘Karma’ but I honestly doubted that Suoh-san knew anything other than my family name – but I did give him the flyer.

The flyer itself was rather simple in design, but not unlike any other gallery pamphlet. It had a picture of the mural I’d done of the lighter and hand along with information on the location of the gallery and the special event. It was rather nice, and Suoh-san must have been in a good mood, because he easily agreed to having the art class have a field trip.

That discussion only happened after my conversation with Hana-sensei, of course. She’d been excited after our talk, and much less apprehensive upon seeing that I’d actually completed the assignment and hadn’t just been another shitty rich kid who’d hired someone to do their work. The gallery workers had been more than happy to corroborate my story since they’d witnessed me painting some of the murals.

Hana-sensei had said that she thought that it was a wonderful opportunity for the class to get out of the classroom. I just think she’d realized how close she’d been to a mutiny due to this final project. Art pieces take time, and I was just lucky that I needed far less sleep than normal humans and that I had the time. I didn’t have to study all that hard for most of my classes, unlike some of my classmates.

And that’s how we ended up here. It would be a surprise for the class to see me at the exhibit, so if they were observant, a couple of them would be wondering where I was. But they were due to arrive at any minute, so I fixed my collar, rolled up my sleeves and got ready to greet my class like a professional. Luckily, the other gallery visitors seemed to be content to wander the gallery and leave talking to me until later.

I did have a pass hanging around my neck to let people know that I was indeed the artist. I can’t imagine that people would assume that I was the artist otherwise.

Admittedly that had been at Kayano’s urging but whatever.

I heard the doors swing open and then a collection of footsteps and awed gasps. I spun around with a grin on my face. “Ah, Hana-sensei! Welcome to my exhibit!”

Chapter Text

Karma P.O.V.

And here we are, finally; it’s the end of the year and I’m fucking graduating.

Seems kind of unbelievable. Not in the way that it would never ever happen, but more in the way that it doesn’t feel real. Just two years before we were struggling to keep our heads above water because of the international crisis that was Korosensei. Just two years ago, I was purely caught up in making sure that I was feared and that I was at the top. And now, well, just look at me.

I’m at yet another prissy prep school – one of the best, to its credit – and I’m about to be done with high school. I’d managed to fucking skip a year (really, it shouldn’t surprise anyone), gain a twin and a whole bunch of knowledge that I really hadn’t wanted in the first place but now I had because the world wants to fuck with me, and I’m somehow still at the same school as Shiota Nagisa. Oh how wonders never cease.

Admittedly, he was still in the year below – and he was masquerading as a woman while here – but it was the principle of the matter. It would be odd, graduating without Nagisa. He’d been there since the beginning really, and now I was going to be ‘moving on’ without him. It was surreal. I really had taken Nagisa’s constant presence for granted.

There was almost no chance that we’d end up at the same university. Nagisa was planning on following in Korosensei’s footsteps and tackling hard to reach students through assassination unity. I wasn’t about to touch that with a 10-meter pole and someone else’s dick. I hated teaching; never really had all that much patience for incompetence and then got even more frustrated when dealing with problem children. Admittedly, I was a problem child myself, but I am content with the knowledge that I am hypocritical in this area, as much as it sometimes burns me to say. I just know what the kinds of students Nagisa would be teaching are thinking because I was that little asshole. I was hungry for the blood of my teachers long before Korosensei and actually being invited to kill his teacher.

I wasn’t about to put up with that shit and not be allowed to threaten them. Nagisa was a snake at heart, and he knew how to play the game and toe the line. Me? I didn’t care enough to toe that line. What was the damn point? I barely toed the line as a student. It simply wasn’t a good idea.

Nagisa was all about being better. He never really wanted to accept the fact that he was a snake. He hadn’t grown up accepting it, so I couldn’t really blame him too much. More’s the pity, and all that.

 

But I’m graduating and that means planning the future in the less fun way.

It was shitty to say, especially since half the time it wasn’t even true, but I’d definitely avoided thinking about the long term in the personal side of my life, because I hadn’t really expected to live long enough to have to deal with it. I’d been living fast and expected to die young. With everything that the world threw at me, how could I be expected to believe anything else?

I’d almost gotten killed so many times.

If nothing else, I missed Class 3-E because there was very little danger for us to die due to the possessiveness that Korosensei showed over us. But there was always the uncertainty as to whether or not that he’d snap and do away with the entire charade.

But now I had to decide what I wanted to do. And I just… didn’t know.

