My name is Kanami Inao. Kana, for short. Half-American, half-Japanese. The latter did not prepare me, however, when I found myself being transported back to Japan just shy of a year ago following a brief, yet close brush with the fuckery that could be US law.
The groups that sided with me called me a hactivist, and tried to misconstrue my actions as a message to large corporations and their mass exploitation. They thrived on the fact that I went against my own father’s software corporation and exploited a major vulnerability within their most recent release, causing millions in damages when their clients began noticing large amounts of data were being posted online.
You see, my father’s business was the backbone to many “unsavory” websites. There were a few other industries that made use of his work, and one major healthcare corporation, sure, but I was more interested in letting the world know just how many of their colleagues frequented fetish sites and jacked off to cam girls while their wives were away.
My supporters would’ve quickly turned against me had they known it was the exact money they so despised that bought me a comfortable life in Japan living in my mother’s estate. No one knew but my family that I would be relocating--the rest of the world thought I was being somehow reprimanded behind closed doors.
That wasn’t to say that my actions weren’t without consequences, however: law enforcement was able to convince my father that I, if properly trained, would be a fantastic asset if I had the proper computer training. Being my father’s only child, he was more than eager to ship me off to college to prepare me for my eventual role in running his corporation.
I have no choice in the matter, but I had to admit that it was better than being married to my father’s chosen successor, whomever that would’ve been.
That’s how I wound up at Ouran University, one of Japan’s most prestigious (and frankly, most pretentious) colleges studying Business Management and Software Development.
My father, of course, was in charge of deciding my course schedule. My mother on the other hand, was happy to let me reside in one of the many houses within her estate, tucked away where no one would notice my existence other than a select few maids.
I had never wanted the college experience. Truth be told I’m a horrific student, not due to my lack of intelligence, but my distinct lack of giving a shit.
Still, I spent most of my time at Ouran’s small, private campus. It was a sanctuary made up of pristine white buildings and enough foliage to trigger the slightest of allergies. The central, main building held the cafeteria and various lounges for students to gather in. I often found myself wandering around until I found an empty room to steal some time on my laptop once classes were over.
It was during one of those searches that I found myself at Lounge 3, where the door suddenly opened and I stood facing the blondest Japanese man I had ever seen in my life.
“Welcome, welcome. My you’re quite an exotic beauty aren’t you?” He stood much closer to me than most Japanese men ever dared to. I was used to comments about my slightly tanned skin and curled hair, but the closeness was enough to make me flush.
“Is it someone new Tama-chan?” A small, sweet voice rang from the room behind him.
“Indeed, it appears we have a new princess in our midst.” He spoke almost too quickly for me to comprehend. “Come in, beauty.”
Before I could protest, he took my hand and tugged me into the room. It was dimly lit with candles placed strategically throughout. Red, antique chaises and small tables replaced the normal furniture within the other lounges. Soft, classical music floated in the background.
Six men, including the one who had brought me in, stood seemingly waiting for my arrival. I couldn’t ignore the fact that they were all stunningly handsome, each in their own way.
“Tama-chan was right! You are very pretty!” The smallest one approached me first, holding a stuffed bunny in his arms. He was shorter than the rest of them, barely standing taller than my own 5'3. “I’m Mitsukini Haninozuka, but everyone calls me Honey.”
“It is a pleasure, Honey-sama.” I stammered. My conversational Japanese was less than perfect.
I saw Honey’s light brown eyes widen as I spoke. “You’re so proper! It’s cute!”
“Mitsukini.” The tallest, Honey’s near opposite, rested a hand on top of the shorter man’s head. He rested his eyes on me, regarding me quietly.
“I’m sorry Miss!” Honey giggled. “This is my cousin, Takashi Morinozuka. He looks big and scary but he’s a real teddy bear!”
“It is a pleasure, Morinozuka-sama.” Okay, admittedly, this was the only response to an introduction I knew. This sent two of the men into a fit of giggles.
“Just how long have you been in Japan?” One of them laughed.
“We’ve got work to do with you.” The second picked up seamlessly from where the first dropped off. They were the next to approach me, moving in perfect sync with each other. They were perfectly identical, with the exception of the direction that their auburn hair was parted.
“I’m Hikaru,” the one with his hair parted to the right said, “And this is Kaoru.”
“We’re the Hitachiin twins.” The second chimed in. I noticed his voice was slightly higher than the first.
I nodded in recognition at the surname. “Hitachiin-samas?” How on earth did I address two at once?
They burst into laughter again, not offering any clue about what I had said incorrectly.
