On her walk back home Haruhi busied herself by mentally reviewing all the tasks that awaited her at home. She was tired of uselessly pining after someone who would never be hers, but try as she might, she could not force her feelings to magically disappear. She first became aware of her feelings for him at the Ootori Aquatic Park when he had lifted her into his arms and her heart began to beat unnaturally fast. Later, alone in her bed, her mind couldn't help but wander back to the feeling of his strong arms enveloping her and the warm blanket of security that wrapped around her when she was with him.
From there her feelings only seemed to grow with each passing day. But really, what wasn't to love about him? Mori-senpai was kind and considerate. He never interrupted her studies to harass her or forced her to do anything she didn't want to by threatening to increase her debt. He remembered small details, like the fact that she liked strawberries, and wordlessly reassured her when she was feeling upset with a simple pat on the head. Not to mention his stunningly good looks.
Realizing she had arrived at her door, she shook those thoughts from her head and reached into her bag for her keys. She had chores to do and papers to write. She didn't have time to entertain pointless fantasies that would never come to fruition. Mori-senpai was dedicated to Honey-senpai. He thought of her as nothing less than a small girl who occasionally needed to be protected. And his strong sense of honor prevented him from ever failing to come to her aid when she called. That was all. Letting out a deep breath, she got to work, tidying up the barren apartment.
In the Morinozuka dojo...
Takashi couldn't shake the thought of wide brown eyes pleading at him to help. He had been poised and ready to come to Haruhi's aid before his cousin drew his attention away. Takashi just couldn't seem to banish the guilt he felt when he turned his back on her and let Mitsukuni lead him out the door. He had continued to feel uneasy for the rest of the day. Not even training in the dojo seemed to be enough to shake off the lingering feeling of shame. His thoughts were interrupted by a shout.
"Taka-nii! Dinner will be ready soon. You should probably hit the showers." Satoshi, his younger brother, called from the door way. Letting out a grunt of acknowledgement, Takashi gathered his things, quickly looking around to make sure everything was neat and tidy before he left. He showered hastily and threw on some clothes. Before leaving his bedroom, in an effort to disperse his conflicting emotions and collect himself for dinner, he let out a deep breath breath. He needed to remember that his priorities laid with his family. Mitsukuni took first priority over everything else. Watching over his cousin was and always had been his duty. With his mind temporarily cleared, he headed to dinner.
The next afternoon the Host Club had planned an everyday heroes type theme. Kyoya, as an Ootori, was naturally of course dressed as a doctor with a stethoscope resting around his neck. Complementing Kyoya's outfit, Haruhi donned scrubs. The twins had tried to get her into a skimpy nurse outfit which of course had Tamaki screaming at the top of his lungs about his daughter's innocence. Thankfully, Kyoya was able to soothe Tamaki. And after being handed another costume bag by the Shadow King, Haruhi was free to slip into the changing room and get ready to host.
The twins were both dressed as police officers, using their handcuffs for much less honorable things than cuffing criminals. Mori and Honey were both firefighters. Honey's costume practically drowned him, and Usa-chan was tucked under his arm wearing a firefighter helmet. Mori, on the other hand, was shirtless. With his suspenders stretching across his bare chest making him look even more desirable, if it was possible. Many girls had already fainted from the exposure to so much tanned skin. Lastly, the Host Club's King was dressed as a teacher, a pair of fake glasses completing the look. His designators swooned when he whispered promises of the kinds of things he could teach his special princesses. Altogether, the theme promised to be very profitable, much to the delight of the club's vice president.
Throughout the whole afternoon, Haruhi tried her best not to be distracted by the abs that ripped across Mori-senpai's tanned skin. But she was only human and couldn't help the quick glances she'd shoot him out of the corner of her eye when the chance presented itself. She was frustrated by how distracting a shirtless Mori-senpai was proving to be and cursed herself for her inability to keep her emotions in check. She slyly glanced in his direction once more. He was wiping some frosting from Honey-senpai's lips and sensed her eyes on him. Haruhi was embarrassed to find herself staring into steel gray eyes and quickly looked away flustered. She knew her cheeks were probably colored a rosy red, and her suspicion was confirmed when one of the girls sitting around her asked her if she was alright. She assured her that she was fine and managed not to glance towards the table where Honey and Mori sat for the rest of the club.
When the club was called to a close for the day, Haruhi changed back into her school uniform and started to gather all the dishes to wash. They had a dishwasher but Kyoya-senpai insisted that their fine china was too delicate and Haruhi was required to wash it all by hand as part of her duties in paying back her debt. Not that she minded; washing dishes gave her a much needed reprieve from the chaos of the Host Club and allowed her the chance to let her thoughts wander. She startled when a hand grabbed the plate out of her hand and began to dry it.
"Wha-" she cut off when she realized that Mori-senpai had somehow entered the room without her noticing and was now drying the plate for her.
"You don't need to do that Mori-senpai. I'm sure you've got other stuff to do that's more important than drying dishes."
Mori glanced at her and shook his head, taking the next dish from her.
"Seriously, it's fine. You don't need to help me." she assured him.
"I want to." came his short reply.
Haruhi opened her mouth to reply but then thought better of it and continued on with her duties. They worked efficiently, all the while not a word was exchanged between the two. To most, Mori-senpai's silent presence seemed uncomfortable, but Haruhi found it to be rather relaxing. He just had this aura of calm that he exuded, and it always seemed to soothe Haruhi's frazzled nerves.
Before she knew it, all the dishes were washed, dried and returned to their rightful places in the cabinet. She turned to thank the stoic senior but stopped short when she noticed him staring intensely at her arms. She quickly realized what he was looking at and shoved her hands into her pockets.
"Haruhi..." he started, now gazing into her eyes. His face showed nothing but its usual blankness, but if you looked closely at his eyes, you could see that he was clearly troubled by something. Not many besides his cousin were able to decipher the hidden emotions that clouded his pupils but Haruhi could guess what was bothering him.
"It's nothing Mori-senpai," she said briskly and moved to exit the small prep room. But she was stopped by a gentle hand on her shoulder.
"Let me see." he commanded, although his tone was soft.
Haruhi sighed but removed her hands from her pockets, pulled up her sleeves and presented her wrists for him to see. His eyes widened almost unperceivably but Haruhi caught it nonetheless. He gently ran his thumb across her bruised skin and she shivered.
"What happened." he demanded, still staring down at the bruises that decorated the pale flesh of her arms. She tried to pull her arms away but his grip tightened slightly, though not hard enough to hurt her. Sighing she fixed her gaze on the door before answering,
"Tamaki and the twins got a little too rough with their tugging is all. There's no harm done. Not like they ever do it on purpose."
"No harm done..." he echoed unbelievably. "You call this no harm done?"
He pulled away, his posture tense.
"Haruhi, your wrists are purple. How can you say no harm has been done!" he said, frustration coloring his tone.
Haruhi was caught off guard by how agitated he seemed. But before she could reply, he began to rifle around the cabinets, searching for something. Her momentary confusion was dispelled when she saw the white box he set on the counter. Pulling out some cream from the first aid kit, he swiftly unscrewed the cap and gently pulled her arms to him. Her breath hitched when she registered the cool substance on her skin. And she couldn't help but stare silently as he applied the cream to both her wrists with the utmost care. She was snapped out of her shock when she heard the cabinet close and realized that he had finished his tender ministrations.
"I-You didn't need-Thank you Mori-senpai." she finally settled on, refusing to look anywhere but the floor.
A soft "ah" came his reply and she felt his large hand pat her head before he turned and left the room. She stood there for an unknown amount of time before the furious beating of her heart finally calmed.