I could follow everyone else and go to a university, or I could take some time off and catch up with my agemates. I’d of course applied to universities when prompted to – it would be an idiotic move to close doors when I didn’t have to. I could always defer or decline an offer, but it would be a pain in the ass to enroll when I hadn’t applied. Not impossible as long as I was willing to hack things, but certainly not ideal.

So I applied places. It had actually been Fuyumi, Kyoya’s sister, who inspired me.

She mentioned a school in England about parapsychology. Now that sounded interesting. The study of psychic phenomena and paranormal activity.

I’d handled government conspiracies and demonic activity. Why not branch out into superhuman abilities and ghosts?

 


 

The ceremony itself wasn’t completely unbearable. After walking across the stage and posing for pictures with Suoh-san, they led us back to the room that we’d waited in before parading inside to sit down. Our families and the people that we had bought seats for would be let in promptly, so after that it was just a waiting game.

I had taken this time to get a breather. The ceremony hall had been stifling with the amount of people. Oh it was a very nice ceremony, but it was exhausting and things were… well… this was probably less of a ‘vacation’ than I would have wanted. Yeah it was normal, but I needed more than just normal.

Luckily, for once, my yearmates seemed to be able to read the mood and they left me alone. Well, either that or they were too busy with their own friend groups.

 

 

“So am I finally going to get to meet your Host Club friends?” a feminine voice said. I whirled around to look and see Nagisa and Kayano, standing beside non other than Yukio and Izumo. Izumo was the one who had spoken, and she was smirking slightly. “I mean seriously, Shiota-san and Kayano-chan go to school with you, and Yukio went with you on family day.” She pouted. “What kind of school has family day?”

I rolled my eyes, “clearly a rich school.”

“Yeah, but True Cross is rich too!” she pointed out.

“And it’s run by Mephisto.”

She winced, “yeah, you’re right.”

Yukio adjusted his classes and helpfully decided to pipe up. “If it makes you feel better, Izumo-kun, they’re really nothing special. They remind me a lot of the students of True Cross.”

Izumo’s eyes practically bugged out of her head at this remark. Nagisa just snorted. “Nah, they’re pretty special,” he grumbled. “Seriously, did Karma-kun never tell you about how they recruited him? The leader started a flashmob. There was an orchestra.

His indignation was honestly kind of funny.

Yukio blushed brightly. “Well… th-they seemed reasonable w-when I met them…” he stuttered.

I rolled my eyes again, turning back to Izumo. “Yes, you’ll get to meet them. In fact, they should be arriving right about–”

And sure enough, as if they were waiting for my cue, the Host Club appeared behind my family, thoroughly scaring the shit out of Izumo and Yukio. I stifled a laugh – huh, some exorcists. Izumo must have heard my laughter because she shot me a look, but she was too distracted by the Hitachiin Twins as they struck up a conversation with her.

“Ya!” I yelled, “stop harassing Izumo, you buffoons.”

The twins frowned, turning to go situated themselves around Tamaki with identical pouts. “Karma-sempai! Why must you always be so mean?” I strode over to stand in between the Host Club and Yukio and Izumo, casually slinging an arm over Izumo’s shoulders.

One comfort was that despite the fact that I was short – ugh – I was still taller than her. Or at least I was tall enough and determined enough to drape my arms over her shoulders, nonetheless.

I got a pinch to the side for my troubles.

“Don’t you know you’re supposed to listen to your sempais?” I jest, “we’ve graduated and everything! We’ll be off soon! Show some respect.”

Nagisa and Kayano shared a look before laughing. “Ah, we pity the people who next have to share a classroom with you,” Kayano joked. “Now you’ll finally be at the bottom of the food chain again.”

I placed a hand over my heart and mocked being shot, much to Izumo’s annoyance. “Don’t you know that no matter the year I’m in, I’m always the top of the food chain?” I joke right back.

 

“So what are your plans now?” Kaoru asked from where he was hanging off of Tamaki dramatically. “What are you going to do now that you no longer have to deal with high school?”

Tamaki let out a loud laugh. “Well I imagine that I’ll be going to university. I was accepted at Todai University, so I’ll be studying business. But never fear, my darling kohais! Daddy’ll be sure to visit as much as he can!”

And now it got weird.

I joined Haruhi in slapping my forehead in disappointment at Tamaki’s antics.

“What about you, Kyoya-sempai?” Haruhi offered, turning to look at Kyoya and expertly drawing attention away from how weird her boyfriend was getting.

Ever gracious, Kyoya followed her lead. “I’ll also be attending Todai University for business. I plan on starting up my own company, getting out from the Otori legacy.” He said, uncharacteristically sharing much of his plans with the others. He was usually reserved, however, I suspect that it was a simple matter of sentiment in this case. Haruhi smirked slightly, most likely thinking the same thing as I was.