“Please don’t let these two devils discourage you, my sweet.” The blonde swept in front of them, “You may address us however you wish. My name is Takmaki Suoh.” He took my hand and delicately kissed it.
I felt my face turn about six shades of red at his advance. I normally wasn’t affected by men, but this guy was truly something. His bright blue eyes searched mine almost expectantly. It took me a moment before I could respond.
“Thank you, Suoh-sama.”
“Please say that again, but Tamaki this time.” He pulled me closer, his lips a breath away from my face.
“So much for letting her address us as she pleases.” The final man spoke, still keeping his distance from me. “Tamaki, you’re overwhelming her.”
Tamaki’s face turned a similar shade of red as mine. “My apologies, miss, Kyoya is right.” He released my hand and stepped back, allowing me to breathe again.
I glanced at the final man, who was regarding me quietly behind a pair of wire-framed glasses. “Kyoya…?”
“Ootori?” My stomach dropped along with any formalities I might’ve learned from studying Japanese. “Yoshio Ootori is your father?”
His expression darkened slightly, “I can assure you, miss, that any dealings you’ve had with that man will not harm your experience here.”
“I am here partially because of him.” I murmured. I hadn’t expected Ootori to have a son at Ouran, but that goes to show just how little I paid attention to the unexpected victims of my greatest hacking efforts. Had I done my research, I would’ve known Kyoya Ootori would be here.
“You know Kyoya-kun’s papa?” Honey asked.
“Not in person.”
“Regardless of why you’re here, we are glad that you’ve decided to come into our little club.” Tamaki swept in again, sensing my obvious discomfort with the topic. “Tell me, dearest, what is your name, and what brings you to the Host Club?”
“My name is Kanami Inao. Kana.” I couldn’t look at Kyoya as I introduced myself. “And, I didn’t mean to come here, I--”
“Of course you meant to come here, Kana-chan.” Kyoya interrupted me with such familiarity that it caught me off guard. “I’ve been expecting you, I apologize for not warning you about my companions.”
Kyoya’s gaze met mine; the intensity of his stare made me feel as though he were trying to pierce through me with his eyes.
“Of course, Ootori-sama. You shouldn’t apologize.” I smiled, my instinct telling me to play along.
“Come then.” He extended his hand and I stepped forward to take it. He gave a quick nod to the rest of the guys before leading me to a door in the back of the lounge.
“Oi, Kana-chan!” Honey’s voice called after us, “Welcome to the Host Club!”
Kyoya had brought me to what seemed to be a sideroom, where there was nothing but a large, more modern couch than the ones I had saw earlier. Unlike the lounge, there were no candles, instead I finally got to see him clearly.
He was, in a word, gorgeous.
Rather, gorgeously angry.
“What are you doing here?” He motioned to the couch.
“It was a mistake, Ootori-sama.” I had no intention of sitting down. Instead I crossed my arms and leaned against the wall. “I didn’t know I’d see you here.”
“My father didn’t tell you?”
I struggled to find the correct words. I didn’t interact with anyone outside of the classroom, where the lectures were taught in the formal language I was used to. “No. Only spoke to him over the phone, to apologize.”
“You’re well aware of the trouble you caused.” It wasn’t a question. He pinched the bridge of his nose and let out an exasperated sigh.
“Do you want an apology too?”
“Some of the information you exposed was my own.” He moved closer to me, almost dangerously close. I had to tilt my head to see his face. “Did you read it?”
“No.” I stood up straighter. I had never been one to let anyone intimidate me.
“Good,” he rested his palm on the wall beside my head. “Do you know what it is we do here?”
I shook my head.
“We entertain women. And sometimes, that entertainment…” he placed his other hand on the wall, effectively surrounding me. “...turns into more than flirtatious conversation. I won’t have to worry about you releasing that information, will I?”
I blinked, not fully understanding the situation. I briefly slipped back into English. “So you sleep around?”
“It’s different here than it is in America, especially among the social elite.” His own English was as hesitant as my Japanese.
I relaxed a bit, reverting back to Japanese. “I won’t tell anyone about your sex club, Ootori-sama.”
“Would you like to partake?” His voice fell to almost a purr. “The other gentlemen seemed quite taken by the American beauty. Although they did make you look much cuter in the press release photos. Your hair was down.”
I self-cautiously reached back to touch my braid, “I’m not interested. I’m here to be a student, not make connections.”
“Suit yourself.” Kyoya shrugged, dropping his hands to his sides. “Although you might benefit from learning from them.”
“And probably pay for doing so.” I rolled my eyes.
“In many ways, Kana-chan.” A small smirk played on his lips. “If you change your mind, we’ll be waiting.”