Who knew that Kyoya actually cared about them after all.

(That being said, it saddened me a little that Kyoya would be following Tamaki. I knew how he felt about Tamaki, and even though Kyoya knew that it would be pointless, he was still stuck following the eccentric teen around like a woebegone caretaker. But that was Kyoya’s decision, and his journey to make. So I didn’t say anything.

Sometimes a man just needs to pine for a while. It wasn’t like he was hurting anyone other than himself. My words would do little to help. He needed to come to his own conclusions, and have his own closure.)

“Ah, of course the two of you will be going to the same university.”

I tensed slightly, nearly dislodging Izumo from where she was tucked under my arm. Standing only a couple feet away, was none other than the figures of the Haninozuka and Morinozuka duo. They were impeccably dressed, not standing out in the crowd for anything other than their heights.

Haninozuka smiled at me and waved. I tensed further, blocking out anything else that the two said as they began to interact further with the rest of the Host Club.

 

 

The dojo itself was fairly standard. It looked like a classic Japanese dojo, although it didn’t have any of the markings of a public dojo that offered lessons. That of course, made sense considering they were a rich family who prided themselves on their martial arts abilities. Surely, they ran a teaching dojo, but that was not the dojo that they’d sent me to. This one, was the family dojo.

It was a power move, for them to have chosen their home turf for this. It set me on edge, but that could only be helpful at this point. It would not do to be too secure and therefore drop my guard. I was going into an unknown situation against people that were very dangerous for humans. I was secure in the knowledge that they weren’t demons themselves, but that did not mean that they weren’t in the know in some manner. I didn’t like unknowns.

I used to delight in the thrill that came from not knowing whether or not you’d die. But that was when I had only Kyoya, and he was far too logical to be affected for long. Now I’m saddled with the emotional connections that came with being a member of Class 3-E and having a twin brother. Kyoya had even become a closer ally over the years. While I fully believed that he’d be okay should I die, I know for a fact that Class 3-E, Yukio, and Izumo would be distraught. They’d already lost enough people. This had resulted in me becoming more careful with my life. I had to care, and that took the fun out of not knowing whether or not I’d make it. I had people to care about.

And so I was nervous.

There was pretty much no way that the Haninozukas could get away with killing me, but my senses didn’t stop buzzing. It’d been a while since I sparred against someone who wasn’t in the know.

Fuck, I had to hide my tail.

I slung my duffle bag over my shoulder and proceeded to knock on the front door. A light came on and the door swung open to reveal the tall and imposing figure of Morinozuka Takashi. He was dressed in work out gear and looked just as serious as the last time I saw him. He easily stood a foot and a half taller than myself, but that just made me irritated. He was ridiculously tall, and he looked odd without the Haninozuka heir by his side.

“I don’t know if you remember, but I’m Akabane Karma,” I offered. “Thank you for the invitation, Morinozuka-san.”

The Morinozuka stared at me for a moment before inclining his head slightly in greeting. “It is our pleasure, Akabane-san. Mitsukuni has been very excited for today.” His voice was a deep baritone and just as blank and emotionless as his facial expression. “Come with me.” He then turns on his heels and began walking deeper into the dojo without bothering to wait to see if I were to follow.

I followed.

As we came to a large room, I carefully plastered on a slightly mischievous grin onto my face. It was a look that I wore often in the early days with Class 3-E, so it was a well-practiced look.

The room was very traditional in appearance, with soft mats covering the floor from wall to wall. There were a couple separate corridors shooting off from the room, but it looked like a standard gym. The Haninozuka heir was standing over by a wall and carefully bending nearly in half as he touched his toes. While I stopped only a couple feet into the dojo room, Morinozuka continued walking until he stood over by the heir. The Haninozuka quickly sprung up and grinned brightly at me.

“Karma-chan! I’m so glad that you could come!” he yelled, clapping his hands together like a child would in order to express his ‘glee’.

“Do you mind if I change first?” I ask, smiling a smile full of teeth. I gestured to my outfit and ‘nervously’ scratched at the back of my neck. “I’m kind of not dressed for a spar.”

Haninozuka smiled brightly at me and pointed over to another set of doors. “Of course! We have a locker room right over there that you can use. Take as much time as you need.” The tall Morinozuka behind him just watched me, his eyes dark and sharp. The Haninozuka had no need to do anything other than play up his act, the Morinozuka would take care of any immediate threat. He was the bodyguard, he could afford to look the part. Meanwhile, the Haninozuka’s greatest boon was his appearance. I had no doubt that pretty much everyone underestimated him.

I wouldn’t make that mistake.

“I’ll be back in a couple of minutes. Feel free to warm up without me.” I call as I turn to look over my shoulder as I made my way swiftly to the changing room. From there, it was a simple matter of checking for security cameras – of which there were thankfully none (not even any that Ritsu could find) – and then I was changing into my sweatpants and the underarmour long-sleeved shirt. I removed the metal armbands that I wore so to not give them something else to grapple with and to not add a ‘weapon’ to the spar. The long sleeve shirt was important because of the tattoos, but I hopefully wouldn’t get too hot during the spar. Maa, I had some self control.

I carefully tucked my tail into the sweatpants and wrapped it around my hips so that if I were to take a hit to the thigh, it wouldn’t hit my tail. If one of them went to grab my hips, then the lumps could be explained away as the drawstrings in the pants and the fact that I was petite. Surely, that would be something that the Haninozuka could understand.

As much as I hated to have that in common with him.

I removed the knives I had on my person as well. It would do no good to be accused of foul play, and if he really wanted to kill me… well I was more than enough of a weapon myself. I could kill any of them in a split second by simply recreating the Blue Night.

I carefully stored everything into my duffle bag and then walked back into the dojo. Haninozuka and Morinozuka were finishing up their stretches when they heard my footsteps. I hadn’t bothered to silence my footsteps, as that would just be more suspicious than anything. I still hadn’t ruled out the idea that they had only invited me for a spar to gauge how much of a threat I was.

(In hindsight, it was a little weird that just on meeting me, the first thing that they suggested was that we should spar. Tamaki couldn’t have said that much about me, could he?)

“Mori will fight you first.” The Haninozuka announced. I inclined my head and moved over to the centre of the mat and fell into a loose ready stance.

“Rules?” I enquired, rolling my shoulders lightly. I hadn’t had time to stretch, but I’d be fine either way. Neither of them had said anything anyways.

“If one is on the ground and pinned for 10 seconds or if one yields. No weapons.”

Those were fair terms. I nodded sharply, waiting for Morinozuka to join me on the floor and for Haninozuka to start the match. The childlike adult smirked sharply, for once belying the dangerous creature that he was. “Ready. Go!”

I didn’t waste a second, launching myself towards Morinozuka with a ferocious grin plastered on my face. To his credit, he reacted quickly and jumped back, utilizing his longer limbs. That would be annoying to avoid.

For the next few minutes, we exchanged blows, both of us dodging with a grace that didn’t belong to either of our frames. He was good, but I was better. I had inhuman stamina on my side, and I hadn’t let up my assault for a second, forcing him to not let up on his defence. He was undoubtedly very tired right now. His movements were slowing down as well, especially since we’d been fighting with high energy for 10 minutes. Like I said, he was good, I was just better.

Before much longer, I got lucky, and a punch flew past his defence, dazing him long enough for me to get him into a choke hold.

He yielded quickly after that.

I don’t know what I expected from the Haninozuka heir, but it certainly wasn’t for him to clap in delight. I hadn’t been paying attention to the Haninozuka, and that was an oversight on my part. Admittedly, it spoke a lot about the Morinozuka’s skills that I had to put full focus on him.

However, that meant that I wasn’t noticing any of the shit that Haninozuka was up to during the spar. Haninozuka had lost some of the childish veneer that he’d maintained for the most part. Instead, he’d gotten a more calculating look in his eyes and he watched me with an interested gleam. In that moment he reminded me an awful lot of Nagisa in that moment.

“Did you like the show?” I ask, just a little bit sarcastically. Haninozuka didn’t seem to notice, so I just let it slide. The childlike man seemed to be inexplicably pleased with the fact that I was being a little shit.

“You’re a skilled fighter!” Haninozuka acknowledged. “Do you typically fight with a weapon?”

I frown slightly, “yes. Can I ask how you know?” Wow. We love sounding fucking dumb. Amazing.

Haninozuka tilted his head to the side slightly, his eyes burning into my skull as if he could see my soul. Or at least that he could see my more demonic traits and was beginning to make connections. “Your hand form claws or loose grips some of the time, and I noticed you making a grab for something on your hips a couple times only to come up for a swing instead. Some of your movements would only be efficient should you have a knife or other weapon.”

Well, that was fair, I guess. We all had our ticks.

While I am inhumanly strong, I have always preferred fighting with a knife. A sword was also good, however, it was nowhere near as convenient as a knife. That year of training with Class 3-E really paid off.

I also delighted in bloodshed so what can I say.

“Alright, me next!”

My eyes widened in surprise as the Haninozuka all but threw himself at me without warning, the Morinozuka rolling out of the ring like this was a common occurrence.

I let the small guy get the drop on me all but once, and holy shit there was no way that that punch hadn’t broken a rib. So, he was serious then. Morinozuka’s punches had hit, but the big man had seemed to pull his punches, so I’d responded in kind. But now the stakes had risen, because if the brat landed another hit on my sternum, I could very well puncture a lung, and that would suck major dick.

I snarled almost involuntarily and launched myself at him with just a bit more ferocity. Fighting the Haninozuka heir was fairly different than fighting the Morinozuka. Haninozuka was ferocious and had small grabby hands that sought every possible opportunity to grab and tear at anything and everything I was wearing. He didn’t shy away from playing dirty and seemed to be going at me with the single-minded determination to win.

Without my permission, I felt myself beginning to hold back on my strength less, focusing on grabbing and wrenching him off of me. In one move, I’d grabbed him and flung him across the room. He landed roughly, but scrambled to his feet quickly.

There was a pause, both of us breathing heavily as we surveyed the other. I hadn’t wanted to do this, lest it bring attention to where I had learned how to do it, but Haninozuka was damn good and I didn’t want to lose. Forfeiting the match would probably be the smart thing to do, but what can I say, I was competitive. So, without further hesitation, I begin to walk towards Haninozuka, my grin remaining fixed in place. Haninozuka watched me with weary eyes, his own smile having long ago been wiped off of his face. He let me approach long enough for me to raise my hands, and by the time I clapped, it was already too late for him. He’d been preparing for a grapple and had jumped when the only move that I made was to clap. In that split second, I did tackle him, twisting my own body in order to pin his limbs under either him or myself. He went down with minimal resistance.

He twisted for a moment, testing my hold, but I was too strong. I tightened my grip just slightly, feeling the bones of his small wrist grind together just slightly. “I yield!” he called cheerfully, squirming a little under my hold. In truth, it wasn’t the best hold, but I was strong enough to make up for it. He couldn’t move well, and if he pushed it too far, then it would be all too easy to break his bones. But this was just a spar, and Haninozuka knew that.

I got off of him quickly, shaking out my limbs and stretching. “Good match.” I put forward awkwardly.

Haninozuka took it in stride, laughing and flipping up off of the floor like nothing had happened. “You fight really well! I swear, I would have never thought that someone your size would ever have that kind of strength. I swear you were going to break my wrist!” He let out another childlike laugh, flapping his hand and waving away Morinozuka’s look of concern. “That last move you did too. Where on earth did you learn that?”

I tensed, moving through more stretches almost mechanically in an effort to feign indifference. “Oh that? My middle school put a lot of emphasis on self-defence.” I answered with false ease. Haninozuka wasn’t stupid. I had no doubt that he’d picked up a lot from our fight. His comments about my strength alone were a bit concerning. But that could’ve been explained away by the fact that Haninozuka himself was rather strong, especially for his size. It wasn’t on the same level as my own, but I also held back.

“Hmm…” Haninozuka mused, an odd smile on his face. “How interesting.”

 

 

“And you, Karma-chan?”

I was jolted out of my reverie by the question being addressed to me. “I’m sorry, what were you saying? I zoned out a bit.”

Hikaru pouted dramatically, swinging around Tamaki and nearly knocking over the tall blond. “Do you think we’re boring, Karma-kun?” he whined. “We just wanted to know what you planned on doing since you graduated an entire year early.”

“It really isn’t fair,” Kaoru added, ever so helpful.

My smile turned slightly brittle. “Ah, I plan on taking a year off,” I confess, taking a page out of Kyoya’s book and being a little more forthcoming. It was my graduation. I was allowed to be a bit sentimental. “Maybe I’ll travel for a year. Scout out some universities abroad and figure out what I want to do.”

This confession got some mumbled words of agreement in my decision to travel and some polite suggestions from Tamaki.

 

The Haninozuka heir just smiled up at me, a slightly mischievous glint in his eyes.

“Well, we won’t occupy your time any longer. You’ll be wanting to celebrate with your family.” He bowed his head and tugged on Morinozuka’s hand. I watched as they walked through the crowd, only being distracted when Izumo poked my arm and pouted up at me.

“Come on,” she said, “don’t get too hung up in your head. Today’s a day to celebrate. No more high school!” she continued cheerfully.

I smiled, the edges a lot softer than any of my previous smiles. “Hey, this will be you next year, and I’ll be sure to bug you just as much as you bug me.” I poked her in the side in response, getting a giggle for my efforts.

She rolled her eyes. “Don’t be such a downer. Just enjoy the moment.”

“Maa, maa. You’re right. The moment will be over soon anyways.”